Monday, October 17, 2011

Worth Repeating

In a couple of weeks, Ohio will be voting to repeal the odious law known as SB5 .When the law was passed I posted my opinion of it. Since then 1.25 million Ohioans signed a petition to put a repeal of the law on the ballot and backers of the law have ramped up their scapegoating of public employees.While giving millions of our tax dollars to their corporate backers they are claiming the only way to balance the budget is on the backs of public employees. They try not to mention that the law also severely restricts bargaining rights of public employees and prevents unions from collecting fair share fees,  basically killing public employee unions as we know them.The following is a re-post of the original article.If you are in Ohio vote no on issue 2. If you are in another state, look out this may be coming your way. Thanks for listening.

A couple of weeks ago, there was an image circulating on Facebook of a button that read" Those who can ,teach. Those who can't,  pass laws to restrict teachers."As often happens, this got me thinking. Between my wife and I, we have over 50 years experience in the classroom and/or supervision of educators. We both have  Masters Degrees and many additional credit hours of training.. I think this qualifies me to speak with some authority on this subject.

The Ohio General Assembly has taken it on themselves to restructure the state's educational system. The need for reform was obvious to the legislators because even though the average educational level of teachers in any school in the state far outstrips the level of education of  the legislature and even though the teachers had specialized training, they were still not smart enough to agree with the opinions of big money donors who want to privatize and industrialize public education. Clearly, if the most qualified people did not have the correct opinion, the system must be broken.

The notion that we can standardize and quantify education comes from manufacturing. It assumes that if the proper processing is given to all children, they will all come out of school with the same competencies.No Child Left Behind assumes that all children are going to the same place on the same bus at the same time.If this doesn't happen, it is the fault of overpaid teachers.Make no mistake, this is the first assumption. No one ever mentioned that the Captains of Industry who are being encouraged to manage education would never agree to manufacture the simplest widget if they had no control over their raw materials coupled with no control and little knowledge of what the second and third shift was doing. No one would ever agree to these conditions but we expect teachers to do it every day.

The Republican Governors and legislatures of Midwestern States are systematically passing laws to severely restrict the bargaining rights of teachers and other public servants. They may not strike, they may negotiate pay but not benefits( so what goes in one pocket may be arbitrarily taken out of the other) Seniority means nothing. Pay must be merit based with 50% based on those tests that we don't"teach to" wink wink. It has never been shown that students who do well on these tests are more successful in the real world than others. It has certainly never been shown that these tests are valid for assessing teacher performance nor has any other formula to account for student differences been proven. The answer?  Ignore student differences and assume that everyone is capable of learning the same skills at the same rate. Of course this is totally ridiculous but you have to do it to make the math work.

When I went into the classroom, I had a wife and two kids.If I had been the only earner in the family we would have qualified for Food Stamps.The only thing that made it feasible to go into a job with no real career ladder was the assurance that with regular scheduled increases, and professional growth my wages would improve. The Ohio Legislature has removed this incentive for people to enter the field.

Ohio has passed and the Governor has signed SB5 that dictates these and other changes. Currently petitions are being circulated for a voter referendum on this law. Polls show a 60/40 split against the law but it is still an uphill battle to repeal it. I'm not saying our system is perfect. I'm not saying that public employees shouldn't be asked to help out and tighten their belts a little. And finally, far be it from me to suggest that CEO's whose wages are up 27% this year, banks that we bailed out, and Oil Producers who got 4 billion in federal money should kick in a little more


  1. well said Dennis, and good luck on the battle. I can tell you're the kind of teacher I was fortunate to have on several occasions, and in their name I say thank you.

  2. If our society becomes too educated it will understand all of the scams our government has going on, keep 'em dumb and rip 'em off, seems to be the Republican platform! But we have access to sand and heroin :)
    Our daughter survived public school for the first three years of school, but after three years of her teachers putting her in the hall to teach her friends to read I had enough and put her in a private christian school. Then we moved to Chapel Hill and found the most incredible charter school ever. That school is teaching the individual, and there are some amazing kids graduating from there!
    Go Dennis!!! I hear the frackers have their eyes on shale in Ohio, watch out!!!!!

  3. Yes Tracey, our fracking governor wants to lease the mineral rights in the state parks to the fracking oil companies. (See ow I cleverly used different meanings of fracking in one sentence? )

  4. I really hate to be pessimistic, but republican or democrat or any politician for that matter, they are all the same looking for money any where they can get it at the expense of anyone they can scam, it's all greed and smokes screens and unfortunately I don't see any end to it, they all need and want more money to fund their special interests and programs at the expense of the little guy no matter what the profession. It's a fracking shame, and a fracking shim sham.

  5. It is a FRACKING shame! This may be a good way for me to clean up my potty mouth though:)

  6. my sister is a french & spanish teacher in a public middle school... we were talking about this very thing yesterday... her school even offers "prize incentives" to the students to complete the test thoughtfully instead of just filling in random circles. they can win iPods, lap tops etc. she isn't comfortable with the idea that kids need to bribed.
    this whole testing thing is a bunch of crap.


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