Where the polls stand - Week 1

Labor Day has traditionally been seen as the kick-off for the fall campaigns. With that now behind us, we are going to begin a new weekly feature up through the election on November 6th, and bring you all the latest polling information for the Presidential race both nationally and in Ohio.

First, Real Clear Politics has President Obama leading in the race to 270 electoral college votes, 221-191 with 126 listed as toss-ups

In Ohio, with the exception of a purple strategies poll, the President has consistently led in the polling

538, another polling analysis site, run by the New York Times, runs a sophisticated and accurate analysis based on multiple factors. They currently have the President winning over 308 electoral college votes.

They have President Obama having a 71.5% chance of winning Ohio on November 6th.

Would you blame the architect if you accidentally burned your house down

The Plain Dealer has a comprehesive article on teacher level value add, that's worth reading in full. We pulled out the following excerpt to highlight the problem with having a secret forumla no one understands, and which might not prove stable over time

Former Cleveland State University professor Douglas Clay said the complicated formula and a calculation process that SAS keeps secret are a concern, especially if pay is eventually tied to ratings.

"It will go to court the first time someone is denied a raise," he predicted.

SAS' White said a simpler calculation of subtracting students' scores on the state achievement tests from the previous year's scores would be easy to understand, but would be so simplistic it would ignore many factors and misclassify many teachers.

Kenston Superintendent Bob Lee is among the educators who are hesitant about applying value-added to individual teachers because of constant shifting or "stabilization" of test scores by the state and changes to the range of scores that meet, exceed or fall short of the standard. He said most legislators and even fellow superintendents do not understand all those details.

"I'm worried it's being rolled out with very little understanding at the state level of how it behaves," he said.

What is interesting about this article is the response in the comments, overwhelmingly opposed to the idea of teacher level value add as a means of evaluation.

cognitiveguy November 13, 2011 at 6:47PM

Value added seems like a fundamentally good idea but this story points to a significant problem with it, which is that it's far too complicated for most educators and parents to understand and, therefore, few educators and parents are likely to buy into it or trust it. ODE needs to explain how progress is measured in a way that everyone can understand. For example, I read in a previous story and on the ODE Web site that multiple regression analysis is used to calculate student progress. Really? Multiple regression analysis? Say that to a parent, teacher, or superintendent and watch their heads spin. By the way, good story.

petre November 13, 2011 at 7:07PM

I pity the teacher who gets students whose parents don't give a ____(fill in the blank). What will they be forced to do to get chronic truants to come to school? To get those from families who don't value education to do anything at all? Teach to the tests only? What about classes like science and history if the measurement is English and math?

Pirate November 13, 2011 at 7:10PM

What do we want to teach our students? Do we want it to be measured with the same bubble tests which have little to do with learning and much to do with measurement so that teachers and students can be defined as smart, or not, with learning disabilities, or not, creative or not, and all these determinations are made by who? Bubble tests which have given the measurement people what they want so that they can define our entire education process from the governors mansion. Fire this one because of poor tests, fail this one and label them a failure for the next five years. It is fact that operating an educational system based upon bubble tests places an identity on children which follows them through school. 'The looking glass self' has harmed many and still does. Only a joyful learner can learn or teach (which is one in the same thing to you who are not educated in education). It is a process which goes on all of the time and the roles can and should switch. Learning is a joy when done right. We are not doing it right and if we get politicians involved in hire and fire of teachers we are dead. The conservative is always bad for freedom in education and seeks to punish and control all in their path. There is already enough of them in education making education a bore and a numbers game like profit and business and selling and marketting worthless junk to the masses. Teachers need to help kids think, and reason and make choices based of helping others and not competing with them and envying them...Our system needs much change, but more bubble tests is not the answer.

heyfrank25 November 13, 2011 at 7:11PM

Hopefully with the regression they will be controlling for socioeconomic factors, student's attendance, parent's negligence, etc. Otherwise these teachers are just screwed. And 40 percent of teachers are failing in the "excellent" rated Perry SD? Obviously these tests have no criterion validity.

susiecat November 13, 2011 at 7:15PM

This is a very bad idea for two reasons. First of all, who will want to work with students who have low ability? If teachers are rated based on student performance, all teachers will want to work with the more capable students. Also, it will create an atmosphere where teachers will no longer share their ideas and methods freely. Right now, teachers share ideas for the betterment of the entire school community. With value added, who will want to share? Who will want to work together for the common good of ALL students, not just those in their own personal class? Teachers will just shut their doors and keep to themselves the wealth of information that they could share with new teachers. There will be a DECLINE in student performance.

CityontheLake November 13, 2011 at 8:12PM

This won't work. If a kid doesn't want to learn something, they're not going to learn it. A teacher's skill in teaching doesn't matter. Now, our education system does have problems, but I think teachers are causing very few of them. This is coming from someone who was a mediocre student all through high school.

Would you blame the architect if you accidentally burned your house down?

djkorn1 November 13, 2011 at 9:11PM

I feel bad for teachers that have high populations of Special Education students. How are students with learning disabilities supposed to get 'more than a years' worth of growth?? According to No Child Left Behind and the Ohio Acheivement Assesment, they are supposed to... (and they count double), if they are poor, they count triple.

This is like trying to win the Superbowl with the Chess club.

kmark92s November 13, 2011 at 10:13PM

Will the state publish the names of the parents who don't show any interest in their children's education? Will the state grade them on how many unanswered phone calls, unattended conferences or how many days their children have missed school? I would love to see that in the same report.

Shu71 November 13, 2011 at 10:24PM

I would like to know if this means that teachers will be able to draft the students in their class? Otherwise all you would need is 1 principal with an ax to grind and poof, you get all of the behavior problems, home problems and family problems in a classroom.

I would also like to know if the legislation includes identical mandatory testing and student service requirements for all Charter and Private Schools that receive a single cent of tax money. After all, those schools (with their controlled student populations) will crow loudest if permitted to cherry pick the best of the best kids. If this is going in to effect in Ohio, then ALL educators/school that receive state dollars need to play by the same rules.

american November 13, 2011 at 10:40PM

I feel bad and unlucky that we have ignorant political leaders who consider teachers enemies of their political party. This cold war is not only against teachers but it is 100% against students. If our leaders take their time to develop our state standards to meet standards in England or Germany or Japan, or France, or China, or India, our children and parents will appreciate their great work. For Politicians to spend their time just to attack teachers instead of thinking to improve the economic situations in Ohio is an evidence that our leaders in Columbus must go.

howardbeale November 13, 2011 at 11:51PM

So, if the State fails to maintain facilities or equipment, doesn’t buy new books or teaching materials, will not hire the required number of educators and lays-off new teachers, and not only ignores the Ohio Supreme Court when it rules that the financing of education in this state is unconstitutional it actually puts up the money to replace the judges, then we should grade the teachers who survive all this junk? Why don’t we begin to grade these administrators and legislators who have been failing us for thirty years? I’m not asking the Plain Dealer, I’m asking you the posters. It is time we rebelled, withheld campaign contributions, and voted against these idiots.

There's an awful lot of confusion, complexity and very good points in just these comments.

November 2011 School Levy Results

Here are the results of the November8th 2011 school levy elections.

Type Failed Passed Pass Rate
New 83 33 28.4%
Renewal 8 62 88.6%
All Levies 92 95 50.8%

11/9/2011 Ohio School Levy Results

Vote NO on Issue 2

Having broken records to be placed on the November 8th ballot, SB5 will now be known to voters as Issue 2, with a NO vote required for its repeal. This is how it will appear to the voters

Issue 2 Referendum

A majority yes vote is necessary for Amended Substitute Senate Bill No. 5 to be approved.

Amended Substitute Senate Bill No. 5 is a new law relative to government union contracts and other government employment contracts and policies.

A “YES” vote means you approve the law.
A “NO” vote means you reject the law.

The Ohio ballot board, made up of 2 Republicans, 2 Democrats and the Secretary of State Jon Husted (R) acting as chair, met for 7 hours to determine the title and lauguage of 3 issues.

Issue 2 was taken last, and the final 10 minute recess before voting turned into a 2 hour meeting, behind closed doors, amongst the Republican board members and staff members from the Republican House Caucus. Over the last hundred years, all 12 efforts to repeal legislation have required a No vote, yet Republicans lobbied Secretary of State Husted hard to try to change the voting requirements from a NO for repeal to a confusing Yes.

To his credit, Husted held fast and in the end the board voted unanimously to uphold over 100 years of precedent and the constitution.

On November 8th, 2011 voters should be urged to vote NO on Issue 2 and repeal the unfair SB5, before it hurts the middle class and creates unsafe working conditions.

The People Deliver

[flickr photo=5884954835]On a sunny June 29th day, 1 day ahead of the deadline, 6,200 people paraded down Broad St. to deliver 1,298,301 signatures to the Ohio Secretary of State's office. By far the largest signature collection effort in the history of Ohio, and over a million more than the 231,149 needed to qualify for the November ballot - guarantees voters are now certain to have a chance to vote NO on SB5 and repeal it.

The Secretary of state will now distribute the petition books to the respective 88 counties for verification, a process which must be completed by July 26th.

[flickr photo=5885016235]

The parade itself was marked with drums, pipes, chants and spontaneous singing. Colors across the rainbow, and people from all walks of life, young and old participated. Indeed, you don't collect over a million signatures with a broad community wide effort from tens of thousands of people.

[flickr photo=5885529610]

In related news, it was announced by the supporters of SB5, that Jason Mauk, the Senate Republican Spokesperson will be taking a leave of absence to become the voice of SB5 - cementing the fact that the only true support for SB5 comes from Republican officeholders looking for partisan payback, rather than sensible policy.

[flickr photo=5885579848 size=medium]

Today, over a million Ohioans from across the political spectrum sent a powerful message to those partisans - a message that will be carried through to November and the repeal of SB5.

In the meantime, enjoy today.

[flickr photo=5885605292 size=medium]

SB5, Issue campaigns and Polls

There's a long way to go before SB5 is repealed. What may currently feel like a wind to your back can suddenly reveal itself to be a maelstrom instead. With today's polling news that Ohioans overwhelmingly favor repealing SB5, we thought it would be a good idea to cover some election basics.

Right now we are collecting signatures to place the repeal of SB5 on the November 2011 ballot. We need 231,000 verified signatures, which means we need a lot more than that in reality, conservatively, 50% more. But. Each person who signs a SB5 repeal petition is almost as good as a vote, so the more signatures collected the better our chances in November.

November 2011 would be a very low turnout election year under most circumstances, with no major offices on the ballot to attract people to the polls. A similar past year, 2007 saw only 31.34% of registered voters cast a ballot, compared to 53.25% in 2006 and 69.97% in 2008.

Given this, the first thing to bare in mind is that there is a great difference between a voter and a registered voter. A lot of registered voters do not actually vote! In off-cycle election years like 2011 it could be about 2/3 of registered voters who stay home on election day. There are a few lessons to be learned from this simple and obvious fact.

  1. When reading polls be careful to consider if they are of registered voters (RV), or have been screened for likely voters(LV).
    Today's Quinnipiac poll is of registered voters, as will most polls be until after Labor Day when it becomes easier to gauge a persons likelihood to vote
  2. Getting your supporters to actually go vote (GOTV) is crucial to success.
    We need to turn as many registered voters into actual voters on election day in November. The best way to do that right now is to collect signatures. Lots and lots of them.

Back to polling. We all know about sampling errors and margin of error, but you should also be aware that it is very hard to accurately poll issue campaigns, and even harder to do so in low turnout elections. Two recent examples from Ohio demonstrate this quite well.

In 2005 a group of people attempted to reform Ohio's election and redistricting laws. Right before the election the Bliss Institute polled the issues and found

State Issue Two (Absentee Balloting)
Favor: 63.8%
Oppose: 36.2%

State Issue Three (Campaign Contributions)
Favor: 61.2%
Oppose: 38.8%

State Issue Four (Nonpartisan Redistricting)
Favor: 43.5%
Oppose: 56.5%

State Issue Five (Role of Secretary of State)
Favor: 42.5%
Oppose: 57.5%

The Dispatch found similar results. All 4 issues lost just a few days later by massive 2:1 margins. The polling was way off.

In 2006 a coalition similar to the SB5 coalition put a minimum wage initiative on the ballot. It won 57%-43%, but in a NYT/CBS poll just 2 weeks earlier it enjoyed over 77% support.

The bottom line -

  • We have to work hard now, to collect as many signatures as possible
  • We have to work hard through the summer and fall to talk to voters and convince them that repealing SB5 is the right thing to do
  • In the closing month of the election get as many people to vote early as possible
  • On election day, get as many supporters of repeal to the polls as possible

That's a lot of work. Ready for it?