2017 – The Year of the Activist

Happy New Year and welcome to 2017. Much can be said about 2016 – both positive and negative, but certainly 2016 could be tagged as the Year of Politics. Last year was tough for many as politics divided our society, our communities and even our families.

I am looking forward to 2017 to focus on a new start by bringing people together around issues and values, not the individuals who are running for elected office. That’s why I call on you to make 2017 the Year of the Activist.

There are numerous issues impacting each of you in your work with children. There are many values we hold deeply that bring us to this work to look out for the best interests of children. We must look ahead at 2017 for opportunities to harness our passions around an issue to influence policy for the better for ourselves and the children we serve.

The past few weeks have shown the influence that one voice can have and how that one voice can motivate others to stand together to build collective power.

Take for instance the Women’s March on Washington that will take place Jan. 21. This event originated when a grandmother in Hawaii, Teresa Shook, created a Facebook event and invited 40 of her friends to march on Washington. The event exploded as more and more people joined the event, created their own pages and invited their friends. More than 100,000 people are expected to attend the march to draw attention to issues that impact women and families.

All because one woman took the initiative to stand up for something she believed in.

The power of the people became evident again Jan. 3. The night before, the U.S. House Republican Caucus voted to change the rules on ethics by weakening the Office of Congressional Ethics – a move opposed even by some Republican leaders. That vote unleashed a torrent of angry calls from constituents who were outraged that Congress would make this their first act of 2017.

But again, it took the actions of individuals to pick up the phone, make a call and demand that legislators represent their interests.

Each of us is motivated by different issues. What is yours? Are you an advocate for public education? Then make that your issue. Create actions within your school to uplift public education. Mobilize others to fight against the expansion of for-profit charters and to call for better accountability measures for all charters. Post articles on your social media that expose the dangers of privatization. Start taking action today by calling your U.S Senators Sherrod Brown and Senator Rob Portman to ask them to oppose the appointment of Betsy DeVos, a charter and voucher lobbyist with zero experience in public education, as the Secretary of Education (Call Sen. Portman at 202-224-3353 and Sen. Brown at 202- 224-2315). We ask you to call Sens. Portman and Brown because the Senate will hold a hearing on the nomination Jan. 11. Continue your activism by organizing some kind of action Jan. 19 , the national day of action jointly sponsored by AROS (Alliance to Reclaim our Schools), AFT and NEA. This action could be as simple as organizing a social media campaign in your community that day uplifting your public school and fighting back against privatization efforts.


Is your issue healthcare? Are you concerned that children in your classrooms might be impacted by the repeal of the Affordable Care Act? Then become an activist around this issue. Demand that our elected officials not repeal the ACA until they can replace it with something better. Expand your activism by pushing for making health services more accessible to children and families through a community learning center model. Join actions that are taking place around the country and push your activism through social media. Look for a Jan 15 Healthcare Day of Action in your area and spread social media posts that you see.

How concerned are you about workers’ rights? Are you disturbed that our neighboring state, Kentucky, just passed a right to work law? Do you remember the battle we had in 2011 to overturn a law that would have taken away our collective bargaining rights? Then make this your issue this year. Dedicate yourself to educating your friends, neighbors and relatives about the dangers of right to work. Watch our website, social media and emails for updates about attempts to take away collective bargaining or weaken labor in other ways and be ready to take action.

I could continue with more and more issues, but the point is, you need to decide what is important to you and take a stance. Educate others about your cause. Mobilize others to join you in taking action. Believe that you can make a difference and then work to make it happen. OFT will be tracking issues and offering opportunities for activism. But you also can start your own activism. Remember, all it takes is one person creating a Facebook event and inviting others to join it. From there, the possibilities are endless.

I recently heard Rep. Sharon Tomiko Santos (Washington) describe herself in a way that resonated with me. She said, “I am a glass half full person but I work like hell to make sure that I am not wrong.”

I still believe that the glass is half full as we move forward in 2017. And I am ready to work like hell to make sure that I am not wrong that we can improve our worlds by engaging in changing those things that we know could be better for all of us. I proudly call myself an activist and call on you to be one too. Make 2017 your year of activism. Will you join me?

Melissa Cropper, President

Ohio Federation of Teachers


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What issues are important to you?   Share below and offer suggestions for activism.

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What we need in a state superintendent



With the announcement that Dr. Richard Ross will retire at the end of December, the State Board of Education has the responsibility to hire a new state superintendent of public instruction. In a year plagued with charter school controversy, reform plans written behind closed doors, and unrest over excessive testing, this could be an opportunity to rebuild trust in Ohio’s education system. This will only happen, though, if the board takes the bold step of removing the superintendent’s position from the political realm and focuses on hiring an education leader with a vision for a strong future.

More than 1.8 million children in Ohio are depending on the state board to look past political agendas and ideologies in order to find a superintendent who can bring everyone together to meet their needs and provide them with opportunities for success.

Our children deserve:

A leader who will advocate for our traditional public schools. It is time to stop promoting vouchers and charters in the name of competition. Competition, by definition, yields winners and losers. Unfortunately, in Ohio, the wins go to the adults who make money from their for-profit charters at the expense of children who receive a lower quality education. Ohio has taken a step in the right direction with the passage of HB 2; however, we still need a leader who will take the competition out of education and instead promote all the successes that are happening in our schools everyday and look for ways to share best practices across the system.

A leader who will attract and retain people to the teaching profession by honoring and respecting the important work of educators. The “blame-and-shame” culture that came with No Child Left Behind not only drives veteran teachers out of the profession, it also makes the teaching professional an undesirable field for anyone just starting their career. Instead of burdening teachers with jumping through hoops to prove their value, we need a leader who honors the quality of our teaching force by giving teachers the time, tools and resources they need to educate children.

A leader who is transparent in creating policy and seeks input from those who are closest to the work. Another way to attract and retain great teachers is to tap into their professional knowledge when making and implementing policy. Teachers and administrators spend their careers learning and improving themselves to be better educators only to have to check their lifetimes of professional wisdom at the door in order to comply with policies created by others. Too often, as in the case of the amended HB 70, these policies are created behind closed doors with no input from those who will be impacted – parents, teachers, community members and students. We need a superintendent who will advocate for educators, include them and their recommendations in shaping policy, thoroughly vet ideas with them, get feedback from them on implementation, and respect them for their knowledge.

A leader who believes that a well-rounded education includes more than what can be reflected on a test. The overemphasis on testing is taking all the creativity and exploration out of learning. We need a leader who not only restores balance to the classroom by reducing testing, but also brings balance back to the school day by making sure that each school has a librarian who can open new worlds through a good book, a music teacher who instills a love for music, an art teacher who can tap into a child’s creativity, a physical education teacher who develops lifelong healthy habits, and a teaching staff that is empowered to tap into children’s interests and take time to explore ideas that might not be on a test.

A leader who recognizes that meeting the non-academic needs of children is a critical part of ensuring that our children can reach their academic potential. Our children come to our schools with a variety of needs that inhibit their ability and/or desire to learn. Our communities are full of resources that can move children past these barriers so that they are ready to learn. Districts across the nation, from Austin to Philadelphia to Washington, D.C. to New York have visited Cincinnati schools to find out how they have been so effective in implementing a Community Learning Center model that brings community resources into the schools to help meet the needs of children. Yet Ohio has continued to overlook this model in favor of creating new distress commissions that take resources out of schools. We need a leader who will invest in our neighborhood schools by bringing the communities into the schools instead of looking for ways to farm our children out to other systems.

The president of Ohio’s state Board of Education has said the board’s sole responsibility is to hire – or fire – a state superintendent. Though I do not believe that this is the Board’s sole responsibility, I do believe that it is perhaps the most important decision that they have to make. At a time when ESEA is about to be reauthorized, Ohio will have the opportunity to chart a path that works for Ohio’s children. We need a leader who will rise above the political winds to work with educators to reclaim the promise of public education by ensuring that every child has a neighborhood school that puts him or her on the pathway to a secure and happy future.





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Is reducing testing enough???

Last week, President Obama made a video announcement decrying the use of over testing in our schools. He proclaimed that he has charged the USDOE to work aggressively with states and districts to make sure that testing policies meet three criteria: 1. Only give tests that are worth taking 2. Tests should enhance teaching and learning 3. Tests should only be one factor in giving an all-around look at how children are progressing.

These criteria should sound highly familiar since teachers have been saying this and more for several years now. Thanks to all your advocacy and the voices of parents and teachers across the nation, a shift is starting to be made.

Is this shift enough though? It’s a start. As long as we continue to place high stakes on these tests though, we are not going to see a change in the testing culture. As long as teachers are judged by test scores and districts are ranked by test scores, teaching and learning are going to be impacted in a negative way.

Furthermore, critical factors continued to be overlooked – especially factors attributed to poverty. Take a look at these poverty maps. These maps show how much poverty has spread our state from 2000-2012 – and the rates have continued to climb since then. Yet we still see education reform highly focused on everything BUT how we address the factors that are impeding our children’s progress.

We know that all children can learn. We also know that many children face issues that impede their progress – issues such as hunger, poor health, stress disorders, emotional and mental problems, drug problems, vision problems, dental decay, anger management issues. The list can go on and on. If these issues continue to be ignored, no amount of testing is going to change it. Even great teaching alone won’t have enough of an impact.

That is why we continue to push for a Community Learning Center model that focuses on bringing resources into the school and making them accessible to children and their families. We advocate for a model that includes parents, teachers, and community members in assessing what their children need and identifying who can best meet those needs. We push for a model that lifts up not only schools but whole communities.

We, as teachers, want the very best for every child that comes through our door. We desperately want to see this emphasis on testing and wrong accountability measures come to an end so that we can bring creativity and curiosity and joy into learning. We just as desperately though want to see that our children are viewed as more than a test result. That each one is looked at as a complex individual with needs that sometimes impact his or her ability to focus on learning. Only then will we really be able to see our children rise beyond what even they imagined.

For more information about the Community Learning Center model, please contact the OFT office at 614.258.3240.

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5 reasons to revoke USDOE charter grant to Ohio

The U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) Sept. 28 awarded Ohio a $71 million grant to expand charter schools – the largest grant awarded to any state. This despite Ohio’s charter schools making the state a laughingstock across the nation. Yes, the legislature finally passed a charter school accountability bill; however, the grant was awarded before the bill even passed and in spite of much controversy and scandal surrounding charters and the Ohio Department of Education this summer. It certainly appears that Arne Duncan and the USDOE are more intent on adhering to their wrong-headed education agenda than actually looking at information and making a decision that is best for our students.

We cannot let this financial misstep by the USDOE go unchallenged. On Oct. 1, the Ohio Federation of Teachers (OFT) sent a letter to Secretary Duncan asking him to suspend the grant until Ohio fixes its charter problems. Since that time, even more has been revealed about the deceptive information in the charter school grant application. That is why I am asking you to sign this petition calling for the revocation of the $71 million Ohio charter school grant.

Here are just five reasons, as recently presented in the Columbus Dispatch, (though many more could be given) why this grant should be revoked:

1. The man who wrote the grant, David Hansen, had to resign his position at the Ohio Department of Education just days after submitting the grant application. His resignation came after it was revealed that he inflated the ratings of some charter schools by scrubbing data of others that showed they earned failing grades. Eliminate the F’s and other charters look better than they are in reality.

2. In staying true to his data-scrubbing propensity, on the grant application, Hansen indicated that there were no poor-performing charters in 2012-2013. The truth is that a third of all charters failed to meet a single standard. In 2013-14, almost half failed to meet a single standard. In addition, 60 percent of charters received a “D” or “F” on the Performance Index.

3. The application boasts an automatic closure law, but fails to mention that the law is not currently being used because it is suspended and won’t be re-instated until at least 2017-18.

4. Online for-profit charters are eligible to receive money, even those that are some of the worst performers in the state. Of course, these are also the ones that had their data scrubbed to make charters look much better than they are in reality.

5. A significant portion of the grant – $10.25 million – is earmarked for the creation of high-quality seats in a recovery district. Think Youngstown and the last-minute additions made to House Bill 70 that allowed for a state takeover of the public schools there and possible transition to charters. The original HB 70 was aimed at structuring our public schools to ensure that all available community resources were utilized to meet all the needs of students, including their non-academic needs. The amendments to HB 70 reformed the academic distress commission and redefined what happens in a recovery district, including bringing in an accelerator to create charters there. The accelerator, by the way, is undefined, is not accountable to anyone, and never goes away – even if the school works to rise out of academic distress. In other words, the amended HB 70 does the exact opposite of the original bill. It takes resources OUT of the school to pour into a charter school system that has a drastically poor track record in Ohio. To top it off, the charter school grant awarded by USDOE gives them the money to make it happen.

We cannot sit quietly while the USDOE gives Ohio $71 million to expand the failed charter school program in our state. Join me in signing this petition to revoke this charter school grant.

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Your voice needed for charter reform

Welcome back. Many of our members who work in education are back in their schools already. Some still have a day or two before returning, but the air is thick with summer memories and hopefulness for the fresh start of a new school year. Thank you for spending much of your summer in classes to improve and expand your skills as educators, in conferences to learn how to better serve our students, and preparing all the things you know make your classroom more engaging and rewarding.

Your commitment to education is admirable. For years now, we have been telling legislators, the media, and everyone who will listen that the demands of teaching are becoming so great that the teaching profession is in danger. A recent New York Times article about teacher shortages verifies our concerns. As AFT President Randi Weingarten replied though, the problems are much deeper than economics. The factors driving teachers out of the profession have much more to do with the lack of autonomy that teachers have in their profession and the growing demands of an unfair accountability system that is based on test scores rather than on the true value that teachers, paraprofessionals, and education support staff bring to the life of a child.

Though teachers have had little to no input into the policies that are destroying our system, we still get the blame. Anyone who listened to the Republican presidential debates heard at least three candidates – Scott Walker, Jeb Bush, and Chris Christie- brag about taking on the teachers unions. Can we seriously question why we have so many problems with our education system when the people who seek to lead our country want to build a system that shuts out the professionals’ voices?

We cannot just blame one person, one party, or one branch of government for everything that is wrong in education though. There is much blame to be spread. That’s why your voices matter so much. Instead of putting all our faith and hope into a person or party, we must coalesce around issues and demand that our voices be heard.

We have a perfect opportunity to do this with charter reform in Ohio. We need to speak loudly in support of House Bill 2. This legislation will create strong accountability for charter schools in Ohio – an important start to taming what many have come to call the “wild, wild west” of charter schools.

HB 2 is waiting the one act that will make it law – your state Representatives must vote to “concur.” This will combine and adopt all of the strong elements of this bill with improvements approved by the Senate into one substantial new set of ways to hold charter operators accountable for the public dollars they get from us and the academic results they produce – or don’t.

Your state Representatives failed to make this happen when they went on summer break without voting. Shameful, yes. But we can’t let them think that we forgot about this issue over the summer. Our students may sometime experience a summer slide, but we remember clearly how the legislator abruptly passed an amended HB 70 to allow public school districts to be turned over to charters, yet failed to pass charter school reform. We need to strongly remind them that Ohio is long overdue for charter reform.

Your state Representatives are in your neighborhood now. While still off for the summer, your state Representatives are home, in the districts where they represent you. In your hometown. You should go talk to them. Visit them in their hometown office or invite them to your school. Tell them how important it is to our students that the state make sure public dollars are not wasted, mismanaged or embezzled because there are lots of other schools where students do very well and could use more resources and support.

Charter schools get more than $1 billion of our public tax funds each year, yet news story after news story expose profiteers running away with the money, or simply point out that the vast majority of charter operations fail to educate students. This is unfair to students, their families and taxpayers.

Tell your state Representative to concur on House Bill 2. Call them. Meet with them. Tweet at them using their Twitter handle and the hashtag #concurHB2. Post comments on their Facebook pages. Tell them to concur on HB2 as their first order of business when the House reconvenes session.

Your voice matters on this issue and will matter in many issues yet to come. We need you to join the chorus and make a difference. Raise your voice – now.

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Government of the people, by the people, for the people…except when it’s not

…”that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” Never did those famous words of Abraham Lincoln mean so much to me as June 24 when I saw “the people” left completely out of the legislative process.

Let me back up just a little bit though to give you some context. The Ohio Federation of Teachers is a strong advocate for the Community Learning Center model in which parents, teachers, students, administration, community members, and anyone else interested have a voice in determining the needs of their neighborhood school and work to bring community resources into the schools to make them accessible to students and to meet the needs of children. We have seen this model work successfully in Cincinnati, and, for at least three years, we have worked to bring awareness to this model by bringing legislators, educators, and a variety of people to Cincinnati to see how it works. In addition, we worked with Rep. Denise Driehaus (D – Cincinnati) and Rep. Andrew Brenner (R- Powell) to draft legislation about the Community Learning Center model.

The result was a fantastic bill that focused on a model that addresses poverty by bringing the community together to identify the needs of the children and to draw upon the community resources to meet those needs.

That bill was HB70 – a bill that had wide bi-partisan support and easily passed through the House.

On June 24, 2015, that bill was hijacked. While the bill was in the Senate Education Committee, a 66-page amendment was added to change how Academic Distress Commissions operate within Ohio. Granted, it is not unusual that amendments are made to bills, but typically amendments are introduced and then people are given some time – a week, two weeks, a month, longer?- to respond. In other words, the people referred to by Abraham Lincoln have an opportunity to testify or to talk with their elected officials to say what they think is good or bad about the amendment.

In the case of HB 70 though, the amended bill passed through the Senate Education Committee, the full Senate, and back through the House for concurrence in ONE DAY. No time for legislators to talk with constituents to see if this amendment was “by the people.” No time to determine if this amendment would work “for the people.” Rather this amendment was done “TO the people!”

Granted there were a few Youngstown notables who came to testify in favor of the amendment. Somehow they knew about it before even some legislators. And I don’t doubt that they truly believe that this is a plan that will work for Youngstown. The problem is, this amendment could potentially impact urbans and other districts across the state yet no one else had any input into deciding what it might look like or even an opportunity to say how the amendment could potentially be made better. Clearly, the voices of the people were not wanted in this process. Someone – the Governor? the State Superintendent? the Senate President? thought it better to push this amendment through in one day rather than give people (educators, parents, community members) an opportunity to provide input.

While the original bill had wide, almost unanimous, bi-partisan support, the amended bill lost all democratic support and even some republican support. I guess some politicians do still believe that “of the people, by the people, for the people” means that you should at least have time to think about whether something is good for the people before passing it into law.

(Side note: Ironically, many of the legislators who voted to pass the 66-page amendment to the original bill in one day without any hesitation later claimed they could not pass an amended charter school bill because they needed more time to think about it, even though the amended version has been around a while. Go figure.)

So what’s so bad about this amendment? The intent of the original bill was to bring community resources into a school so that the needs of students could be met whether the needs be mental, physical, social, emotional, or academic. Though the model does address poverty issues, it certainly is not intended for only high-poverty schools. In fact, all students benefit from a community learning center model because the model allows for communities to tap into their resources to add to a child’s educational experience. In other words, the original bill promoted keeping kids in their neighborhood schools and using every existing resource to make that school the best it can be.

The amendment to the bill though does exactly the opposite. It provides ways to take both students and resources out of the schools with the potential of eventually shutting down schools or even an entire district. The new academic distress commission model makes every student eligible for a voucher, encourages bringing in an “accelerator” (which has complete autonomy) to bring charters into the system, pays surrounding schools to take students from the impacted schools, and gives a CEO the ability to shutdown public schools or turn them into charters. Yes, a CEO who will be appointed to run the district instead of the elected school board or the superintendent. So again, instead of bringing the community together to draw resources into the schools and commit to making them better, the amended part of the bill gives authority to one person who can privatize and charterize the system and send kids somewhere else instead of investing in their neighborhood schools.

“The people” still can exert some influence in this process though and this is where we need to read the fine print, step in and take action. The original part of this bill still exists and still allows for districts to become Community Learning Centers. Even within the amended portion, there are pieces built in that would support this model. For example, the CEO of the district is charged with bringing together stakeholders for both the district and for each individual school. These stakeholders are supposed to set expectations for the district and assist with building relationships with organizations that can provide services to students. In addition, The CEO is authorized to implement innovative education programs that address the physical and mental well-being of students and families, provide mentoring, provide job resources, disseminate higher ed information, offer recreational or cultural activities, and provide other services that will contribute to a successful learning environment.

We need to latch on to these pieces of the bill and reclaim the promise of public education as was originally intended when this bill was drafted. We need to work with our community stakeholders to push for this to be the model chosen in our schools that are in academic distress rather than a model that will farm our children out to other systems. We need to bring this model to schools that are not yet in academic distress so we can start addressing some of our children’s needs that are preventing them from experiencing academic success.

Above all, we need to elect and support legislators, governors, school board members, and other government officials who will tackle the poverty issues our students are facing, not only in the schools but in the communities where they live, and find solutions to these problems. Instead of shuffling our children around from school to school to school, our state officials need to invest in neighborhoods and neighborhood schools. We, the people, must hold them accountable to doing so. Only then will we have a government of the people, by the people, for the people.

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Thank you to our teachers, nurses, paraprofessionals, support staff, and public service employees

In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, National Nurses Week and Public
Service Recognition week, I want to thank the thousands of members who
dedicate their lives to improving the lives of others. One day, or even one
week, is not enough time to express our sincere gratitude for all that you
do on a daily basis for the people you serve, their families and our

My life has been personally touched by people in these professions. Mrs.
Reichardt was my reading teacher in both third and fourth grades. I
worshipped the ground she walked on, not only because she taught me a love
for reading, but also because she was such a kind person who always had an
encouraging word to say – that support and encouragement is especially life-
shaping for young children.

I remember fondly Donna Hawkins who was not only the school secretary while
I was a young student but also continued in that capacity when I began
working as an educator at Georgetown Jr.-Sr. High School. I brought to this
profession a strong passion to help children and open their eyes to the
wonderfulness of this world. Donna taught me everything I needed to know
about how to navigate the school system so that I would not be overwhelmed
by any bureaucracy associated with my job. She took me under her wing and
made sure that I had the support and advice to be successful in anything
that I attempted to do. And she kept that school running efficiently through
countless different administrative changes. She left this world far sooner
than we were ready to let her go. Fortunately for us, she shared her
knowledge and her goodness of heart with her daughter Christy who continues
to serve the school community in ways that go far beyond her job description
as so many educators and public servants do every day.

On a very personal level, I will always remember the nurses at Cincinnati
Children’s Hospital who made my son Tom as comfortable as possible when he
was undergoing chemotherapy. I’ll never forget when Tom left the hospital
following his last treatment: Nurses who had cared for him through a very
difficult time for our family lined the hallway and sang a celebratory song
as he left the hospital to send him back to the rest of his life on a
positive and happy note. That was such a touching moment that went far
beyond what those nurses were required to do. It came from a place of love
for their work and for the people they serve, just as you put extra time and
effort into being the best you can be for those you serve in your jobs.

I have been blessed to meet hundreds of incredible people across the state
who glow when they talk about the work they do to help others – people such
as Jaye Hayes, a paraprofessional offering additional help to students in
Toledo; Cheryll Harris who helps children and families during difficult
times through her work at Franklin County Children Services; Dar Borradaile
who sparks a love of aircraft maintenance in students at Miami Valley; Pat
Forrai-Gunter, who tends to and cares for her school community as a school
nurse in Cleveland; Bev Lucas, an engaging and passionate high school
teacher in New Lexington; Allan Bobincheck, a bus driver whose
responsibility in Beachwood is to deliver our children to their destinations
safe and sound; Mike Smithback, a professor drawing out students’ passions
at Terra Community College. These people, and countless others like them,
restore my faith in what our future can and should be.

Unfortunately, their voices are too often excluded from conversations where
decisions are made about our work. Worse yet, they are often treated as
second-class citizens, attacked, demeaned, dismissed.

Take, for example, what has happened in Cleveland this past week. Teachers
who dedicated their lives to educating children are being improperly
portrayed as lazy, slovenly employees who do not work toward student
success. This is a political attack. It is unfair and incredibly false. Just
read the newspaper articles. Read the quote from Michelle Pierre-Farid. I
won’t dignify it by actually quoting it in my blog. Let’s just say that it
completely disrespects the thousands of educators who show up on a daily
basis to make sure that the children in Cleveland have opportunities for a
decent future. What the newspaper articles are not telling you is that
teachers in these investment schools in Cleveland are fully invested in
student success. That is why they chose to be assigned to these schools. And
they have ideas that will actually help drive that success – ideas that will
have much greater impact on student outcomes than the administration’s push
for an unnecessary dress code. The best ideas the administration can put into an academic
improvement plan are dress codes and weekly lesson plans, indicating that the
teachers there do not dress professionally and they do not do lesson plans –
false characterizations on both pieces that only feed into the current false
media portrayal of teachers. What benefit is there in painting these false
pictures of teachers? Politically motivated attacks on educators fail to
raise student outcomes. Perpetrating falsehoods decreases public trust in
our schools. It is a disservice to children, their families and our
communities to dismiss the wisdom and expertise of the teachers who daily
give their all.

At Terra Community College, six individuals were recently dismissed with no
indication of having done anything wrong or having failed to meet work
obligations. These are faculty members who serve as content experts on
panels assembled by the Ohio Board of Regents, including one who achieved a
rare accomplishment for a community college by securing a National Science
Foundation grant for a robotics program. Yet these people are dismissed
without any prior warning or explanation.

Teachers in our career tech centers were asked to participate in writing
WebExams for their fields, but when they saw the final product it fails to
reflect their input. Why bother with the pretense of engaging a teacher’s
expertise if the advice is going to be overlooked? That is the ultimate

In spite of all the negativity in the media though, in spite of an
accountability system that was designed to put blame on educators rather
than looking at the deeper root societal problems that need to be solved,
the latest PDK poll shows that 64 percent of the public still has trust and
confidence in the men and women who are teaching in our public schools – a
number much higher than the approval rating of the people who create the
policies that tie the hands of our professionals.

It is time to give some respect to the people who are closest to the work in
our schools, in our hospitals, in our public service system. And not just
lip-service, but the kind of respect that is shown by truly listening to the
people doing the work and using their expertise to make the changes that
make a difference. This is the way, beyond simply having an appreciation week, to show that we truly value and respect the professionals who make our lives so much better.

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