Stop Saying That

When the governor of my state announced his plan for a new school funding formula, he said, "this is not about teachers, this is about the students." I wish he, and others, would quit saying that.

We hear this refrain almost every time there is an announcement about school reform or funding. It is meant to send a message: teachers do not care about kids.

I had hoped that after Newtown, with teachers selflessly giving their lives for their students, the 'teachers don't care' mantra would stop. Wrong again.

But here is the deal: this type of rhetoric is not only unhelpful, it is just plain wrong.

First, rhetoric like this does not help. We never hear it about other public policy debates. (Imagine: "This farm bill is not about farmers, it is about cows.") I cannot for the life of me figure out why policy makers think teachers are the enemy when it comes to education reform.

It might be that what they really mean is that this is not about the teacher unions. But that approach is incorrect as well. As a veteran administrator, I can assure you that there has not been any proof that non-unionized teachers do better in helping students achieve than those who are unionized. What does matter is how well teacher are supported in doing their jobs, and it's that support that teachers unions fight for.

The real problem with the idea that education reform and budgets are 'not about teachers' is this: if you want students to succeed, any reform must include teachers.

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What of test integrity?

The Atalanta Constitution Journal has a detailed report on the integrity of tests now being used to make high stakes decisions. Their findings are torubling.

The stain of cheating spread unchecked across 44 Atlanta schools before the state finally stepped in and cleaned it up. But across the country, oversight remains so haphazard that most states cannot guarantee the integrity of their standardized tests, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has found.

Poor oversight means that cheating scandals in other states are inevitable. It also undermines a national education policy built on test scores, which the states and local districts use to fire teachers, close schools and direct millions of dollars in funding.

The AJC’s survey of the 50 state education departments found that many states do not use basic test security measures designed to stop cheating on tests. And most states make almost no attempt to screen test results for irregularities.

The whole article is well worth a read. We have long held that the increased stakes tied to test scores can only increase the incidence of cheating - it happens in every corporate system.

you can see the ACJ survey results here, which include Ohio.

Teachers Around the World No Longer “Asking For Permission”

In conversations about Finland’s stunning success over the past decade, many education leaders look at what makes the system work so well – the high bar for entry into the teaching profession, the absence of standardized tests, the embedded professional development and support systems, to name just a few – and ask “Why can’t we do this in my country?” But what makes Finland even more unique is that education policy is largely free of politics. Whether it’s the status and prestige of teachers or the problem of educational inequity, these are matters on which politicians on the right and left agree.

But that’s Finland. Where does that leave so many other countries, including the United States, whose national conversation over education is tarnished by divisive, partisan politics and competing interests? How can public education advocates cut through the noise of grandstanding politicians and bad research and lead in transforming the teaching profession?

It’s time for the public to stop listening to those who have never been in front of a classroom and who espouse ideas that undermine public education, says NEA President Dennis Van Roekel.

“You have to remember that many people who are talking about reform are not really talking about education, as in what’s really works for teachers and their students. Their interest is something else – privatization, for example. We know what works and we need to be out front.”

“The status quo is not acceptable,” Van Roekel said. “And we can change it. But the idea now is for educators to stop asking for permission.”

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SB5 repeal was a clear message

“That showed Kasich. We showed him,” ~ Great Grandmother Marlene Quinn.

What the governor was shown in last night's historic election was Ohio voters rejecting his go it alone extreme agenda. More people voted to repeal his signature piece of legislation, SB5, in an off cycle election year than voted to put him into office just 12 months previous.

Only 5 counties, and those only barely, voted in favor of SB5, every other county voted against it. While results are still being tabulated, the measure appears to be defeated by a massive margin of 61% to 39%.

There never was any mandate to engage in attacks on middle class workers, despite what any out of touch newspaper editorial might have suggested, and last nights results demonstrated bipartisan rejection of that notion.

What should also not be forgotten, for education professionals many of the provisions voters rejected last night were inserted into the budget. If there is to be any negotiation or future compromise those aspects of the budget should be placed firmly in the center of the table too, there is no mandate for them and no agreement.

Furthermore, the Governor's education Czar is about to release plans for teacher evaluations, evaluations drafted without any serious input from education professionals. If a message was delivered last night it was surely "STOP GOING IT ALONE". Dr. Sommers should take last nights rebuke of go it alone policy making to heart, and begin a series of real meetings with education professionals and their associations in the development of real evaluations that will have widespread and sustainable support.

Public education and the people who work in it are not political footballs to be kicked around for partisan political gain. It needs to stop and it needs to stop now.

The People's Road Trip

People’s Road Trip to Kick Off from Cincinnati, Events to Encourage Ohioans to Vote NO on Issue 2 to Stop Senate Bill 5

Tomorrow, We Are Ohio will launch the People’s Road Trip in Cincinnati, with trip stops planned all across Ohio. Workers who will vote NO on Issue 2 to stop SB 5 will speak at each stop to encourage Ohioans to vote early. Doug Stern, the Ohio firefighter featured in the first television ad for We Are Ohio will join the People’s Road Trip and will speak at all the stops.

“Issue 2 will affect the safety of not just fire fighters, but our communities as well,” said Doug Stern, Cincinnati firefighter. “The heart of this bill takes away firefighters' professional voices. Issue 2 supporters keep putting forth pension and health care provisions. But the reality is those are nothing more than the magician’s pretty assistant, designed to distract voters from the real issue. The truth is Issue 2 will strip public employees like me from having any real input on safe working conditions and proper staffing levels."

People’s Road Trip Schedule:

Tuesday, October 4

10:50 AM: Hamilton County Board of Elections, 824 Broadway, Cincinnati

1:00 PM: Dayton Cultural Center, 40 S Edwin C Moses Blvd, Dayton

3:00 PM- (TENTATIVE) Regional Proud Ohio Worker press conference

5:00 PM: Lima We Are Ohio Office, 43 Town Square (near Main and Market)

Wednesday, October 5

10:00 AM: (Near) Lucas County Board of Elections, 12th Street (near the corner of 12th and Washington), Toledo

NOON- (TENTATIVE) Regional Proud Ohio Worker Press Conference

3:15 PM: AFL-CIO, 3250 Euclid Ave., Cleveland

6PM-8PM: Community Forum- Bethany Christian Church, 3940 Martin Luther King Drive, Cleveland

Thursday, October 6

10:15 AM: Mahoning County Board of Elections, Oakhill Renaissance Place, 345 Oak Hill Ave Youngstown

2:20 PM: Steubenville Fire Department, 115 South Third Street, Steubenville

2:45 PM: March to the Jefferson County Board of Elections, 117 North Third Street, Steubenville

4:30 PM: (TENTATIVE) Regional Proud Ohio Worker Press Conference

Friday, October 7

10:00 AM: Washington County Board of Elections, 205 Putnam Street, Marietta

12:30 PM: (TENTATIVE) Regional Proud Ohio Worker Press Conference

4:00 PM: Franklin County Board of Elections, 280 East Broad St., Columbus

Attack PAC - "Stop Public Unions Now" Spotted!

The Sunlight Foundation reports alarming news that millionaires money, funneled through a shady organization, is going to be used to attack public employees in the coming months.

A new Super PAC has launched with the very timely name Stop Public Unions Now. This political committee launches as Republican governors across the country launch broadsides against public employee unions, often meeting with powerful reactions from unions and negative reactions from the public.

The new PAC has ties to one of those governors. Oxford Communications CEO William O. Black is listed as Treasurer of Stop Public Unions Now and the direct market agency has touted its work for Governor John Kasich's 2010 campaign.

Kasich, along with Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, have led the way for governors going after public employee unions. Kasich has proposed limiting public employee unions collective bargaining rights to only cover wages. This has provoked a sharp reaction from the unions and the public. Kasich's poll numbers have plummeted and the public now says they would support former Governor Ted Strickland, defeated by Kasich, by a fifteen point margin. In Wisconsin, Walker has also seen his public standing fall after his very public battle with the state's public employee unions and Democratic senators.

Oxford Communications has operated as treasurer for numerous political action committees over the years. They have also provided services for a number of campaigns, many of which are in Ohio.

The creation of this PAC may be to bring some money into the PR battle. The PAC will be able to raise unlimited funds under the SpeechNow clause.

Super PACs were created after the vs. FEC court ruling expanded on the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling by allowing political action committees to raise unlimited funds provided that they only spend that money on political activities.