Sunday, November 20, 2011

Experience Columbus, Ohio

See what makes Columbus, Ohio a great city.

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Real Cost Of Tax Breaks in Ohio

Columbus city leaders have given millions in tax breaks to lure and keep big business in the city, but that means money is diverted from teachers and classrooms every year.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Kasich Friend Urges Ohioans to Vote No On Issue 2

Conservative Cincinnati TV and radio personality Bill Cunningham and friend of John Kasich urges Ohioans to vote NO on Issue 2.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A Kasich Supporter Says He Is Wrong on Ohio Senate Bill 5

On October 25th episode of MSNBC's The Ed Show, conservative TV and radio personality Bill Cunningham slams his friend John Kasich for over-reaching with his anti-worker piece of legislation, Senate Bill 5.

Monday, October 24, 2011

WKYC of Cleveland Debates Ohio Issue 2

Tom Beres discusses these issues with the Plain Dealer's Joe Frolik, former Congressman Dennis Eckart, labor law attorney Keith Ashmus and Amy Hanuaer, the director of Policy Matters, a research group that supports working people.

Retired Republican Ohio Supreme Court Judge Explains Why He is Voting No on Issue 2

Retired Republican Ohio Supreme Court Justice Andy Douglas tells why he Is voting no on Issue 2 to repeal Senate Bill 5

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Truth About Teacher Seniority

A point-by-point rebuttal to Michelle Rhee's claims that teacher seniority is harming America's students.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Cheney Is the Force Behind Support for Ohio SB5

Liz Cheney -- daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney -- is the driving force behind the out-of-state, special interest money pouring into Ohio to support Senate Bill 5 and try to get voters to vote for Issue 2.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Conservative Commentator Bill Cunningham Urges You To Vote NO On Issue 2

Conservative WLW 700 Cincinnati radio personality Bill Cunningham comes out against Issue 2, declaring that "those being affected by governmental decisions need to have a place at the bargaining table and a say in what's being discussed."

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Problem With Ohio Senate Bill 5

There are certainly reforms that should be made with how the state relates to its public sector unions. Unfortunately, many knowledgeable people close to the political process believe that the legislators and Governor’s Office rushed Senate Bill 5 through the legislative process and produced a flawed bill. Senate Bill 5 gives governing bodies both executive power to manage their employees—as they rightly should have—but also judicial power to settle labor disputes between management and labor--which they should not have. They should have taken the time to develop a labor dispute resolution process that does not violate the constitutional checks and balances provided by the separation of powers. There needs to be an objective third party that mediates labor disputes. Ohio Senate Bill 5 does not provide for this.

They also should not have mandated a teacher evaluation process that the framework for had yet to even be developed. This amounts to an ex post facto law. Requiring public employees to contribute 10% of their incomes to their retirement and pay 15% of their health care costs is very reasonable, but that is not what this 304-page bill does. It completes undermines the whole relationship between management and labor—which needed to be reformed—but it does not replace it with a system that satisfies the requirements of the law or is better for the good people of Ohio. Hopefully, one way or another these flaws produced by political expediency and simplistic ideology will be remedied with a more effective system than the one created by Ohio Senate Bill 5.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Republican Senator Explains What is Wrong with SB5

Republican Senator Bill Seitz explains why he is opposed to Senate Bill 5.

Why SB5 Is Flawed from a Republican Senator

Republican Senator Tim Grendell speaks on the Ohio State Senate floor in opposition to Senate Bill 5.

Republican Senator Explains Why He Is Voting No On Issue 2

Senator Bill Seitz (R) on 55KRC - The Talk Station
Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Ohio's Teachers Oppose Issue 2

Ohio Senate Bill 5 will restrict teachers' rights to bargain collectively to advocate for the best interests of our students. The teacher evaluations mandated by this bill will require more standardized tests for our children in more subject areas. Teachers can and should be evaluated, but the focus of these evaluations should not be standardized test scores. The focus of teacher evaluations should be on the professional practice of educators--not the standardized test scores of students. Vote No on Issue 2 to repeal Senate Bill 5 and do what is best for Ohio's children.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

No Child Left Behind Effect

New Test Questions: Cause of Teacher Layoffs?

Ohio SB5 Changes A Lot More Than Retirement Contributions

Supporters of Ohio Senate Bill 5 claim that voters should uphold the law because it is only asks public employees to contribute 10% of their salaries to their retirement and pay 15% of their health care costs. However, the final version of Senate Bill 5 is 304 pages. It doesn't take 304 pages to only change retirement and health care contributions. Senate Bill 5 changes a lot more than retirement and health care contributions.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Evaluating Teachers Based On Standardized Test Scores

Evaluating teachers based on the current standardized tests is not going to improve education in America. We need to improve the quality of our tests before we should require this. The tests need to focus more on problem solving and critical thinking. Standardized tests can be used as a diagnostic tool to meet students’ needs and assess progress, but they should not be used to evaluate the quality of teaching. We do not want our teachers to be pressured into viewing students as “Value-Added” and “Value-Subtracted” as they walk into the classroom each day because of the learning differences inherent in each student.

Research shows that more than 60% of student achievement is attributable to factors outside of the teachers’ control—such as family income and parenting effectiveness. We should not evaluate teachers based on these factors outside of their control. We should evaluate teachers on what they control—their own professional practice as educators. A criteria for effective teaching, such as Charlotte Danielson’s Framework for Teaching, provides a system for evaluating teachers on their work as educators. Quality teaching cannot be reduced to the standardized test scores of students. We do not want to take more time and resources away from classroom instruction to devote it to annual standardized tests simply for the purpose of evaluating the teachers—not the teachers.

We should raise the standard for entering the teaching profession and empower teachers as professionals. This includes dramatically improving the quality of teacher preparation programs at the university level. Too many universities view their education programs as a cash cow because they do not require the expensive equipment of other programs like the sciences and they can attract a lot of students. Education programs should be some of the rigorous to get into because of they influence every aspect of society, but they are not because many in this country think that teaching is easy and than anyone can be a decent teacher with just a little training. If we made teaching more difficult to get into as a profession, we would have to make sure that we are compensating teachers well enough to attract talented individuals with the expectation that they will have to work hard to be successful. Then, teachers should be evaluated annually by their administrators and peers based upon their professional practice as educators—not student scores.

The public at large also needs to consider what can be done to improve the behavior of students at schools to put teachers in a better position. Too many teachers face impossible classrooms with students who do not behave themselves and do not value an education. Mythical superstar teachers will not solve this problem. Student behavior needs to be improved before educational outcomes will improve. Teachers need to be given the opportunity and freedom by politicians and administrators to design engaging learning experiences and not restricted by scripts and lock step curriculum mandates because they do not trust their teachers. Scripts and lock step curricula do not engage students in the learning process and turn them off to education.

Charter schools and vouchers are not the answers to this problem. Nationwide charter schools are not better than public schools. Those that do outperform public schools often provide wrap-around services with private money to provide students and families the nutrition, health care and services necessary to be more successful. Meeting these needs begins to address the underlying social problems that manifest themselves in less than desirable outcomes for our educational system. The lack of success is not caused by the schools it is caused by the society and individuals within the society who do not do their part to make the system function properly. We all need to take a hard look at ourselves to evaluate if we our doing our part to help our nation’s young people be successful before we blame schools and teachers.

Ravitch Discusses the Race to the Bottom on CNN

Education Historian Diane Ravitch tells Christine Romans that the U.S. should learn from top-ranked education systems and stop focusing on student testing for the purpose of evaluating teachers.

Matt Damon's Mom Discusses Education on CNN

Nancy Carlsson-Paige (Matt Damon's Mom) and Bill Bennett (former U.S. Secretary of Education) tell CNN's Christine Romans what they think of high stakes testing. Nancy Carlsson-Paige expresses her concerns with the misuse and overuse of standardized tests in American schools. She is concerned about the movement to evaluate teachers based on students' standardized test scores and tie their compensation to these results. She is worried that this will stifle the creativity and development of our children by labeling them at early ages and reduce the time devoted to art, music and other opportunities for children to develop as individuals. Bill Bennett agrees that there is too much standardized testing, but defends its appropriate use.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

My Response to the Portage County TEA Party Director

Tom Zawistowski,

I think that eliminating tenure instead of reforming it, requiring teacher compensation to be tied to standardized test scores and eliminating binding arbitration without replacing it with some type of third-party mediation are not better for the taxpayer than what we have now. I am being truthful. I agree that tenure should be reformed but I don’t think it should be eliminated. We need to protect teachers from having curriculum dictated to them for political reasons by school boards. Teachers should be evaluated every year for diagnostic purposes, but the results should not be made public and the rankings should not be tied to compensation. (See the behavioral economics work of Dan Ariely and Daniel Pink.) There should be some mechanism for third-party mediation of labor disputes—otherwise collective bargaining is a farce and a waste of time and money.

A 304 Page Bill Changes More Than That

Recently, there have been several advertisements urging the voters in Ohio to support Issue 2—the referendum vote on the controversial Ohio Senate Bill 5. These advertisements urge people to support issue 2 because they claim that all Senate Bill 5 does is require public employees like teachers, police officers and firefighters to contribute 10% of their salaries towards their retirements and pay 15% of their health care costs. 

However, the final version of Ohio Senate Bill 5 was 304 pages. If all this bill did was require public employees to contribute 10% of their salaries to their retirements and pay 15% of their health care costs, it would not take 304 pages to explain that. These advertisements are trying to create a straw man argument to get people to think that this bill is one thing—namely reasonable—when in reality it is something completely different. Everyone in Ohio should know that this bill does a lot more in those 304 pages than those two simple items presented in the advertisements.

For the record, the vast majority of teachers and many other public servants around the state already contribute 10% of their salaries to their retirements. Furthermore, over the past year, many teachers and public workers have agreed to pay more of their health care costs at the bargaining table through the collective bargaining process. According to, “Many public workers [in Ohio] contribute 10 percent of their salary toward their pension while the employer contributes 14 percent.”

Everyone in Ohio who would consider voting for Issue 2 should know that Senate Bill 5 does a lot more than these ads imply. This should make everyone wonder what is in the 304-page bill that they are not talking about. It reduces the voice that teachers have to advocate for their students and it diminishes the say that teachers have in what they are required to do in the classroom. It requires teachers to be rated into one of four categories by an evaluation system that has not been developed by the state. The bill requires 50% of this evaluation to be based upon measures of student growth, which will most likely be calculated using “Value Added Models” derived from standardized test scores of students. Currently, value added scores are only available for teachers who teach math and reading to 4th through 8th grade students. To evaluate all teachers, the state will have to develop other measures, at great cost, and will probably try to create tests for more subjects and more grades. This will mean that the state will be testing students not for the purpose of assessing students’ learning so much as it will be for evaluating their teachers. There has been no answer for how they will evaluate art, music, physical education and other subjects for which a standardized test does not exist. The increased use of standardized tests will mean more education funds will go to testing companies and educational consultants, many of which are supporters of the politicians pushing for these reforms, and less money will end up in classrooms. It also means that the state government and more likely the new “common core consortia” at the national level will have more say over what is taught, while teachers will have less input. More funds will likely be spent on teacher evaluators and less on students. Students will spend more time taking tests and less time learning. This is just a small summary of changes required by the proposed legislation. So, in reality the 304 page Senate Bill 5 requires a lot more than increased pension and health care contributions by public employees.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Thanks, Mr. Zelnis! You Made A Difference!

Dave Coverly, creator of the comic strip "Speed Bump", is a Reuben Award winner for "Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year" and has had his work featured in over 400 newspapers and websites. Dave thanks his teacher, Mr. Zelnis, of Plainwell High School.

The "You Made A Difference" campaign is an effort to let teachers know how they have made a difference in former students' lives by allowing those former students to thank their teachers by writing a note or uploading a public video to Facebook or YouTube. The campaign was launched by HuffPost Education blogger Scott Janssen, who in June wrote a post arguing that Cameron Diaz and Justin Timberlake's Bad Teacher movie wrongly blames the plight and failure of American schools on poor performing teachers.

Thank you, Mrs. Foster! You Made A Difference!

Lindsay Tarpley is a two-time Olympic Gold Medal winner for the US Women's National Soccer team. Lindsay thanks her teacher, Mrs. Foster. The "You Made A Difference" campaign is an effort to let teachers know how they have made a difference in former students' lives by allowing those former students to thank their teachers by writing a note or uploading a public video to Facebook or YouTube. The campaign was launched by HuffPost Education blogger Scott Janssen, who in June wrote a post arguing that Cameron Diaz and Justin Timberlake's Bad Teacher movie wrongly blames the plight and failure of American schools on poor performing teachers.

Thanks Mr. Perry! You Made a Difference!

The "You Made A Difference" campaign is an effort to let teachers know how they have made a difference in former students' lives by allowing those former students to thank their teachers by writing a note or uploading a public video to Facebook or YouTube. The campaign was launched by HuffPost Education blogger Scott Janssen, who in June wrote a post arguing that Cameron Diaz and Justin Timberlake's Bad Teacher movie wrongly blames the plight and failure of American schools on poor performing teachers.

Thanks, Mr. Bauer! You Made A Difference!

The "You Made A Difference" campaign is an effort to let teachers know how they have made a difference in former students' lives by allowing those former students to thank their teachers by writing a note or uploading a public video to Facebook or YouTube. The campaign was launched by HuffPost Education blogger Scott Janssen, who in June wrote a post arguing that Cameron Diaz and Justin Timberlake's Bad Teacher movie wrongly blames the plight and failure of American schools on poor performing teachers.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Grading Teachers from

Nadia Bachir of WCMH, a local television station in Columbus, produced this short one minute video about teacher evaluations in the state of Ohio. The segment features Scott DiMauro, a social studies teacher from Worthington, and Amy Loring, a local third grade teacher and mother of three. In the video, Scott expresses concern about the requirement to use standardized test scores as 50% of teacher evaluations and stressed the need for local control and flexibility. He also expresses concern about requiring students to take standardized tests every year--not for the purpose of evaluating students, but for the purpose of evaluating teachers. 

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Republican Senator Calls for Repeal of SB5

Introduction On August 19, 2011 Republican leaders within the state staged a media event to invite the representatives of We Are Ohio to talk about Issue 2 before the August 30 deadline for withdrawing the referendum of Senate Bill 5 from the ballot that the group successfully achieved by collecting over 1.3 million signatures. Not surprisingly, We Are Ohio declined the invitation saying that the Republican leadership needed to repeal Senate Bill 5 first, before discussions could begin. In a report by Karen Kasler for Ohio Public Radio, Ohio Republican Senator Bill Seitz described how this scenario could play out:

“We [Republicans] repeal [Ohio Senate Bill] 5. They [We Are Ohio] drop the referendum. Both sides are now mutually disarmed. They are back to the status quo ante. And then they agree in a cooperative spirit to move forward because most folks realize the current law is flawed.”
-Ohio Republican Senator Bill Seitz

The Republican Senator’s comments do create a scenario in which both sides could give up something as a sign of good faith to begin constructive discussions. However, this will not return both sides to their original positions. The people of Ohio have overwhelming showed support for the public school teachers, police officers and firefighters that serve the people of Ohio. The people of Ohio want a structure in place for delivering high quality public services--not one that is seriously flawed because it was rushed through the legislative process.

The process utilized to pass Senate Bill 5 did not show respect for the teachers, police officers and firefighters that work hard to educate our children, protect our property and protect our lives. The voices of these public services were not heard or respected when Senate Bill 5 was originally rushed through the legislative process.

Education is a very complicated issue and very emotional because it is essential to our children. Legislation related to a state’s educational system needs to be carefully considered with input from current classroom teachers taken into account throughout the entire process. Education in American has too often suffered from unintended consequences and ill-conceived legislative mandates. More than ever people realize the value of education to our economy and national security. Teachers know what works and what does not because they are the ones working with children in the classroom every day. They will also be the ones responsible for complying with legislative mandates, so legislation needs to have buy-in from teachers. America cannot afford poorly constructed education laws passed by politicians that are not based on input from the teachers themselves. Our nation’s children are too important for that.

SB5 Compromise-Political Cartoon

Friday, August 19, 2011

SB5 Will Cut Teachers' Salaries

There is a lot of discussion of Senate Bill 5/Issue 2 in Ohio and a lot of misunderstanding about the implications of the legislation. One of the most debated aspects of the bill is the possible impact it would have on the salaries teachers are paid. Several groups are claiming that no teacher’s salary will be reduced as a result of Ohio Senate Bill 5.

Senate Bill 5 requires that teachers’ salaries be determined by their level of teaching license, highly-qualified designation, “value-added” measures of student performance, performance evaluations and other criteria established their school board. Ohio issues four different teaching licenses: resident educator, professional educator, senior professional educator and lead professional educator. Currently, very few teachers in the state have a senior professional educator or lead professional educator license because they just became available in 2011. To receive a senior professional educator license, teachers must earn a “master teacher” designation. This requires teachers to write a 12-page paper with up to 10 individual pieces of evidence as part of a Master Teacher portfolio. Time spent learning these requirements and complying with them is time that will not be spent on instructing students, planning instruction or evaluating assessments. To receive a lead professional educator license, teachers must receive a “distinguished” rating on their Master Teacher portfolio and earn the Teacher Leader Endorsement; or complete the National Board Certification process. It costs $3000 for a teacher to simply apply for National Board Certification (money which does not stay in the state) and requires at least a year’s worth of work to complete. The Master Teacher portfolio requires participation on a lot of different committees and district initiatives that will limit the opportunities for individuals to complete this program and take their focus off the students in their classroom. If districts are required to pay individuals with these new advanced licenses more, it means that they have to pay individuals who do not have these advanced licenses less. So, a highly effective classroom teacher who has taught for twenty years, earned a master’s degree and whose students perform well on assessments but who does not jump through the hoops to get an advanced license would probably get a pay cut. Also, if no more funding is made available for education and politicians want to pay teachers deemed to be “good” more, they are going to have pay other teachers less. It will be impossible to have less funding for education and at the same time pay teachers more. Furthermore, the state has not yet provided the details of the basis for the teacher evaluations and there are many potential problems that have not been solved. Teachers who are highly effective but who work with low-performing students may also receive a cut because their students do not score well on standardized tests—even though the teacher is effective but unable to overcome all of the factors that influence a child’s performance that are outside of the teacher’s control. This may discourage teachers from working with high need students. So, despite what some people are claiming, Ohio Senate Bill 5 will in fact reduce the salaries paid to many teachers.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Kasich's Comments on Talking to Public Labor Unions About SB5

This is the radio broadcast from February 26, 2011 when Bill Cunningham of 700 WLW speaks to Governor Kasich about the merit of S.B.5. The Governor says that he was done talking to the public labor unions of Ohio and it was time for action.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Senate Bill 5 And Collective Bargaining in Ohio

This November the people of Ohio will have the opportunity to decide whether they want to give Governor Kasich and the current Republican-controlled legislature the power to limit the bargaining rights of Ohio’s teachers, police officers and firefighters when they vote on Issue 2—the referendum of the infamous Senate Bill 5. Both sides agree that if not repealed by the voters this piece of legislation is a major change in the labor negotiation process for the state of Ohio.

As it stands now, if the local governing body and the teachers (and all other public servants including police officers and firefighters) can not agree to a new contract; the matter goes into a stage known as “fact finding.” Under current law, an objective third-party is brought in to mediate the situation and make a decision in a process known as “binding arbitration”—meaning the decision of the third-party mediator must be followed by both sides. Under Senate Bill 5, however, if a labor negotiation is unresolved the situation again goes into fact finding. Some try to argue that the fact finding process will make all of the relevant information available and result in the optimal decision being made. However, there is not shortage of information available about the U.S. debt crisis and politicians were unable to reach a decision that satisfied anyone. It will be even more difficult for the public to educate themselves about tax policy, public finance and labor markets related to all of the public services provided. The argument that simply making information available will result in optimal decisions being made by politicians does not seem to be supported by recent events. If the two sides are unable to reach an agreement after fact finding, the original governing body gets to make the final decision this time-- without having a third-party mediate. So, in reality the legislative body does not have to engage in good faith negotiate with its workers. The governing body with authority over the workers can just not agree with the offer from teachers, for example, go into fact-finding and choose their own original offer. The law goes further and effectively abolishes the right of public workers to strike. So, although the law does not technically abolish the right of teachers, police officers and firefighters to collectively bargain; in reality the governing body has no need to “bargain” or negotiate with the workers at all.

This reality caused Republican Senator Timothy J. Grendell, who was hoping the bill would be changed, to testify, "If you can't strike and the city council or the legislative authority gets to impose the ultimate terms, you don't have collective bargaining. From my perspective, you might as well forget going through the motions of a negotiations." Because changes were not made to the bill, Senator Grendell, who earned his Juris Doctor from Case Western Reserve University and his law degree from the University of Virginia, stated that Senate Bill 5 was unconstitutional in his public testimony before the Ohio Senate on March 30, 2011 based on the 1989 Ohio Supreme Court case City of Rocky River v. State Employment Relations Board. This caused Republican Senator Tim Grendell and five other Republican Senators along with all of the Ohio Senate Democrats to vote against Senate Bill 5. So, although Ohio Senate Bill 5 does not technically abolish collective bargaining rights for teachers, in reality it means that governing bodies do not really have to negotiate with their workers because the workers will have no power to bargain. Make no mistake about it—if the voters of Ohio fail to vote no Issue 2, this will be a radical departure from the current process that teachers, police officers and firefighters engage in to negotiate issues related to workplace safety, compensation and even class sizes.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Experience Matters

On August 13, 2011 Steven Brill wrote a piece for the Wall Street Journal entitled "Super Teachers Alone Can't Save Our Schools." This article makes several important points based on his experience of studying schools in America. One of the people quoted in the article is Dale Levin, the co-founder of the Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP). Levin says that he was questioned by friends and families 18 years ago why he "would go teach in some ghetto school in Houston." Recently, we seem to be hearing every day that teaching is a cushy job, with high salaries and lots of vacation time. This rhetoric does not seem to match up with the reality of Levin's experiences. Apparently, some people think Yale graduates are too good for to be teachers, but it is a cushy job for "regular" people.  

"Making all those things work is the job," [Levin] continued. "It's exhausting, and it's not exciting, but it's what you have to do."...Yes, teaching is hard work and a lot of it is not glamorous. I would argue that it is just as difficult, if not more difficult, in the public schools than in the charter schools. Maybe people like Levin and Brill should encourage and support public schools teachers as well as their supposed "super teachers" in charter schools instead of denigrating them as inferior and incompetent. But I guess that would not be good for business. Maybe they just have different motives than most teachers...

"I feel overwhelmed, underappreciated and underpaid," a teacher told me one morning at one of the Success Charter Network schools in Harlem. "I work from 7:30 to 5:30 in the building and then go home and work some more," the teacher told me. "I get disrespectful pushback from parents all the time when I try to give their kids consequences. I get feedback from my [supervisors], who demand that I change five or six things by the next day. I think we are doing a great job, so I keep at it. " This is exactly what good teachers around the country do every day--whether they are in charter schools or traditional public schools. It is too bad this woman does not have the support and encouragement from her administration and colleagues to feel like she can continue teaching. Maybe their management practices and philosophy are not sustainable, and instead just burning out teachers every few years. This is supported by the data of many studies showing that charter schools have a high staff turnover rate. 

Brill continues, "They[traditional public school teachers], too, need to respond to the emergency, but they won't do it if all that we give them is a choice between sprinting and sitting down. The lesson that I draw from Ms. Reid's dropping out of the race [quitting] at the Harlem Success school is that the teachers' unions have to be enlisted in the fight for reform. The unions are the organizational link that will enable school improvement to expand beyond the ability of extraordinary people to work extraordinary hours." Brill seems to come to the realization that maybe we should not fire all 3.3 million public teachers, but instead should work with them and the teachers' unions to improve education. What a novel idea. I wonder if any "education reformer" governors will agree.

According to Brill, improving education "means creating work lives and career paths for teachers that will motivate a good portion of them to stay for a while....If there is anything that I have learned from trying to figure out the problems of American public education, it's...that teachers get far better at what they do when they've been doing it for a few years. Working long, hard hours helps." I agree--we should make teaching a career that people want to continue in their whole careers because good teachers get better each year with more experience and lifelong learning. I wonder what policy makers could do to attract high quality people into education and make it so attractive that they want to continue teaching their entire careers...If only we could come up with something...I know, maybe we could pay teachers more each year to give them an incentive to stay and grant them some sort of due process to protect them from the political whims of schools boards and administrators who may not like them for personal reasons. We could call it tenure or something like that. Of course we should have a process where formerly effective teachers who become ineffective teachers would have their employment terminated, but as Brill points out we need to try to find a way to keep good teachers because experience matters. 

Can Teachers Alone Overcome Poverty?

Dana Goldstein recently wrote an article for The Nation entitled "Can Teachers Alone Overcome Poverty? Steven Brill Thinks So" that discusses Brill's coverage of education issues in America. The article summarizes some of his past work and provides analysis of his recent book entitled Class Warfare. Here is an excerpt from the article:

"One of Class Warfare’s stars, a charter school assistant principal named Jessica Reid, unexpectedly quits her job at Eva Moskowitz’s Harlem Success Academy in the middle of the school year; the charter chain’s rigorous demands pushed the 28-year-old Reid, a dedicated and charismatic educator, to the brink of a nervous breakdown and divorce. “This wasn’t a sustainable life, in terms of my health and my marriage,” she tells Brill, who concludes that he agrees (at least in part) with education historian and charter school critic Diane Ravitch. You can’t staff a national public school system of 3.2 million teachers, Ravitch tells Brill, with Ivy Leaguers willing to run themselves ragged for two years. Most of these folks won’t move on to jobs at traditional public schools, as the uncommonly committed Jessica Reid did, but will simply leave the classroom altogether and head to politics, business or law, where they’ll be paid more to do prestigious work, often with shorter, less pressure-filled hours."

Continue Reading:
"Can Teachers Alone Overcome Poverty? Steven Brill Thinks So"

Friday, August 5, 2011

CNN's Coverage of the Save Our Schools March

From the CNN article:

From Race to the Top to "Waiting for 'Superman,' " Americans have been talking about public education reform -- and arguing about how to do it.

On a sweltering afternoon last week, an estimated 5,000 teachers, parents and students went to Washington to make their case for what to do.

Billed as the Save Our Schools March and National Call to Action, the protest was a loosely organized grass-roots coalition of teachers and parents. Their goals: More equitable funding for schools, more social service supports for families, more local control over curriculum and an end to high-stakes standardized tests.

Continue Reading the Full Article:
"After school reform march, teachers question what's next"

Monday, August 1, 2011

U.S. Tax Revenue In Context

The following charts show U.S. tax revenues as a percentage of GDP among the member nations of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and historically as a percentage of GDP in the United States. The first chart shows that the United States has the third lowest tax burden of all developing countries. The only nations with a lower tax burden are Mexico and Chile, which provide a significantly lower quality of public goods and services to their citizens than the United States--especially when one considers defense spending. The second chart shows that as a percentage of GDP tax revenues in the United States are lower than at any point in the past 40 years.

Matt Damon Talks to the Local DC News about Teachers

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Matt Damon's Speech from the Save Our Schools March

Education Week's Coverage of the SOS March

Education Week's Video Coverage of the Save Our Schools March on Wasington DC on July 30, 2011.

ReasonTV's Coverage of the Save Our Schools March

This is's coverage of the Save Our Schools March on July 30, 2011 in Washington DC. From

"On July 30th, 2011, teachers, parents and advocates such as actor Matt Damon, author Jonathan Kozol, and historian Diane Ravitch gathered for the Save Our Schools Rally outside the White House.

The purpose of the event: "To put the public back in public schools."'s Michelle Fields was on hand to talk tenure, the role of money in education, and whether parents should have the right to choose where their kids go to school.

Approximately 6 minutes."

Diane Ravitch's Speech at the Save Our Schools March

This is the speech that Diane Ravitch gave at the Save Our Schools March in Washington D.C. on July 30, 2011. It is about 8 minutes long.

Jon Stewart's Message to the Save Our Schools March

Jon Stewart from The Daily Show on Comedy Central delivered this short message to the teachers at the Save Our Schools March in D.C. on July 30, 2011. There is even a cameo appearance by Jonathan Kozol if you watch closely.

Kozol from the Save Our Schools March

This is Jonathan Kozol's speech from the July 30, 2011 Save Our Schools March in Washington D.C. The speech is about 12 minutes long and the creator of this video has put still photos from the march together as visuals for the event. Kozol is the author of Savage Inequalities and is an outspoken critic of educational inequalities in our country.

Friday, July 29, 2011

A Chance to Teach Our Children

This fall we all have an important opportunity to teach our children. An essential component of education is the modeling of desirable behaviors including—respect for people with opinions that differ from our own, the discipline to consider both sides of an issue and being open to changing our beliefs once we learn a different perspective. (Incidentally, that is one of my many concerns with the rise of online and blended learning that is being promoted by many states, education corporations and educational think tanks—including here in Ohio. There are many things that we can learn by using computers; but there are many behaviors, attitudes and values that can only be learned through human interaction. Even as jaded as high school students appear on the outside, they pick up a lot of attitudes, values and life lessons from their teachers. But, I digress.)

This fall many states and local governments will have controversial issues on the ballot. In Ohio, for example, voters will have the opportunity to decide Issue 2, the referendum vote on the controversial Senate Bill 5, which limits collective bargaining rights for public employees including teachers, police officers and fire fighters and requires merit pay and personnel decisions for teachers to be based primarily on standardized tests. The opportunity to educate our children this fall is this: the responsibility that we all have to model the ability to engage in respectful and civil discourse as we debate and discuss controversial political issues—or to learn this skill as an adult for the first time if necessary.

Mean-spirited personal attacks, outrageous hyperbole, insidious innuendo and the like are not the methods of debate and discussion we should be modeling for our children. There is enough of that on the radio, on television and online already. The people who oppose Issue 2 in Ohio are by in large not lazy, godless communists who are trying to destroy America. They are people who are concerned about the unintended consequences of many of the provisions in the bill—for example, the increased use of standardized testing for the purpose of making personnel decisions about teachers’ employment and salaries, requiring a yet to be determined merit pay system for teachers that may or may not include parent evaluations or student evaluations and the potential de-professionalization of the already battered teaching profession.

And the people who support Issue 2 are by in large not right-wing fascists who are intent on taking over the world by crushing labor unions and gaining control of our nation’s education system to indoctrinate our children. They are people who think that teachers have too many collective bargaining rights, a performance pay system can be successfully implemented for teachers that will outweigh the costs and that this will improve educational outcomes for students. It is an issue about which reasonable people can disagree and the voters will have the opportunity to decide the issue this November.

So, as we move into this year’s election season let’s try to model respectful and rational discourse for our children. This will result in a more productive exploration of the issues and we all will have the opportunity to evaluate our beliefs and modify our position on the issues. Not only that, be we all have the opportunity to participate in teaching our children about respectful dialogue, and if more people played an active role in educating our nation’s children that would certainly improve educational outcomes. And who knows—we may learn something new by being open to that possibility and we may even gain a new friend in the process. So, here’s to hoping that we can have a rational and respectful discussion of the issues as we move into this year’s election season.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Truth About Teachers

For more information related to the video, see the chart below.

Teacher Attrition – A Costly Loss
Teacher Attrition – A Costly Loss The Truth About Teachers
Myth:  Teacher Attrition – A Costly Loss Teachers are overpaid.”
· According to the report, "What's It Worth: The Economic Value of College Majors" from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce funded by the Gates and Lumina Foundations, Education majors earned the least for all college majors among 15 sector groupings.
· According to a 2008 report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), American primary-school educators spend 1,913 hours working a year including hours teachers spend on work at home and outside of the classroom. Data from a Labor Department survey that same year showed that the average full-time employee in the United States worked 1,932 hours spread over 48 weeks.  Teacher Attrition – A Costly Loss This statistic shows that teachers work about the same number of hours as the average worker in the United States. This statistic refutes the argument that teachers should be paid considerably less than other workers because "teachers only work 9 months of the year."
Teacher Attrition – A Costly Loss It isn’t fair that teachers receive pensions.”
· Teachers do not receive Social Security. Teachers in Ohio, for example, have 10% of their pay deducted for their pensions and school districts contribute 14% of the teachers' salaries in the form of deferred compensation--much like how a corporation will match employee contributions to a 401k. Teachers accepted deferred compensation in the form of pensions and health care benefits in lieu of salary increases in the past when teachers' salaries never kept pace with the compensation of other college-educated professionals.

Teacher Attrition – A Costly Loss We should at least cut back benefits for new teachers.”
·    According to McKinsey and Company report “Closing the Talent Gap,” to be on par with other high-performing nations high-needs schools in the U.S. would need to pay new teachers around $68,000 with a maximum career compensation of $150,000 per year. Research shows that teacher quality is extremely important to the success of our education system, so we need to attract and retain the most talented individuals to the teaching profession
Myth:  Teacher Attrition – A Costly Loss “Charters schools perform better than traditional public schools.
Teacher Attrition – A Costly Loss
·   According to a 2009 Stanford University study, only 17% of charter schools perform better than public schools while 37% of charter schools perform worse
·   According to 2006 Ohio state report cards, 1 in 2 charter schools were either in academic emergency or academic watch, while only 1 in 11 traditional public school buildings were in academic emergency or academic watch
·   Three out of four public schools are rated excellent or effective, while only one in six charter schools are rated excellent or effective

Myth:  Teacher Attrition – A Costly Loss “Public schools need to operated like   businesses.”
•   Education is a public good that cannot turn away “inputs” (i.e. students and parents)  to the  “production process”
•   Our political system requires that every citizen is well educated to exercise their civic duties not just the wealthy who could buy a good education in a privatized system
Myth:  Teacher Attrition – A Costly Loss “We should pay teachers based on merit because this will encourage teachers to work harder and perform better.”
· Value-added formulas for teacher performance based on standardized test are not statistically valid and reliable. (Economic Policy Institute, New York Times, National Education Policy Center)
·  Merit pay systems for teachers have been tried in New York City, Chicago, Washington D.C. and Nashville where studies have shown that they did not increase student achievement (Mathematica Policy Research, Economic Policy Institute, National Educational Policy Center, Vanderbilt)
·  Value-added measures based on standardized narrow the curriculum and work against creativity, innovation and intrinsic motivation (Drive by Daniel Pink)
·  Requiring administrators to evaluate every teacher for at least 30 minutes twice every year will increase administrative costs and mean that more money is spent on administrative costs instead of less.
·  According to University of Washington economist Dan Goldhaber, about 60% of student achievement is attributable to non-school factors, such as family income and poverty—factors that the teacher cannot control
·  Research has shown that collaboration among teachers improves the quality of instruction, but merit-pay systems based on standardized test scores for the students of individual teachers creates incentives opposed to collaboration and cooperation
·  Merit pay based on standardized tests punishes teachers for working with students who have disabilities or are disadvantaged
Myth:  Teacher Attrition – A Costly Loss Teacher Attrition – A Costly Loss “If teachers aren’t satisfied with their jobs, they should do something else."
• According to a report from the Alliance for Excellent Education, “A conservative national estimate of the cost of replacing public school teachers who have dropped out of the profession is $2.2 billion a year. If the cost of replacing public school teachers who transfer schools is added, the total reaches $4.9 billion every year.  For individual states, cost estimates range from $8.5 million in North Dakota to a whopping half a billion dollars for a large state like Texas. Many analysts believe that the price tag is even higher; hiring costs vary by district and sometimes include signing bonuses, subject matter stipends, and other recruiting costs specific to hard-to-staff schools. Others believe that the cost of the loss in teacher quality and student achievement should also be added to the bill.”

Myth:  Teacher Attrition – A Costly Loss “New legislation passed in states was just about balancing budgets.”

Teachers are being singled as a convenient scapegoat for economic problems caused  by the collapse of the housing market and corruption that was evident in corporations associated with America’s mortgage industry.

More Information Online: