Friday, April 1, 2011

Journalism or Propaganda?

I invite you to read the story about Senate Bill 5 published on the front page of the student newspaper of Bradley High School, the Reporter.


I have no concern or objection in regard to the statements made by the teachers, and completely respect their right to these opinions.

But there are other viewpoints, and journalistic integrity - one of the things I assume we would be teaching to students publishing a newspaper - would seem to require that these be reported as well.

I've shared this view with the Superintendent and Board.

Please read my additional note of apology to the student who wrote this story.

62 comments:

  1. In case you do want facts on SB5:

    This is the "law":
    http://www.legislature.state.oh.us/bills.cfm?ID=129_SB_5

    Here is the "English (sorta)" version:
    http://www.legislature.state.oh.us/analysis.cfm?ID=129_SB_5&ACT=As%20Enrolled&hf=analyses129/s0005-rh-129.htm

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  2. I know someone who's getting a A in journalism ;)

    But seriously, what did you expect? It would have taken a kid dumber than me (the lifetime Dublin Coffman in-school suspension record holder) to write the other side of that piece.

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  3. Paul - you refer to it as propaganda. I refer to some of it as mis-truths bordering on lies. In particular, SB5 does NOT take away the right to bargain everything, it does NOT set teachers wages, and the (typical) exaggeration of teachers being forced to work for fast food wages is, on it's face, mind-boggling. I have seen a lot of that nonsense in the Dispatch forums on this subject, and there is no basis in fact for any of it. That union rep took advantage of the lack of knowledge of the writer of the article to start with; as well, I am sure there is a teacher adviser for the school newspaper who allowed it to be printed. Even more disturbing is that this makes it very evident about what the students are getting in the classroom. I am beyond angry that one-sided politics is being played out, once again, in the classrooms, and I too, will be making my feelings known to the board, the administration, and to Bradley High School itself.

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  4. Paul, please let us know the response you get.
    I get the journalistic part, and the students have a great opportunity.

    Yes, the teachers have the right to say what is on their mind. Similarly, should not the parents be able to speak their mind. Me thinks I will send a letter to the supt and the board.

    So now we are allready down to teachers making a minimum wage of $7.50 This teacher has a right to her opinion but I question simply if this is the type of unrealistic one, that we are worrying about losing. The teachers in the private systems dont make minimum wage. Would be curious what these teachers pay scales are.

    The pro levy forces and the employees are fixated that with only 4 mill in the cuts voted on Monday, that the district is doomed with these cuts. Our kids will just be getting a crappy education.

    These teachers have obviously forgotten the
    infrastructure they are teaching in, supplies
    and good salaries and benefits provided consistently over the years by the community.

    A perfect background of WHOM is really selfish.

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  5. According to 10tv, the law goes into effect July 1 unless the unions gather 200k ish signatures by June 30 for a November referendum.

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  6. My thoughts as expressed to the student adviser, with a copy to Dale McVey:
    Dear Ms. Sayre,

    I am writing to express my dismay at the shoddy "reporting" which was allowed in the writing of the subject article. This piece, as written, is not even close to being "news"; rather it should be on your Opinion page as it is full of errors and omissions courtesy of Jayne West-McLinn, who apparently was your student reporters only source of information. Ms. West-McLinn should be ashamed of herself for allowing a student reporter to be taken advantage of in order to get her own viewpoint into print - particularly since the newspapers target audience is comprised of her students.

    First of all, your reporter, in Paragraph 5, leads off with the sentence "With Senate Bill 5 removing these unions....". That is a blatant distortion, even approaching a lie, as to what Senate Bill 5 accomplishes. SB5 does NOT remove any unions in the State of Ohio, and if your reporter did not know it, it is because she was fed false information and/or failed to read SB5, which it would seem should be a requirement if one is to write about a bill to begin with. I don't know if there is an editor assigned to verify information in an article prior to publication, but if there is, that should have been caught immediately. Later in that paragraph, it is "reported" that "Salary could be decreased, which could take some wages down to the equivalence of working in a fast food restaurant". That is among the most preposterous claims made by those against SB5, and again, it has absolutely no basis in fact. SB5 does NOT set minimum salary schedules and you know fully well that teacher pay is still going to be negotiated between the union and the school board/administration, albeit under some new limitations. You, and Ms. West-McLinn, also know fully well that teacher pay is not going to drop to the level of "minimum wage" or what ever that half-baked comparison to fast food wages was supposed to mean. The Ohio Revised Code has set minimums for many years regarding teacher pay, and there is not one district in Ohio that adheres to that draconian schedule, least of all the HCSD. With an average salary level of $68,000 per year in our district, salaries would have be cut to 25% of that figure, on average, in order to approach "fast food wages". Even a starting teacher would have to agree to 50% of the current starting salary, and there has not been one responsible person on record purporting that pay scale. Yet it is presented as a "fact" ?

    If your reporter was using direct quotes from her source, then she should be taught the use of quotation marks. If she was not using direct quotes, then she should be taught to verify the accuracy of information given to her, and published under her byline. In this article, neither occurred, and it relegates the "story" to nothing more than an opinion piece, or more accurately, propaganda from one side of the issue. If this is going to be the level of
    "education" provided to our students in the HCSD, perhaps the entire issue of "merit pay" makes a whole lot of sense, as at least one person failed dramatically in their teaching duties. Or, more accurately in my view, allowed their personal political views to be foisted upon the students as a whole at Hilliard Bradley through the student reporter. I expect better from the mentors of our children.

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  7. As a followup to my post above - it is more than obvious what the students are being force-fed in our school, which is reinforced by the quote from the Bradley senior student. As T said, we know who is getting an A in journalism and who will be the kid in after school suspension (if we had that in the early 70's I would have been right there with you!) I am P-O'd beyond belief to hear a student parrot the false premises from the article. There is apparently not one teacher in the entire school who understands teaching students to explore both sides. I will not disagree that SB5 is a rather heavy handed approach, perhaps even ill-advised, and that it is not the be all/end all solution to any of our fiscal problems - I did not vote for John Kasich (I'm pretty much a Libertarian and voted as such) and I knew all along that his approach would lead to distress for lower levels of government funding. But to dismiss the entire bill out of hand and justify that with out and out lies, is beyond the pale. I have written letters to SNP before, but I am now fully "out-of-the-closet" on the entire subject of the HCSD - there will be a sign in my front yard next week expressing my opposition to Issue 7, along with multiple copies of my own "fact sheet" rebutting the pro-levy "facts". Our kids are being shortchanged through both fiscal and intellectual means, and I am not going to pay one more damn red cent to see business as usual.
    FYI - I can be reached by e-mail at "admi4960@yahoo.com should anyone want to communicate directly. And I welcome comment/debate from BOTH sides of the issues, as long as you come armed with some facts. I don't cater to fantasy scenarios and at the same time, I'll admit when I am wrong.

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  8. Not only does Senate Bill 5 not reduce teacher salaries, it remains illegal to do so under ORC 3319.12 unless you are applying the same reduction to every employee.

    http://codes.ohio.gov/orc/3319.12

    The closest you get to a reduction in salaries is a provision that makes it illegal to pay the employee share of STRS, but that's a perk mostly reserved for administrators. The provision that requires a maximum 85% taxpayer subsidy for health care could be considered a reduction in salary/benefits as well. Unfortunately, comparisons to fast food workers are so over-the-top that the most likely conclusion you can draw from the article is that the kids were spoon fed the information from people in a position of trust and those people chose to abuse that trust for personal gain.

    Honestly, I'm struggling to come up with a different explanation because I don't want to believe that *any* teacher would do this. Hopefully, someone who knows will respond on the list.

    Perhaps the whole article is an April Fools Joke?

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  9. The following was sent out to all Darby boy's volleyball parents today:

    "Also, I forgot to mention that on the 12th when we play Davidson…not the 15th…. Coach Tsai and Coach Cauley are partnering to bring the boys together on the court in between games to show their support for issue 7 at which time a statement will be read to the crowd encouraging their vote for HCS on May 3. Thanks Coach Tsai!"

    So now our kids are being pimped out by teachers and athletic staff to support their fiscal irresponsibility and financial blackmail...

    To all the parents who support this (or just keep still abot it) SHAME on you!

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  10. If you are a parent, would you rather have your son's athletic opportunities cut completely? SB5 DOES affect students, and students are rightfully allowed to have an opinion about it. Maybe this student should have presented the information in a more objective fashion, but if Mr. Lambert's goal is to "save Hilliard schools", then why is he pointing out the flaws of a STUDENT to the world?

    As a high achieving athlete at one of the Hilliard high schools, I assumed that pretty much anyone with a son or daughter in the school system would be against SB5, but I guess there are more ignorant parents out there than I had previously assumed.

    Also, to Hilliardite, who claimed that there is not one teacher at Bradley who understands teaching students to explore both sides of a story, why would you assume that every single teacher read and edited the article before it was published? You don't know what other teachers do in their classrooms on a day-to-day basis, so from a 17-year old's view, I believe you have no credentials to make sweeping generalizations about teachers, when you, yourself, have never sat in on their classes.

    Here's to hoping that the people who comment on this Blog don't do anything else to "save the schools" before I graduate.

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  11. I appreciate your comment. Have you had a respectful dialog with anyone who might be a supporter of SB5? It may not sway your thinking, but you might learn things that you didn't know about why folks feel the way they do. Understanding is always better than ignorance.

    Student newspapers published as part of an official funded school curriculum are supposed to be laboratories for students to learn the principles of journalism. I didn't say that the opinions expressed in this story are wrong, only that journalistic integrity requires objective reporting, including opposing viewspoints. I'm hoping this is an integral part of the instruction students are receiving.

    An editorial on the Opinion page is one thing - and this edition has one of those as well in regard to SB5 - but the front page is no place for opinion unless it is clearly identified as such.

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  12. StudentjournalistApril 3, 2011 at 6:33 PM

    As a member of a publication staff at one of the other Hilliard schools, I personally can say that I have never been spoon fed an angle on a story. I, instead, have been taught journalistic integrity and have always been required to cover both sides of a story. Without bias, I can agree that the Bradley SB5 story was one-sided. I only wonder, however, if it had been one-sided for SB5, if Lambert would have still made this post. Now, since we are students and we write for student-run newspapers, we inevitably are going to make mistakes. And one can only think that we're supposed to learn from our mistakes, not be crucified in a public forum. Think back to when you were in high school: if every mistake you made led to you being bombarded with insults in a public manner, how would you react? Oh okay, so instead you think it is the teacher's fault? From my experience, stories are sometimes rushed to publication in order to be timely, which often means stories are completely submitted about two weeks before they are published. At the time that this story was written, it is very possible that the writer had all of her facts straight, and changes were later made to the bill. Also, if the teacher made a mistake, how does it automatically make every single teacher at Bradley and Hilliard terrible teachers who can't teach objectivity? I am insulted and disgusted by people who can take one student's mistake and find all the teachers in the school at fault.

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  13. Again thanks for your comment.

    Please understand that I'm not faulting any students, least of all Ms. Haworth, the student staff writer. If I have offended her, I deeply apologize.

    Nor am I criticizing the comments made by the teachers who were quoted in the story. They are unquestionably entitled to their opinions.

    This is an issue in regard to the supervision and instruction given to the student staff by the faculty, who are deeply affected by this legislation and therefore likely to hold strong opinions.

    Journalistic integrity requires a reporter to put those biases aside and represent both side of the story, and that's what student journalists should be taught.

    By the way, if you read what I have written about SB5, you'll note that I'm not a big fan. In fact called it a "monstrosity" at the last school board meeting.

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  14. Monstrosity, Mr Lambert? I have lived in 7 cites throughout the country in the past 18 years but I have never lived in a community with teacher's salaries this high and an increase in taxes EVERY 2 years.
    Is it monstrous to have pay raises based on merit? I work in the private sector and my annual raises are always based on merit and performance.
    Is it monstrous to ask our publically paid school employees to tighten their belts, and do more with less as all tax payers in the community have had to do?
    Private sector employees, those who pay these public employees, have seen their pay raises shrink or stall completely. They've seen their 401Ks shink or disappear, they have added to their household burden with adult children who cannot find employment.
    This school district tells those in this community to pass the levy, shell out the money and THEN they will make "thoughtful" budget changes to address their endless shortfalls.
    Does no one find it monstrous that these public employees find it completely acceptable to take from my family's table to provide for their family?
    The Hilliard teacher's have a 9 month work year and a 7 hour work day with a $60000+ average salary. They have a pension program, which is virtually unheard of in the private sector.
    I don't want these school employees to do worse than my family does but I also don't accept that they should do considerably better than my family does.
    And, as someone not born and raised in Ohio, if you think the Hilliard school district is providing a superior product you are wrong. I've lived in states which were rated in the lowest 5% of states in education. My children moved here and have practically slept through many of their classes, getting As. There is little to no homework and I've seen little personal investment by any of the teachers I've met.
    What is monstrous, is that this state has allowed these unions to advance unchecked at the expense of those families paying their bills. They have put temselves ahead of the children and families in this community.
    SB5 may not be perfect but it goes a long way towards finally limiting unchecked abuse of a group of prople who give no thought to the sacrifice and work hours that go into their high salaries, auto pay increases and generous benefits packages.

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  15. "I assumed that pretty much anyone with a son or daughter in the school system would be against SB5, but I guess there are more ignorant parents out there than I had previously assumed"

    Ah children, write your first property tax check for $8000 and see how you opinions change....

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  16. I call SB5 a 'monstrosity' not because we don't have some things which need fixing, but rather because its crude, heavy-handed approach is generating such an extreme level of emotion - some rational and some not - and consequent divisiveness that it will take years for our State to heal.

    I long ago addressed that the rate in which the cost of compensation and benefits are rising in our school district is the single most important strategic issue we face. A majority of the 300+ articles on this blog are related to this topic.

    If there must be a war - so be it. But I think we have other options available to us, if we have the will to make the effort to explore them.

    I gauge the quality of our education product mostly through the experience of my own children, who went from K to graduation in our system. Both were very well prepared for their college careers, one having just completed her Masters degree and the other being granted an MD in a few weeks.

    Nonetheless, I am concerned about the remediation rates for our graduates, as reported by the Ohio Board of Regents. But first we need to get the economics worked out.

    SB5 is going to make that much harder than it needs to be.

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  17. Wow 't' you must live in a very nice neighborhood. My mother is a teacher and we don't pay anywhere near those taxes.

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  18. I read the REPORTER article and was equally offended. I know the student who wrote it and know she was an unknowing pawn in the propaganda machine. Due to her age, she had no reason to doubt the agenda or statements made by those she interviewed.

    May I suggest a little exercise in basic division: look up the expected retirement benefit for a teacher who has worked 30 years in the Hilliard district (this can easily be found on the internet) and divide it by 184 days, 7 hrs per day and 30 years. The resulting DEFERRED hourly wage is approximately five times the minimum wage offered to many "fast food" workers. When school employees feed such misleading statements to the students it is tough to keep quiet. Making nearly $40 an hour above and beyond your published salary for 30 years and then trying to "poor mouth" your compensation to students who have no concept of comparable wages is pure propaganda. Even worse they use our tax dollars to print and distribute this propaganda.

    I don't know if SB5 is the right step, but at some point the school employees in Franklin county need to admit they are compensated handsomely when compared to the general public that is being taxed to fund their employment. If they are willing to openly state on their levy requests the full value of their compensation before they request a raise, I wouldn't oppose them asking for a levy every year ... let the voters decide with clear knowledge of the facts! Don't manipulate the vote with falsehoods and misinformation. Top teacher salaries of mid $80's and average retirement packages worth $1.2 million (plus insurance) are what we are voting to increase. Is that enough to pay a elementary school teacher? Gym teacher? Physics instructor? Everyone must decide that in private at the voting booth. The levies aren't about extras - they are about salaries which make up in excess of 80% of the school budget.

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  19. "Wow 't' you must live in a very nice neighborhood"

    Yeah, I like it and feel very fortunate. My wife and I both work to afford our tract build. We would like to cut her hours back a little so she can spend more time with our children (having a summer off would be great), but we just don't feel comfortable giving up the income at this point, what with levies on the ballot and all.

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  20. You need to realize that you are a 40 year old man personally attacking a 15 year old high school student. grow up.

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  21. Anon - I have reread all of the posts and I don't see anything that could be even remotely construed as attacking the writer. Perhaps you could be more specific as to who your post was directed to - "40 year old man" doesn't exactly help on an anonymous blog.

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  22. I completely agree that this article was one-sided. This article is why journalism is going down the drain in main stream media today. Students are being told that this is ok? This is going to do nothing but teach future journalists that being biased in a front page story is ok.

    Now for the factual portion of the controversy. I read somewhere two years ago that the principal of Bradley and Darby High Schools make upwards of 110K. This is no where near to minimum wage of a Wendy's fry cook. If you divide $68,000 by $7.35, you get 9,251.70. If you divide that by 52 weeks in a year, you get 177 hours. This means you would have to work 177 hours per week at minimum wage. So this is obviously wrong and this simple math should have been checked and rechecked before this was published for all to see. Somebody obviously needs to take an extra math class. This is absurd for this to be mentioned in the article as a fact and to let be published for the public to see. A source is not even mentioned in the article! Where did it come from? Thin air? Seems like that to me.

    This is all one big mess and personally I don't think it should have been adressed in the first place by a teen who has not read the whole bill. Once you read the 500 page bill, then you can write a factual story on it. Period.

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  23. @Anonymous wrote: "Here's to hoping that the people who comment on this Blog don't do anything else to "save the schools" before I graduate."

    I hope you read my response, and I hope you take it to heart.

    I have 4 kids, 3 currently in school and one who wont graduate for decade and a half.

    I have no interest in destroying the school system.

    But I also have no interest in propping it up just long enough for you to graduate either.

    We are spending money at a rate that is impossible to continue. Either the cuts outlined by the board will occur this year when the levy fails, or next year so that the board doesn't need to come back in 2012 for another levy -- which they WILL need to do if they want to keep a 2013 levy under 15mils.

    So, good luck graduating, but take a moment to think of the kids that will come after you, that simply wont have the same opportunities as kids like you, simply because today's parents had no concern at all for the next generation.

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  24. Anon, please point to the exact sentence where the 15 year old student is personally attacked. You can't, because it's not here. You should apologize to Mr. Lambert.

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  25. My question to any of you who are disappointed with the education of these young reporters is if you have bothered to leaf through the rest of the paper to read the good articles? There have been a lot of very well written and award winning articles in this paper. I will admit that the article is one sided but one bad or misguided piece of writing does not constitute the mass response against the journalism teachers in Hilliard. I happen to know that Mrs. Sayre is a wonderful journalism teacher and has guided her students to be successful journalists. You can't say you have never slipped up and one mistake does not merit this kind of explosive criticism. In my opinion, the situation was dealt with completely wrong and blown entirely out of proportion.

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  26. To Anon said, I think most including myself
    are in support of such programs and the total
    experience of the paper and its publishing.

    I think the contention that many have concerns and
    think is basically ludicrous.

    1. Teachers will be working for fast food wages.
    2. No one will want to teach, and people will leave
    3. On another lead in subject, we will be at
    bare bones education if this levy does not pass.

    Just looking at our current budget, suggest everyone does as well as the passed 5 year forecast, we will still be ADDING spending to our budget. How is this bare bones, How is this paying (fast food wages) (that one is strictly just selfish stupidity and why are only the teachers here the ONLY ones who can teach. If I were a young student coming out of college, I would find it highly slanderous about my abilities as a potential teacher.

    This stuff by the way started with the HEA and the District during the 2008 contract. It was not started by students or parents with
    Work to the contract. Students were adversly affected and the sad fact is the HEA nor this adminstration has ONCE acknowledged their were issues. So the sympathy part will be LACKING

    Reality and clear thinking voters will dismiss
    the fast food wage fantasy and whining, and
    the bare bones education propaganda.

    We spend 11,000 dollars per student. How is that bare bones.

    If this levy is passed, compensation will increase another 12.6 million dollars minimum with the new money. About 7,000 per employee on average. Do the math.

    The contract can be reopened and negotiated to
    insure we put the breaks on unsustainable spending. We will see levies over 10 mills each of the next two years until 2016 at least.
    Many cannot afford this, and constantly increasing compensation and benefits that will have to pay for only locally will put severe
    hardships on seniors, those who have taken cut backs, not just a one year freeze, layoffs, foreclosures.

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  27. @Anonymous -- I might agree with you on this story being one mistake... but it was on the front page.

    Newspapers don't get to make mistakes on the front page.

    I do have a suggestion though; if you felt the story was so one-sided, contact the school and ask to be given the opportunity to rebut the story.

    What a great learning opportunity that would be for the student reporter.

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  28. I'm not in the habit of reviewing high school newspapers, but since you asked...
    I found the production values (photos, layout) impressive, and the writing mechanics good. But with the exception of the "Coach of the Year" story, articles on pages 1 and 3 included editorializing to some degree.

    Understanding propaganda, figures of speech, and civics is essential high school curricula. I see lapses here, and that suggests kids are being shortchanged.

    It's vitally important that citizens nearing voting age be able to distinguish between an issues brief, position brief, advocacy, and polemic. If they can't, our nation is ill-served by its schools.

    Perhaps the journalism students need some experience editing the OEA's "Ohio Schools" magazine. Bringing those stories up to Wikipedia standards (e.g. neutral point of view) or professional ethics standards would serve kids (and the nation) well.

    Some advice from a professional journalist (or the SPJ) would help. It's fine to cut the students some slack, but a journalism class really ought to acquaint students with journalistic ethics--surely enough to know that reporting differs from blogging.

    This episode reduces my confidence that Ohio teachers are prepared for forthcoming "performance assessments." They could enhance their credibility by encouraging their union to bring its publications up to high school standards.

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  29. Eric, why stop at advice from a professional journalist?

    Let journalists teach journalism. Let engineers and actuaries teach math and science. Let MBAs and CPAs teach business courses.

    I know a lot of professionals who would take $70k with summers off. We just need to remove the barriers to entering that keep teachers insulated from competition.

    What good is a PhD in education if you do not have anything useful to teach?

    Besides, teaching is required in any job where you advace past entry level. Effective Leaders/manager/teachers are born, not made.

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  30. I am so tired of people dissing teachers!!!! Seriously? No wonder many students have no respect for their teachers. Kind of like the governor calling the police "idiots" - makes people not respect them at all. I am also tired of defending myself to all of you for choosing to become a teacher. When did I become a bad person??? I LIVE and WORK in Hilliard BY CHOICE - I always felt it was important to live where I teach, but I am now not sure that is a good choice. Oh, and by the way, when we have levy's guess what I VOTE FOR THEM AND MY TAXES GO UP!! So when levy's pass -I LOOSE MONEY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Good God, people - stop the madness!!!

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  31. To the anonymous poster who wished me luck in graduating-- thanks, but i don't exactly need it, you see Hilliard schools have prepared me so well that I will most likely be attending an ivy league university...which is something I doubt southwestern schools graduates hear much about these days. Fail a couple levies and we could be right there with them! :)

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  32. Dissing teachers? In all my time here I have seen two teachers who might have been "dissed" - and I dissed the two who were most prevalent in the Reporter 'article" debacle - the provider of the false information and the advisor who let it be published. To compare us to the anonymous posters on some of the forums is an insult to those of us who truly care about the HCSD. Wanting to rein in compensation increases which are on the backs of both the taxpayers and the students themselves is NOT dissing teachers. As well, you do NOT lose money if your wages go up by an amount exceeding the levy's effect on your taxes - those levies are going 90% into compensation and that is the main reason every levy is backed by the HEA. It is a can't lose situation if your income is going to increase by more than your expense. Accept 1-2% for the next 3 years, and no steps and then I might buy that tired argument. Push for/accept another contract that raises the budget by $5 million per year, and
    I'll keep voting NO.
    And to the student anonymous poster, your crack on the SWCS district was waaayyy over the top and very elitist. To be honest, I found it insulting.

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  33. This is not meant to be disrespectful, but this seems like a fair way to look at the economic analysis:

    Let's assume a teacher has 10 years of service in the District, and holds a Master's degree. Under the current pay scale, that teacher's base pay would be $64,525.

    Under the current agreement - actually the extension to the three year agreement which ended 12/31/10 - this hypothetical teacher will receive her/his next 4.15% step increase on 12/31/11. This will increase her/his pay to $67,203, or an additional $2,678.

    If this hypothetic teacher lives in the school district, then how much would the teacher's home have to be worth to cause an additional 6.9 mills of property taxes to be equal to $2,678?

    The answer is a little more than $1.25 million.

    A more realistic average home value in Hilliard is more like $250,000. On such a home, a 6.9 mill levy will collect $530 more in property taxes each year.

    So for this hypothetical teacher, there is a 5-to-1 payback on the levy vs the step increase.

    I understand the perspective that step increases are automatic and justified and all that. Nonetheless, they have to be funded, and about the only way that happens these days is with new property tax levies. So for property owners who also happen to be teachers, supporting the levy is a no brainer on economic merits alone.

    But the economics aren't the same for folks who have been just getting by with little if any increases in income over the past five years. For them, the levy is money out with no money back.

    This community has been willing to make that investment for many many years, precisely because we have a great school district. And that's because we have great teachers and staff.

    But we have to be clear-eyed about these matters of economics. The world has changed, perhaps for a good long while. We all have to adjust to the 'new normal,' as they say.

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  34. Exactly Paul - BUT, let's not forget that next year that same salary will be at $70,000 with the next step, and $73,000 the year after that. And that does not include any base increases, and it does not include the 14% of an increasing salary that goes in STRS. It simply has to stop!

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  35. Really "T"? Check my W2's for the past 2 years - lost $10,000...big raise

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  36. oh - and for not "dissing" teachers - simply by saying that any person trained in an area can go in and teach a class is DEMEANING to all teachers - DONE!

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  37. Hopefully Paul will approve this comment :)

    ------------------------------------------------------

    Hilliard City School District Spending Facts

    % of operating budget spent on salaries & benefits

    in 1988 - 61%

    in 1998 - 63%

    in 2008 - 88%

    Don't "kid" yourself on where the money goes.

    Vote No on Issue 7

    ----------------------------------------------------
    Sources: Ohio Department of Education & HCSD
    ----------------------------------------------------

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  38. Anon - this blog is pretty much about the HCSD and there is no possible way that any HCSD teacher made less this year than 2 years ago unless you dropped out of a supplemental contract. there has never been a pay cut in the HCSD.
    I will fully agree that not everyone can be a teacher - at the same time you don't have to be a Nobel Laureate in your subject matter to become a teacher.

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  39. Paul, Are Hilliard teachers embarrassed by the quality of journalism in "Ohio Schools" magazine? Where do they go for accurate information--before they vote or serve on candidate screening committees? Where would they find material on SB5 suitable for classroom use?

    Perhaps Hilliard high school kids are being shortchanged by their teachers--is the board asleep at the wheel? Where is the support for the following goals (from DeRolph v State):

    "Sufficient knowledge of economic, social and political system, generally, and of the history, policies, and social structure of Ohio and the nation and enable the student to make informed decisions;

    "Sufficient understanding of governmental processes and of basic civic institutions to enable the student to understand and contribute to the issues that affect his or her own physical and mental well-being;"

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  40. As a Hilliard resident and an SWCS educator, I may have a unique perspective on this situation.

    In response to 'T', there ARE students who attend SWCS and go on to Ivy League schools. I've taught some of them. I also recently taught a student who just graduated from Northwestern, on a full scholarship. But students from Columbus Public do, too.

    THOSE aren't the students we are concerned about. They would be successful anywhere, because they either have parents that care, are intrinsically motivated, or both. The students we are most concerned about are the ones that do NOT have the intrinsic motivation or the support structure, of which there are admittedly more in SWCS than HCSD. That is where the awesome teachers come in. To challenge those already on the road to discuss, and guide those who aren't to that road.

    That is what bothers me most about these conversations. As a teacher, I'm more than willing to discuss my salary/benefits, to to even consider cutting programs and extracurricular activities is absurd. I feel the same way about pay to play. We are to educate ALL children, and provide them all the rich opportunities we received as children. Hilliard provides an AWESOME education to its' students, far broader than that provided by SWCS. To vote NO, knowing that is what will go, is not something I can consider.

    Of course, the problem is, I STILL haven't seen a rational opinion on how much teachers should be paid, other than the standard:
    -It's too much
    OR
    -merit-pay merit-pay (Even though the private sector has proved it doesn't work)
    OR
    -Pay the good ones, fire the bad ones.

    The REAL conversation to be had is

    "How much is our community willing to pay its' teachers in order to ensure a fantastic education for our students."

    It IS about the people, not the textbooks. The TEACHERS make the difference.

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  41. Nice to see you back, MM. In response to your "How much is our community willing to pay its' teachers in order to ensure a fantastic education for our students" question, I must admit to being surprised to see you post that. Do you, as an educator, believe that we get a better effort by paying more? A better quality of teacher to begin with? A continued improvement based on continued increases in compensation? If so, is there ever an acceptable limit, or should we extrapolate the past trends in increases out for the next 20 years or so? Should those trends be the rule in spite of any economic factors that would prove a severe hardship to the funding parties? Should we tell senior citizens that Social Security is frozen for 20 years, but they have to pay more in property taxes every 2 years, until they pay more annually to keep their home than they did when they were making house payments? How much of a schools success is teacher based, and how much is student/parent based - i.e. demographics?
    Smarter financial folks than me, notably the Audit & Accountability Committee, have said our trend is unsustainable. I agree with them. It is not what a job is worth, it is what we can afford to pay. Seems it has been assumed in the HCSD that we can afford to pay so much that student services require cutbacks. And that simply isn't right. It isn't fair to either the taxpayers or the students.
    I don't have an answer as to exactly how much a teacher is worth - or how much we should pay them. But I do know that those are not the same two things, not for teachers and not for any other occupation either.

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  42. MM:

    According to the CUPP report published by the Ohio Dept of Education, there are 81 school districts in Ohio which are rated "Excellent with Distinction."

    In those 81 districts, the average classroom teacher pay ranges from $36,977 (Bloomfield-Mespo in Trumbull County) to $78,625 (Orange in Cuyahoga County). Our average is $65,703. Where is that range is the right number?

    The truth is that all teacher salaries, everywhere in Ohio, are the result of negotiation - between their unions and the local school board. Wealthier districts tend to pay their teachers more, probably because they have an easier time getting levies passed, but also because you don't have to levy as many mills on expensive homes to raise a particular amount of money.

    The average property value per student in Orange City Schools is $473,054. In Bloomfield-Mespo its $147,540. That's why their teachers are paid differently. BTW - for Hilliard, this number is $161,700.

    It's all a matter of negotiation...

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  43. MM-

    I think your response to me may have actually been directed at an 'anonymous' poster.

    I wholeheartedly agree with your third paragraph. I dont know if you read the dialogue we had of the gifted programs, but our viewpoints are remarkably similar.

    It's not that I have a problem with what teachers are being compensated. I have a problem with the fact that the teachers' union has a monopoly on labor within the district. I have a huge problem with the unions striking or even threatening a strike.

    If a history/physics/chemistry/calculus (in my order of preference) teacher making $75k vacates his job, I want to be first in line to interviewed.

    I know what it takes to do this:

    "To challenge those already on the road to discuss, and guide those who aren't to that road"

    and have seen how rare it is among teachers...

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  44. T.,
    Sorry if I falsely attributed a comment to you. Absolutely no disrespect intended, but how do you know what it takes to be a great teacher?

    While it does take a person who brings unique personal skills to the table, I also feel that it takes someone who knows how students learn, how to reach troubled students, how to teach to a multitude of learning styles, and how to motivate all students. Those are the skills I learned when earning my two degrees, and, added to what I consider my unique personality, THAT is what makes me good at what I do.

    It isn't the subject matter that makes the teacher. I feel strongly that I could teach most any subject as well. Not because I have exceptional knowledge in all areas, but because I know how to:
    -Take the materials given to me and transmit them to students.
    -Search for additional materials to further my knowledge or the knowledge of my students.
    -Develop appropriate materials when no suitable materials are provided for me.
    -Manage a classroom to ensure it remains a positive learning environment.
    -Constantly evaluate and adjust my teaching styles in response to the needs of the students.

    These are things that good teachers do. I also agree there are bad ones. If the discussion was about how to rid our schools of bad teachers, I'd be first in line with suggestions. But it seems a large majority say: "There are tons of bad teachers, lets pay them all less," or "It isn't hard to be a teacher, I could do that job." I DON'T agree with that.

    I would invite you to join the ranks! I'm assuming you have some sort of college degree, so an Education certification is probably only 1-2 years away for you. OSU provides a 1 year master's program for teacher certification.

    It can't possibly be a bad thing that we require our teachers to complete college training. Now, you show me a way to keep my salary/benefits but take the unions away, and I will be on board.

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  45. MM-

    I have been reading this blog for over a year now, and it has been a while since I've seen you post. It's good to see you back. You have always been a very level-headed poster and your unique perspective is valued.

    And I must admit that you are right. As the debate around SB5 and the levy has heated up, I have let myself get a bit carried away and made baseless claims (like knowing that I could be an effective educator). So I am going to rein that stuff in.

    On a personal note, I am pretty dissatisfied in my current career. And that is definately one of the reasons I get bent out of shape over the idea of a strike comes up; the idea of someone vacating a job that *i think* would be very rewarding financially and personally. But like I said before, that's no reason for me to make stupid claims.

    So we'll see what happens. I am taking stock of my options.

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  46. @MM "Now, you show me a way to keep my salary/benefits but take the unions away, and I will be on board. "

    What is it about the unions that makes you think they deliver any of the above?

    More importantly, why do you think that eliminating the unions would simply result in your salary and benefits being taken away?

    Why is it that teachers always assume that the first thing we want to do is cut their salaries in half or replace them all with a bunch of first year, inexperienced kids?

    Perhaps -- and please, be honest with yourself -- if you realized that the people on the other side of the table from you are just as interested in maintaining a high standard of education for our kids and are not out to "destroy public education" then perhaps you'd understand that the only difference between us is differing on how we can achieve that.

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  47. musicman-

    Are you embarrassed by the quality of journalism in "Ohio Schools" magazine? Could high school English/journalism/civics students bring "Ohio Schools" up to high school standards?

    You've nicely outlined expectations we have of public school teachers, but are they being met in discussions of SB-5:

    - "Take the materials given to me and transmit them to students.
    - "Search for additional materials to further my knowledge or the knowledge of my students.
    - "Develop appropriate materials when no suitable materials are provided for me."

    Perhaps we have two problems here:
    1. We don't have the money to pay teachers what they are worth
    2. For a number of reasons (mostly outside the control of teachers) teachers can't earn (i.e. produce RoI) what they are worth--that is, teachers are an underutilized (but often overworked) resource.

    Ohio needs to have a discussion about supporting public schools so we get the value we need from public education. Does anyone see "Ohio Schools" magazine playing a constructive role in that discussion?

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  48. T.,
    I REFUSE to consider striking, and I understand why it infuriates people. That is one of the (many) things I despise about union politics. I appreciate the honesty and retrospect in your post.

    Anonymous,
    I feel that way because I see/hear/read those same sentiments on a daily basis. Such as:
    -Teachers make too much. Cut pay (insert percentage here)!!!
    -Teachers should pay WAY more for insurance, like (insert percentage here)!!!!
    -As much as I despise unions, they DO protect my salary and benefits. Take them away, and I fear it would be open season.

    Not everyone feels like you do. Many DO wish to see educational/extra-curricular offerings reduced/eliminated, which WOULD destroy the integrity of the HCSD, of which I am so proud to be a product. In fact, I think we may have elected a governor who would prefer to see education moved into the hands of the private sector. I understand so much of your position, but you have to realize that there are a ton of people who just don't want to pay more taxes. Period. At ANY cost.

    Eric,
    My copy of Ohio Schools goes straight into the trashcan, as a I realized long ago it is but a propaganda tool. OEA doesn't represent me, and my school district union doesn't either. The only reason I pay dues is for the legal representation they provide should I encounter a situation in the classroom. The Ohio Schools magazine cannot play a constructive role in any discussion because the entire organization is blinded by its' own biases.

    I would say SB-5 has NOTHING to do with the quality of teachers, and only takes the necessary steps to ensure that they no longer have a meaningful voice in their compensation/working conditions. Kasich and his crew are taking a vindictive approach that is a power/money grab and nothing more.

    I think we do have the money to pay teachers what they are worth, if we also have the ability to get rid of the teachers that aren't worth anything. I think most teachers DO earn what they are worth--what more precious commodity than the minds of our young children? If you do the job right, you become a lasting memory that a human being will never forget, serving as a guidepost long after the students' time in your classroom has gone.

    As upset as I was that Ted Strickland did not follow through on his education-reform promises, at least he held discussions and took a calm and rational approach to the problem. John Kasich and, in my opinion, FAR too many community members, want to go in with a machete and a blow torch, asking questions later.

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  49. Maybe the machete and the blow torch are because nothing else has worked. HSCD has known for a long time that salaries have been on an unsustainable trajectory. And yet other than raising taxes, nothing has been done.

    When community dialog has been virtually absent, and school board meetings don't allow for a frank, reasoned discussion, what other option is there?

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  50. "SB-5 has NOTHING to do with the quality of teachers"

    My question was ambiguous. Suppose a student interviewed you for the high school newspaper. You give an honest response. But, being a teacher you might suggest how the student "search for additional materials to further" the knowledge of the student and improve balance in the student's reporting. Or, if you were a civics teacher, you might "develop appropriate materials when no suitable materials are provided." For example, a student reporter could be armed with the legislative services analysis of the bill and the foresight to ask bill opponents where in the analysis they find the objectionable provisions.

    "As upset as I was that Ted Strickland did not follow through on his education-reform promises ..." Where was the money for that coming from?

    Governor Kasich is serious about improving education in Ohio. Ohio teachers have a professional responsibility to work constructively with Dr. Sommers. Might I expect to see that message conveyed in "Ohio Schools?"

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  51. BTW, Here's another piece of deceptive advertising:

    http://www.tedstrickland.com/primary-education/

    I gather Ohio's Democrats trust Ohio's teachers not to expose the propaganda techniques. "Ohio Schools" magazine will certainly play along. I'm befuddled just how deceiving the electorate will elevate the profession of teaching, though. (Oh, are we not supposed to notice? My public school teachers "didn't get the memo.")

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  52. Old Hilliard,

    You have voted for every school board member, and have had a chance to vote for every levy. This community shares a 50% responsibility for this mess with the schools.

    Eric,

    RE: Ted Strickland
    He promised to reform education, and didn't get past the investigation/debate stage. That is what I was referring to. I don't know where the money was coming from, because we never saw a real plan. That was the real shame. I think he got knee-deep in it, and realized it was more than he had ever bargained for.

    RE: John Kasich
    He is serious about balancing his budget and protecting the interests of the wealthy and big business. How else can you explain his and the Republican proposal to close the $8 BILLION dollar budget deficit without raising a SINGLE tax even one cent? Party-lines be damned, to not raise a single tax while simultaneously chopping every part of the budget is irresponsible at best. When your plan to is to overrun the union and encourage the privatization of schools, I'm not sure how serious he is about improving the QUALITY of education versus the COST.

    RE: Ohio Schools
    I'm not sure what you think this magazine is. My understanding is that it is a magazine that supports and espouses the ideals of the group that runs it, which would be the Ohio Education Association. This magazine mainly serves the union, so I understand (although don't condone) their slanted views. I see this magazine just like FOX news: Great for entertainment, but I'll get my news/opinions elsewhere, thank you.

    Most of my colleagues feel the same way, and the ones who DO read it WANT to hear it (similar again to FOX news). I think what is printed in the Ohio Schools magazine is of little consequence because most RATIONAL teachers don't give it the time of day, or consume it with a healthy dose of sodium.

    RE: Deceptive Advertising
    You can find this everywhere. I am not blind to false advertising on both sides of the aisle, but I personally feel that the hard-line right wing approach currently being used by Republican Governors is NOT what they presented in the fall to the centrist Republicans whose votes they desperately wanted. An election held today would, in my opinion, have VERY different results than we had in November.

    None of that changes the issue that fixes need to be made, and it will take teachers AND politicians working together to get it done.

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  53. "... fixes need to be made, and it will take teachers AND politicians working together to get it done."

    And other stakeholders as well. The phrase for exploring mutual interests in such a setting is "social dialog." Given the necessity of social dialog, how do we find it supported by teacher preparation programs, professional development, or the Ohio Education Association?

    When asked to follow the example of Cesar Chavez and Lech Walesa, teachers discredit themselves by acting like Saul Alinsky and collaborating with George Soros. To teachers' credit, mostly highly paid union staff misbehave--not the teachers themselves.

    After four years of Ted Strickland's lost patrol, we don't yet have a proper bibliography for building the social dialog necessary to support Ohio public education. ("Reclaiming Public Education by Reclaiming Our Democracy" would be a start.) That's a real shame, because it leaves the OEA most likely to sabotage the efforts of Dr. Sommers rather than work with him to ensure "great public schools" for Ohio's children.

    So an argument can be made that serving Ohio's schoolchildren requires weakening the OEA, since that organization's real interest is in its own staff (paid for by your dues) and Democratic Party politics to preserve the status quo. Authentic social dialog, teachers, and schoolchildren are the losers.

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  54. Paul, in one place you say the average home in Hilliard is 250,00 then you state in another it is 160,000. Which is it? Oh and I called the school newspaper and told them to just put FAIR AND BALANCED on the front cover so that way we know there can be no bias whatsoever.

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  55. I don't know the right number to use for the value of a new home in the Hilliard school district. As we all know, the range is substantial, from modest starter homes to the multi-million dollar mansions along the Scioto River.

    The $250K is this case is just a guesstimate of the value of the home a mid-career white color family might live in. But note that if you feel a lower home value is more realistic for a teacher's family, the payback ratio (of new income vs new taxes) gets even larger than 5-to-1.

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  56. According to the Dispatch home sales, the average price of recently sold homes in 43026 is right around $163,00. Of course that probably includes foreclosures - when I look at the sales listings in the Sunday paper, seems there are always at least a couple of those, and sometimes many more.
    New builds in 43026 are much closer to the $250,000 mark, often quite a bit higher. Not much new building going on lately though.
    There are a fair number of HCSD teachers in my neighborhood and the average value here is pretty close to $250,000.

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  57. I received the following from one of the coaches at Bradley. This originated from one of the teachers (using HBOE email and resources). It was sent to all parents and student athletes.

    "Coaches, without using your school email please send this message to all of the parents in your sport.

    I wanted to take a few minutes to send this message to encourage you to support Issue #7 for the Hilliard City School District. It is vital that we successfully pass this issue on Tuesday, May 3rd. The levy is needed to continue our programs at their current level. We are all very proud of the honor we earned, “Excellent with Distinction”. A failure would bring extensive cuts at all levels including teachers, technology and transportation. Athletics will be completely eliminated at our three middle schools."

    I know this type of propaganda and the methods used are not ethical. My question is, "Is it legal?"



    Please consider everything that is at stake for our kids when you cast your ballot. As members of our athletic family I know that you go “above and beyond” in your support of our programs, athletes and coaches. You have helped us attain great success. It doesn’t matter if you are a Panther, Jaguar or Wildcat, we are three “Cats” for one school community.



    Spread the good word of our school district to your family, friends and neighbors. Thank you in advance for your support!

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  58. The only law I'm aware of (and I'm NOT an expert on the law) relative to something like this is the prohibition of using taxpayer money (ie school funds) to campaign for the passage of a levy. Hence I suspect the reason they were directed to use an email account other than the one provided by the school district.

    Outside that, teachers are free to express their opinions as protected by their collective bargaining agreement, which states in Article 19: "Academic freedom, freedom of individual conscience, association and expression will be guaranteed within the guidelines of the Board adopted course of study."

    I think they also have rights guaranteed by the First Amendment.

    However, in their role as professional teachers, it is reasonable for us taxpayers to demand that they present a fair and balanced view to the students. Reasonable people can disagree as to the appropriateness of a levy of this size and this form at this time.

    Our kids should be taught to listen respectfully to the arguments for and against, and use their critical thinking skills to come to their own decision.

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  59. I came home tonight to find in my mail the HCSD newsletter, Passing Notes. The entire front page is an article by Board President Doug Maggied, entitled "Importance of Issue 7". Now I am not an expert on the law either, but IF it is true that taxpayer money cannot be used to campaign for a levy, I am curious as to where the money comes from to print and mail this newsletter, which is published on a regular basis (this is Volume 7 Issue 3 - quarterly I would presume) And IF that is truly the law, then someone broke it unless someone "donated" printing and postage.
    One other note - on Page 3, there is an article, without attribution, titled "A Closer Look at HCS Continued Cost Savings Measures".
    It begins with the following:
    "Hilliard City Schools (HCS) reduced expenditures by $6.5 million since 2008. These reductions include pay freezes and cuts to administrative, teaching, and support staff positions".
    I have two problems with this opening two sentences, and both of them fall into the title of this thread. To wit:
    1. Anyone not aware of the facts might think that pay freezes have been in effect since 2008, rather than since 2011.
    2. There have been NO true reductions in expenditures since 2008 - on the contrary, spending has increased in 2009, 2010, and 2011.

    So, it seems to me, that not only are we being fed false "facts", but we are paying to have them fed to us. I have a very good idea (OK, much more than a good idea) of what the cost was to print and mail this piece to every resident in the 43026 zip code: 21,684 total residential addresses (since I don't have students in the district any longer I assume this goes to every address)so I'm "estimating" the cost was pretty close to $10,000.
    Thanks for sharing, Mr. Maggied!

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  60. I too think that this newsletter crossed the line, which is defined in the Ohio Revised Code (9.03)as follows:

    "(C) Except as otherwise provided in division (A)(7) of section 340.03 or division (A)(12) of section 340.033 of the Revised Code, no governing body of a political subdivision shall use public funds to do any of the following:

    (1) Publish, distribute, or otherwise communicate information that does any of the following:

    (e) Supports or opposes the nomination or election of a candidate for public office, the investigation, prosecution, or recall of a public official, or the passage of a levy or bond issue."


    The two exceptions in ORC 340 have to do with Alcohol, Drug Addition, and Mental Health Services.

    Also, I'd like to make it clear that Mr. Maggied was not speaking for the Board when he signed this letter (which may have been written by someone else), in the same way the School District made it clear that I was not speaking for the whole Board when I recently made comments during a public meeting concerning the Big Darby Accord ("Community takes a look at Big Darby Town Center plan," This Week Hilliard, April 13, 2011, p1).

    This letter was not presented to the Board for approval prior to its being published, so my understanding is that the letter must be viewed as Mr. Maggied's personal opinion only.

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  61. If the letter was Mr Maggied's opinion only, then it should have been stated as such. Using his title as Board President certainly led me to believe he was writing on behalf of the Board, even though it never stated that either. Again, makes the article fit even more into the title of this thread. Seems a lot of rules are being "bent" in pursuit of the levy passage.

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  62. I need to correct my "estimate" on the costs of the newsletter as they get to mail at favored postage rates as a qualified Non Profit Org. I would guess the cost at closer to $7000 if they got a good deal on the printing, or even produced it themselves in house - they do have some printing capabilities at the central office. Still the same issue though as it certainly reads as a pro-levy campaign piece, paid for by the district.

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