Obama's 2nd term plan for education

In a newly published policy brochure, the President outlines his second term plan for education

President Obama’s plan for America’s future: Highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020 so we can compete and win in the 21st Century economy:

1. Cutting tuition growth in half over the next ten years. We can make college more affordable by continuing tax credits to help middle-class families afford college tuition, doubling the number of work-study jobs and creating incentives for schools to keep tuition down.

2. Recruiting and preparing 100,000 math and science teachers. We can out-compete China and Germany by out-educating them. The STEM Master Teacher Corps and investments in research and innovation into the best ways to teach math and science will help improve math and science education nationwide.

3. Strengthen public schools in every community. Because we can’t compete for jobs of the future without educating our children, we must prevent teacher layoffs. We also must expand Race to the Top to additional school districts willing to take on bold reform. The President will offer states committed to reform relief from the worst mandates of No Child Left Behind, like incentives to teach to the test, so they can craft local solutions.

4. Train 2 million workers for good jobs that actually exist through partnerships between businesses and community colleges.

Where the polls stand - Post convention

With the RNC and DNC conventions over, the clear winner, based on current polling, appears to be President Obama.

”Mr. Obama had another strong day in the polls on Saturday, making further gains in each of four national tracking polls. The question now is not whether Mr. Obama will get a bounce in the polls, but how substantial it will be.Some of the data, in fact, suggests that the conventions may have changed the composition of the race, making Mr. Obama a reasonably clear favorite as we enter the stretch run of the campaign.” Nate Silver in The New York Times.

Let's take a look at the state of play. First, Real Clear Politics has the race essentially unchanged from last week, with President Obama having 221 electoral college votes to Mitt Romney's 191, 126 are listed as toss-ups

In Ohio, RCP has Obama's lead increasing from an average of 1.4% to 2.2%

538, whom we quoted up top, has the President's advantage increasing by 10 electoral college votes, and now stands at landslide levels of 318.8

In Ohio his chances of victory have also increased and now stand at 74.6%, up from 71.5 last week.

Crazy polling result of the day perhaps comes from a PPP poll of Ohio, where 15% of Ohio Republicans said Mitt Romney deserved more credit for the killing of Osama bin Laden.

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.

The Crisis in American Education Is a Myth

By Randy Turner, English teacher

One of the most frustrating things teachers have to deal with every day is this myth that our profession is filled with lazy, undermotivated educators who arrive just in time for the first bell and leave immediately at the end of the school day.

We watch as, year after year, politicians devise radical plans that totally revamp our "failed" system. Many times these plans involve taking public money and putting it into private schools, relying more and more on standardized tests, and tearing down the teachers who are the key to the success that public education has always been and hopefully, after the fallout of this well-organized attack, will continue to be.

So across America, including my home state of Missouri, teachers teach to the test, hope and pray that the legislative attacks on our profession can be held off for yet another year, and watch as our livelihood is devalued and our reputations are savaged by elected officials whose pockets are lined with campaign contributions from the billionaires who don't want to pay a cent to help anyone who is not in their tax bracket.

And we do all of this hoping and praying as the headlines are filled with news of a crisis that does not exist.

We live in an era where No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top have been allowed to define public schools as failures, when, in fact, they still offer the best chance for children who were not born with silver spoons in their mouths to climb the ladder to success.

For too long we have allowed politicians to ignore dealing with the real problems of poverty and permitted them to use education as a convenient scapegoat for their negligence.

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A Radical Assault on Public Education

A state budget that will become infamous for its assault on public education passed out of conference committee last night, 4-2, along party lines. The bill will now move to the Senate and then the House for a final vote, before being signed by the most anti-education Governor in the history of Ohio.

Students up and down the state will begin to feel the effects of the almost $3 billion in cuts to public education over the next 2 years. Communities will see local tax increases as they try to replace the hundreds of millions of dollars raided from their local budgets due to the elimination of TPP replacement money.

Further erosion of public education will occur as the General Assembly sought to reward its largest donor by allowing massive charter school expansion in the state, and having ODE act as the sponsor - a task they spectacularly failed at doing just over a decade ago.

Finally, the General Assemby sought to override the will of the voters and insert SB5 like language in the bill, curtailing collective bargaining rights and installing ill-conceived teacher evaluations based on student test scores.

Under changes yesterday, every district by the start of the 2013-14 school year must adopt a new teacher-evaluation system that conforms to a framework the state Department of Education is to develop this year. That framework will require that 50 percent of an evaluation must be tied to student academic performance, a provision that follows a key element of the federal Race to the Top program. More than half of Ohio districts are participating in that program, sharing in about $400 million in funding.

However, only schools participating in the Race to the Top program would be required to pay teachers according to a performance-based system, based on the evaluation ratings, level of license and whether the teacher is "highly qualified" under federal law.

For schools not in Race to the Top, merit pay would be optional. They could continue to pay teachers based on experience and educational training.

The budget bill also would prohibit all districts from using seniority as the preference when determining the order of layoffs.

Sen. Michael Skindell, D-Lakewood, a member of the committee, objected to the evaluation provision, arguing that it did not get sufficient debate and was too similar to merit-pay language that was part of Senate Bill 5, which weakens collective-bargaining power for public workers and is likely to be challenged on the November ballot.

We will now have a bifurcated education system in Ohio, where teachers will be treated differently depending upon whether their school was a RttT participant or not. We will also have to wait and see if this radical legislation puts Ohio's RttT grant money at risk.

The effects of this budget will be felt by Ohioans for a very long time, as the very fabric of our public education system has been picked apart.

Budget merit pay - gone but not forgotten

When the Ohio Senate's preferred version of the budget was released on Tuesday, it was quickly noted by many that the administration and House's policies to asses teacher compensation and employment, primarily on high stakes testing, had been removed. Legislators have been hearing from teachers and others how unworkable, unreliable, and unfair such a system would be. In light of the fact that many of these budget provisions mirrored those in SB5, it looked like a backdoor effort to circumvent the will of the voters. The elimination of these provisions was welcome news then.

But the budget process isn't over, and these provisions may yet return.

The Senate President held a press conference on the day of the budget release had had this to say on the issue

Senate President Tom Niehaus (R-New Richmond) said during a press conference, however, the performance pay provisions were removed from the budget because of confusion about how they related to collective bargaining legislation (SB 5) and the state's Race to the Top plan.
"We removed the provisions that were confusing some people that thought it was related to Senate Bill 5 and instead we're working on language to clarify that we want to make it consistent with what they're doing with Race to the Top," Sen. Niehaus said.

"So we want to support the statewide initiative that people have to put excellent teachers in the classroom, but we want to make sure we're not confusing them, that they think it has something to do with Senate Bill 5. They're two separate issues."
The Senate president said he expects to have some provision in the Senate version of the bill related to performance pay. "So we're having those conversations, but in order to get the conversation focused on the right area and that is this is about Race to the Top, we thought the easiest thing to do was take out the part that was confusing."

This didn't make a whole lot of sense to us. Ohio's RttT grant includes teacher evaluation provisions, which teachers agreed to - but furthermore - it relies upon collective bargaining to implement, the very method the legislature and administration continually seeks to eliminate. This ODE fact sheet lays out these issues succinctly.

FACT: Through RttT, districts may augment or otherwise revise compensation systems at the local level. Such changes must be made in collaboration with teachers and local unions.

The Senate President isn't the only actor in this play however, and today comes news that some of the other antagonists are not happy with these provisions being stripped out. The Speaker of the House and the Governor himself appear unhappy

Batchelder told reporters he was disappointed by the removal of those performance-pay provisions.

"My thought is that's crazy," the Republican leader said.
Senate Finance Chairman Chris Widener had said some senators were confused why the merit pay language was in the bill, and it was being further scrutinized.

The topic came up in a Wednesday meeting that Batchelder said he had with Republican Gov. John Kasich and Niehaus, R-New Richmond.

"The governor and I are in agreement and the Senate feels differently, so we'll just have to discuss it and work it out," Batchelder said.

The House leader said he thought it would go back into the bill.

We know the Governor is keen, and most likely receiving outside advice, to insert these cooperate education reforms in the budget. After all, he was successfully lobbied by Michele Rhee to place the same provisions in SB5. Furthermore, yesterday in testimony, and today in a Dispatch Op-Ed, Terry Ryan, Ohio VP of the conservative Thomas B. Fordham Institute, implored the Senate to put these corporate reform ideas back in. This despite his own Executive VP writing in the NYT recently that the use of high stakes testing for the purposes of teacher evaluations was like "attacking a fly with a sledgehammer. There’s already a ton of testing in our schools. Isn’t there another alternative?"

There is an alternative. It's called collective bargaining. Teachers have already agreed to innovative evaluation systems through the RttT application and in Cincinnati Public schools.

The budget simply isn't the place for such complex policy that requires study, broad consolation and agreement to be successfully implemented. And it certainly should not be done as a backdoor effort to circumvent voter efforts to repeal SB5.

We urge you to keep calling your state legislators and tell them that.