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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Why No Rights At Work Is Wrong

Borrowed totally from OEA.


Our out-of-touch opponents are trying to deceive voters again like they did last year. This is worse than SB 5. It doesn’t have to be this way. The so-called, trick-titled “right to work" is WRONG because it is an unsafe and unfair attack on workers' rights, good jobs, families and the middle class. We call it No Rights at Work is Wrong and we don’t need it.


If you work hard and play the rules, you should be treated fairly You should be able to earn a fair wage for a hard day’s work RTW is unfair because it degrades the value of hard work and the worker


RTW strips workers of their collective bargaining rights Voters have spoken on this issue: they support collective bargaining rights Workers should be able to speak up for themselves, their coworkers and their community on the job


RTW means lower wages and fewer benefits for you, me, all of us We need good paying jobs for working and middle-class Ohioans Communities thrive and grow when Ohioans have good paying jobs


It makes it harder to collectively bargain for life-saving equipment, staffing and other safety issues for the brave men and women that protect us, like police officers and firefighters It takes away the professional voices of those we trust to take care of our children and families, such as teachers and nurses It is wrong because it means less money, lower wages and fewer benefits for you, me and all of us in the middle class. Communities thrive and grow when Ohioans have good paying jobs. Let's stand up together and stick together for a decent standard of living.

We Deserve It.

Experience Counts

Among the more bizarre trends in education reform debate has been the emergence of an argument that experience doesn’t really matter. The problem appears to be that some researchers have not found ways to measure the importance of experience very effectively, and so, cheered on by cost-cutting and union-bashing allies, they tell us that after the first few years, teacher experience doesn’t matter. They have the test scores to prove it, they say.

I’m not here to argue the opposite. I’ve seen new teachers who have a skill set that rivals some of their veteran colleagues. However, I’ve never met a teacher who didn’t believe they could still improve. After all, we’re in the learning business. With experience comes not only time to learn more content and more pedagogy, but also to learn more about children, psychology and brain neurology, about working effectively with peers, administrators, and the community.

Think of other professions, and let me know if you know of any where experience isn’t valued. If education research isn’t showing the value of experience, then I think we should be asking questions like, “What’s wrong with their research methods? What’s wrong with the measures they’ve chosen? What’s wrong with schools and education systems that they can’t put experience to better use?”

This morning, I heard an interesting story about the oil industry, and the experience gap that is emerging among its engineers and other workers. To my untrained eye, this seems like an industry where experience wouldn’t matter. You’re dealing with physics, chemistry, machinery, manual labor – does the oil rig know or care how old or how experienced the workers are? Is there any chance that the properties of oil are unpredictable? If you can build, repair, or operate machinery in another industry, is the oil industry machinery so different?

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Rick Santorum Needs A History Lesson

In a campaign stop in Ohio, GOP presidential hopeful Rick Santorum called the viability of the public education system into question

“Where did they come up that public education and bigger education bureaucracies was the rule in America?” he said. “Parents educated their children, because it’s their responsibility to educate their children.”

“Yes the government can help,” Mr. Santorum added. “But the idea that the federal government should be running schools, frankly — much less that the state government should be running schools — is anachronistic. It goes back to the time of industrialization of America when people came off the farms where they did home-school or have the little neighborhood school, and into these big factories, so we built equal factories called public schools.

Mr. Santorum isn't just wrong, he is absurdly wrong. The Ohio constitution enshrines the provision of public education by the state. It's a defining core value, not some new fangled government edict dreamed up by supporters of bureaucratic big government 50 years ago. This was written into our constitution before US industrialization began and factories were built, it was written in our constitution in 1851.

Mr. Santorum seems to want to take us back to before 1851.


B Herringten on twitter digs into the even further distant past and notes that funding of public education in Ohio began with the Land Ordinance of 1785 before Ohio was even a state

The ordinance was also significant for establishing a mechanism for funding public education. Section 16 in each township was reserved for the maintenance of public schools. Many schools today are still located in section sixteen of their respective townships, although a great many of the school sections were sold to raise money for public education

Do Teacher Quality Initiatives Impact the Wrong Teachers?

Three anectdotes.

so, what do these three have in common?

In the first, the teacher (rightfully) wanted to scare the worst students straight and push the mediocre ones to do better. But it was the best student (I'd like to think) who was mortified, not the worst ones. Many years later, I found out my Mom had relayed my reaction to the teacher, who had sighed, shaken her head, and said something like "it's always the wrong ones who get scared."

In the second, I (rightfully, I sure hope) wanted to scare the worst students straight and push the mediocre ones to do better. But the only reaction I got was from possibly the best student in the class -- the one who doesn't need to spend any time fretting about what the end of term report card will say.

In the third, the district (rightfully, I think) wanted to scare the worst teachers straight (and/or just fire them) and push the mediocre ones to do better. I can't say how the other teachers responded, but the model teacher I know is the one who's been scared, despite being straight as an arrow to begin with.

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Kasich looks funny on a horse

NBC4 had an excellent segment on Governor Kasich signing the bill that will bring Teach for America to Ohio.

It was this quote that causes us to pause.

"The cavalry is coming. They're going to ride on white horses with white hats in to our schools,"

This displays a level of contempt for teachers and public education that is hard to fathom. Maybe it's just a rhetorical flourish from a Governor known to misspeak often, but it does conjure up imagery that seems out of place.

If TFA are wearing "white hats", riding on "white horses", then who exactly are we supposed to assume are dressed in black? What exactly are the cavalry riding to the rescue of? The war on public education isn't going on in the classrooms, it's going on in the halls of the statehouse where legislators are busy slashing the budgets of public education.

The Governor seems to have called in the wrong cavalry and sent them to the wrong place.

Reference for the title here.