March 29, 2011

SB 5 and Me: It’s Personal (Robert Roll Column)

Filed under: Economy,Education,Taxes & Government — Rob Roll @ 9:24 am

The fight over Senate Bill 5 here in Ohio and the collective bargaining rights for public sector unions nationwide got personal for me last week. The school district that I attended for thirteen years of my life, Gahanna-Jefferson Public Schools, was forced to lay off 32 teachers. Honestly, I knew this was coming. The dreadful economy has depressed property tax revenue, which is by far the largest revenue stream for the district. In addition to that the voters in my school district have turned down levies in the past two election cycles. You really cannot fault the voters for turning down a tax increase in the middle of a recession. Given those facts, I was not surprised when the headline of my local paper, The Rocky Fork Enterprise, which read: “Gahanna School Board Approves Teacher Cuts for 2011-12.” As I somberly read the article, which included the names of the teachers that will be laid off, four of which I had in class or knew on a personal level, I could not help but feel sad that some quality, hard-working teachers had to be let go.

That sadness turned to anger when I read the twelfth paragraph of the article. The paragraph said, “(Superintendent Mark) White said reductions are determined through seniority and programming”. To confirm the impression that teacher reductions were based only on seniority and programming, meaning that teacher performance was not taken into account, I called Matt Cygnor, the Director of Human Resources of the Gahanna-Jefferson School District. According to Mr. Cygnor, teacher performance was not taken into account because the union contract does not allow the district to look at teacher performance when determining pay or personnel decisions. In short, the union contract protects incompetent teachers who have managed to subsist long enough to get tenure at the expense of good, young teachers who are just starting out. What is happening in my school district is exactly why the SB 5 must be passed and signed into law.

Senate Bill 5 would prohibit teachers from collectively bargaining and replace that process with a system of merit pay. With merit pay, good teachers will finally be paid what they are worth and bad teachers will be given the boot. SB 5 will ensure that good, young teachers will not be let go just because they were the last ones hired.

I attribute much of what I have been able to accomplish in my short life to the great education I received as a pupil in the Gahanna-Jefferson School District. I received a great education because I had good teachers. In order for those who are following me in the school district to receive the same quality of education that I got, the Gahanna-Jefferson School District needs to retain quality teachers. The current union contracts prevent that from occurring. That needs to change, and SB 5 will change it.

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Robert Roll is a freshman majoring in Finance at Ohio Northern University, and the blog owner’s nephew.

The link within Rob’s column was added by me.

Brief Interruption

Filed under: General — Tom @ 6:33 am

Critical work commitments will prevent blogging until sometime this evening, if then. Fortunately, a Robert Roll item will appear later this morning to pick up some of the slack.

Work commitments have been doing the crowd-out thing for a while, the best/worst example being that last Friday’s final GDP revision (press release; full release with tables) to an annualized +3.1% for the fourth quarter of 2010 (up from the previous revision of +2.8%) blew right past me. Yikes. We need to more and/or better help around here.

The GDP news is pretty decent (though by no means Reaganesque), and beats the trend of downward revisions we’ve generally seen in previous quarters. I hope to dig deeper at some point, but given the circumstances, I can’t be sure that I will.

Latest Pajamas Media Column (‘Social Security: Obama and the Democrats Dodge Their Debris’) Is Up

Filed under: Soc. Sec. & Retirement,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 6:15 am

It’s here.

It will go up here at BizzyBlog on Thursday (link won’t work until then) after the blackout expires.