Education News for 04-19-2013

State Education News

  • Projections show funding increases for charter schools (Akron Beacon Journal)
  • After cutting $82.2 million from Gov. John Kasich’s original school funding proposal, recent reports detailing…Read more...

  • Emotions run high at 1st school board meeting since Strongsville teachers strike (Sun Newspapers)
  • Emotions wound taught and simmering frustrations snapped and boiled over…Read more...

  • Strongsville teachers continue workplace picketing (Sun Newspapers)
  • At the end of their seventh week on strike in Strongsville, teachers there have resumed picketing at workplaces of school board members…Read more...

Local Education News

  • Medina levy issue crumbles as state probes district, superintendent’s finances (Akron Beacon Journal)
  • The Medina school board has rescinded Superintendent Randy Stepp’s contract…Read more...

  • Geneva BOE: Rehiring Zappitelli saves money (Ashtabula Star-Beacon)
  • Geneva Board of Education members have not been shy about their intention to retire, then rehire Superintendent Mary Zappitelli, and have given official public notice and scheduled a public hearing on the matter…Read more...

  • Emphasis placed on ability to write (Cincinnati Enquirer)
  • Northwest Local Schools is making big changes in its three middle schools to get its adolescent students writing papers before they get to high…Read more...

  • Participation fees might see reductions by Northridge board (Newark Advocate)
  • The Northridge School Board is considering eliminating school fees for students and reducing pay to participate fees…Read more...


  • Reeling in Medina (Akron Beacon Journal)
  • It won’t be easy, and it probably won’t be cheap, but the Medina school board must find a way to move forward, rebuilding public trust shattered by revelations…Read more...

  • Relief from dysfunction (Akron Beacon Journal)
  • Medicaid expansion will remain a contentious issue for many more weeks as Ohio debates the next biennial budget. Advocates of expansion…Read more...

  • Inspired teachers inspired students (Columbus Dispatch)
  • Great teachers don’t just pound knowledge into a student’s head; they care, inspire and change lives. They teach with such passion…Read more...

Teachers stay strong in Strongsville

The teachers strike in Strongsville, Ohio is now entering its 5th week. Since the Strongsville Board of Education made their last offer, the Strongsville Education Association has made 3 counter offers that have been met with silence. The board's resistance to talk has been so extreme that a court had to order them to release public records. With this as a backdrop, we decided to travel up to Strongsville.

When we arrived we were met with the sight of hundreds of determined educators walking the picket line

After talking to them and listening to their side of the strike, it was clear to us that even after being out on strike for over a month, they were determined to secure a fair contract. It was also clear that the Strongsville board of education is being guided by special interests with an agenda and not the interests of the students and the community. This became even more apparent later in the day.

As the teachers marched up an down the sidewalk of the very busy road, they were receiving a tremendous amount of support from passersby,both in cars and on foot (a number of parents were walking the picket lines with the teachers).

Around 1pm, in the wind and cold, teachers and their supporters march to a common area to gather around a gazebo. Sen. Sherrod Brown was scheduled to address them.

At least 1,000 people turned out for a rally on Strongsville’s square attended by members of other unions.

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, an Avon Democrat, called on Frazee to kick-start the stalled negotiations.

“Most importantly, students are not well-served when both sides are not sitting at the bargaining table,“ Brown said.

“Strongsville students deserve a settlement – now. But a settlement can’t be reached if the two parties aren’t talking. That’s why I joined teachers today – who told me how they want to be back in the classroom – and why I will keep in contact with the school board,” Brown said.

After Sen. Brown spoke, SEA President Linscott addressed her members and the crowd. She laid out the clear reasons why the strike has happened and why it continues. But more importantly she offered the board yet another opportunity to resolve the strike fairly.
In 2009 SEA and the Strongsville board agreed to binding interest arbitration should it be needed.
Again, in 2010 SEA and the Strongsville board agreed to binding interest arbitration. In both cases that course of action wasn't needed as agreements were made.
Yesterday, SEA once again offered to end the strike immediately if the board agreed to binding interest arbitration. The proposal can be read in full below.

Strongsville E.A Binding Arbitration offer

Unlike in 2009 and 2010, the Strongsville board rejected this offer before the end of the day, once again demonstrating bad faith and a motive other than ending the month long strike. If their goal is to try and break the SEA, and it appears that that is their goal, they are going to fail. The hundreds of teachers we met, saw and talked ot yesterday were determined and resolved to continue their strike until a fair labor contract is agreed to.

The Federal mediator has called both parties back to the negotiating table today. Pressure on the Board is mounting as conditions inside Strongsville schools is deteriorating

Dozens of parents and students fed up with the Strongsville teachers strike took their pleas for the school board to negotiate and find common ground with the teachers union to City Council’s April 1 meeting.

Six Strongsville High School students recounted concerning conditions inside the school – overfilled classrooms, substitutes who did not know the material they were teaching and were not told where the regular teacher left off and an abundance of movies and study halls peppering the eight-period school day have become the norm, they said.
Pam Mullen, who has three children in the district, says her two youngest children at Muraski Elementary School are on IEPs for speech and reading.

“For over a week they did not receive the help they needed,” Mullen said. “My daughter tried her best to keep up, but it was too much. It led to melt downs and stomach aches.”

Mullen said she received a letter from the district saying no speech therapists had been hired yet, and she could not afford to hire one herself.

“This past month has been frustrating for my family,” she said.

Moser said some of her classmates who are on IEPs were left to fend for themselves at a time that was crucial for not just them, but the school district – Ohio Graduation Tests, which took place March 11-15, during the second week of the strike.

“Strongsville City Schools was thriving before this,” Moser said. “Now there’s no learning, no love and hallways are filled with dread.”

Junior Mathangi Sridharan painted the picture for those students who are in AP classes, high-level courses the district has struggled to fill.

Sridharan said students have been going over the material that will be covered in tests given next month by themselves – she and two other students have even taught some classes.
Other students spoke about the void of honors classes and extracurricular activities, including concerts and plays the students had spent months preparing for, but a common theme came up between parents and students, alike – the strike is on the brink of doing irreparable harm to the community.

The board has now had 4 opportunities offered to it by the striking teachers and has remained silent, refusing to negotiate in good faith. Let's hope they see sense and reason, and find a way to end this strike in a way that is fair to everyone, students, teachers and the community at large.

You can stay up to date on the strongsville strike at the SEA Facebook page, and on Twitter.

Stongsville Strike Primer

What's going on in Strongsville? Here's a good primer, via Diane Ravitch's blog.

My name is Christina Potter and I have taught in the Strongsville City Schools in Strongsville, Ohio for the last eight years.

When I was hired in Strongsville, a great community with excellent schools, many other teachers said I was lucky, and they were jealous of my new job, and during the first two years, they were right; things were great with all sides working together,and we earned Ohio’s highest ranking, Excellent with Distinction.

As time went on a division started to occur between the administration and the teachers. During our 2010 contract negotiations the school stated that times were difficult and they needed the teachers to make concessions. In good faith, and promise of a levy, we agreed to an additional two year pay freeze on top of the three years we had already taken. We also increased our medical expenses, took on an additional duty period, and agreed to work two days unpaid. Times were tough, but everyone was striving to make Strongsville great.

Then, everything went haywire. With the ink still drying on our contract, the Board tried to take the levy off the ballot but failed, so instead, they informed the community to vote the levy down. Then we learned that while the district cried broke in 2010, it spent $500,000 to hire an attorney who publicizes himself as a union breaker. Every school district in this area that has hired him has either gone on strike or threatened to. Needless to say, the teachers, who negotiated in good faith, were outraged.

When our contract ended in June 2012, the district asked for extra time before negotiating to get its finances in order, so on July 19th, the first negotiation session took place. Upon walking in, their attorney put a contract down on the table and told us it was a take it or leave it offer and refused to negotiate one item at a time. After months of failing to negotiate a contract, our Education Association declared an impasse, and a Federal Mediator came in to oversee negotiations. Here is the timeline of recent events:

1. On February 15th, 2013 the teachers of the Strongsville Education Association (SEA) overwhelmingly passed a strike authorization.

2. On February 22nd, SEA submitted a 10-day notice of our intent to strike.

3. On March 1st, I had to hand in my I.D. badge and keys and have all of my personal belongings out of the building by 3:15 p.m. After 3:15, the doors would be locked, and anyone still on school property would be arrested even though we had not taken a final strike vote; we also had another negotiation session scheduled for Saturday morning. For all intense purposes we were not on strike yet but we were being locked out of the buildings, our email accounts and our grade books.

4. On March 2nd, both negotiating teams and the School Board members met with the federal negotiator. At that time the school gave its final offer which was only slightly different than their original.

And that takes us to where we are today, on strike. Many of my fellow teachers are also Strongsville residents, who have children in the system. They fear we are destroying our great public schools by trashing the teaching profession within them, instead of working toward a settlement. They feel the Board has chosen to waste tax payer money and painted teachers as greedy; meanwhile, it has forked over another $500,000, for a total of $1 million, to an attorney instead of using the money for books and technology.

Why are we striking in the cold, wind, and snow from 5:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. We, the Strongsville teachers, feel we are not just standing for the SEA, but for all of our fellow public school teachers in the Ohio and across the nation during this statewide/national epidemic of privatizing our public schools. If this contract goes through other school districts may soon go after their teachers, and we cannot in good conscience allow that to happen. As a teacher and a parent of two, I believe in public education and its hard working teachers, who too often are the brunt of undeserved bashing.

The teachers of Strongsville will hold a rally this afternoon at 4 pm in the center of Strongsville, at the gazebo, at the corners of Pearl Rd. and Rt 82.

Education News for 03-05-2013

State Education News

  • 2 are finalists for Ohio education chief (Columbus Dispatch)
  • A state Board of Education subcommittee today named Ohio’s acting schools superintendent and the governor’s top education adviser as finalists for state superintendent of public instruction…Read more…

  • State Ed Board spends 50K to “find” current superintendent (
  • Last year the State School Board hired Ray and Associates, an Iowa-based company that “specializes in educational executive leadership searches”, to help identify a new State Superintendent.…Read more…

  • Ohio Bill Would Allow Schools To Use Levies To Cover Security Costs (WBNS)
  • School districts strapped for cash may soon have another way to pull money for school security.…Read more…

Local Education News

  • IN OUR SCHOOLS: Principals face layoffs from CPS (Cincinnati Enquirer)
  • The budget scramble has begun at Cincinnati Public Schools, and it may cost some workers their jobs.…Read more…

  • Strongsville teachers strike moves into 2nd day; more substitutes will be in classrooms (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
  • Teachers braved biting cold on picket lines today during the first day of the Strongsville Education Association's strike against the district, while students and principals faced their own ordeal inside the schools.…Read more…

  • Lima Senior students bring 'Shark Tank' lessons to middle schoolers (Lima News)
  • They’re called Spring Shoes, and Lima North Middle School fifth-graders Michael Younger and J’Veahn Soles assured the “Sharks” the shoes would be the next big thing.…Read more…

  • State tells Newcomerstown: 'We're not here to take control' (New Philadelphia Times-Reporter)
  • State and local officials met for the first time Monday to begin formulating a plan that will get Newcomerstown out of fiscal emergency status.…Read more…

  • Legend Elementary deemed 'School of Promise' (Newark Advocate)
  • Legend Elementary is one of 163 schools statewide to be recognized as a School of Promise by the Ohio Department of Education based on its 2011-12 report card.…Read more…

  • Massive ‘Building for Success’ program gets mixed reviews (Toledo Blade)
  • So big was the project, so vast its purported benefits to the city and its schools, and yet it barely passed.…Read more…

  • Strongsville High School students leave class during strike, feel unsafe and describe overcrowding (WEWS)
  • Strongsville High School students described a chaotic school day as their teachers took to the picket line.…Read more…

  • Schools lose beneficial drug prevention program P.L.U.S., investigate other options (Willoughby News Herald)
  • Beginning next year, area schools will no longer have access to the long-time drug prevention program they’ve come to know.…Read more…


  • ‘A passion to be spent’ on teaching children (Akron Beacon Journal)
  • “The situation is dire, the agenda urgent. … There is work to be done and passion to be spent by all of us who appreciate the stakes for our children and for the nation’s future.…Read more…

  • State should give Cleveland school reform plan a chance to work: editorial (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
  • The Cleveland and Lorain school districts have fallen into the academic doghouse, failing to meet federal standards for four years and earning the state's lowest academic rating -- "emergency," essentially an F.…Read more…

  • Resolve Strongsville teachers strike quickly: editorial (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
  • No doubt about it: The ugly, confrontational Strongsville teachers strike is a disservice to the future of the suburban district, rated "excellent with distinction" by the state.…Read more…

  • Punish school statistics’ scrubbers (Marietta Times)
  • In what amounted to a spot check of Ohio school districts, state Auditor Dave Yost found eight that engaged in "scrubbing" of attendance reports.…Read more…

  • Common sense school rules (Warren Tribune Chronicle)
  • Several common-sense changes in state rules that often hobble rather than help public schools are being proposed by Ohio Gov. John Kasich.…Read more…

Lessons from the teachers strike

When an article concludes with this line, we're going to recommend you read the entire piece.

As both policy and politics, the demonization of teachers unions is a dead end for improving American education. Working with, not against, teachers is the more sensible way to better our schools.

Two Visions

Education historian Diane Ravitch, writing about the Chicago teachers strike, but has lots of relevance across the board

The Chicago Teachers Union has a different vision: it wants smaller classes, more social workers, air-conditioning in the sweltering buildings where summer school is conducted, and a full curriculum, with teachers of arts and foreign languages in every school. Some schools in Chicago have more than forty students in a class, even in kindergarten. There are 160 schools without libraries; more than 40 percent have no teachers of the arts.

What do the teachers want? The main sticking point is the seemingly arcane issue of teacher evaluations. The mayor wants student test scores to count heavily in determining whether a teacher is good (and gets a bonus) or bad (and is fired). The union points to research showing that test-based evaluation is inaccurate and unfair. Chicago is a city of intensely segregated public schools and high levels of youth violence. Teachers know that test scores are influenced not only by their instruction but by what happens outside the classroom.

The strike has national significance because it concerns policies endorsed by the current administration; it also raises issues found all over the country. Not only in Chicago but in other cities, teachers insist that their students need smaller classes and a balanced curriculum. Reformers want more privately-managed charter schools, even though they typically get the same results as public schools. Charter schools are a favorite of the right because almost 90 percent of them are non-union. Teachers want job protection so that they will not be fired for capricious reasons and have academic freedom to teach controversial issues and books. Reformers want to strip teachers of any job protections.

Encounrage you to read the whole piece, here.