OEA Announces Lobby Days

Please join us for the first lobby day on Wednesday, March 18th, 2015.  To RSVP, please email Julie Parsley at parsleyj@ohea.org.  A briefing from OEA’s lobbyists will begin at 9:00 a.m. in the Media Center at OEA Headquarters (225 East Broad Street, Columbus, 43215).  Parking is available at nearby surface lots, in the parking garage just south of the OEA building or at parking meters located on 5th & Broad Streets.

Please be sure to schedule a meeting with your legislators prior to attending lobby day.  Contact information for members of the House and Senate can be found by going to www.legislature.state.oh.us.

If you can’t make it for the March 18th Lobby Day, others dates have been scheduled and are listed below.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Wednesday, June 10, 2015 (Tentative)

For more information on participating in OEA Member Lobby Days, please contact OEA Government Relations at 1-800-282-1500.

House Bill 1 Seeks to Offer Grants to Encourage Ohio Students to Pursue In-Demand Occupations

Last week the Ohio House of Representatives introduced approximately 25 bills.  The first one – House Bill 1 (R-Schuring) – seeks to establish the Ohio Workforce Grant Program. The intent of the program is to encourage students to pursue occupations that are in-demand.   A list of these occupations can be found by clicking here.

The program will provide up to $5,000 to students on an annual basis.  One-third of the grant will be distributed to the recipient at the beginning of the academic year.  The remainder will be distributed in equal installments throughout the year upon successful completion of milestones adopted by the Chancellor.  These milestones include spending between 30 and 90 days of training in a workplace of an in-demand field; the completion of counseling on how to manage student loan debt; and completion of curriculum.  Students who graduate with a certificate or a degree as part of the program will be eligible for up to a 25 percent tax credit on their student loans.  The bill appropriates $100,000,000 over the Fiscal Year 2016-2017 biennium to fund the program.

Senate Committee to Hold Testing Hearings

On Wednesday, January 28, 2015, the Senate Education Committee held its first hearing of the new session of the General Assembly.  The committee heard testimony from Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Richard Ross about his recently completed report on recommendations to reduce the burdensome time currently devoted to standardized testing. Ross stated that the recommendations, if enacted, would reduce the time spent on testing by approximately 20%. 

The report states that the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) will take a number of actions to address the testing issue. These actions include:

  • Working with the federal government to advocate for flexibility in the testing system.
  • Monitoring the first administrations of the new tests.
  • Finding ways to use a single test for multiple purposes.
  • Exploring whether new state tests can be used for gifted identification.

The report also made a number of legislative recommendations that require a change in law.  These recommendations include:

  • Limiting the amount of time a student takes state and district tests to two percent of the school year.
  • Limiting the time spent practicing for tests to one percent of the school year.
  • Eliminating the fall administration of the third grade reading test while providing an opportunity to take the test in the summer for students who need it.
  • Making math and writing diagnostic tests in the first through third grades optional.
  • Eliminating the use of student learning objectives (SLOs) as part of the teacher evaluation system.

The full report on testing and recommendations from ODE can be viewed by clicking here.

At the conclusion of the hearing, Senator Peggy Lehner (R- Kettering), Chair of the Senate Education Committee, announced that she plans to hold several weeks of hearings on the issue of testing.  Next week the Committee will hear from school district superintendents. Future hearings are planned for teachers, school board members and the general public.

OEA Scholarship and Award Deadline Extended

OEA has extended the following awards deadline to February 16, 2015.  Would you please review the Awards and Scholarships applications that can be accessed electronically from the OEA Members Only Area of the OEA website at www.ohea.org, click on OEA Local Leaders and then Grants and Awards and encourage members to participate by submitting the applications/nominations by that date.

  • Marilyn Cross Scholarship ($2,000)
  • Human and Civil Rights Awards
  • Peace and International Relations Award
  • Blue Ribbon Association Award ($500)
  • OEA Media Award for Public Service
  • OEA Friend of Education Award

Senate Passes HB 487 After Adding Senate-passed SB 229 Teacher Evaluation Provisions

This week, the Ohio Senate passed multiple Mid-Biennium Review (MBR) bills, including HB 487, the K-12 Education MBR. It is expected that there will be a conference committee on HB 487 to address the differences between the Senate and House versions of the bill.
During the HB 487 Senate Education Committee debate, the OEA strongly supported two critical amendments made to the bill that include: 1) the Senate-passed version of SB 229 which lowers the student growth measure percentage on teacher evaluations to 35% from 50%, and 2) a one-year suspension of high-stakes decisions based on standardized testing (this provision builds towards the goal of a three-year suspension set by OEA delegates at the 2014 Spring Representative Assembly).
Sen. Randy Gardner (R-Bowling Green), chief sponsor of the bi-partisan, Senate-passed SB 229 language included in HB 487, said that these provisions are the result of what the Senate has learned by listening to educators. He called for Senate members to be “strong” on the SB 229 teacher evaluation language during the HB 487 conference committee scheduled for next week. “The Ohio Senate is leading toward better education policies in Ohio,” he said.
For more detailed information on these two provisions in HB487, see below:
Teacher Evaluations
  • Adopts the Senate-passed version of SB 229 requiring that student academic growth account for 35% of each teacher’s performance evaluation, rather than the 50% required by current law. Up to 15% of each evaluation may include other measures, such as formal observations and reviews, student surveys, peer review evaluations, or any other factors. 
  • Further, a school district would be permitted to evaluate any teacher who received a rating of “accomplished” on the teacher’s most recent evaluation once every three years and any teacher who received a rating of “skilled” on the teacher’s most recent evaluation once every two years.
  • Allows a school board to elect not to evaluate a teacher who either: (1) was on leave from the school district for 50% or more of the school year, or (2) has submitted notice of retirement that has been accepted by the board not later than December 1 of the school year in which the evaluation is otherwise scheduled.
One-year Suspension of High-Stakes Decisions Based on Standardized Tests
  • Prohibits the report card ratings issued for the 2014-2015 school year from being considered in determining whether a school district or school is subject to sanctions or penalties, including the following:
    • Provisions defining “challenged school districts” in which new start-up charter schools may be located.
    • Provisions prescribing a new building where students are eligible for the Ed Choice voucher program.
    • Provisions for academic distress commissions.
    • Any restructuring provisions required under state law.
  • Permits a school district, community school, or STEM school to enter into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with its teachers’ union that stipulates that the value-added rating issued for the 2014-2015 school year will not be used when making decisions regarding teacher dismissal, retention, tenure, or compensation.

House Bill 472 Income Tax Cuts May Hurt Public School Funding

From OEA
House Bill 472, the mid-biennium review, proposes to lower state income taxes by 8.5 percent over the next three years and reduce the highest income tax rate to 4.88%. Governor Kasich plans to pay for the income tax cut by increasing taxes on cigarettes over a two-year period, as well as increasing the commercial activity and severance taxes. The income tax cut is expected to reduce revenue by more than $2.1 billion over three years. Even when coupled with other tax changes, Ohio will lose an estimated $174 million in the General Revenue Fund over that period.

Talking Points

State aid to local school districts is currently $514 million less than it was three years ago under the previous administration. School districts could utilize additional funding to support much needed technology upgrades to administer new student assessments, support the continued implementation of the Third Grade Reading Guarantee, expand access to all-day kindergarten and early childhood education, and more easily update school security systems.
Trading stable, progressive revenue from the income tax with undefined sources like the severance tax, is fiscally irresponsible.
Investing in our students and communities will strengthen Ohio’s economy.
While the tax package does include provisions that benefit lower income Ohioans such as an expanded higher Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), which is non-refundable, the proposal further shifts the tax burden away from those who can most afford to pay taxes.
According to the Institute on Taxation an Economic Policy (ITEP) and Policy Matters Ohio, the proposal would cut annual taxes for the top 1 percent (those earning over $1 million) by $2,847, compared to the middle fifth of taxpayers ($34,000-$54,000) who would see their taxes cut by an average of $13.

Take action today! Tell legislators that while House Bill 472 proposes increasing certain taxes, the revenue would go towards yet another round of income tax cuts that predominately favor wealthy Ohioans. Urge legislators not to support Kasich’s proposed income tax cuts and instead invest in Ohio’s students and public education.

Update from OEA on SB229

March 28, 2014

Senate Bill 229 – Teacher Evaluation Bill Intended to Provide More Local Flexibility is Turned Upside Down by House Education Committee
The House Education Committee made drastic changes to Senate Bill 229 this week when it unveiled a new version of the bill.  It turned the bill on its head and left  it almost unrecognizable from the bill that was approved unanimously by the Ohio Senate.  The changes to what had been a bi-partisan bill in the Senate were accepted by the House committee on a party-line vote, with all Democrats voting “No.”  In comments to the committee, ranking Democrat and former teacher Rep. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) said the bill had been “hijacked.”  OEA Vice President Scott DiMauro urged the Committee to support the Senate- passed version of SB 229.  To read the testimony, click here .

The chief sponsor of SB 229, Sen. Randy Gardner (R-Bowling Green), was not made aware of the changes before they were released on Wednesday, March 26.  Stripped from the Senate version of the bill was a key provision that provided local flexibility to adjust the student growth measure portion of teacher evaluations to 35% from 50%.  Further, the provision that would provide local flexibility to adjust the frequency of full annual evaluations for highly-rated teachers was diluted. More than 30 new provisions were added to the bill, including changes to various aspects of the Ohio Teacher Evaluation System (OTES).
Instead of supporting teachers and administrators by providing local flexibility to key areas of OTES, the new House version adds even more burdens, complexities and bad policy on Ohio’s educators.  In addition, numerous exemptions to collective bargaining were added to the bill in a blatant attempt to silence the voice of educators.

Here’s a summary of OEA’s position on the new House version of SB 229:

  • The OEA strongly opposes the House Substitute Bill and the hostile takeover of the effort to provide much-needed local flexibility to teacher evaluations.
  • The litany of changes made to SB 229 by the House Education Committee has turned the bill on its head.  Instead of supporting teachers and administrators by providing local flexibility to key areas of OTES, the House version adds even more burdens, complexities and bad policy on Ohio’s educators.
  • The OEA will continue to work with the sponsors and supporters of the Senate-passed bill to implement legislation that provides the local flexibility needed to make Ohio’s teacher evaluation system more effective, fair and efficient.

For an analysis of SB 229 (House Substitute Bill), please click here .

To send a letter to your state Representative, please click here.