Romney - too many teachers

“He says we need more firemen, more policemen, more teachers. Did he not get the message in Wisconsin? The American people did. It’s time for us to cut back on government and help the American people.” ~ Mitt Romney, Friday, June 8th 2012.

Does Mitt Romney truly believe that firemen, police and teachers are not Americans too? Does Mitt Romney really believe we'd all be better off with a lot less teachers? Less firefighter? Less police?

Based upon he previous policy choices while Governor of Massachusetts that very well might be what he believes

UPDATE - NEA Responds

GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney’s disdainful comments on Friday about needing fewer teachers, police officers and firefighters showed how out of touch he is with middle class America. Appearing today on "Fox News Sunday" with Chris Wallace, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, a high-profile Romney campaign supporter and potential candidate for vice president, continued the attack on working families when he called for the elimination of unions for teachers, police officers and firefighters.

"Mitch Daniels is wrong. America isn’t better off when teachers can’t advocate for their students or first-responders can’t negotiate for better training and more safety equipment—which could mean the difference between life and death," said NEA President Van Roekel, who also appeared on the morning news program. "These divisive and politically motivated tactics Gov. Daniels is pushing to help the Romney campaign are disrespectful and demeaning to the people who teach our children, protect our communities and run into burning buildings to save lives."

Under Daniels’ leadership, Indiana’s poverty rate ballooned to 16.3 percent in 2010—a three-decade high that is more than a full percentage point above the national average. In 2008, before Obama took office and a full three years into Daniels’ first term as governor, five Indiana cities had poverty rates of at least 20 percent. Indeed, Daniels’ criticism of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act ignores the 64,000 Indiana jobs it had saved as of March 2010.

"Once again, we see how Daniels is putting politics above people, and these comments counter the needs of middle class America," added Van Roekel. "We call on Romney to condemn the disdainful comments made by Daniels, a Romney supporter, about our hardworking public servants. Instead of attacking teachers, police officers and firefighters, we should respect them."

Taking a page out of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s playbook of "divide and conquer" politics, Daniels said he wants to get rid of unions for public employee like teachers, police officers and firefighters.

"As we saw in Wisconsin, it was never about the money. The reason they went after public sector unions and left some private sector alone is to try to drive a wedge between people," said Van Roekel. "We need to turn the page of these divisive tactics and instead look for ways to work together to get the economy moving again and lift up middle class families."

A bridge too far

If you're a school administrator, wondering what your next budget is going to look like, waiting for the release of a new school funding formula, our advice is "don't hold your breath".

Ohio had a school funding formula. Strangley, it still has a website dedicated to it

After 20 years of controversy over its school funding system, Ohio now has a new method for providing funding to its public schools. Enacted as part of the 2010-2011 state budget, the Ohio Evidence-Based Model is designed to fund strategies that have the best chance to help students learn.

While economic realities require that the new approach be phased in over 10 years, the principles underlying the evidence-based model are now in place.

What's more, the new funding model is tied to education reforms designed to build a 21st-century system of education for Ohio.

Unlike the current Attorney General, Mike DeWine, who is winning plaudits for continuing and building upon much of the work of the previous administration, the Governor decided that everything the previous administration had done must go. Whether it worked or not. The Evidenced based model, which brought together hundreds of stakeholders and took years to develop was immediately scrapped. Replaced with a make-it-up-as-we-go-along "bridging formula". It is increasingly likely that a continuing "bridging formula" is on the horizon

But nearly a year later, Kasich, like governors before him, has found that overhauling the way Ohio funds education is not simple math.

The Republican administration concluded a series of public meetings on the issue in September but has yet to release a draft proposal promised for October. And now the governor’s office appears certain to miss a self-imposed deadline of January for unveiling its method of paying for Ohio schools.

Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols said the administration is working on its plan, and he doesn’t know when it will be ready.

We asked the Governor's education Czar, Bob Sommers, if he could provide some timetable guidance.

@RDSommers can you give us some guide as to when we might see a funding formula? Is it close, not close? Thanks!
@jointhefutureOH wish I could, but the issues are complex. We continue to study the possibilities. Ideas welcome

We suggested they look at successful models elsewhere in the country, but apparently they don't think there are any. We'd also suggest that they were a little trigger happy in shooting down the Evidence Based Model, and perhaps they could perform some CPR and bring it back with their own modifications.

Either way, the administration has clearly learned that this is no simple task with obvious answers.

Their difficulties will certainly have been further complicated by severe funding cuts as a result of HB153 raiding school budgets, and alienating most school districts and communities with bills like SB5 and HB136. It's hard to collaborate with hundreds of stakeholders when the previous 12 months have been spent attacking them and their mission.

If the administration have learned this lesson we should expect to see more outreach and consultation, and eventually arrive at a funding formula that works for most. Otherwise the administration is going to find itself having traveled a bridge too far.

Final note. We'd like to thank Bob Sommers for engaging in our questions with honest and forthright answers. While we sometimes disagree on fundamental policies, being able to have open and honest policy dialogue is our number one goal, his efforts in this repect advance that.

The weakest "linkage"

Many changes are starting to ripple down to the classroom level as Ohio moves forward with its efforts to implement corporate education reform. One of those changes is the creation and increasing use of teacher level value add reports. We provided some basic background on value add here if you need a refresher.

One of the most important steps in producing these complex reports for each teacher is to know which teacher taught which student, in which subject, and for how long. We need to know this for every student and every teacher. It's a process called "linkage". Without this linkage teachers could not be credited with the instruction they provided to each student.

By 2013, it will not be just RttT districts and Battelle for Kids’ projects that will require this linkage to occur, but all school districts must “implement a classroom-level value-added program (HB 153; Section 3319.112(A)(7)).

These teacher-level value-added reports will be used to determine teacher effectiveness and will be a significant factor in teacher evaluations. So it is clear that being able to accurately link student to teacher per subject is going to be critical if this system has any hope of working fairly.

If one imagines common scenarios such as students moving, teachers getting sick and having a sub, and one multiplies that by over 120,000 teachers in Ohio and almost 2 million students - the opportunity for linkage error is simply massive, only surpassed by the sheer magnitude of the administrative effort needed to keep this whole enterprise from unravelling.

Battelle for Kids has spent part of the summer providing some training and webinars on this issue.

In spring 2010, more than 125,000 rosters were verified by educators in South Carolina, Texas, Ohio and Oklahoma. Recent analyses of linkage results from schools across the country yield alarming results, including

Everytime a student moves, someone will have to go into a computer system and remove them from each teacher's roster, and then when that student enrolls in a new school, someone will have to go into a computer system and add them to each of their new teacher's rosters. Ditto for students changing classes, ditto for teachers needing to be replaced and on and on. Hundreds of thousands of changes throughout the school year will need to be performed, and all this on top of hoping the initial set up of millions of teacher/student linkages is error free each year to begin with!

Because Value add is longitudinal, i.e. results from previous years are used to make current year calculations, any errors from previous years will also be carried over, so it isn't like each year allows for a fresh start either. Indeed, as time rolls by, the errors may be compounding.

According to Battelle's own presentation this system hasn't worked to date in South Carolina, Texas, Oklahoma, nor Ohio - which is set to expand it to every school district.

How much confidence can anyone have in a system that will be used for high stakes decisions such as pay and employment, that relies on such gargantuan administrative tracking that has proven to be as utterly unreliable as this?

Link Before You Leap