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Part 1: Organizing a Community Power Study

power-mapping-3 Whether you are negotiating for a new contract or lobbying for a new law, power mapping provides a tool in which an organization can identify community stakeholders and develop a plan to influence them. Participants in a community power mapping exercise identify who has power, and then develop appropriate campaign-oriented targets, tactics and messaging. Power mapping provides a means to build community influence and pressure stakeholders to do the right thing. Continue reading →

Equitable Pay: The Underlying Principle of the Single Salary Schedule

gender-wage-gap It seems the budget bill, House Bill 59 (HB 59), has become a dumping ground for the worst ideas our legislature can think of. One bad idea, among many, is the elimination of the single salary and minimum salary schedules for public school employees. The single salary schedule has been around for nearly a hundred years, having evolved from the inequity of elementary and high school salaries; men were paid more than women, white teachers more than African American teachers, and administrators’ favorites more than equally qualified coworkers. Continue reading →

Protecting Ohio Workers’ Rights

POWR-UMM-SCRTW For the past couple of months, I’ve had the opportunity to travel around Northwest Ohio, presenting information to groups about so-called right to work at Urgent Member Meetings — Protecting Ohio Workers’ Rights (POWR) — along with my friend Kate Jacob from the AFL-CIO. When I talk to teachers at these meetings, I try to draw on the parallel between plagiarism and so-called right to work laws. We wouldn’t tolerate a situation where a student gets an A by copying another student’s paper, having done none of the work to earn that grade. Why would we tolerate a situation where most workers contribute to the union so they can negotiate a fair contract, while a few pay nothing and get the exact same benefits that the union bargained for? Continue reading →

Report uncovers underperforming virtual schools

virtual-schools There has been a significant shift toward expanding online schooling and modifying existing regulations, and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has played a major role in this effort. This is noteworthy because a number of corporations seeking to profit from online schooling have influenced ALEC’s policy agenda. A major virtual schools report found full-time virtual schools significantly underperformed compared to traditional brick-and-mortar public schools. The authors urge policymakers to slow or stop the growth of these schools until accountability measures can be put into place. Continue reading →

Politics: the alternative to burnout

Burnout It’s all too easy for educators to get bogged down in the morass of day-to-day classroom requirements, focusing only on the most immediate tasks. However, I’m hoping that teachers take the time to step back, see the bigger picture, and refocus their energies on systemic change that will eventually lead to better public school environments for students and staff — putting energy and effort into questioning the status quo and changing the political situation. The alternative is burning out by trying to rise to mandates that are deemed “education reform.” Continue reading →

Resources for Women’s History Month on Pinterest

whm-pinterest Being new to Pinterest, which advertises itself as “a tool for collecting and organizing things you love,” I was curious to see what it had to offer on women’s history month, the month that honors women and their accomplishments. Pinterest is an online pinboard, a visual take on the social bookmarking site. Unlike other social bookmarking sites, such as Digg and StumbleUpon, content shared on Pinterest is driven entirely by visuals. In fact, you can’t share something on Pinterest unless an image is involved. You will be amazed at the information you can find by searching through the boards. Here is a list of some of the best boards for women’s history month resources. Continue reading →

The Puppet Masters

ALECpuppetmasters ALEC, which stands for American Legislative Exchange Council, is the most influential corporate-funded political force operating in America today, one that has worked to dilute collective bargaining rights and privatize public education. Yet ALEC is more or less unknown in teacher circles. ALEC creates legislation for elected officials to introduce in their states as their own brainchildren. ALEC’s strategy: “spread the unions thin ‘by playing offense’ with decoy legislation.” Spreading the unions thin has resulted in radical changes to classroom teachers’ everyday lives. Continue reading →

Just Say No to More Vouchers

voucher I am baffled as to why Governor Kasich is in favor of increasing private school vouchers for nearly half of our school children in Ohio. Under Kasich’s new budget, 45% of our 1.8 million students will qualify for $5000 vouchers to attend private schools, even if they are currently attending a public school that is rated as “excellent.” The state already spends more than $100 million a year on vouchers for more than 20,000 students. Not to mention that taxpayers already subsidize private schools by virtue of their nonprofit status. Kasich’s voucher expansion plan is money poorly spent, especially when our public schools continue to be underfunded in his proposed new budget. Continue reading →

SLOs, OTES, SGM, Value Added …

hb555 Who can keep it all straight? And yet, these acronyms represent things that will determine our teacher ratings and potentially our careers. When it came to determining how to implement these things, as it pertains to HB 555, there was no consultation with teachers. There was no “heads up” about the changes in this legislation. The only growth I can be sure will come from these changes is not student growth, but a growth of disenfranchisement from quality, hard-working teachers, who tried to get ahead of the changes coming in the fall, only to be tripped up by lawmakers. Continue reading →