I’ve been reading a lot of press coverage of the Reynoldsburg teacher’s strike with poorly informed comments about the motivations for the work action. Some of this is just misinformation, some are talking points put out by the Reynoldsburg administration and reported uncritically by the press. This recent Dispatch story does a little better job, but it took them a while to get the facts out in the coverage of the strike. This is important stuff, because the Grandview Heights school board has been making plans that are similar to the changes being pushed on the Reynoldsburg teachers.
It’s not about the money
I often read stories and hear news reports that focus on the money that is being offered and the counter-proposal from the union, as though that was the motivation at the base of the strike. A careful reading of the facts show that the two sides are not far apart. The Reynoldsburg teachers would never have gone on strike for a fraction of a percentage point added to their pay.
For the best in-depth review of the financial numbers proposed by each side, as well as possible outcome analysis that exhaustively runs the numbers, read this story on the Plunderbund website (an independent Ohio news blog). No matter the outcome, it’s not about the money.
It is about replacing steps with performance-based pay.
The original demand by the school board would have stripped most of the step pay from the teachers and replaced it with performance-based pay, linked to the Ohio Teacher Evaluation System. The OTES is a brand new program, still under revision, with no history to show it has any value in measuring what it is supposed to measure. The OTES has nothing in the documentation that even suggests that it can be used for teacher compensation.
Once the academic studies of the OTES are completed, they will almost certainly find the same results that many other teacher evaluation based on student performance-based testing has found. Kids do better if they have parents who are upper income, professionals, and who support their kids in their school work. That one last factor is more important in student test results than any difference in teacher quality.
Obviously students from high income areas will test better than low income kids. This will set up teachers to fail their OTES evaluation, and then if that score is linked to teacher pay, the teachers in low income areas will be stuck with low wages.
Student test performance is so closely related to student home environment that it can cause large shifts in test scores because of the differences between one class and another. So when a teacher gets lucky and has some smart kids with good home support, the teacher’s pay would go up. An unlucky draw of students could throw the teacher into the low compensation level.
Performance-based pay has been tried again and again in school systems. There have been no studies that have shown that it works to improve the results of student achievement. The only reason this failed plan continues to be pushed by school boards is that they follow radical right-wing dogma.
Taking away heath care gives more choice?
The Reynoldsburg school board proposed cash payments for health care instead of health insurance coverage — “initiatives unheard of in teacher contracts around the area” as reported by the Dispatch. The board, in its convoluted reasoning, tried to say this was to give the teachers “more freedom”.
You need to be soaked in the libertarian side of the republican group-think to understand how taking away something gives more freedom. You might think offering teachers the choice of either standard health insurance or cash would be the “freedom” option. Obviously you have not drank enough kool-aid. The freedom they are talking about is the freedom to buy Junk insurance, and the freedom of companies to rip off uninformed consumers.
The current Reynoldsburg board bargaining position doesn’t include the cash for heath care option. Is it possible that they were too embarrassed by their ludicrous explanations of this policy?
Reynoldsburg needs better lies
The Dispatch video interview with superintendent Tina Thomas-Manning is chock filled with whoppers. They don’t know why the teachers went on strike? Gosh, could it have been anything to do with those unprecedented demands on the teachers? And then when she is asked if there are outside political forces driving her and the board, she says, “First, I’m insulted”. Red flag! Anytime someone starts to answer a questions with the declaration that they are insulted to have to answer the question, you can bet a whole lot of BS will follow.
Everyone knows this was a pilot program pushed by the republican John Kasich administration. The strike was a push-back supported by teachers all over the state. For Thomas-Manning to insist that it isn’t shows an ass-covering move at a skill level that wouldn’t fool a two year old.
I’m guessing Tina Thomas-Manning will have a short career with the Reynoldsburg schools. After the present board members are voted out, she will be booted too. She will always have a position somewhere with Governor John Kasich’s administration. Watch this video that documents the close ties between the Governor and Tina Thomas-Manning, and also the school board members at Reynoldsburg.
Reynoldsburg School Board’s dirty tricks
Fake flyers that out the strike breaking teachers are the latest from the Reynoldsburg school. They were created in an attempt to make it look like the union (or a supporter) was passing out flyers that identified the homes of the strike breaking teachers. As the excellent Plunderbund website shows, the flyers are almost identical to ones that outed teachers during the Strongsville strike. Huffmaster, the security and strike managment company, was the only link between the two cities. The only people that had those addresses were Huffmaster and the board. What a low trick – Huffmaster hires some desperate person (not necessarily a teacher, anyone with a college degree will do) and now it looks like in an attempt to smear the union, they out their own employee to the neighborhood.
October 9, 2014, the Reynoldsburg teachers voted to accept a new contract and end the strike. They will continue to receive step pay, health care plans from the school, and some limits on class sizes were set. This was a full loss for the school board and superintendent, hundreds of thousands of dollars wasted on strike breakers and added security. I hope the parents and community members vote these losers out as soon as possible.
The final bill the Reynoldsburg board cost the community by engaging in this dumb fight is still being totaled up, but it will be more than a million dollars, possibly two. If I were a community member there I would be passing a petition to have all the board members removed by recall elections.
Up soon – I asked the Grandview Heights board why they were talking about “Strategic compensation” in the February meeting held in a cabin 20 miles outside the city, with no parents or press attending. The answers they gave will not make you feel the Grandview board is very different from the Reynoldsburg board.
(Follow up story about the Reynolsburg board)
Reynoldsburg Board of Education President Andrew Swope resigned in December, and said he was moving his family out of the area. Superintendent Manning is still at the school, but this Facebook page asking for her removal shows the mood of the community.
(Later) The Reynoldsburg board voted to end super Manning’s contract in Sept. 2016, she will leave the school in July 2017.