Sunday, March 6, 2011

A Fork in the Road

Have you heard of Ohio's Senate Bill 5?

If you haven't, I'm sure you've heard of the anti-union business going on in Wisconsin.  Basically, SB5 is Ohio's version of it.

Now I try to stay out of politics.  Really, I do.  A friend of mine is big-time into politics and he drives me absolutely crazy.

But SB 5 is something that could greatly affect my career.  These are some summary points:

·         State employees and K-12 school employees may bargain wages, hours and terms and conditions of employees.  HOWEVER, the bill still outlines extensive matters prohibited from bargaining.  E.g. “no affects bargaining”

·         Salaries can be bargained but must be based on the following performance measures:
o   Level of teacher license; whether the teacher is a “highly qualified teacher” under law; the value-added measure the board uses to determine the performance of the students assigned to the teacher’s classroom; the results of the teacher’s performance evaluations, any peer review program created by an agreement between the board and teachers association, or another system of evaluation used by that board; any other criteria established by the board.

·         An initial limited contract for a classroom teacher, entered into on or after the effective date of the bill, shall not exceed three years.  Any subsequent limited contract: not less than 2 years and not more than 5 years.

·         No public employee or employee organization shall engage in a strike.  Whenever a strike occurs, the public employer may seek an injunction against the strike in the court of common pleas. 

·         Any person engaged in a strike is subject to removal, shall have deducted an amount equal to twice their daily rate of pay for each day on strike and the penalty for violation of a court injunction against a strike is a fine of $1,000 and up to 30 days imprisonment, or both.Further penalty for willfully disobeying a court.

These are the amendments made to the bill late last week.  

A couple things stick out to me as worrisome.  First, the salary thing.  They're taking away salaries based on years of service and education and changing it to merit-based pay.  What we're all wondering about is how this is to be done. Will it change annually?  What if you get a bad group of kids?  (And you all know what I mean.)  Are these based on test scores?  What if you have a class of students that don't have a standardized test to take (like my freshmen, juniors, and seniors)?  How is a gym/art/music/non-cores teacher going to be rated?  I was told by someone at school that one of our school board members said that s/he would like to cap salaries at $50,000.  I know that teachers don't make much, but I'll admit to being quite a bit over that level.  To have my salary adjusted downward so much would be quite a shock.  (Especially when you throw in an increase in insurance rates... also a part of SB5.)

I've seriously been thinking about other career options.  I love what I do. I've never wanted to be anything but a teacher (except for my astronaut phase when I was in elementary school... but I get motion sick pretty easily :) ).  With two small kids I can't imagine not having the time during the summer to spend with them.  Unless I can find something that would pay me well and give me the time off I think I'm stuck.

But I hate to say "stuck" in something that I love to do.

A couple of videos...

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Crisis in Dairyland - For Richer and Poorer - Teachers and Wall Street
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogThe Daily Show on Facebook

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