Friday, January 2, 2009

Never Waste a Good Crisis

We are getting nearer to the day when Governor Strickland announces his 'fix' for school funding in Ohio. Andy Benson of the KnowledgeWorks Foundation recently wrote an article describing his views as how this might play out. I found it very interesting that Mr. Benson, who is certainly closer to Capital Square politics than most of us, believes the Governor might describe a new way to go about both education funding and spending, but will tell Ohioans that it can't be implemented until the economic situation turns around for Ohio .

I've been cautiously optimistic about Governor Strickland. We're both products of the industrial areas of Appalachia, and I'm impressed that he holds a PhD (in counseling psychology) from the University of Kentucky, a first rate university. He should be getting some good advice from First Lady Frances Strickland, who also holds a PhD (in educational psychology) from University of Kentucky.

But I'm not so blinded by his bucketful of degrees to forget that he is a shrewd career politician. The scenario described by Mr. Benson would be a pretty slick maneuver on the Governor's part – essentially a way to make more campaign promises with the luxury of not being able to actually put them into operation – and risk failure. Dreams always sound better than reality. What great positioning for the run-up to his 2010 re-election campaign.

The Governor can't act alone of course. He must gain sufficient support from the General Assembly for whatever strategy he lays out. In that fact lays the danger. Here's what I wrote in response to Mr. Benson's article:

While crisis may create an environment where ideas for radical change can gain popular acceptance, it also creates an opportunity for those whose ultimate goals are not so benevolent. It was after all a national crisis that enabled leaders such as Hitler, Stalin, and Hussein to come to power. Their ambition met opportunity, and we all know the result.

I fear that the crisis in which Ohio find itself will be the opportunity the education lobby has been waiting for to push through a school funding approach which serves to protect the compensation and benefits of Ohio's public school employees in spite of what it might push aside in terms of other programs - or what it might add to the tax burden of Ohio's citizens and businesses.

We can assume that the Ohio Education Association has been lobbying mightily to have the Governor recommend a program substantially like the proposed "Getting It Right For Ohio's Future" (GIRFOF) amendment, which would have made the State Board of Education a kind of super-legislature that would have first dibs on the state treasury. While the Governor has said he doesn't want to yield that kind of power to the BoE, he can't ignore the political might of the OEA either (the Ohio Education Association, the state teachers' union, of which the Hilliard Education Association, the union of our district's teachers, is affiliated).

So certainly, there must be some sort of compromise in the making. My guess is that we will see something that looks like the revenue model proposed in the GIRFOF proposal, but gives the Governor more power over the governance of Ohio's schools (and the BoE and Superintendent less).

While the leaders of the education lobby will evoke images of more Nathan DeRolphs still sitting on the floor, the truth is that a great deal has been done since that suit was filed to lift the funding levels of our poorest schools. And as someone who travels all over the state, I've seen firsthand many of the new school buildings constructed in little communities with the assistance of the Ohio School Facilities Commission.

This current fight isn't about the schools in low income areas any more. It's about decoupling the compensation and benefits of public school teachers and public school employees from local levy votes. School Boards and school administrators simply abhor having to beg the people of their community for more money on a regular basis. But they've carefully framed the problem as being the form of taxation (property taxes) rather than who has control over the levying of taxes.

Here's the litmus test: If the General Assembly made a law saying property taxes were henceforth prohibited in Ohio, and that the portion of school funding which now comes from local property taxes had to be replaced with local INCOME taxes, would that be satisfactory to the education community?

Of course not. Their problem isn't with the form of taxation - it's that local voters have a choice.

So why not go all the way? Let's just eliminate local school districts altogether and go to a state school system with open enrollment. Let any kid attend any Ohio public school he/she wants, and let the funding follow the kid. In that way, per-pupil funding would be identical in each and every school in the state, and that debate would be over.

And let's make teacher pay and benefits uniform across the state as well.

Oh wait a minute. That would end the wealthy suburban enclaves with high teacher salary scales that GIRFOF is so careful to preserve. You see, GIRFOF doesn't eliminate local property taxes or even spending disparities. It just gives local school districts the option to use local property taxes to fund their district in excess of state standards. Most suburbanites who voiced support for GIRFOF don't understand this at all. Not only would their state taxes have to increase to fund the higher aggregate spending levels dictated by the state BoE, they would have to continue paying local property taxes to sustain the higher spending levels of their own district.

But note this - there are some in the wealthy suburbs who understand all this very well, and like the fact that their higher property taxes keep the "riff-raff" out of their community. They want to be sure local school districts are preserved, and that they retain the ability to levy local taxes, be they on property or incomes, so as to retain the economic barrier to those they believe are the undesirables.

Yes, a crisis creates a call to action. The trouble is that we Americans have become so apathetic in regard to our government that we aren't prepared to critically analyze the proposals that will be put before us. And many foolishly think that the (almost) elimination of property taxes would mean that schools would then be funded by some sort of monetary manna from heaven.

I fear the cure will be worse than the disease.


  1. Paul:

    As I posted on their blog, the state board of education has already done this. For an additional billion dollars, they can fix school funding, a solution that will have to wait until the state has an additional billion dollars.

    What is it exactly that they have accomplished?

  2. Paul,

    I'm not sure this statewide open enrollment will work. Imagine the immediate mass exodus from Columbus Public to the 'burbs.

    -What happens to all those schools?
    -Is there a cap on how many kids can attend each school?
    -Do community students get first dibs? What happens with busing? Can you be bused anywhere in Ohio?
    -What if you get shut out of your community school, and have to travel miles to a 'lesser' school. Is that better?
    -What if facilities are built in Hilliard to handle increased enrollment, then students leave for another district?
    -The yearly changes of enrollment would wreak havoc on financial planning in school districts. How would that go over?

    I don't think our schools should be run like businesses. They are not businesses. They are places of learning. The problems associated with open enrollment just within districts are well documented. Imagine magnifying that to a statewide scale.

    I am of the opinion that funding for schools needs to become 95% paid by the state government. Cost is figured for what constitutes a quality education, and the money is immediately there. It is a part of the state budget, and taxes will be raised to accomodate it. No questions asked. The remaining funds come from local dollars, but those funds are only for local initiatives the communities wish to see in their schools.

    Voters should not have the choice to eliminate sports, music, busing, foreign language, or kindergarten from the schools. Even buildings should be built when necessary, without public input (See Pennsylvania)

    Vote for a natatorium; Vote for higher teacher pay; Vote for the things that make folks want to move to your community. We shouldn't have the right to vote on basic necessities.

    I remember my parents telling me when I was growing up how they wanted to make things better for me then they had it. And they did. My Hilliard education was top notch. I'm not sure if I will be able to say the same to my 2-year old, if things continue how they are.

    You don't tear down the house when the furnace stops working in the basement. You fix the furnace. Tearing down the house won't make the furnace magically work again.

    Why are we willing to destroy our schools to fix the funding problem? Can't we fix the problem without eliminating opportunities? I'm fairly certain that if we fail to support or schools, and they undergo a catastrophic change for the worse, that we will never return to where we once were.

    I'm trying DESPERATELY to pay it forward to my daughter. I wish everyone would come along with me. I'm willing to go with you to fix the furnace, I'll even help pay for it, but NOT if our threat is to tear down the house.

  3. Good point Marc. Do you have any sense what the Governor is going to propose?


  4. I'm going to open myself up for criticism with this one.... call me an elitist, but I actually like the fact that if I choose, and the community at-large can choose, to provide "extras" for the kids of Hilliard. I am not one for a socialistic society in that the top 50% pays for the bottom 50%.

    My undersanding has always been that the state paid for basic education and, if so inclined, the community could vote additional funding to expand the curriculum/school experience. That's how it was until mass growth and, more importantly, budget cuts at the state level began to reduce the level of funding provided to "affluent" districts. I AM NOT saying that all children within Ohio shouldn't have a core curriculum, including fine arts and sports, afforded to them. However, those communities who are able and/or willing to provide expanded offerings should be able to do so by a majority vote.

    So, in that way, I totally agree with Music Man. Open enrollment doesn't fix the problem and in many cases makes the problem worse. In reality this approach would only dilute the btter schools and likely not improve the "lesser" districts at all.

    Like I said, call me an elitist or whatever you will, but I like that I am a part of a community that shares my belief in strong education, parent involvement, and expanded offerings. Does that mean I don't believe other districts should not have a good education? NO! But, what happens in a few years, after this so-called "calibration", when the state once again cuts basic funding and to blaance he books. Where will the cuts come from? Not southern Ohio.... but the suburbs of COlumbus and other affluent districts of Ohio. Then, we will being paying TWICE as much. State takes won't come down yet we will be forced to pay for levies to maintain our excellent district. THAT's a REAL double whammy.

    No friends, I am not for that kind of overhaul. Reduce funding in our district the best we can, push for consolidation of smaller, poorer districts, and push for the state to be more equitable with state funding. I know budgets are tight, but from where I sit, any inequities in school funding from the state are against the affluent districts.

    ok, start shooting.

  5. Musicman:

    Before responding to you, first let me say that I appreciate the dialog and respect your positions. There’s no right and wrong on most of this stuff, just opinion. You and I have opposing viewpoints, but the debate will help others form their own opinions – which hopefully are reflected in their choices in the voting booth.

    When I bring up this notion of a statewide school system with open enrollment, the bulk of the objections I hear, including yours, are concerned with stuff that would occur during the transition phase. Those problems would indeed need to be solved, but the outcome – equal opportunity for all kids - is worth the effort, I believe. But to some of the questions you pose:

    What happens to all those schools? My home school district of about a dozen 1,000 student high schools in a mixture of urban, suburban and rural settings implemented open enrollment in the 1980s. Most kids chose to stay at the school to which they were assigned prior to open enrollment. The kids have to be motivated to leave their neighborhood schools, their friends, and the organizations in which they feel ‘community.’ Most won’t be, but those kids who feel trapped would have a chance to go somewhere else. Affluent kids always have this choice – they just have to move. That’s why our inner city emptied out in the first place. Why doesn’t a promising kid from a family living in poverty have the same option?

    Do community students get first dibs? I wouldn’t think so. If a school district is 95% state funded as you suggest (I’m suggesting 100%), then it would seem to me that the scope of the district is the whole state. You can’t have it both ways – fully state funded yet with community attendance barriers. During the transition period, there might need to be lotteries, but I suspect the displacement wouldn’t be as bad as folks fear (the previous point).

    What if facilities are built, then students leave? This is exactly what happened to Columbus City Schools in the 1980s. The suburbs had to build schools like crazy as CCS buildings were emptying out. The best example is Central High School of course (now COSI).

    After getting through the transition period, lots of this stuff would normalize. School administrators would have a better handle on demand at the individual schools. When one school is consistently in demand, and another losing students, perhaps the regional administrators would choose to swap say 50% of the teachers between the two schools, giving the more successful teachers a chance to mentor those who are struggling.

    Note: you need to be careful about how you respond to the statement I just made. If schools are equally funded, and teacher skills are equally balanced, then the only argument against my proposal is that there are classes of kids, defined by geography, which ‘just don’t deserve any better.’

    Note that funding would follow the kids, so by definition per-pupil funding would be the same in every school. This also means the teachers would be paid the same in every school. Even if we continue to use a salary grid like the ones in place in every district today, there would be one grid statewide. I think it also means that the custom of allowing teachers to select where they teach according to seniority would have to end. Teachers would be assigned where their skills are needed, within reasonable travel distances and with reasonable rules about how often a teacher would be transferred.

    I don’t get the whole “you can’t run schools like a business” perspective. I’d argue that any organization, for-profit or non-profit, is about defining a set of desired outcomes, building a team that can get it done, and gathering resources to support the effort. There are never infinite resources, so the leadership of any organization needs to figure out how to ensure that resources are used in the most efficient ways to achieve the goals.

    The Brown vs. Board of Education decision centered on the notion that there is no such thing as ‘separate but equal’ when talking about schools – even if you spend the same amount of money in all schools. Note that Columbus City Schools has the fourth highest spending per pupil in Franklin County (24% more than Hilliard: $12,652 vs $10,223). More money doesn’t fix the problem. Penick vs Columbus City Schools confirmed the same thing locally.

    I wonder what would have happened had Judge Duncan ruled that all central Ohio school districts needed to be consolidated…

  6. By the way, in the spirit of full disclosure, this notion of a single statewide school district is a compromise position for me. I much prefer a 100% voucher system with no state-dictated organization whatsoever. See more here


  7. Man, I wish I could type so that my spelling would improve. My apologies for typo's.... hopefully all can understand my intended words.

  8. Paul,

    Is there data that shows just how much state funding HCSD has lost in the last "x" years. Wondering if we would be in this current mess if we had that money...
    (I know personnel costs would still be an issue)

  9. Musicman:

    That's an interesting question, and the answer has a couple of components. So I spent the morning doing a little research...

    First is the determination of the so-called Foundation Amount, which is the state target for per pupil spending. It is supposed to be calculated via a procedure which takes the average per-pupil spending of 'good' districts in the state, and presumes that any district should be able to be 'good' if they have that much money to spend. So the process assumes that each district taxes itself 23 mills, and the state makes up the difference.

    The problem is that the General Assy instead uses this number as a guideline only, and sets the actual Foundation Amount to whatever they think the State can afford given its other spending priorities (notably Medicaid). This year that number is $5,732 per pupil.

    The more affluent districts like ours end up not only making up for the reduced state funding, we add a pile of our own on top of it - ie our per pupil spending is $10,234, or 180% of the Foundation Amount.

    The lowest spending/pupil is $6,876 in Columbus Grove Local Schools (Putnam Cty, NW Ohio). By the way, note that their property value per pupil is $84,000, compared to our $163,790. Therefore their millage would have to be double ours to generate the same dollars per pupil.

    Of course, the rest of the truth is that their property values are kept artifically low by our state's agricultural policies, which causes farmland to be assessed a fraction of their true value. So in a very real way, the money we don't get back in state funding is in part a farm subsidy problem. I don't have a problem with it, but it's a part of the machinery we need to understand.

    The second element is the elimination of Personal Property Tax, which is a tax businesses paid on equipment and inventory. This tax cut especially benefits manufacturing companies and those with large inventories (e.g. a car dealership). As this tax was phased out, the State implemented a 'guarantee' program for schools, but the way it worked was to ensure that our total state funding never dropped below that of 2005, the year before the phase-out began.

    But the calculation of the guarantee has an interesting twist. Normally, when the number of students increase, the amount a school district gets via the Foundation Amount increases with it (ie $5,732 more for each new student using this year's number).

    However, the guarantee calculation comes later, and while it guarantees that a school district gets no less than it did before the Personal Property Tax phase out began, it also ensures that a school district like ours gets no more either. This is how the so-called "flat funding" occurs that your hear our school officials talking about.

    Here's the impact: Between FY05 and FY09, our student population grew from 14,458 to 15,251, or 793 students. The FY09 Foundation Amt is $5,732, meaning the starting number for State Aid (before the 23 mill deduction) should have been $87 million. However, the effect of the guarantee process was to freeze it at the 2005 level, or about $78 million, meaning we got $9 million less.

    That's about 3.7 mills for us, about half of the Nov 08 levy amount.

    This is why we need to pay attention to what the state-level folks come up with for a funding 'fix.' They've already demonstrated that they're willing to stick it to districts like ours when money is short.


  10. Good point Marc. Do you have any sense what the Governor is going to propose?


    I think the total amount the state spends on K-12 education will be related to the amount of the state bailout that will be passed by the federal government. The last reuters story shows an additional $250 billion for education and given a legal printing press and no concern for the federal debt, the states may get it.

    If they don't and if the Governor is free to make choices, I'm betting on some or all of the following:

    1) Elimination of all guarantees over time.

    2) A tradeoff between local taxes and state taxes. Michigan traded property taxes for a state sales tax in 1994.

    3) Adjusting the formula to give more aid to districts with high poverty and less aid to rich, suburban school districts.

    I would not expect to see consolidation on a big scale or anything resembling statewide open enrollment. If you break the tie between where you live and where your kids go to school, you'd never see a local levy pass and the state is not in a position to make up that difference.

    This is all just guesswork - I really have no idea. The Governor is not only reworking the funding formula, there will be other major changes to the product itself. a Universal preschool mandate? Universal all-day Kindergarten? Mandatory elementary school foreign languages?

    Then there is a question of what a divided legislature will agree to.

    There are a lot of unknowns but one thing is clear - people voted for change in 2006 and 2008 and they are going to get change.

  11. So, that 9 million dollars could have eliminated the cuts that are coming this year, AND reduced the levy amount by 50%.

    Doesn't that seem to be more of the problem than anything the schools are doing(Although, the schools knew this was coming, and should have adjusted for it I suppose)?

    Also, one more question/comment. Teachers are professionals (a paid occupation, esp. one that involves prolonged training and a formal qualification). Other 'professionals' aren't taking lower salaries because of tough times. Doctors, Lawyers, Engineers, Architects, etc... So, is it that teachers are professionals that work for the public that is the difference? Teachers make lower salaries than most professionals that I can think of, yet are held most accountable for their 'outrageous' incomes. Or is it that teachers are not seen as having equal knowledge and 'skill' in their profession as the others? Unfortunately, I think it is both...

    (Un)interesting aside, I was born in Columbus Grove, who apparently have the lowest per pupil spending. Fortunately, I moved form there at a very young age.

    Now take the rest of the day off and watch the Buckeyes and some NFL football, Paul!!

  12. Musicman:

    I think you are very much mistaken about what kind of hit private sector professionals are taking - even doctors and lawyers and such. There was a news report just the other night about how many people have lost their health insurance (mostly due to layoffs), and therefore reducing the number of doctor visits they make for preventative care. The result is that the family practice docs are having fewer patient visits (and therefore billing less), but that the patients are ended up in the ERs with more critical conditions.

    What about the real estate attys? Think they're doing well right now?

    Public sector employee salaries always tend to lag behind the private sector, but the benefits and job security are generally much better. In particular, millions and millions of us Baby Boomers are beginning to truly realize that we don't have the nice pension waiting for us that our parents did, and that right at the end of our careers, the economy blew up and took most of what little we had saved - including the equity in our homes.

    Meanwhile teachers, especially those in the suburban districts like ours, can retire in their 50s at 70% or more of their final salary - for life. With medical insurance.

    I have no doubt that if the economy were still booming, and the DJ30 at 25,000 or whatever crazy number people thought in the late 90s it would reach, that folks would be much more generous in what they're willing to pay for the 'common good', whether that be public schools, United Way or their religious community.

    But times are more than tough right now - they're downright scary.

    While I'm confident that we'll work our way through it, it's gonna take a serious adjustment for lots of us. It's no time for public sector workers to demand more than the good deal they have right now.


  13. Paul,

    I could very well be mistaken, I was just wondering...

  14. Paul,

    Thank you for this blog as it seems to be the only place where communication is occurring! I appreciate reading the many different poster's comments as it helps me understand the funding situation better.

    As to the comment about professionals, I personally know many professionals who are taking less in salary, receiving no bonus, and are incurring an increase in health care costs, and of course there's the retirement issue as well. In fact, I'm married to one and we are thankful to have the job at all as so many others have lost their positions.

    Just as an aside, I believe most professionals, not all but most, are not union members. A dear friend who is from an entire family of educators (she was the only one who took the business route) often reminds me that she finds it interesting that teachers want to be considered professional but then adopt a "union mentality". She notes that is someone wants to be treated as a professional, they should act like one and that means in salary and benefit negotiations as well as work hours and the like. Now, I understand why unions started and, in some industries and situations, are still so needed but it does seem that the teacher's union in districts like Hilliard help the situation. Again, just my opinion.

    As a final note, doctors, lawyers, etc. earned doctorate or equivellant degrees.
    Like many Hilliard teachers, I carry a Master's Degree and can say with absolute certainty, it was much easier to accomplish than a JD, MD, etc. I would not expect to receive the salary and benefits my attorney and doctor friends receive but I did not put in the financial and time investment up front for the education needed either.

    I don't know what the answers are with this situation in Hilliard but I do think if the parties don't communicate NOW, it will get ugly quickly and that is so sad. I can just see two different camps both with good points but at a gridlock. Ah, how will this be good for the kids...

  15. Thanks for your comment Mom.

    Here's something I find pretty ironic. The Ohio Education Association, the statewide teachers union, has employees working for it which are professionals in fields other than education. They were told by the OEA leadership that it was inappropriate to be working for an organization advocating worker's rights without those non-education professionals being unionized as well. But they couldn't be in OEA because they aren't teachers or certified/licensed education professionals.

    So they joined some union, perhaps one affiliated with AFL-CIO. From that point on, the wages and benefits were negotiated by their union reps, who were of course negotiating with negotiators from the teachers' union. Their negotiations have not always been amicable, and in fact they are in litigation right now over a benefits issue.

    Of course they're both trying to figure out how to divvy up money that started in the taxpayers' pockets and made its way to the OEA via its members' union dues.

    Go figure...


  16. Marc:

    Thanks again for your insights. I think you're right on target.

    If open enrollment were implemented while local districts still existed, I would agree with you. What I was suggesting is a simultanous elimination of local tax decisions and local school districts. All public schools would be absorbed into a statewide system, and all funding decisions would be made by the Governor and General Assembly.

    That's not what I really advocate, by the way. I prefer a 100% voucher system and complete free choice, but a statewide system with open enrollment and no local funding would be a close analog.

    We can't keep walling off the urban centers, and hoping that throwing more money over the wall will fix anything.

    If we really want to equalize our schools, then let's just quit toying with the idea and consolidate all the state's public schools into one system, and fund it entirely with state taxes.

    But I won't want to equalize our schools. I want them to compete, and try to be better than others. I just want all kids to be able to take advantage of that competition, and not limit it to the kids rich enough to be able to afford to live in the suburbs.

    This place we are now is a no-man's-land that's going to bankrupt the whole enterprise for the sake of preserving what amounts to the segregated schools of pre-1960s America.


  17. Paul, KJ< Musicman, et al on this blog.

    It is no wonder we face the challenges understanding the communities concern about increasing


    Many of us have tried, including myself to try and be active, make
    suggestions professionally and take the risk to our kids to go on the record. ! Musicman, have you done that, have your fellow teachers done that NO> you hide behind the HEA

    Its ok to work to the contract and
    affect "the kids" but when a levy comes up to increase your salary
    it is all about the kids. Does not wash. but despite this many of us and this entire community have consistently voted yes on levies.

    This last levy passage was to hopefully stay the course and ask our district and their employees
    to GET A CLUE> What we have received in response that you dont understand that their is an economic recession, and that you want even more ? On top of that
    we will need to make up the shortfall from a state reduction that whether you want to believe it or not is coming. The district and its employees also want another
    2.5% to cover the ineptitude of their pension system. How is that
    anywhere related to our "kids"
    I didnt know that a small pension reduction, reduces instruction and learning. We also will contribute
    to again paying your entire medical
    otherwise you will go on strike.
    In addition to lots of time off, snow days, holidays off,that many dont get, more planning time is being requested. Plus another
    contract at 7% to pay for

    Simply two double digit levies in
    probably 4 years. No one willing to give up even a 1% adjustment to help alleviate a serious economic
    challenge that most of us are struggling with.

    Very simply, why is getting a 5% raise by our employees so tough to swallow instead of 7% is troubling

    Here is the scary part. Organized opposition to further levies is
    a huge risk to this district and its employees. It will be based on
    a lack of respect and absolute contempt by the district and its employees to a community that has consistently supported increases and provided an outstanding infrasturcture to work and learn in. The results in neighboring districts and other districts in the state should make our district and its employees take a step
    to understand what is really happening in the economy

    Finnally consider this.

    A federal lawsuit in the neighborhood of say 5 million per student at 20 students affected
    is 100 million dollars. If the district and its employees continue to deny equal access to federal
    funds due to unfinished paperwork
    due to working to the contract and only catering to select students, that is 1/2 of our entire operating budget. No millage increase can cover that. When federal laws are involved in higher education funding,awards, and scholarships,
    the district and its employees
    and it is found that all students did not have access, this will be of serious consequence to the district. Hopefully the district will get its act together and enforce the rules, and the teachers will understand that everyone should have an equal chance. Not just because they were" working to the contract" for their own benefit

    Food for thought ! and a scary

    Good luck to Mark and Paul and their group. Jsut be careful !

  18. Rick:

    Just to set the record straight, Musicman does not teach in the Hilliard School district, but rather is a parent and taxpayer in our community, like the rest of us.

    I suspect that in households where one of the wage earners is a teacher and the other is a private sector professional (e.g. KJ), the stress of the contemporary private sector is well known.

    That may not be the case when the sole, or both breadwinners in a household is a public school employee, especially those fortunate enough to be employed in a district which rarely has layoffs or salary cuts, like ours.

    I wonder what kind of perspective the teachers in districts like South Western or Columbus - where hundreds of teachers have been laid off - have about trading employment vs compensation concessions. Of course, the union rules dictate that it's the young teachers who get laid off first, and they don't seem to have much of a voice in all this.


    ps - this is your group too!

  19. Paul, yes I am aware that Musicman is not a member of the HEA. However, the district, its employees, and its supporters, yes fellow teachers in other districts allways expect a free pass. They dont give the community one, including myself. They are hiding behind a leadership group that they elected and support. They have huge campaign coffers to support candidates. You saw yourself the

    spending that occurred during your race for the board. The amount poured in to the candidates in the fall will be huge. To get back favorable votes on the medical
    contribution and to keep the same contract compensation levels,they will spend, get city leaders, developers, banks (didnt we just bail them out) the usual connected
    living in the high end subs, here who get preferential treatment, also to support the status quo.
    I expect to see two union members running along with Andy Teater.

    Musicman and the teachers in our district supported the job actions in our classrooms. They dont want to take responsibility for it. If they did, if they are professional
    they would have not allowed the
    20+ students, (could be higher, but that number is what I know personally ) to be affected. Some of those kids are not in school this year because they could not take on any more debt. If they could have gotten that help they would be in school now. But remember it is allways about the kids. If you are a professional you stand up and do the right thing. We have been shown what our district and its employees place priority on.
    They do not have an idea what is happening out there. Remember that musicman, and other teachers have asked for even more support saying their should be no limit. They fail to acknowledge that the majority of us, including you and me have supported this district
    as well as the community. They think they are entitled to have whatever they want, but are quick to turn on the students if they
    "are working to the contract"
    They should not get a pass on this
    NONE of them have gone on the record to stand up against any of the stuff going on in the statehouse, the city, or the board.
    In this district you take risks doing that, I chose to, wish I never would have now. I started at this 8 years ago. What a waste of my time, and kids being affected unfairly.

    The other districts you mention as well as others have had layoffs, and curiously organized opposition
    As I have stated all along I hope this never comes to fruition
    But we have the attitude from too many on this blog, the district and its teachers that everyone can afford an open checkbook
    Organized opposition forever taints
    the trust factor and causes continual issues
    Also, the district has to be careful about insuring that all their students get the same access
    with paperwork filled out to access
    federal college aid, and other college awards. This is an explosion waiting to happen. It could have happenend just this past year, but the parties affected could not get legal assistance due to the cost. That has now been worked out, and a couple of attorneys have stepped forward from outside the area and are willing to make a crap load of money based on
    favoritism and treating students different. The district and its employees
    have no clue what is really happenning out in the private marketplace. I understand it, as I will go my second year with out
    a raise, and huge increases in medical contribution. Not that we did not do our jobs, but because the company has to operate financially in a sound manner to stay open. I have had to lay off
    5 of my employees this year. I know two of them trying to sell their home before foreclosure.
    Musicman, the teachers, HEA, and OAPSE and its members have no concept of this and really dont care in my opinion. Of course most of us are not getting free medical and 7% raises each year. And remember during the campaign they kept telling us "we dont get it"

    No one wants to talk within the district about any type of spending
    adjustment, not even 1% to the compensation model. It is our BIGGEST cost ! The pension increase contribution will be huge. It will be along the lines of another 6.9 mill levy alone. !! Again, they dont care ! They will paint us as not caring ,... sorry that doesnt wash. A another huge contract, and who knows what Gov strickland willcut. He is not going to raise taxes to cover anything. We are going to get cut, and then add the next contract

    I tried to speak professionally , present an organized picture, and you were there for many of them. As you have said they will wait for it to all go away and hope.

    I have absolute contempt for people who tell others what they can afford with out knowingtheir circumstances. Seniors with huge medical cost, and NO PENSIONS
    disabled, laid off folks, those not getting increases. It smacks of absolute elitism.

    Paul,you and Hillerdite, marc, and a few others have some great ideas in your group. Be prepared for continual silence to your proposals
    and in my opinion it is a futile effort because they will never respond as the employees,their leadership union group, their supporters, teachers within the district who teach elsewhere, will
    say that you are against the students with your suggestions to

    Good luck with the group, I hope many many people join you to share the load for you.

  20. Rick,

    What YOU refuse to recognize is that I agree with you! I can't see a lot of positivity coming from the anger that you hold, but I agree with your root beliefs that something needs to change.

    I am in a unique position, as a member of a union, a teacher, a parent, and a community member. For you to say that teachers don't understand is not fair. For you to say that teachers don't care is not fair.

    I agree that change needs to be made, but am not willing to sacrifice our current education levels to get there.

    And, by the by, anytime you choose words like "all" instead "some" or "a few", you lose credibility with me. Your willingness to belittle and insult thousands of teachers does not further your cause, in my book.

  21. Musicman,

    How would all teachers taking a say 5-10% pay cut "sacrifice current education levels"?

    As far as attacking Rick for painting all teachers with the same brush, how is that different from your earlier characterization of "no other professionals taking pay cuts"? Seems a little hypocritical to me, if not grossly misinformed (do you watch the news or read the paper)?


  22. Anonymous(Steve),

    My comments about sacrificing education levels were directed at those who are willing to cut off funding to "fix" the problem. I am FOR controlling personnel costs, as I've said time and time again, but not at the expense of current educational levels. Anonymous(Steve), if the funding goes away, programs will be cut. YOU may think that the teachers will just take less money and everything will stay the same, but that is not what will happen. I am not saying it is right, just that it is.

    As for teachers taking a 10% pay cut, as YOU suggested (others have suggested not a cut, but a decrease in the increase), we need to be realistic here.

    Everyone talks about how times are tough, and apparently lawyers and doctors are taking pay cuts I didn't know about. They may be getting less business, but they aren't charging less, lets be honest. Now you can say that less business means less income, but by that logic, shouldn't doctors charge US less since times are tough? Shouldn't lawyers charge less hourly because times are tough? What seems to happen is that the rate stays the same, only less people can afford it. Not saying it is right, just that it is.

    Here is the problem, of those of you who said you haven't received a raise, how many of you VOLUNTEERED not to get a raise? How many of you went to your boss and said, "Don't give me a raise." My guess is not many.

    Unions work differently (Not saying it is right, please don't pigeon hole me). They have leverage, which most non-union employees don't have. I believe most teachers wouldn't mind taking less of an increase, but feel like if the union can get it, they will take it. After all, times are tough for teachers too, many of whom have spouses in the "public sector". They are looking at holding onto their salaries and insurance they use to support their families. It is very real for them too. To ask, DEMAND, that they go and give back money, as you suggested, is naive at best. Those of you suggesting less increases are on the right track. What is that saying about catching bees with honey??

    I really think that most people had employers that GAVE them a raise if they asked, they would ask, even in these tough times.

    You are actually suggesting, anonymous(Steve), that teachers go and give back part of their salary willingly? Nobody here can convince me that the majority of people would do that.

    Again, to be clear, I am not for unions, I DO read the paper, and I think most people on here would behave as most teachers have in regards to their union.

  23. Musicman,
    You might be surprised at how many employees would prefer to take a pay cut or no increase, rather than have layoffs at their company. We experienced this sentiment at my company when there was a large layoff several years ago. The employees were very creative, offering to donate their vacation time, to eliminate pay increases and even to take pay decreases in order to save jobs.

    I can't say whether it was altruism on the part of my colleagues or the fact that no one knew whose jobs would be eliminated (unlike teachers who know that, regardless of how well they perform, it will be those without tenure who will be let go), that prompted so many offers to eliminate the need for a reduction in workforce, but it does happen in the real world.

    A few examples that I found doing a quick google search: Galveston police, firefighters agree to 3% pay cuts and Vermont Prosecutors and sheriffs agree to 5% pay cut

    Given the chance, perhaps HEA members would do the same? That assumes that they would be given the chance, though.

  24. KK:

    Thanks for the references.

    By the way, it is entirely within the perogative of the HEA and OAPSE folks to approach the Administration and School Board - at any time - with a new proposal, especially one that would reduce operating costs.

    As you know I proposed to them that they skip one year of their 3% base pay increase to enhance the probability that the levy would pass. They chose to ignore that proposal and roll the dice on the election outcome.

    Of course, the union leaders knew their jobs were secure either way.