I would like to request that as my representative, Andy Thompson, change his focus from SB5 and its many items that would have caused further discourse to the people who watch our back daily, that he, instead focus on fair and equitable school funding in Ohio and especially for southeast Ohio. I believe this is where the students, parents, and community members he represents would like to see some energy and action.
It really amazes me this issue of school funding which was determined unconstitutional in court is being so blatantly ignored by my local representative. Why is Thompson not advocating for our children to have the same advantages as wealthier public school districts? Is this not a worthy enough cause? They don't deserve it?
Furthermore, I am amazed that my local rep. would advocate less salary, health care, and retirement for firefighters, police officers, nurses, and teachers in a county where some school districts show the lowest salaries in the state. Less income/salary means less money spent locally on small business. More teachers who have children qualifying for free federally-funded lunches. Pretty sad if you ask me.
Perhaps Thompson is confused? Does he think he is representing some of the high end districts in Columbus, Cleveland? Why is Thompson not advocating for his local teachers, students, and community members?
Perhaps fair and constitutional funding would take some of the burden off the local government. Wasn't that the rationale continually used for SB5: giving the local government more control on how they budget their money? Well, it makes logical sense to me if school funding were fair and equitable in our state our local Board of Educations would have a better chance of operating in the black. I have heard Thompson and our governor state since the election, "There will be no bail-outs!" Well, do these representatives consider fair and legal public school funding legislature a "bail-out?" Or are these elected officials afraid to make the voters in the wealthier districts angry when some of their funding is distributed in a fair and equable manner with the economically disadvantaged districts?
I also would ask Thompson for a concrete plan on the implementation of Merit Pay before the government gives us yet one more unfunded mandate that hasn't even been planned effectively. Where does this money come from for merit pay? The taxpayers! At least with salary negotiations the Board can look at the union and say the money is not there. No pay increases, less insurance contributions...concessions are made. But with Merit Pay would the Board not be obligated to pay it whether they have the money or not? Mr. Thompson, you do realize the majority of our teachers would qualify for merit pay, right? Contrary to the rhetoric of our representatives the majority of teachers are good, solid, successful professionals who do a great job. The 'bad' teachers are actually few and far between. I am not denying there are bad teachers, as there are bad doctors, bus drivers, police officers, politicians, and so on. But the implication with our representatives would have the local taxpayer believe there are few teachers who would receive merit pay and therefore it would be cheaper financially. Simply not true. Therefore, merit pay would become yet another unfunded mandate for public education.
Also, I would ask Thompson before the topic of merit pay is revisited that the representatives who support this issue have a detailed implementation plan in place. How will physical education teachers, art teachers, health teachers, Spanish teachers be evaluated?
How is it fair that a high school Spanish teacher who has a strong majority of college-bound students who can read proficiently and who have many environmental advantages be fairly compared to the regular education or special education teacher who has inclusion classes, special needs students, economically disadvantaged children who haven't had a balanced meal for two weeks, or the child who cannot read above a second grade level and so forth? How will Thompson, as a representative make merit pay fair? Don't do what usually happens, mandate it and dump it in the laps of the local school districts to figure out.
There are so many questions yet un-answered, does merit pay take into account attendance of the teacher? How about reporting to work on time and class management? Will teachers receive a handicap, like in golf, if their classes are loaded in their favor with accelerated students? How will you prevent administrative favoritism when assigning students? Couldn't an administrator basically set a teacher up for failure? How will merit pay factor in parent participation? Home environment? Health and emotional well being of the individual students? Class interruptions and lost academic time? All of these are factors I fear the representatives have not even considered. Or wouldn't know how unless they have walked in our shoes for a while.
I totally understand value-added and the concept of merit pay. I have received a score of highly effective in 7th grade science just this year. And I also can tell you it all looks great on paper, but that is not reality.
How would all of Thompson's grandiose ideas be fair for teachers working in low income districts? So let me get this straight, local governments in Shaker Heights could easily afford more compensation for their employees versus Frontier School District and that is OK with you as our local representative? More unfair legislature sponsored by our local reps.
It also might be nice if Thompson, as my representative would acknowledge the concessions his local school district teachers repeatedly make to keep their districts fiscally responsible. I have been involved with our MEA Professional Association negotiations for the past five times and I can tell you we have made concession after concession to keep our district in the black. And we have not complained. I will have had six years of absolutely no pay increase at the end of this contract. Actually, pay decreases due to increased insurance and retirement contributions. Thompson and his fellow reps. have painted government union employees as irresponsible, greedy, uncaring moochers off the public taxpayer dollar. How insulting! It is really sad many people have bought this song and dance. Pathetic and sad, in the meantime I am paying Thompson's salary/benefits and I'd love to compare it to my colleagues and mine. Where is your sacrifice, Thompson?
The voters of Ohio have overwhelmingly rejected Senate Bill 5. As one of Thompson's constituents, I must tell you that I am disappointed in his support of SB 5.
I know we won't always agree, but I believe Thompson should listen to the clear message sent by the citizen's veto of SB 5. It's time for Thompson to start working on creating and protecting good-paying jobs for all Ohioans rather than continuing attacks on firefighters, teachers, and other hard-working public employees.
We don't need more partisan bickering in Columbus. We need action. Maybe we should start with public school funding so our local governments can be relieved of some of the unfair financial burden placed on them.