Wednesday, October 26, 2011

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

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

Monday, October 24, 2011

WKYC of Cleveland Debates Ohio Issue 2

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

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

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

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Truth About Teacher Seniority

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

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Cheney Is the Force Behind Support for Ohio SB5

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

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

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

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

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Problem With Ohio Senate Bill 5

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

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

Friday, October 14, 2011

Republican Senator Explains What is Wrong with SB5

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

Why SB5 Is Flawed from a Republican Senator

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

Republican Senator Explains Why He Is Voting No On Issue 2

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

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Ohio's Teachers Oppose Issue 2

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

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

No Child Left Behind Effect

New Test Questions: Cause of Teacher Layoffs?

Ohio SB5 Changes A Lot More Than Retirement Contributions

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

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Evaluating Teachers Based On Standardized Test Scores

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

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

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

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

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

Ravitch Discusses the Race to the Bottom on CNN

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

Matt Damon's Mom Discusses Education on CNN

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

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

My Response to the Portage County TEA Party Director

Tom Zawistowski,

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

A 304 Page Bill Changes More Than That

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

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

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

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