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."