Saturday, April 30, 2011

Teaching Isn't As Simple As It Appears

"Teaching has never been the cushy job imagined by the public, which mistakenly believes that a teacher’s day ends when school lets out. People outside the field often do not seem to understand that teachers spend hours of additional time making lesson plans, reviewing homework, grading tests.

The profession also suffers from a lack of respect. Parents do not encourage their children to become teachers, and college graduates from our premier institutions view teaching as something to do for a couple of years after graduation before switching into more laudable and lucrative fields.

With increasing pressure on the educational system to meet the demands of a shifting labor market, more and more curriculum mandates and high-stakes testing make it difficult for teachers to be creative in the classroom....

There is research on  the extraordinary number of decisions that a teacher has to make at any given moment —- more decisions minute-by-minute than a brain surgeon. The most conservative estimate from this data has teachers making approximately 130 decisions per hour during a six-hour school day, and this reflects only those decisions made within the classroom. This is extraordinarily daunting and often intimidating for new teachers. It makes support from administrators and colleagues so vital."
(Source: "Keeping New Teachers From Dropping Out," Ellen Meyers, Gotham Gazette, February 20, 2006.)

On April 30, 2011 Thomas M. Stephens wrote an article for the Columbus Dispatch (Ohio) entitled "Teaching Isn't As Simple As It Appears." Thomas M. Stephens is professor emeritus in the College of Education and Human Ecology at Ohio State University and is executive director emeritus of the School Study Council of Ohio.

Stephens points out the simple fact that every good teacher knows--teaching is not as simple as it appears. Many people make the mistake of thinking that they know how to be a good teacher because they spent several years of their life as a student critiquing their own teachers. As any teacher knows, being a student in a classroom is a world apart from being the day-to-day educator responsible for the safety, growth, development and education of a group of young people. Teachers make on average between 1000 and 1500 decisions a day [Good and Brophy (2008) and Murray (1986)]. As teachers gain more experience, they are better able to recognize patterns and make these decisions more effectively and quickly. A quality teacher training program, provides future teachers with the opportunities to study the current research on best practices for classroom management, instructional techniques and effective assessments. Studies consistently show that teachers who receive a degree from an accredited college of education and complete a rigorous student teaching experience are much better prepared to enter a classroom and more effective (Teach For America: A Review of the Evidence, Julian Vasquez Heilig of the University of Texas at Austin and Su Jin Jez, Ph.D. California State University, Sacramento: June 2010)

Here is a portion of Stephens' article from the Columbus Dispatch:

"He [Ohio Governor John Kasich] and other public-education "reformers" are transferring millions of tax dollars from public schools to less scrutinized charters and private schools. They are dissing classroom teachers by taking away both their dignity and their voices at the bargaining table, while watering down teacher-license requirements and dancing to the tune of the highly paid elites from tax-exempt foundations....

Professional teachers know what, how and when to individualize. Attention can be increased through stimulating teaching; problem-solving is related to reading comprehension and mathematical reasoning.

They plan and work as teams - thus, individual incentives for "successful" teachers is a bad joke. Planning is intense and time-consuming. On average, these teachers work an additional four hours beyond their in-class teaching day, and many more beyond the school year. Specific children get some instruction in different classes, through special tutoring or through differentiated assignments. Teachers swap classes for particular lessons and for other types of team instruction.

Formal learning, as with other life-experiences, requires socialization and skills for working with and accommodating others' needs and interests. Classroom instruction occurs in a social context, and social skills must be taught as needed....

There's much more to be learned from these and other classroom teachers. Let's hope that our policymakers start listening to them very soon."

One Page Sheet with Facts About Ohio Senate Bill 5

This is a one-page version of the Myths vs. Facts sheet on Ohio Senate Bill 5 that I posted earlier. Feel free to download it and share it with others.

Here is the link to the document:

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

No Merit in Merit Pay for Teachers

Walt Gardner of the Guardian in the UK recently provided a brief history of merit pay programs for teachers. Here is a portion of that article:

"Pay-for-performance began in England in about 1710, when salaries were based on test scores in reading, writing and arithmetic....

The trouble was that the strategy sucked the creative life out of classrooms, as teachers became obsessed with the code. When it became apparent that the approach demeaned education, it was dropped in the 1890s. Pay-for-performance re-emerged briefly in Canada in 1876, but it ran into similar difficulties and was terminated in 1883....

It's highly unlikely, however, that the evidence amassed over the years will finally put an end to teacher incentive plans. Educational outsiders have the luxury of not having to live with the consequences of their delusions."

Read the Full Article:
No Merit in Merit Pay for Teachers

South Korean Official Advises Caution in Following His Country's Model

Byong Man Ahn, the former minister of education, science, and technology in South Korea, recently gave a keynote address at the annual meeting of the Association for Education Finance and Policy, in Seattle. Sean Cavanagh reported on his remarks for Education Week.

Here is a portion of that report:

"A former top education official in academically high-flying South Korea has warned against U.S. officials attempting to copy his nation's approach, saying it has grown too test-centered and often detracts from students' love of learning.

South Korea is not the only Asian nation to attempt to reduce its emphasis on testing. Chinese officials have also sought to revamp curriculum and teaching to instill a broader set of skills in students."

Continue Reading the Full Article:
South Korean Official Advises Caution in Following His Country's Model

Monday, April 25, 2011

Sorry Teachers, Kasich's Incentive Pay program has to go, too

Greg Mild, a public high school teacher in the state of Ohio, wrote this on April 25, 2011. He graciously gave me permission to share it here.

I've been wondering why no one is talking about the "teacher incentive payment program" that Governor Kasich has included in his budget proposal.  Are we wondering if maybe it's a good thing?  Are we thinking that maybe we want to keep this component of his proposal because it offers teachers a chance at getting more money?

Well, today I have the details.  I have the projected dollar amounts and where those students and teachers are located.  And I'm going to tell you why all teachers should summarily reject the Governor's proposal as an insult to education.

I'll warn you in advance that this issue has many layers, and I didn't even come close to addressing them all.

First the background:

In the budget bill (HB 153, Sec. 3302.23), the Governor proposes paying teachers fifty dollars per student for a class where students demonstrate more than a standard year of growth as determined by the Ohio Department of Education's value-added model, a measure based on Ohio's standardized tests.  This growth is designated as Green on the state's report (Yellow designates a year, Red designates less than a year; full reports can be found in the Ratings folder at:
These results are only applicable to students in grades 4-8 in Reading and Math.  In co-teaching situations, or situations where students grow in both areas, teachers will split the stipend equally.  A single student represents a single fifty dollar stipend.

The rationale from Kasich's Reform Book reads:

Reward Superior Educators  
What will change  
Pay teachers a per-student bonus for every student in a class which achieves more than one year growth as measured by the value-added dimension of the local report cards.
Why this change is important  
Teachers who are helping students gain more than a year‘s growth in a year deserve to be rewarded.
But let me put those statements into context for you.  The heading and sentence that immediately precedes these reads:

Put Superior Teachers in Every Classroom,  
Excellent Principals in Every School

We will make Ohio the preferred destination for creative, talented educators including Teach for America.

LAYER #1 -- All professional educators in Ohio should find the Governor's comparison to Teach for America insulting, at best.  You can read my note about TFA here: "Ohio does not need Teach for America -- Here's Why"

So if I let that insult slide and focus instead on the "Reward" that is promised, I need to know what this reward looks like.

The Ohio Department of Education databases for Value-Added results do not identify teachers or specific classrooms, but they do identify student counts in grade levels by schools.  Using this data set, I projected the total stipend amounts that would have been paid out over the past four years.

2007: $20,854,900.00
2008: $18,660,050.00
2009: $20,240,000.00
2010: $15,918,150.00

Why the significant drop for 2010?  The value-added calculations were "reset" to better balance the results.  According to ODE:
  • A stabilization process was included as part of the value-added analysis to provide you with more useful and consistent information about grade and subject gains. This will provide a more even distribution of value-added results for subject- and grade-level ratings.
  • This typically happens every 3-4 years to better reflect current state performance averages.
  • Over the past two years, there have been considerable skews in the grade- and subject- level gains for a cohort from one year to the next. Value-added models assume there is vertical alignment in the rigor of tests, that is, the rigor in this years’ fourth-grade reading test is of the same amount of rigor in next years’ fifth-grade reading test. However, the previous assessments were not created with consideration for value-added analysis needs. Until Ohio launches the new assessments, the addition of the stabilization process is a necessary interim solution to providing Ohio practitioners full utilization of value-added information.

Hmm.  According to the Ohio Department of Education the tests that we are using to judge the performance of teachers and students for annual growth "were not created with consideration for value-added analysis needs."  And these tests will remain in place until new assessments are launched (SY 2013-2014).

The Governor wants to use a flawed model to calculate not only Teacher Incentive Pay, he is also proposing using this value-added model as a key component of school district funding (LAYER #2: and as a key measure in the evaluation of an individual teacher's compensation (LAYER #3: Dissection of Performance Pay for Teachers in Ohio Senate Bill 5 .

I threw those Teacher Incentive Program payments at you without much warning or detail, so let's take a second look.

2007: $20,854,900.00
2008: $18,660,050.00
2009: $20,240,000.00
2010: $15,918,150.00

Remembering that these numbers represent $50 per student, we can extrapolate the following numbers of students who demonstrated more than a year of growth each those years.

2007: 417,098
2008: 373,201
2009: 404,800
2010: 318,363

This demonstrates the significant effect the recalculation of the value-added model has on the final numbers, and on incentive pay, and teacher salary, and district funding.


LAYER #4: You may remember that Governor Kasich has also proposed another component to "hold teachers accountable" in his Reform Book:

Test Teachers in Poor-Performing Schools
What will change
Teachers employed in a school identified in the bottom [ten] percent of the state‘s schools on the basis of student results will be required to take licensure tests.
Why this change is important
Massachusetts successfully implemented a teacher-testing program that significantly improved student results. Teachers were tested on the content they were assigned to teach.
Struggling schools need to be sure teachers are competent and fully capable of teaching their assigned curriculum. Testing teachers to be sure they know their content and basic pedagogy is a key step in this process.
Testing will make sure teachers are competent in the subjects they are teaching. Limiting this provision to poor-performing schools will minimize costs and avoid unnecessary burdens on quality schools.
(I posted more detail here:

In my post about teacher testing, I alluded to the fact that under Kasich's proposal, teachers could receive incentive pay AND have to retake the Praxis exams.  I have confirmed this to be true.  Based on the ODE data, I can only calculate the number of grades (classes) and schools affected in this manner.

2008: 741 out of 3342 classes
2009: 1123 out of 4175 classes
2010: 860 out of 3146 classes

In 2008, 22% of the teachers receiving Teacher Incentive Pay because "Teachers who are helping students gain more than a year‘s growth in a year deserve to be rewarded" would also need to retake the necessary Praxis exams because "Struggling schools need to be sure teachers are competent and fully capable of teaching their assigned curriculum."

In 2009, 27% of the teachers receiving Teacher Incentive Pay because "Teachers who are helping students gain more than a year‘s growth in a year deserve to be rewarded" would also need to retake the necessary Praxis exams because "Struggling schools need to be sure teachers are competent and fully capable of teaching their assigned curriculum."

In 2010, 27% of the teachers receiving Teacher Incentive Pay because "Teachers who are helping students gain more than a year‘s growth in a year deserve to be rewarded" would also need to retake the necessary Praxis exams because "Struggling schools need to be sure teachers are competent and fully capable of teaching their assigned curriculum."

But look, let's not argue about the details, right?  This is just the stuff that teacher unions tell you to try and make the Governor look stupid.

How am I doing so far?

Dissection of Performance Pay for Teachers in Ohio Senate Bill 5

Greg Mild, a public high school teacher in the state of Ohio, wrote this on March 3, 2011. He graciously gave me permission to share it here.

The final version of Senate Bill 5, as passed by the Senate, replaced the word "merit" with "performance" measures as a means of determining teacher pay.  The bill specifies 5 criteria.  I have copied the language from the bill and noted the page numbers below for easy referencing.  For easy reading, I have removed all redacted text. All five criteria are unsuitable to be included into law.

First, view Senate Bill 5 (as passed by the Senate on March 2, 2011)

3) Each city, exempted village, local, and joint vocational school district shall pay teachers' salaries based upon performance as required under section 3317.13 of the Revised Code.
p. 113

Sec. 3317.13
(A) As used in this section "teacher" means all teachers employed by the board of education of any school district, including any cooperative education or joint vocational school district and all teachers employed by any educational service center governing board.
(B) Each teacher shall be paid a salary based upon performance as described in section 3317.13 of the Revised Code. [the redundancy of the section number being repeated is an addition to the Code]
(C) For purposes of this section, a board shall measure a teacher's performance by considering all of the following:
(1) The level of license issued under section 3319.22 of the Revised Code that the teacher holds;
(2) Whether the teacher is a "highly qualified teacher" as defined in section 3319.074 of the Revised Code;
(3) The value-added measure the board uses to determine the performance of the students assigned to the teacher's classroom;
(4) The results of the teacher's performance evaluations conducted under section 3319.111 of the Revised Code, any peer review program created by an agreement entered into by a board of education and representatives of teachers employed by that board, or any other system of evaluation used by the board;
(5) Any other criteria established by the board.
pp. 151-154

For beginners, please note that C states "shall measure a teacher's performance by considering all of the following."  Not some, not those that apply, but ALL.

  1. Licensure.  The inclusion of this item into law implicitly places a value on experience.  The progression of licenses under update state law includes limitations that set minimum years of experience.  A teacher cannot obtain a professional license with fewer than 4 years of experience (regardless of performance).  A teacher cannot obtain either the Lead Professional or Senior Professional licenses with fewer than 9 years of experience (regardless of performance or credentials).  Therefore, by applying differing dollar values to these licenses, the bill is assigning a dollar value on experience, a specific provision the bill was intended to remove.  In addition, a teacher who holds a permanent certificate will have at least 20 years of experience (since discontinued).  An individual holding an 8-year certificates will have at least 9 years of experience (since discontinued).  Again, these certificates will place a value on experience, a specific provision the bill was intended to remove.  Many teachers hold multiple licenses, but are typically (and technically) only teaching under one at a time (e.g., a high school counselor with an English license).  Will the teacher be credited for the higher valued license if there is a premium?  The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards requires a minimum of three years of teaching experience before applying for National Board Certification.  To become licensed as a principal in the state of Ohio, you must hold a valid teaching license and have three years of teaching experience under that license.  These are just a couple of examples.  Experience matters.
  2. Highly Qualified Teacher.  A teacher is required to report their HQT status for the courses they are on record for teaching.  Immediately, this excludes many educators from this category.  In Columbus, nurses, social workers, counselors, resource teachers, some intervention specialists, coordinators, etc., do not qualify.  As a result, many of these educators would be unable to meet ALL of the performance requirements.  But better yet, how about this text from the Ohio Department of Education's HQT Toolkit: "Newly hired and veteran teachers must satisfy the definition of a Highly Qualified Teacher (HQT). Veteran teachers must have been HQT by the end of the 2005-2006 school year. Federal regulations require that new and newly hired teachers be highly qualified at the time of hire."  Did you catch that?  It is against FEDERAL REGULATIONS to employ teachers that are not highly qualified.This performance measure is irrelevant.
  3. Value-Added Measures.  Value-added measures are not recommended for use in the evaluation of teacher performance.  Numerous published studies and editorials can be obtained quickly by searching the term in Google.  Here's one with some pretty reputable authors:    Of equal or greater interest to me is the fact that only 30% of teachers in Columbus are currently in positions that might have value-added data.  Even if Ohio tried to expand standardized testing to all grades and all subjects, we are still excluding all of non-core teachers and the educators already mentioned in the HQT information.  I don't think the creating of assessments for all grades and subjects will be in the budget this year.
  4. Performance Evaluations.  Dig deeper on this item and you'll find that it only applies to teachers on a limited contract.  So, every teacher on a limited contract would need to undergo a performance evaluation as a part of determining their pay.  Considering the other provisions in the bill, this evaluation could be solely determined by the board.  But even if the board works with teachers and implements a peer-review model or principal-review model, anyone have reservations about the legitimacy of either in terms of a criteria for salary?  And imagine the cost time and cost associated with implementation.  Sound expensive?  What about down the road when Columbus has over 4,000 educators involved in this process (since continuing contracts will no longer be issued).  The peer observation method is an outstanding procedure for helping improve practice through collaboration, but it is not something that should be in any way linked to base salary.  It begs the system to corrupt itself and the source of funding to do it properly on a district-wide scale is prohibitive.
  5. Any Other Criteria Established by the Board.  Actually, as long as this means pay based on education and experience, I think it's a great idea.  Otherwise, this opens the door for any educational and unproven fad to creep in and determine salary.  This could also open the door for favoritism, nepotism, and any other bad -ism to enter the equations.   With this 5th option as a part of the bill, there is almost no reason for 1-4 to be included.

I hope you find this explanation useful.  I tried to keep the points brief so that it was easier to digest.  Know that there are many additional points that could be elaborated on, especially in the value-added discussion.  Please share this with anyone that you feel appropriate.  If you have questions or would like additional information about what I entered here, feel free to comment or send me a message.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Education PAC Fined $5.2 Million for Illegally Funneling Money to Ohio Republicans

On June 24, 2010 the Columbus Dispatch reported reported that the Ohio Supreme Court refused an appeal from All Children Matter, a political action committee, that was fined a record $5.2 million in 2008 for illegally funneling money from its Virginia PAC to Ohio Republican candidates.
Photo of David Brennan

"The Ohio Elections Commission found that All Children Matter illegally funneled $870,000 in campaign contributions through its Virginia political-action committee to its committee in Ohio in 2006," according to the Columbus Dipatch. That violated a $10,000 cap on what Ohio-based political-action committees could accept from any single entity.

"The group, which largely advocated for expanded charter schools, spent money to help a variety of Republican statewide and legislative candidates in Ohio. David Brennan of Akron, Ohio's biggest charter-school operator and a major GOP contributor, donated $200,000 to the group," wrote the Dispatch article. David Brennan's charter school operation is known as White Hat Management. Since 2000, White Hat Management has contributed more than $1.6 million to the Republican Party in Ohio. The state of Ohio pays White Hat Management more than $74 million a year to operate its charter schools--many of them run poorly. In fact, ten of White Hat's own schools have sued the management group.

All Children Matter is headed by former Michigan Republican Chairwoman Betsy DeVos and run out of that state. Betsy's brother, Eric Prince, was the CEO of Blackwater Security Consulting now know as Xe--the organization well-known for its government security contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Former Michigan gubernatorial candidate Dick DeVos, Betsy’s husband, set up All Children Matter in 2003 to push vouchers in other states and advocate for tax credits for businesses that create scholarships for children to attend private schools. (Source: Charter Schools Scandals and Associated Press article that was picked up by the Washington Post but no longer available online.

Here is an update on this story: Ohio Charter Schools Receiving Payback for Political Contributions?

Link to the Dispatch Article:
PAC Appeal Refused by Ohio Supreme Court

Link to the Charter School Scandals Report:

Here is a link to the Ohio Supreme Court's Ruling:

Ohio Auditors Probe a Dayton Charter School's Payments

Here is another incidence of an Ohio charter school being investigated for poor accounting practices and misuse of state funds. According to the Dayton Daily News on March 31, 2011, State of Ohio Auditors have launched an investigation into the finances of another Ohio charter school after discovering $89,067 in misspent funds. Of the misspent money only $2,221 has been repaid.

According to State Auditor, Dave Yost, the schools have a combined deficit of $1.38 million as of 2009. “Community schools must meet the same fiscal standards of integrity as any other entity that receives public funds,” Yost said in a statement. “[T]hey simply have to do better managing their money.”

From the Dayton Daily News article:
"Gov. John Kasich is counting on charter schools to help improve Ohio’s academic performance while saving money. His biennium budget, released March 15, includes double digit cuts to traditional schools while increasing the funding for charter schools and school choice and lifting the cap on the number of charter schools in the state."

Link to the Full Dayton Daily News article:
"Auditors Probe a Dayton Charter School's Payments"

Link to the Report from Charter School Scandals:
Richard Allen Charter Schools (Dayton, Ohio)

Poster Child for Poorly Run Community Schools

The Charter School Scandals (CSS) website was created to provide the public with a source of independently collected information about U.S. charter schools. The site contains several reports on charter schools in the state of Ohio. One of the reports is on the Imani Institute Leadership School--a "community" or charter school in Cleveland, Ohio.

On December 21, 2006 then Auditor of the State of the Ohio, Betty Montgomery, released a special audit of the Imani Institute Leadership School. The findings of the report led the State of Ohio to seek to recover $341,000 from the Superintendent of the school, Donna Johnson. According to the report, the school could not account for an additional $482,159 in federal grant money

Here is a portion of the report from Charter School Scandals:

"'The Imani Institute is, unfortunately, a poster child for poorly run community schools," said Montgomery. "From lack of bookkeeping to improper purchases, this school was clearly not run in a way that places emphasis on educating our children.'...

Throughout the special audit, Imani officials failed to provide receipt books or revenue and expense ledgers. Montgomery was forced to subpoena records from Imani's financial institutions in order to obtain information on Imani bank accounts. With considerable time and effort, auditors used the bank information to create a history of all of Imani's revenue and expenditures."... 
(Source: Charter School Scandals)

Imani Institute Leadership School's contract expired June 30, 2005. It was ineligible to reopen because it was unable to engage a new sponsor. The school opened in 2000. Shortly thereafter, this charter school operator moved to San Diego and opened up another charter school.

Although this is only one charter school, it does seem that there is a pattern of poor performance and mismanagement among many of Ohio's charter schools due to the lack of public oversight. This information seems to seriously call into the question the current plan in Ohio to aggressively ramp up the state's spending on charter schools when so many of them are currently exhibiting poor student achievement and inadequate oversight procedures as is.

Read the Full Report from Charter School Scandals:
Imani Leadership Institute School

Here is a Link to the Full Report from the State of Ohio Auditor:
Imani Special Audit Report

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Teachers Aren't the Enemy

Pedro Noguera and Michelle Fine recently wrote an article for The Nation entitled "Teachers Aren't the Enemy." It is to appear in the May 9, 2011 edition of the The Nation. The article provides a good summary of the current attacks on teachers and some of the organizations across the country that are rising up to counter this ill-conceived assault on education. Here is a portion of the article:

"Public school teachers and their unions are under a sustained assault that is still unfolding....

A disturbing bipartisan consensus is emerging that favors a market model for public schools that would abandon America’s historic commitment to providing education to all children as a civil right. This model would make opportunities available largely to those motivated and able to leave local schools; treat parents as consumers and children as disposable commodities that can be judged by their test scores; and unravel collective bargaining agreements so that experienced teachers can be replaced with fungible itinerant workers who have little training, less experience and no long-term commitment to the profession. In this atmosphere of hostility to public schools and teachers, it has become nearly impossible to have a rational discussion among educators, parents, advocates, youth and policy-makers about what should be done....

To have the greatest impact, the unions must find a way to mobilize parents, young people and communities. Without their support, teachers will not succeed in countering these assaults."

Read the Full Article:
"Teachers Aren't the Enemy"

Parents Across America Position Paper on the Elementary and Secondary Education Act

From Parents Across America:

"As Congress considers the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA, aka No Child Left Behind), Parents Across America, a national network of public school parents, will be calling on our U. S. Senators and Congressmen this week to share our concerns about the direction of federal education policy, and offer our proposals in a new position paper."

Here is the link to the paper:
Parents Across America Position Paper on ESEA 

What Works and What Doesn't

Link to a flier from Parents Across America on What Works and What Doesn't in Education Reform:

Friday, April 22, 2011

Let Us Teach!

Recently, Vern Williams shared his thoughts on "How to Raise the Status of Teachers" for The New York Times. Vern Williams teaches honors math at Longfellow Middle School in Fairfax County, Va. In 2006, was named to the National Mathematics Advisory Panel. Here are a portion of his comments:

"Until classroom teachers are allowed to make real decisions regarding curriculum, assessment, textbooks and professional development, the status of teachers will remain low.

What we, as teachers, need to do is take back our profession. Most teachers will take to the streets and protest over salaries, pensions and working conditions, but how many teachers would do the same if someone who has never taught their grade level or subject, imposed a new curriculum or demanded that certain pedagogy be followed? Until practicing classroom teachers are allowed to make real decisions regarding curriculum, assessment, textbooks and professional development, the status of teachers will remain low.

At the moment, our profession seems to be in the hands of politicians, researchers, special interest groups, school system bureaucracies, unions, technology companies and textbook publishers. Even though I highly respected the members of the National Mathematics Advisory Panel I served on, I was the only practicing K through 12 teacher on the panel. Why should bright high school students decide to become teachers if they suspect that everyone will make decisions concerning their profession except them?"

Read the Full Piece:
Let Us Teach!

The Truth about Ohio Senate Bill 5 - Fair Teacher Evaluations

This is less than a 3 minute video on the teacher evaluation requirements of Ohio Senate Bill 5.

New Super PAC Created Called "Stop Public Unions Now"

On March 18, 2011 Paul Blumenthal
of the Sunlight Foundation reported that a new "Super PAC" has been created named Stop Public Union Now. The Treasurer of Stop Public Unions Now, William O. Black- the CEO of Oxford Communications, worked for Ohio Governor John Kasich's 2010 election campaign. According to the Sunlight Foundation,

"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 [over collective bargaining and state budgets]. 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."

The creation of this Super PAC will allow corporations and wealthy donors to contribute unlimited amounts of money to the public relations battle over Ohio Senate Bill 5 and the state budget. Hopefully the voters of Ohio will be able to get past the rhetoric on both sides of these issues and examine the facts and available research. The decisions made on these foundational issues will have immense and far-reaching consequences for how our society operates and what kind of future we will have.

Read the Full Sunlight Foundation article:

Kasich Administration Says that they Have No Research to Support New School-Funding Formula

The Columbus Dispatch reported that the Kasich administration is denying public information requests on educational funding and policies in Ohio made by fellow legislators and other organizations in the state.

Here is a quote from the Dispatch on what the administration says that they don't have:

"Among the items Kasich's lawyer said the administration didn't have: research that shows Kasich's new school-funding formula will improve student achievement; a copy of the formula itself; a list of charter schools in academic emergency or watch; and projections of cost-savings from eliminating the "last-in, first-out" rules for educators."

At least they are admitting that they have no research to show that the new school funding formula will improve student achievement. On the other hand, it seems irresponsible and reckless to make such fundamental changes to how we educate children with no research to support it, when ample research exists that seems to show that it will in fact decrease the quality of education that students will receive.

Read the Columbus Dispatch Article:

Join the Future Article:

Daniel Pink on the Surprising Science of Motivation

This is Daniel Pink's TED talk on the science of motivation. It seems to contradict almost every aspect of the current education reforms being proposed by politicians at state and national levels.

Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us

This research seems to contradict almost every aspect of the recent "educational reforms" being proposed at the state and national levels by politicians.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Funding Behind the Attack on Public Schools

This article published on April 20, 2011 examines the funding behind the attack on public schools. Here is a quote from the article:

"Regardless of where one stands on the issue of school choice, behind the curtain of this effort is an interconnected network of right wing think tanks and billionaire donors, funded by foundations including those of the DeVos and Koch families and the Scaife, Allegheny, and Carthage Foundations of Pennsylvania's own Richard Mellon Scaife. The leaders of many of these DeVos/Koch/Scaife-funded institutes openly voice their ideological objections to all forms of public education....

Betsy DeVos` organizations have had significant legal problems. All Children Matter was fined 5.2 million dollars for funneling campaign money into Ohio in 2006 through their various state networks and lost its legal appeal in February 2010. Misconduct has been reported in several states, including a case in Wisconsin that resulted in a fine."

 Read the Full Article:
The Funding Behind the Attack on Public Schools

Economic Impact of Education Cuts in the Kasich Budget Proposal

Policy Matters Ohio recently released an analysis of the economic impact that Kasich's budget cuts for public education will have on the state. Here is a portion below:

"The fiscal year 2012‐13 biennial budget proposed by the Kasich administration cuts funding for primary, secondary and higher education by $2 billion, compared to funding in 2011. In addition to hurting the quality of education, cuts of this magnitude in a labor‐intensive sector will have an economic impact felt in every school district and college town as teachers, professors, cafeteria workers, school bus drivers, janitors, coaches and ground crew workers lose their jobs. To understand the economic impact, Policy Matters Ohio commissioned an input‐output study of the economic impact of the proposed cuts in education. The analysis reveals that these cuts could cause the loss of 47,291 direct, indirect and induced full time equivalent jobs in Ohio."

Read the Full Report:

Gov. John Kasich's Budget has Good News for Charter Schools, Voucher Programs

An article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer on April 21, 2011 discussed the proposed changes to Ohio's funding for charter schools and vouchers. Here is a portion below:

"Chad Aldis, president of School Choice Ohio, is heartened by "the emphasis Gov. Kasich placed on empowering parents," particularly by making more Educational Choice vouchers available for private-school tuition. 

But he wants to see even broader eligibility than Kasich is proposing, and he'll get it if a bill from Rep. Matt Huffman becomes law.

That bill would award private-school tuition vouchers of up to $4,626 to families based on their household incomes -- with no geographic restriction and no requirement that students come from failing public schools. Within a couple of years, even families that have been using private schools all along could get the vouchers.

To Aldis, that would give "every child access to an education that meets their needs."
But the price tag presents a dilemma for a fiscal conservative like Ryan, from the Fordham Institute, who estimates that 80 percent of Ohio families could qualify for some sort of subsidy under Huffman's bill.

"There may be a day for that kind of middle-class funding program," he said. "But with all the cutting going on across the state, this is not the time to go there."

Read the Full Article:

SB5 Would Set Us Back

The Superintendent of Bexley City Schools (Ohio) recently shared his thoughts on Ohio Senate Bill 5. Here is a portion of his comments:
"It strikes me as a case of very poor timing to suddenly develop laws to truncate the advantages, negotiations provides for those responsible for growing our economy. In Ohio, we will need to rely more on our intellectual capacities and assets and less on physical inputs or natural resources. I cannot think of a greater source intellectual capacity, than can be found within our K-16 public education community. As Powell and Snellman (2004) state, that an upsurge in knowledge production is associated with the emergence of new industries. 
We need to make sure before making any final decision on SB5, that we will achieve the intended ends. Personally, I believe that we are going to experience some adverse unintended consequences as a result of passing such legislation. It is going to take some creative, collaborative, and systemic decision making to keep Ohio at the forefront nationally and internationally."
Read His Comments in Their Entirety Here:

Monday, April 18, 2011

Why We have Unions & Why SB5 is a Bad Idea for Education in Ohio.

The following post was created by Anissa Fehring and the "No SB 5 for Ohio" Facebook group. 

"Why do we have Unions?

1) Because unions lift all boats up- Unions raise wages for everyone. 
          Unions created the MIDDLE CLASS!

2) Unions gave you no child labor, an 8 hour workday and weekends

3)  An Economic Democracy is a PRECONDITION for a Political Democracy.- Rep. Dennis Kucinich

4)  So people are not treated like WAL-MART EMPLOYEES.
          Women, look out this may be what we will be facing soon.
          Merit Pay could lead to this. (Current Supreme Court Case
          about Wal-Mart paying their women managers much less than men)

5) Unions allow for Due Process just like in a court of law.

There are many MYTHS running rampant in the public that need to be addressed.

          This is not LEGAL!!!!! 
            Unions ask their members to contribute to PACS which pay for campaigns.
             For example I give  $2 a pay for PACS. This is MY CHOICE & IS NOT REQUIRED
            by union members.


            That could be the farthest from the truth!  The citizens of the community vote for these members.

MYTH:  The Board of Education will treat the teachers FAIRLY.

            In SB 5 the BOARD OF EDUCATION makes the FINAL DECISION.
            They are usually NOT LOOKING OUT FOR TEACHERS, only for their bottom line.

A Teacher's working environment is YOUR Child's LEARNING ENVIRONMENT.

MYTH: Teachers make just as much as other, comparable professions.
FACT: According to a recent study by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, the teaching profession has an average national starting salary of $30,377. Meanwhile, NACE finds that other college graduates who enter fields requiring similar training and responsibilities start at higher salaries:
  • Computer programmers start at an average of $43,635,
  • Public accounting professionals at $44,668, and 
  • Registered nurses at $45,570.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average weekly salary of
the American Worker as of January 2010 is $629.04, or $32,708.10 per year. 


****Many Government workers have bachelor and masters degrees.

MYTH: Thanks to tenure, teachers can never be fired, no matter how bad they are.
  • FACT: Tenure does not mean a "job for life," as many people believe. It means "just cause" for discipline and termination, be the reason incompetence or extreme misconduct. And it means "due process," the right to a fair hearing to contest charges. Quite simply, any tenured teacher can be fired for a legitimate reason, after school administrators prove their case.
  • That's similar to what American citizens expect when charged with violation of a law.

MYTH: The rewards of working with children make up for low pay.

FACT:  It is true that most educators decide to enter the teaching profession because of a desire to work with children, but to attract and retain a greater number of dedicated, committed professionals, educators need salaries that are literally "attractive.“  The intrinsic rewards of an education career are often used as a rationale for low salaries. But low teacher pay comes at a very high cost.

Close to 50 percent new teachers leave the profession during the first five years of teaching, and 37 percent of teachers who do not plan to continue teaching until retirement blame low pay for their decision to leave the profession.

New teachers are often unable to pay off their loans or afford houses in the communities where they teach. Teachers and education support professionals often work two and three jobs to make ends meet. The stress and exhaustion can become unbearable, forcing people out of the profession to more lucrative positions.                               

MYTH:  Teachers get paid for their summers off and only work for 7 hours a day during a school week.

1) Teachers get paid per diam- PER DAY that we work. 
            By Ohio law our pay is spread over the entire year.
2)  We do not work in the summers-which are not as long as you think. (Middle of June through middle of August)
3)  Many teachers actually do work in the summer because we can not legally file for unemployment as other professions do in the winter.
4)  We do not get PAID VACATIONS. Plus we can't choose our vacations when prices are cheaper to travel.
5)  Many of us get to school an hour before or stay after at least an hour to two hours after the students leave. 
6)  We grade papers through the week, create new lessons, fill out special education forms, probation forms for students, write college recommendations and work on Sundays to get ready for the new week.  That IS NOT A 40 hour a week job.  Most teachers work a 50-60 hours a week job!
7)  We create and provide many different MODIFIED TESTS for ALL of our special education students whom we must educate as public school teachers.  You will NOT FIND special education students IN A PRIVATE school because they can CHOOSE their clientele and we cannot.
8)  We take college classes in the summer to keep up with required certification and also to enhance our teaching with new knowledge.  We take these classes JUST BECAUSE we want to be better in the classroom!  By the way we have to pay for those classes out of our own pockets, unlike many other private sector professionals who are reimbursed for their continuing education.  We must take 6 credit hours to be recertified every 5 years. Our certification costs have gone up from $60 to $200!
9) Also, most of us are back in our classrooms preparing for the new school year in the
            beginning of August.

This is what is facing TEACHERS IN OHIO:

HB69 and SB3--- Pension Reform

In order to make STRS (State Teacher's Retirement System) solvent within 30 yrs, STRS came out with a much more radical plan than the one produced in the fall of 2010.  Governor Kasich said he would only vote for one with a 30 year solvency when we have been living under a 40 yr. plan.

This is what is being proposed in Columbus.

While we don't like these changes we are willing to abide by them to keep STRS solvent.

This is a part of our SHARED SACRAFICE.

We will be working for 38-39 instead of the 30 yrs. that we were all told when entering the teaching profession in Ohio.  I had 12 years left until I could retire from Teaching and get a 9-5 job that was not so exhausting.  However, I now will have 20 more years. 

Teaching is Exhilarating but more exhausting each year as we are not only teachers, but often act as parents and counselors.  We have more and more students with needs that are nothing like what you and I faced as teenagers.

We won't be able to TOUCH our PENSION UNTIL we have taught 35 years AND are AGED 60!  If we do, we will face a major deduction.

Right now you can retire with 30 yrs and receive 66% of your pension. If you work up until 35 years you receive  88%!

NEW PROPOSAL-- 30 years gets you 40%  and 35 years gets you 77% every year after that is around 2.2% more.

We do not get a COLA (Cost of Living Adjustment) for 5 years after we begin to collect our pension, unlike Social Security whose COLA is based on the rate of inflation.

Currently Teacher's pay 10% into STRS and the employer pays 14%. 
Starting in the fall of 2012 Ohio Teachers will be contributing 1% extra per year until they hit 13% .
Under Governor Kasich's Budget he wants to allow the employer to only pay 12% and contributors must contribute 2% more which means within the next year we will be paying 13% and MOST OF US HAVE BEEN AND ARE ON A PAY FREEZE!  Additionally Gov. Kasich’s plan makes a solvent pension plan insolvent, as the increased amount paid by teachers (which they can withdraw) vs. decreased amount paid by districts (which they can’t withdraw) unbalances the plan.

Long lasting effects of this plan:  older teachers and few new younger teachers.

SB5- affects Teachers in the following ways-

1)  You can collectively bargain for wages, hours and working conditions however if you strike you are subject to removal and shall have pay deducted at the rate of twice the daily rate of pay for each day of striking.  And face a $1,000.00 fine.

2)  Tenure remains for those who have it but no one else which means NOTHING because we are going to MERIT PAY!

3)  We will pay 15% of our health care, with no say in the type of plan.

4)  Sick days will be lowered from 15 days to 10 days and NO ACCUMULATION
            which then eventually gets rid of SEVERANCE packages.
            Also, you may not be able to use sick days for MATERNITY LEAVE.

5)  SB5 allows the school board to pick whatever health care program they want.
            We will have no say in negotiations on this issue.  So, they can pick the cheapest and worst.

6)   SB5 eliminates seniority as the sole criterion for lay offs. 
This will surely encourage employers to lay off the most senior members who make the most money. Because SB5 also eliminates binding arbitration, there will be no grievance process, so terminations because of age or expense will immediately go to lawsuits – and guess who will pay? The state of Ohio. So instead of saving the state money, it will cost the state.

Many schools are now only hiring employees with less than 3 years experience OR only giving teachers 3 years of experience even when they may have upwards of 30 years experience!  This is why it is so hard to leave a district after so many years of experience.  It used to be 7 years was all a district would give you.  Now if they can fire you because you are making too much you COULD GET A JOB but with ONLY 3 YEARS experience.  Imagine the home foreclosures teachers will be facing if put into this situation. 

7)  Teachers will be paid on MERIT PAY: If Merit Pay sounds like such a good
          idea, why does no one know what it looks like. Read the following letter:

Dear State of Ohio Republican Legislators,

We are taxpayers and voters in this state. Oh yes, we are also teachers.

As such we are trying to understand the provisions of SB5 that will so deeply affect our lives. While we are puzzled why you are trying to balance the budget on the backs of dedicated public servants instead of those who brought this economic calamity upon all of us, we are particularly mystified by the Merit Pay provision you’ve included since no one, including you, has ever defined or explained it. As teachers we’d like to give you a little quiz on Merit Pay to assess your understanding of this provision (I’m sure you’d be glad to comply as you are such proponents of the merits of standardized testing).

ESSAY Question #1: Please define and/or describe fully Merit Pay, using specific logical examples to back up your answer.

Too hard? No specifics coming to mind? No statistics to prove Merit Pay can or has ever worked?

Then let us help you with a study guide of questions because, as conscientious teachers, we want our students to succeed rather than entrapping them in a test of “gotcha.”
  1. Merit Pay based on standardized test results: Will the Ohio Graduation Test  (OGT) success rate be used for individual teachers? Since the test is given in 10th grade in Reading, Writing, Social Studies, Math, and Science, will only 10th grade teachers receive Merit Pay? What happens to Spanish teachers, Art teachers, Physical Education teachers, Business teachers?….well, you get the picture. Does the 10th grade teacher with honors students get the same Merit Pay scale as the 10th grade teacher with 16 separate Individualized Education (IEP) students included in his/her class? Do teachers get to pick the students in their classes, as bankers get to pick to whom they give a loan? Will teachers get less Merit Pay if their students newly arrived from other countries score low, or can they just turn them over to Immigration and Naturalization for deportation, legal or not, and will that earn Merit Pay? Will public school districts get to choose the students who will attend their schools, as private schools do, so they can eliminate low scorers before they can be counted in their OGT results?
  2. Merit Pay based on student evaluations: Will teachers be rated by their students when they demand the best from them and thus make students work hard, often causing students to complain (low rating predicted here)? Will teachers be rated by students 1 or 2 or 5 years down the road, when their students email or call or write and thank them for teaching them work habits that are paying off in college or their jobs? Will those scores be averaged, or will the better score wipe out the worse score?
  3. Merit Pay based on parent evaluations: Will parents spend all day every day in the classroom to observe the teachers’ techniques, read all the lesson plans, witness the individualized attention given to each student? (Of course the rooms will get rather crowded since class sizes are rising as schools cut teachers.)Will teachers who hold their students to a high standard lose Merit Pay when a parent complains his daughter cannot play soccer or her son won’t get into his first choice college because of the C the teacher “gave” ?
  4. Merit Pay based on extra-contractual work: I know this area of study surprises you because you didn’t know it would be on the quiz since you didn’t realize teachers work above and beyond their contracts every single day. Will the teacher who spends between $100 to $500 yearly on classroom supplies, at times food and clothes for his or her students, receive reimbursement for this money as well as Merit Pay, or will Merit Pay count as reimbursement? How many letters of recommendation or scholarship letters will a teacher have to write on his/ her own time to count for Merit Pay – 10, 20, 40+ as many teachers of seniors willingly do? Will teachers need to wear a monitoring device, so their extra hours before and after school in their classrooms grading or working with students, or weekends spent on lesson plans, grading, and the aforementioned letters of recommendation count for Merit Pay? Or will a simple affidavit from their spouses and children testifying to their absence from family functions be sufficient?
  5. Combat Pay: You’ll need to know that this is another term for Merit Pay in some schools or in some classrooms. How many times will a teacher need to be stabbed by a pair of scissors or sworn at to warrant Merit Pay? Will more Merit Pay be awarded if a teacher’s tires are slashed or his car keyed?
There will be an extra credit question, so think hard: when will a teacher be so good and earn so much Merit Pay that a district will let him or her go rather than pay that much?

We hope this study guide will enable you to answer our question about what Merit Pay looks like, as you enact legislation including this provision. We’re certain you would want to make your high school government teachers proud of the jobs you are doing serving the citizens of the state of Ohio.

As we await your answer, we’ll go back to doing what we do best: teaching the future generations of voters to preserve democracy in America.


Annie Brust, high school English teacher
Nicole Costigan, high school English teacher
Jeanette DiBernardo, high school English teacher
Joy Gray, high school English teacher
Emily Hope, high school English teacher
Anissa Smith, high school social studies teacher
P.S. Since Merit Pay is such a good idea, we know you’ll want to institute it for yourselves immediately as a cost saving measure for Ohio as well as a way to improve the quality of legislation since we the taxpayers pay YOUR salaries. We suggest you use the formula used to rank schools, as presented on the Ohio Department of Education’s website: “Ohio’s Value-added system uses an advanced methodology (Education Value-added Assessment System – EVAAS)… This helps assure the validity and usefulness of the resulting measures as they are used in high stakes applications. In addition to the value-added (school and district effects) measures derived from this methodology, Ohio uses EVAAS to compute its federally approved Growth Model (student level projections for AYP).” Confused? Sound like gibberish? Don’t worry – that’s for next week’s quiz.

Governor Kasich's Budget Plan

            takes money from Public Schools and gives it to Charter and Private Schools!

Let me tell you why this is a BAD idea.

          1)  Most private and charter schools do not have any sort of a special
                   education program that by LAW public schools MUST provide at a
                   huge cost to schools.

          2)  Public schools CAN NOT let go of students because of so many demerits
                   they obtain.

          3)  Public schools must provide MODIFIED TESTS to special EDUCATION
                   students BY LAW, but when it comes to the OGT all they get is a longer
                    time to take the test.

          4)  Some Public Schools have co-taught classes where the class is 1/2 special
                   education and 1/2 regular education.  As a teacher I try my hardest to
                   give critical  thinking questions to those students who are more
                   advanced, but when you have students who are so low that they are
                   exempt from taking the OGT tests they look at you like deer in
                   headlights. It is very difficult to teach this way.

WHAT are Senators &  House Representatives willing to Sacrifice?
PAY???  They give themselves Pay raises!  MERIT PAY?????,  Health Care????,  PENSIONS????  Why haven’t we heard what they are willing to sacrifice?

It's great that the Governor is giving a $5,000 voucher to parents to spend on any charter or private school, but when tuition costs upwards of $15,000 - $20,000 a year at some of these school only the upper middle class can afford the schools.

The economic collapse was started by greedy corporations who were giving out too many loans to people they knew couldn't afford it.  So what happens, they get a 0% loan from the government and then fix their companies and this year are passing out BONUSES to their top employees.

I am a UNION member who is willing to give more money to health care, pensions and less pay.  However I believe there should be a SHARED SACRAFICE to end our countries economical problems.

Ohio's union membership is 13.7%.  More comes from the public rather than the private sector.  Plain Dealer 3/13/2011

Is Governor Kasich's plan to end unions due to BUDGET CONSTRAINTS OR IS IT POLITICALLY DRIVEN?  Think about this for a moment-- Presidential Political Campaigns are won due to MONEY.  Democrats get much of their campaign money from Unions and Republicans get much of their money from Private Businesses.  (OPENSECRETS.ORG)  If you get rid of unions you get rid of most of your competition!

Finally the Ohio Republicans are stating the following:

Columbus Dispatch- March 29, 2011
"I and several of my fellow colleagues are in favor of a right-to-work state. Unfortunately, that’s not what this bill does, but it sets the framework for conversations later on."-  House Commerce and Labor Chairman Joe Uecker (R-Loveland)
Chairman Uecker finally admitted what the Republicans have long denied, that SB 5 is not about the State budget, it’s not about giving local government more flexibility, it’s about setting the stage to end organized labor in Ohio entirely. 
If you ask the majority of parents, they like their own schools but believe schools are FAILING due to all of the Negative Media that is out there about teachers.

Teaching TAKES A VILLAGE!  Not only should teachers be responsible, but PARENTS need to BE PARENTS not absent parents, not the best friend of their child and not HELICOPTER parents.

Quoting from a teacher who wrote Scott Walker in Wisconsin,
"Education in America is too diverse and vast to make neat, unilateral prescriptions for saving schools that actually need rescue---or improving the large majority of schools, whose performance ranges from mediocre to dynamic and outstanding."-- (KENSTON is an EXCELLENT SCHOOL DISTRICT)

I did not become a Teacher to get RICH or Make BONUSES.

Why did we go into teaching?

For most of us it was to spread the love and passion of our subject matter and to help the children grow into educated, thoughtful and productive citizens in this world.

We do know that when given opportunity, knowledge, a little self-discipline and motivation, seeing YOUR kids succeed is what it's all about."

State [of Ohio] Continues to Blindly Shift Funding to Charter Schools

This article appeared in the Youngstown Vindicator on April 17, 2010. It discusses the poor performance and lack of accountability that exists in Ohio's charter schools. Here is a portion of the article:

"Government data suggest that schools with for-profit managers have somewhat worse academic results than charters without management companies, and a number of boards have clashed with managers over a lack of transparency in how they are using public funds.

White Hat has achieved particularly poor results, with only 2 percent of its students making the progress expected under federal education law....

As federal and state governments pour billions of dollars into charter schools, boards across the country have increasingly turned to companies such as White Hat. Roughly a third of all charter schools now contract with “full service” management companies, which control hiring and firing, enrollment and curriculum at these public schools, according to Miron.

Yet the results have been decidedly mixed, with increasing complaints that some companies have put profit ahead of education and have often become unaccountable to the school boards that are supposed to represent the interests of the community and children."

Read the Full Article:
State continues to blindly shift funding to charter schools

Students are Not Widgets

Here is a link to a good discussion of the problems with merit pay for teachers based on the value-added measures used in Ohio from

Read the Full Article:
Students are Not Widgets

Sunday, April 17, 2011

A Tea Party Primer

This was posted by Greg Mild on April 17, 2011. In it he compares the stated beliefs of the Ohio Tea Party with current pieces of legislation in Ohio.

"I actually have an old friend who will still talk politics with me.  We don't see each other very often, and I think we both try to avoid it at first, but one of us inevitably opens the door for the conversation to begin.  While I would classify Steve as a moderate Republican, he describes himself as and Independent.  I would self-identify a moderate Democrat moving left, while Steve would probably label me as someone who needs a better filter between my brain and my mouth.  I have little factual evidence to challenge him on this.
So imagine our surprise when, while discussing Senate Bill 5, we simultaneously expressed confusion over the Tea Party's strong support.  We were at a loss as to how the "small government" Tea Party rationalizes the concept of the state diminishing the authority of local governments as included in the legislation.  Steve and I agreed that the bargaining restrictions contained in the bill amounted to the state exerting control over local areas; an exercise in the concept of "big government" control.

It was then that I determined that I needed to find out more about the Tea Party.  I needed to understand what the rationale was behind these decisions.  If I was going to be able to engage Tea Partiers in discussions, I needed to find out what they believe in and what their goals are.  And I needed to do so by going to the sources, The Tea Party Patriots, the "Official Home of the Tea Party Movement" and FreedomWorks, "Founded in 1984, and headquartered in Washington, DC, with hundreds of thousands of grassroots volunteers nationwide." 

From what I have read, I don't think the Tea Party members I've encountered in Ohio actually know what they believe.

FreedomWorks Mission:

FreedomWorks fights for lower taxes, less government and more economic freedom for all Americans.
Chairman Dick Armey: “What should be your guide? The Constitution.”

Government is too big and spends too much of our money. A strong and vibrant free market economy - free from burdensome taxation and regulation - offers the best hope for creating opportunity and improving the quality of life for every American.

The Flat Tax
The current tax code is a 60,000-page catalog of favors for special interests and a chamber of horrors for the rest of America. We want to scrap our confusing, unfair tax code and replace it with a simple flat tax of one low rate with no deductions or special interest loopholes. We also want lower taxes at the federal, state, and local levels.

We want Americans to be able to use the free market to choose the care that suits their individual needs. We believe that government should not gain more control over healthcare.  Frivolous lawsuits and bureaucratic waste add to the cost of health insurance.

Red Tape, Hidden Taxes, & Regulation
We want to end burdensome government regulation and rely on the marketplace as an efficient regulator of business activity.

Tea Party Patriots Core Values:

Fiscal Responsibility: Fiscal Responsibility by government honors and respects the freedom of the individual to spend the money that is the fruit of their own labor. A constitutionally limited government, designed to protect the blessings of liberty, must be fiscally responsible or it must subject its citizenry to high levels of taxation that unjustly restrict the liberty our Constitution was designed to protect.

Constitutionally Limited Government: We, the members of The Tea Party Patriots, are inspired by our founding documents and regard the Constitution of the United States to be the supreme law of the land. We believe that it is possible to know the original intent of the government our founders set forth, and stand in support of that intent. Like the founders, we support states' rights for those powers not expressly stated in the Constitution. As the government is of the people, by the people and for the people, in all other matters we support the personal liberty of the individual, within the rule of law.

Free Markets: A free market is the economic consequence of personal liberty. The founders believed that personal and economic freedom were indivisible, as do we. Our current government's interference distorts the free market and inhibits the pursuit of individual and economic liberty. Therefore, we support a return to the free market principles on which this nation was founded and oppose government intervention into the operations of private business. 

Tea Party Patriots Philosophy:

 Tea Party Patriots, Inc. is a non-partisan grassroots organization of individuals united by our core values derived from the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States of America, the Bill Of Rights as explained in the Federalist Papers.
 Excerpt from The Federalist Papers #84:
The last objection of any consequence, which I at present recollect, turns upon the article of expense. If it were even true, that the adoption of the proposed Government would occasion a considerable increase of expense, it would be an objection that ought to have no weight against the plan. . . . the question of expense must be given up; for it is impossible, with any degree of safety, to narrow the foundation upon which the system is to stand. The two branches of the Legislature are, in the first instance, to consist of only sixty-five persons, which is the same number of which congress, under the existing Confederation, may be composed. It is true, that this number is intended to be increased; but this is to keep pace with the progress of the population and resources of the country. It is evident that a less number would, even in the first instance, have been unsafe; and that a continuance of the present number would, in a more advanced stage of population, be a very inadequate representation of the People.

The result from these observations is . . . that a Government less expensive would be incompetent to the purposes of the Union.

Let us now see what there is to counterbalance any extra expense that may attend the establishment of the proposed Government. The first thing which presents itself is, that a great part of the business which now keeps Congress sitting through the year, will be transacted by the President. 

 Excerpt from The Federalist Papers #85:
The result of the deliberations of all collective bodies, must necessarily be a compound as well of the errors and prejudices, as of the good sense and wisdom of the individuals of whom they are composed. The compacts which are to embrace thirteen distinct States, in a common bond of amity and union, must as necessarily be a compromise of as many dissimilar interests and inclinations. How can perfection spring from such materials?

"To balance a large State or society," (says he,) "whether monarchical or republican, on general laws, is a work of so great difficulty, that no human genius, however comprehensive, is able by the mere dint of reason and reflection, to effect it. The judgments of many must unite in the work; Experience must guide their labor; Time must bring it to perfection; and the feeling of inconveniences must correct the mistakes which they inevitably fall into, in their first trials and experiments." These judicious reflections contain a lesson of moderation to all the sincere lovers of the Union, and ought to put them upon their guard against hazarding anarchy, civil war, a perpetual alienation of the States from each other, and perhaps the military despotism of a victorious demagogue, in the pursuit of what they are not likely to obtain, but from time and experience. . . . A Nation, without a National Government, is, in my view, an awful spectacle. The establishment of a Constitution, in time of profound peace, by the voluntary consent of a whole People, is a prodigy, to the completion of which I look forward with trembling anxiety . . . I know that powerful individuals, in this and in other States, are enemies to a general National Government in every possible shape.
  1. The Tea Party believe that "favors for special interests" should be removed from the Government. 
  2. The Tea Party believes that "Our current government's interference distorts the free market" and they "oppose government intervention into the operations of private business." 
  3. The Tea Party "believe[s] that government should not gain more control over healthcare."
  4. The Tea Party opposes "burdensome government regulation."
  5. I recommend that the Tea Party consider reading the Constitution and Federalist Papers to better align their mission and values with these guiding documents.
TEA PARTY DISCOVERY #1: Statement vs. Practice
 1.  They believe that "favors for special interests" should be removed from the Government. 

In practice, that would mean that Tea Party members could be counted on to be vocal opponents of the inclusion of Teach for America (by name) into Ohio law.  The Tea Party should be even more incensed by the Governor trying to pull a fast one and add Teach for America a second time through his Jobs Budget (Reform Book, p. 5).  One could also expect the party to be vocal opponents of the Governor's expansion of the community school program and the redistribution of tax dollars to these entities that already siphon off state tax money from public (the people's) schools.
And during his campaign, John Kasich stated "you can't be in a position where somebody's your buddy so that you give them something special." (  As a result, the Tea Party should be picketing the Statehouse daily over Kasich's hiring of Jai Chabria and Mark Kvamme, two of his buddies.

TEA PARTY DISCOVERY #2: Statement vs. Practice
2.  The Tea Party believes that "Our current government's interference distorts the free market" and they "oppose government intervention into the operations of private business." 
I would like to submit five items into evidence for this statement:

1. Bob Evans CEO Steve Davis said the company has simply outgrown its South High Street location, and needs more room.  "We seriously considered re-locating to Texas, where we own land, and where we have our food products campus," Davis said. "We could have moved anywhere. We have the financial where withal to go anywhere, but I lived through situations where people lost jobs and that was not going to happen here."
He said along with incentives offered by New Albany, an $11.8-million incentive package offered by the Kasich administration played a key role in the company's decision.  Kasich said that the state is bleeding jobs, and tax incentives will be necessary to keep companies like Bob Evans in the state.

2. American Greetings Corp. has decided to keep its world headquarters in Northeast Ohio, a move that drew praise from local leaders but also touched off a potential bidding war among communities that want to attract the Fortune 1000 employer. The 105-year-old greeting card maker rejected the possibility of moving to Illinois but said Monday that it has not decided whether to remain in Brooklyn or move to another suburb.  Ohio will provide a package of grants, loans and tax rebates worth a potential $93.5 million over 15 years to keep American Greetings here. Some of the incentives will come through tax reform legislation Gov. John Kasich signed into law Monday at American Greetings' headquarters.

3. [Kasich] did, however, tout his 'Jobs Ohio' plan as a way to bolster business and reduce unemployment. The plan would essentially privatize the Ohio Department of Development and create a new, private Economic Development Board for the state.  Kasich said, "Because you get smart people in business who are talking to people in business and convincing them this is a great place to do things and can talk to them about there needs so we can respond to them." The governor says his plan, along with incentives for new business will get Ohio where it needs to be to be more competitive with other states. (

4. The bill that would allow Gov. John Kasich to transform the Department of Development into a private, nonprofit corporation drew plenty of questions from lawmakers yesterday about the transparency and oversight of an entity that could hand out more than a $1billion a year in business incentives. (

5. To better serve the people of Ohio, the legislature passed House Bill 1, creating JobsOhio, which is a nonprofit public/private partnership designed to make traditional economic development its sole focus. The bill, signed by Governor John Kasich, will remove governmental barriers and allow JobsOhio to move at the speed of business, creating a faster, more efficient entity that will create and save Ohio jobs and improve the state’s return on investment. (Book One: The Budget Book, State of Ohio)

These five examples should have the Tea Party leading the charge to institute a recall provision for the Ohio Governor.  At the very least, the Tea Party should be boycotting John Kasich's every move.

TEA PARTY DISCOVERY #3: Statement vs. Practice
 3. They "believe that government should not gain more control over healthcare."

Americans for Prosperity, another Tea Party nonprofit organization, hosted a Town Hall meeting in Marietta, Ohio, to discuss Senate Bill 5.  "At one point during the meeting, Sen. Jimmy Stewart, R-Athens, talked about aspects of Senate Bill 5 and the state budget that will help local school districts cope with the cuts at the state level.  He pointed out that part of SB 5 requires that all government employees pay a minimum of 15 percent of their health care premiums.  Additionally, he said health care pooling is one part of the state budget, and it would require that all 600 school districts in the state have the same health care policy, resulting in $150 million savings per year across all 600 districts." (

If the state passes a law that requires all public workers to contribute a uniform percentage and also requires that they all participate in a health care pool, regardless of the desires of the local government and it's citizens, that sounds like a government gaining "more control over healthcare."  I guess Americans for Prosperity didn't get the memo.

Consider these excepts from Governor Kasich's Budget Books:
  • "The Executive Budget 'elevates' to the state the financial responsibility for community behavioral health."
  • "The combined impact . . . gives DODD (Department of Developmental Disabilities) more authority and control to design programs"
Those both sound to me like a government gaining "more control over healthcare."  So where are the Tea Party activists?

TEA PARTY DISCOVERY #4: Statement vs. Practice
4. The Tea Party opposes "burdensome government regulation."

The Tea Party members in Ohio ( apparently forgot about their opposition to goals of "less government" and "more economic freedom" as they rallied in support of the following items from Senate Bill 5 that limit the rights of local Boards of Education, elected by local citizens (The People), as they work to employ local citizens (The People) who are educating the children of local citizens (The People):
  • Prohibits public employees from striking.
  • Expands the list of subjects that are inappropriate for collective bargaining.
  • Prohibits an existing provision of a collective bargaining agreement that was modified, renewed, or extended that does not concern wages, hours, and terms and conditions from being a mandatory subject of collective bargaining.
  • Prohibits an agreement from containing a provision that requires as a condition of employment that the nonmembers of the employee organization pay to the employee organization a fair share fee.
  • Prohibits a collective bargaining agreement entered into or renewed on or after the bill's effective date from containing provisions limiting a public employer's ability to privatize operations.
  • Prohibits a collective bargaining agreement entered into or renewed on or after the bill's effective date from containing provisions for certain types of leave to accrue above listed amounts or to pay out for sick leave at a rate higher than specified amounts.
  • Eliminates the ability of the parties to submit disputes to an agreed‐upon dispute resolution procedure.
  • Eliminates the final offer settlement procedure.
  • Requires any agreement determined by the legislative body to be in effect for three years.
  • Requires, if the legislative body fails to select a last best offer, the public employer's last best offer to become the agreement between the parties.
  • Eliminates statutory salary schedules and steps.
  • Requires performance-based pay for teachers based, in part, on evaluations conducted under a policy that is based on a framework for teacher evaluations that has been recommended by the Superintendent of Public Instruction and adopted by the State Board of Education.
  • Caps vacation leave for certain public employees at 7.7 hours per biweekly pay period and limits total accrual for those public employees currently accruing 9.2 hours per pay period.
  • Reduces sick leave accrual for most public employees from 4.6 hours to 3.1 hours per biweekly pay period.
  • Limits public employer contributions toward health care benefit costs to 85%.
  • Requires boards of education to adopt policies to provide leave with pay for school employees and abolishes statutorily provided leave for those employees.
  • Abolishes continuing contracts for teachers, except for those continuing contracts in existence prior to the effective date of the bill and revises the law relating to limited contracts.
  • Prohibits a public employer from paying employee contributions to the five public employee retirement systems.
  • Requires health care benefits provided through a jointly administered trust fund to be the same as the health care benefits provided to other public employees.(
And in case that wasn't enough to raise the ire of the Tea Party members, then Kasich's greater emphasis on the use of standardized tests for students should really get them going.  The Governor will be using standardized statewide assessments to judge the performance of school districts and teachers who work in local communities, most of which actually provide the bulk of the funding.  Why would a local community allow a minority stakeholder, big government, to control the education of their children?

And why, exactly, is the Tea Party cheering on this effort?

This leads me to my final discovery:

TEA PARTY DISCOVERY #5: Statement vs. Practice
5. I recommend that the Tea Party consider reading the Constitution and Federalist Papers to better align their mission and values with these guiding documents.

Have pity for these lost souls and kindly direct them to review their core values. I would like to emphasize an excerpt from the Federalist Papers, #85 as evidence.

The judgments of many must unite in the work; Experience must guide their labor; Time must bring it to perfection; . . . ought to put them upon their guard against . . . military despotism of a victorious demagogue . . . I know that powerful individuals, in this and in other States, are enemies to a general National Government in every possible shape.

If we can get the Tea Party to understand these words that serve as a part of their philosophy, it may help.  These words highlight three key points:

First, collective bargaining that involves time and experience is an underlying principle of the Constitution of The United States of America.

Second, the Tea Party needed to be more vigilant in watching for Kasich the demagogue.

Last, Alexander Hamilton tried to warn us in 1787 that the Koch Brothers were bad news to us all.

So the next time you encounter a Tea Party member at a rally and they try to engage you in a shouting match, gently remind them that they have no idea what they are talking about and hand them a copy of their Mission, Core Values, and Philosophy.  Then smile, hand them your Pro-Union button, and welcome them to our side."