here is something I put together with Erin Miller that was submitted to the New Leader – hope you agree…
GUEST COLUMN: FINDING COMMON GROUND, WORKING TOGETHER IS KEY TO HELPING SCHOOLS IMPROVE
by Nate Loman | President, Nordonia Hills Education Association Published: July 8, 2015 12:00AM
This spring, I had the opportunity to show off Nordonia Schools to a few important people in public education here in Ohio: Bill Lavezzi, the executive director of the Northeast Ohio Education Association; Kim Richards, the president of NEOEA, and Becky Higgins, the president of the Ohio Education Association. While on a listening tour of Northeast Ohio districts, the three of them stopped by Nordonia to talk with a few teachers in two of our buildings, Nordonia High School and Ledgeview Elementary.
While discussing important points in Ohio’s schools, I came to realize that we need to work together as a district and community to better the state of our schools. We need to do what is in the best interest of public education in general and our students in particular.
I see public education as a cornerstone of the democratic process and as of late I am of the opinion that public education is under attack from many fronts. It seems to me those who value public education should find common ground and begin to work together, and I would like to recommend a few ways our community can work together to do what is in the best interest of our students.
The first of these ways is what is being called “Time to Teach, Time to Learn.” This is a movement that is pushing back against all the testing in our schools; we as teachers need time to teach and students need time to learn. I know this was an issue a couple months ago as many in this community had concerns about all the mandated testing. We all know that Nordonia is not the only district in the state that is having these concerns; many superintendents and leaders around Ohio have had similar concerns, and we educators agree.
Numerous community members feel the same. At the Community Expo this past March, NHEA collected signatures from those in this community that have similar concerns. To be clear, we as teachers surely see the value of tests. However, we as educators need to trust their validity and should also be able to process those results to address gaps in achievement. These tests allow for none of this; instead they have created a “gotcha” mentality for our students and staff, especially since the results are not even disseminated to students until the following year. Today’s testing push has even garnered national attention, as USA Today ran an editorial recently about ending the “Test, Blame, Punish” mentality that has taken hold of our schools.
We also all need to take stand against the charter school movement. These schools take away billions in public money from you, the taxpayers, and have no state mandates holding them accountable like public schools do. A local daily newspaper has even done a series covering the lack of transparency in charter schools; these charter schools take nearly a billion dollars annually out of the hands of elected school boards and public districts, negatively impacting educational opportunities for our students.
I am asking that the Nordonia community members to speak out against charter schools. There is a great website called knowyourcharter.com and is part of the Ohio Charter School Accountability Project. Use it to see how much money leaves our district for charter schools. At last check, these schools that score D and F on the Ohio Department of Education rating system take away $300,000 per year from Nordonia students. These charter schools include digital schools, so just because there may not be brick and mortar schools in our community does not mean we are not losing money to charters.
Members of this community want to see their tax money stay within their community and have signed a petition to make their voices heard.
One last item that we need to pressure our Legislature to fix is the school funding system here in Ohio. Our dependency on local taxes has been declared unconstitutional four times by the Ohio Supreme Court. It is time we stop taking this inequity out in our local elections and elect members to the state house from both political parties that support public education. School districts need to plan their budgets without fear of a levy failing. To be most effective, they need a clear picture of their revenue stream. We can help with that if we make our voices heard and reach out to our state officials.
Together we can make a difference. Take action for our students and teachers, and be a proud supporter of the Nordonia Hills City School District.