Collective bargaining

Governor Kasich, we want a new bus driver

 

The Battle over Issue 2 Continues

The showdown over Issue 2 (formerly SB 5) will take place in a few days and the financial security and rights of many of those who are the backbone of our society are at stake. At the beginning of Kasich’s term he declared that if the people of Ohio weren’t on his bus then the bus would run over them. W-e-l-l-l-l-l, not so fast my friend.

How Issue 2 affects teachers

This bill affects state workers, teachers, nurses, police, and firefighters. It is a union busting bill disguised as a tool to balance the budget; but, what it really does is it tramples on the rights and working conditions of many people and sets them back decades. I have never been a union person myself nor have I been loyal to any particular political party and don’t believe in voting a straight ticket. So why am I so passionate to see this legislation defeated?

I first became aware of the issues when it was SB 5.  I objected to the bill for many reasons but as a former teacher I am offended that the  bill severally hinders teachers’ abilities to work effectively in the classroom by:

  • ·         ending work rules as a topic of collective bargaining, such as length of school day, building assignments, class size, etc.
  • ·         eliminating the ability to strike
  • ·         allowing a school board to implement its own last offer in order to end a bargaining impasse
  • ·         allowing a school board to terminate, modify or renegotiate the collective bargaining agreement if it faces significant fiscal problems
  • ·         a shift to merit-based pay
  • ·         the end of tenure

The bill includes many other offensive issues but these are the ones specifically targeting teachers. In addition, during the debates over SB 5 in the spring it was reported that Kasich proposed giving teachers bonuses of $50 for every student who shows more than a year’s worth of improvement based on existing state measurements. Translated that means that teachers will receive $50 for every student achieving a certain score on state achievement tests. This merely opens Pandora’s Box for teaching solely to the test and cheating and manipulating test scores (remember the latest scandal in Atlanta where teachers and administrators did just that?).

Jennifer Walker, an English teacher at Youngstown’s East High and the 2009 Teacher of the Year, said teachers at inner-city schools should not be rewarded based on the same metric applied to suburban teachers. “We are teachers whose students live in poverty, who hear gunshots on their streets at night,” Walker said. “I feel like teachers are a scapegoat. Schools are not to blame for the problem, we just mirror society’s problems.”

A school system cannot be compared to a corporation

As I said in Teachers Get No Respect, March 26, 2011, a school system cannot be compared to a corporation. There is no product to sell or manufacture except education. A profit and loss statement cannot be produced on this commodity because it is so nebulous. As a teacher, one of the most frustrating aspects of the job for me was that I never knew whether or not I was reaching my students. They might pass my tests but did they really learn the material and, more importantly, were they learning to open their minds and think for themselves? There were no measuring devices for immediate gratification.

Sometimes one had to wait for years before finding an answer. As an example, I once had a student in my class who I thought was under-performing. I called on her frequently in class, not to embarrass her but to delve into her mind. I knew she was smart enough to  handle the material. We were often at odds because she resented my attention. One day she burst out in class, called me a name that rhymes with witch, and stormed out of the classroom. I was shocked but never gave up on her.

Several years later I had quit teaching and one day I heard a knock on the door. There stood that student. She said she had to come to me and apologize and thank me for believing in her. She had had an adventurous life since graduating from high school including living on a kibbutz in Israel; however, she went on with her education and continued to learn and expand her universe. Yes! That is the confirmation I needed to know that I had gotten through to her even though you would never know it when she was in my class. She said I was the only one who had ever believed in her and challenged her and she didn’t know how to respond. Would she have passed mandatory state tests at the time? No one knows. But, the important fact to me is that I had been successful in planting the seed to learn. Nothing can ever top the feeling of knowing I had finally reached her—not even Kasich’s $50.

That, dear friends, is something that will never show up on a test and cannot be measured. That experience is priceless. Most teachers aren’t concerned with merit pay they just want to do the job they love without restrictions and endless regulations and testing. They are there to guide, counsel, and gently open the minds of young people. Their greatest reward is to see their students go on to live fruitful and meaningful lives.

Respect the teachers

The teachers have been strangely quiet on the debates over Issue 2. That is probably because school began in the fall when the political machinery was gearing up. They were more interested in getting a good beginning to the school year than fighting over their own personal and political concerns. That is as it should be, it is called dedication to the profession. We, the public, expect no less from the ones to whom we entrust our precious children.

That is why I am appointing myself as the spokesperson for the teachers in the fight over Issue 2. They have important business to attend to in the classroom. I have completed my time in the classroom and have also served as a lobbyist for the arts in education and am now lobbying for your support for the teachers. Show your respect for the job they do. Don’t take away their few rights they fought so long and hard for. Give them the freedom and security to do their jobs without encumbering them with countless tests, paperwork, overcrowded classes, extended school days, loss of tenure, and more.

Vote NO on Issue 2. Show the teachers the respect they deserve.

More on “Vote No on Issue 2”

The election is still more than three weeks away and the battle over Issue 2 is heating up. A lot is riding on this issue and both sides are digging in for a tough fight.

As I stated in my previous blog, I am definitely voting no on Issue 2. I see that every TV station in the state and some in West Virginia have pulled the despicable ad that purposely twists Grandma Quinn’s words to support their view to pass Issue 2, but the ad’s sponsor Building a Better Ohio (or you might call it Building a Broken Ohio or even Bullying for Ohio) is working hard to restore its misleading message.

Those hoping to pass Issue 2 say they are grateful for the attention their ad is getting. I am sure they are happy about the attention because as long as the issue is stirred up people will confuse in their minds what stand Grandma Quinn is making. The average, partially informed voter standing in the voting booth may think of the sweet grandmother and want to support her but may not remember which stand she was taking. To be clear—Grandma Quinn is voting no on Issue 2.

Those wanting you to vote yes on Issue 2 are circulating an email and close by saying, “Stand up for free speech….it is time to fight back against the bullies who want to shut down free speech, while using our tax dollars to fund their multi-million dollar propaganda campaign. Enough.” This is not a free speech issue, it is a truth in advertising issue and the only bullies I see are the Breaking Ohio Team. They are the ones who took the words of an ordinary citizen out of context and twisted them to their own advantage. As for the claim of using tax dollars, I feel this is highly doubtful or it would be all over the news.

I received an excellent letter from a reader and small business owner who gave a unique perspective of the problems addressed in Issue 2. You can find it at under “comments” at the end of “Opponents of ‘Vote No on Issue 2’ stoop to new low”. In the letter he makes an interesting distinction between “spending” and “investment” regarding pay cut for teachers. In addition he notes that a balanced budget is not everything but rather an investment to create growth. This reminds me of discussions I have participated in on various boards—a budget is there to serve as a guideline for spending but it is not written in stone. Thank you, Lenin, for a fresh point of view on this very important and controversial subject. The letter follows:

 

Sheila

Thanks for writing this piece. I agree with you and thought I would share my opinion here.

My opinion on pay cut for teachers:

Education is investment. Not spending. Instead of cutting the benefits and salary for teachers, the government should increase the pay to attract and retain quality teachers. For example, as a small business owner, I cannot go to my employees and say 
“we need more effort from you and by the way, I am cutting your salary and benefits”.

My opinion on balanced budget:

 What use is the balanced budget, when there is no scope for growth? For example, Amazon.com showed loss for several years initially. They would borrow huge amount(s) of money and  (then)spend on capturing (the) market. Investors wanted profit. But the CEO was not in a hurry. He just reinvested all the company’s revenue to position his company for further growth. Now we know the success story of Amazon.

 Balanced budget is not everything. As long as we invest the money to create growth, then debt is not a problem. The corporate CEOs know this better than us. What better growth area can we find to invest than the education sector in the state of Ohio?

For example: if our state had the most density of software engineers, Google and Microsoft would open office here. We don’t have to offer tax cut. In the absence of that kind of Human resources, no tax cut can attract business here.

Let us invest and grow. That is the good old American style.

Thanks
Lenin
  

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=JnUhA9xWfjk