legislative updates

this post from 2/15

OEA urges lawmakers to move quickly to address problems associated with student testing

The following statement is attributed to Becky Higgins, president of the Ohio Education Association:

“As Ohio gets ready to implement the new Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) tests, a school superintendent recently told the Senate Education Committee what has been apparent to OEA members for some time – ‘Ohio is not yet ready for it.’  Matthew Miller, superintendent of the Mentor Schools in Lake County, described ‘fatal errors’ in the practice run of the PARCC assessments recently conducted at the Mentor Schools.

He said numerous students were booted off the system and ‘could not resume even after refreshing teacher screens.’ He also described bugs in the system that prevented students from submitting their answers even after responding to all the questions. Superintendent Miller told the Committee that if Mentor is having a problem with PARCC – with its ‘robust technology infrastructure’ – then “the rest of Ohio’s schools will be having issues as well.”

Other superintendents pointed to what teachers all across the state have been saying – the ‘lack of timely and firmly established guidance’ from the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) in helping districts to get ready for the PARCC exams.  Several superintendents agreed with another issue for which OEA has been advocating. It was articulated by Sue Lang, the superintendent of the Wyoming City School District in Hamilton County, who urged the Committee to ‘consider this year as a PARCC transitional year……do not count the PARCC on the state report cards and do not count scores against teachers and students.’

Well before this year’s implementation of PARCC, OEA has been urging state lawmakers to go beyond the ‘safe harbor’ provisions that were signed into law last year that placed a one-year hold on high-stakes decisions based on test scores.  It is increasingly clear that ‘safe harbor’ protections must be extended beyond the current school year and should also be granted to students.

The urgency of addressing the problems associated with PARCC is also part and parcel of the need to do something about the overall excessive use of testing in our schools. More and more superintendents are echoing what professional educators in Ohio have been saying for some time – allow more instructional time, and less testing, to drive student achievement. The longer it takes for lawmakers to address the testing issue, the greater the likelihood is that more parents will choose to have their children ‘opt out’ of some of these tests.

The growing number of ‘opt-outs’ puts educators in an untenable situation. Not only could educators see their own evaluations adversely impacted by high-performing students who chose not to take a test, the results of which are a factor in measuring teacher performance, but as the Avon Lake Superintendent told the Senate Education Committee, he doesn’t want to have teachers placed in a position of lying to parents that all this is workable.

Changing the way students are tested and teachers are evaluated in Ohio cannot happen soon enough. OEA will continue to push hard for that to happen.”

The Ohio Education Association represents 121,000 teachers, faculty members and support professionals in Ohio’s public schools, colleges and universities.



December 10, 2014

For Immediate Release:

OEA Reaction to the State Board of Education removal of ratios from the Operating Standards

 The following statement is attributed to Becky Higgins, president of the Ohio Education Association:

“The OEA is disappointed that the State Board of Education removed ratios from Rule 5 of the Operating Standards that would have maintained a specific minimum staffing level for “educational service personnel.”

“OEA members made their voices heard loudly and clearly in advocating for the retention of the “5 of 8” rule.   In alliance with parents and supportive community members all over the state, we offered testimony, wrote letters, and made phone calls to members of the State Board, and we generated well over 70,000 email contacts with board members.  This advocacy certainly made a difference, but it will require continued vigilance at the local level to ensure school districts consider the needs of the whole child when making staffing decisions for their schools.”

“We do, however, acknowledge that the Board made substantial improvements over the previous proposed rule change.  In particular, the Board took an important step forward in its decision to direct the Accountability Committee to develop a method for reporting the number of school nurses, counselors, librarians, social workers, and teachers of fine arts, music and physical education on local school district report cards. It moves the Board closer to living up to its responsibility to establish standards that ensure a well-rounded high-quality public education for all of Ohio’s students.  We expect the State Board to do even more to make certain schools meet the expectations it lays out in its rules.”

“We hope local districts will get the message that licensed professionals in all of these areas are essential to support the needs of the whole child and that the state legislature will follow suit by ensuring all districts have the resources necessary to meet those needs.”

The Ohio Education Association represents 121,000 teachers, faculty members and support professionals in Ohio’s public schools, colleges and universities.



posted 9/19

OEA board of directors updates …

OEA Board of Directors

September 12, 2014



 Seated the following alternates at this meeting:  Adrienne Bowden representing Central-1, Andrew Boso representing OSEA, Phyllis Bell representing SWOEA-1.

Approved the President’s recommendations:

  • Accepted the resignation of Ivan Maldonado from the Board of Directors Higher Ed position effective immediately with an unexpired term ending August 31, 2015.
  • Accepted the resignation of James Cutlip from the SWOEA-1 position effective immediately with an unexpired term ending August 31, 2015.
  • The appointment of the following individuals to the STRS Retirement Board Screening Committee:  Scott DiMauro, Chairperson; Rob Fetters, Dan Greenberg, Mindy Hall, Dawn Wojcik.
  • The appointment of the following individuals to the SERS Retirement Board Screening Committee:  Scott DiMauro, Chairperson; Marietta Mack-Hood, Chris Menier, Clarice Thomas, Cheryl Williams.
  • The appointment of the following individuals to the 2014-2015 RA Steering Committee:  Theresa Lemus Santos-Chairperson, Jorge Gonzalez-Vice Chairperson, Barb Armour, Mike Dossie, Rob Fetters, John Howell-Sanchez, Robin Jeffries, Brenda Lemon, Sandra Lewis, Jerry Oberhaus, Janice Vaughan, Jeff Wensing.
  • The following liaison changes: Scott DiMauro for SERS, Tim Myers for OPERS.
  • The appointment of the following Core Function Committee members to the Legislative Strategy Committee: Jennifer Long representing Collective Bargaining, David Schottner representing Local Development and Training, Leah Kasmenn representing Professional Efficacy, Kristine Schoeppner representing Organizing Strategy, Izetta Thomas representing Member Rights and Protection.
  • The appointment of Trish Duncan, representing NEOEA, to the Convention Planning Committee with a term beginning immediately and ending August 31, 2017.
  • The appointment of Michael Covey, representing Central OEA/NEA, to the Resolutions Committee with a term beginning immediately and ending August 31, 2016 (filling the vacancy left upon the election of Dwayne Marshall to the Board of Directors).
  • The appointment of Melinda King, representing Women’s Caucus, to the Collective Bargaining Core Function Committee with a term beginning immediately and ending August 31, 2017.
  • Accepted the resignation (effective immediately) of Wm. “Marty” Hammonds, representing WOEA, from the Local Development and Training Core Function Committee, leaving an unexpired term ending August 31, 2016.
  • The appointment of Lillian Tolbert, representing NEOEA, to the Local Development and Training Core Function Committee with a term beginning immediately and ending August 31, 2016 (filling vacancy left upon the election of Karen Wright to the Board of Directors).
  • The appointment of Steven Jones, representing SWOEA, to the Member Rights and Protection Core Function Committee with a term beginning immediately and ending August 31, 2016.
  • Accepted the resignation (effective immediately) of James Scott, representing Central OEA/NEA, from the Organizing Strategy Core Function Committee, leaving an unexpired term ending August 31, 2015.
  • The appointment of the following to the Organizing Strategy Core Function Committee:

o   Mary Alice Conkey, representing NEOEA, with a term beginning immediately and ending August 31, 2017.

o   Mary Kennedy, representing Central OEA/NEA, with a term beginning immediately and ending August 31, 2015 (filling vacancy left upon the resignation of James Scott).

3. Accepted the financial reports for July 31, 2014.


  1. Set the 2014-2015 internet rate of reimbursement for the Board of Directors at $25.


  1. Approved the 2014-2015 Core Function Committee charges.



posted 5/20


Dear NHEA,
I want to invite you to participate in the telephone town hall OEA is hosting nextThursday, May 22nd, from 7-8pm. We’ll be talking about our proposed 3-year suspension of all high-stakes decisions tied to student standardized tests, and what can and should be done to prepare better for the implementation of Common Core assessments.
This will be an opportunity for you to share your experiences with the proliferation of testing in Ohio’s schools, and be part of a discussion with OEA members and fellow OEA officers.
To RSVP for the telephone town hall please click hereand please provide us with the best number at which to reach you so you can be a part of this important discussion.
I hope you can join us next week.
Thank you.
Standing Strong because Together, We Can.


posted 4.22

COLUMBUS, OHIO — April 14, 2014 — OEA strongly opposes the expected recommendation of the Operating Standards Subcommittee of the State Board of Education to eliminate the non-discrimination in employment language fromRule 5 of the Ohio Operating Standards (http://codes.ohio.gov/oac/3301-35-05). OEA Vice President Scott DiMauro will testify tomorrow at 11 am on behalf of OEA members asking the Board to maintain current non-discrimination language.

In addition, OEA supports the Stephanie Dodd amendment to include sexual orientation as a basis for non-discrimination in the recruitment, employment, assignment, evaluation and professional development of credentialed and classified staff in Ohio’s schools.

The OEA believes that every child has a right to a great public education, and that the quality of the classroom teacher is a critical component in the quality of Ohio’s schools. Policies that allow for the exclusion of any individuals from education employment based on who they are as individuals do a disservice to students.

“No person who possesses the knowledge, skill and passion for teaching and who abides by the Code of Professional Conduct should ever be treated differently simply because of his or her age, color, ancestry, national origin, race, gender, religion, disability, or veteran status,” says DiMauro, a high school social studies teacher from Worthington City Schools. “The same must hold true for sexual orientation.”

In his remarks, DiMauro tells Board members:

“One of the most important lessons I teach my students is that no matter how much they may personally disagree with another, all voices deserve to be heard. My school is one of hundreds across the state implementing anti-bullying policies and programs to ensure that every student is able to learn and thrive in a safe and supportive environment. If schools are permitted to discriminate based on individuals’ identities in the way they hire and treat their employees, what message is that sending to our students? If you were a gay or lesbian student who knew that your teacher could be fired for being gay or lesbian, how safe would you feel?”

Vice President DiMauro commends members of the Board for undertaking a review of the rules that Ohio’s schools must follow, but stresses that eliminating non-discrimination language as part of the rules-revision process sends the wrong message.

“This State Board of Education has a responsibility to the citizens of Ohio to ensure that staff and students have equal access to our system of education,” DiMauro says. “This may in fact be the most important responsibility you have. Adding sexual orientation only strengthens and improves the non-discrimination protections for Ohio’s schools that form the foundation for the existing Rule 5.”


posted 4/13

Mid-Biennium Review Bills Head to the Senate 
This week, the Ohio House passed multiple Mid-Biennium Review (MBR) bills.  These bills will now head to the Ohio Senate for consideration.  Below is a review of the major changes to the bills since their introduction.   OEA GR will continue to analyze these provisions and will make recommendations to the Senate for further changes or deletions.
HB 487 – K-12 Education MBR 
During the HB 487 committee debate, OEA supported amendments to remove the expansion of vouchers, require charter school teachers to be held to the same evaluation standards as traditional public school teachers, require educator and counselor involvement in the development of “locally-based” methods for identifying students at-risk of not graduating and requiring dedicated time for the development of those plans. The amendments were tabled by the majority party.
Career Education and Advising
  • Delays until the 2016-2017 school year – instead of the 2014-2015 school year – the requirement that school districts identify students who are at-risk of dropping out of school “using a research-based, locally-based method.”
  • Delays until the 2016-2017 school year the requirement that each school district adopt a policy on career advising.
  • Delays the deadline for ODE to create model career advising policies from September 2014 to December 2014.
  • Reinstates a requirement that school districts adopt a resolution pertaining to financial literacy in curriculum.

Post-Secondary Enrollment Options (under this bill renamed College Credit Plus)

  • Permits school districts to negotiate an agreement that falls below the $40/credit hour established in the formula contained in the bill.
  • Permits 7th and 8th graders to participate in College Credit Plus.
  • Permits students who have been denied approval by their superintendent to participate in the program to appeal the denial to the State Board of Education.
  • Permits out-of-state colleges whose programs are approved by the Board of Regents to participate in College Credit Plus.
  • Adds a high school counselor to the College Credit Plus Advisory Committee. 


  • Expands the eligibility for the Ed Choice voucher program, beginning in the 2016-2017 school year, to students who would attend a building that serves any of grades nine through 12 and that received a grade of “D” or “F” for the four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate in two of the three most recent report cards published prior to the first of July of the school year for when the voucher is sought.
  • Allows students who qualify for the Cleveland Voucher Program to participate in the Ed Choice Voucher program if the Cleveland program is full due to financial limitations.
  • Requires that Ed Choice and Cleveland Voucher students be subject to retention under the reading guarantee statute.  The measure also requires these students to be assessed on their reading skills, requires parent notification and intervention for students who are not “on-track.”

Charter Schools

  • Permits ODE to contract with an organization to conduct peer evaluations of charter school sponsors.
  • Requires a charter school sponsor to verify certain requirements including, but not limited to, employment of a licensed school treasurer and school enrollment prior to authorizing ODE to send money to a new charter school.
  • Places limitations on charter schools opening in the same location where a traditional school was just closed for poor performance.  A school may open in the same location so long as it has a new principal or director, 50% or more of the staff has been replaced, the school has a different sponsor, and the school has a different performance and accountability plan than previously established.
  • Revises the charter school evaluation process by permitting data review, in addition to onsite visits to be used to determine compliance with rules and laws.
  • Clarifies that ODE shall approve performance measures in contracts between charter school sponsors and the school governing authority.
  • Requires educational service centers sponsoring a charter school outside of their client service area or contiguous counties to obtain approval from ODE to become a statewide sponsor.
  • Permits students enrolled in a charter school to have access to extracurricular activities in their district of residence.


  • Revises the calculation for the value-added progress measure on the school and district report card to use only the most recent school year instead of up to three years of data; uses only data from students who have been enrolled and assessed by that school for not less than two years.
  • Establishes that one of the criteria for creating an academic distress commission in a local school district is when a district earns both an “F” for value-added for three consecutive years AND an “F” for report card indicators.
  • Incorporates the provisions of HB 216 regarding school debt consolidation into the bill.
  • Incorporates provisions of HB 215 allowing school districts to enter into an agreement with a volunteer who is a current or retired law enforcement officer to offer school safety services.

HB 484 – Higher Education MBR

  • Removes the requirement that the institution submit recommendations to modify its faculty workload policy by July 1, 2017, to increase the aggregate workload by 10% in the combined areas of instruction, advising and research.
  • Requires the involvement of university faculty or any organization that represents faculty in the development of the report regarding the institution’s faculty workload and practices to be submitted to the Ohio Board of Regents.
  • Creates a Higher Education Student Financial Aid Workgroup to review financial assistance programs provided to Ohio residents who attend Ohio colleges and universities.  Further, the workgroup is charged with developing recommendations regarding the types of financial assistance available, including that for at-risk populations, and ideal funding levels. Requires the report to be submitted the Ohio General Assembly and Governor by December 31, 2014.

HB 483 – General MBR with Provisions Regarding Education, Developmental Disabilities and Appropriations

Developmental Disabilities
  • Expands the proposal that permits County Boards to share management workers to allow County Boards to “share employees.”
  • Allows County Board employees to serve on the boards of local non-profit entities.


  • Replaces the proposed Adult Career Opportunity Pilot Program with the provisions of HB 343 that would allow high school dropouts between the ages of 22-29 to earn a diploma from a dropout recovery community school, an adult career center or a community college.


  • Caps the “mitigating rate” for the STRS defined contribution plan and alternative retirement plan at 4.5% for fiscal year 2015, and requires the Ohio Retirement Study Council to study the mitigating rate and make recommendations to the legislature.
  • Allows institutions of higher education to limit the number of providers of 403 (b) plans to four or more through a selection process determined by the institution.


posted 4/8 –


posted 3/29 House Bill 229 updates…

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 .

posted 3/26

House Bill 472:  Mid-Biennium Review Bill Introduced
On March 11, 2014, House Bill 472, the mid-biennium review bill was released.  The measure is over 1,500 pages long and includes many proposals that were mentioned in Governor Kasich’s recent State of the State address.  On March 12th, the Director of the Office of Budget Management, Tim Keen, and State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Richard Ross, were among those who provided testimony highlighting the Governor’s proposals before the House Ways and Means Committee.  Many of the bill’s provisions impact OEA members and public education.  Changes to tax policy are the centerpiece of the bill.  While increases in certain taxes were proposed, the bulk of revenue would go towards paving the way for yet another round of income tax cuts that predominantly favor wealthy Ohioans rather than needed investments in public education and other programs.Since being introduced, House Bill 472 has been broken into smaller bills based on topic.  These bills are being debated in various committees.  It is important to note that many provisions will likely change during the course of the legislative debate.   Click here to read an analysis of the major provisions included in House Bill 472.


Senate Bill 229 (Teacher Evaluations) Gets First Hearing in Ohio House Education Committee

After being passed by the Ohio Senate in a unanimous vote (33-0), Senate Bill 229 (R-Gardner) had its first hearing in the Ohio House Education Committee on Wednesday, February 12, 2014.  Chief sponsor Sen. Randy Gardner (R-Bowling Green) provided sponsor testimony on the bill.  He advocated for the speedy passage of SB 229, stressing the importance of the local flexibility that SB 229 would provide in key areas of teacher evaluations.
The OEA strongly supports SB 229 as part of ongoing efforts to make progress on addressing various concerns with Ohio’s Teacher Evaluation System (OTES).  Senate Bill 229 would help make Ohio’s new system for evaluating teachers more effective, fair and efficient by adjusting the academic growth factor on evaluations to 35% from the current 50%.  In addition, the bill would provide school districts with more flexibility regarding the frequency of evaluations for highly rated teachers (“Accomplished” and “Skilled”).
YOUR HELP IS NEEDED TO HELP PASS SB 229 IN THE OHIO HOUSE!  Please click here to email a letter to your state Representative, urging them to support SB 229.  Remember to ask your colleagues to do the same!
Hearings on New Graduation Requirements Legislation (HB 193) Expected to Begin Soon in Ohio Senate Education Committee
House Bill 193 (R-Brenner) contains a proposal to revise Ohio’s high school graduation requirements in expectation of new end-of-course exams linked to the Common Core standards.  Separately, the State Board of Education has adopted its own proposal to revise high school graduation requirements.  The Ohio Senate is currently reviewing and contrasting the two proposals as it determines next steps.  The Senate Education Committee is expected to begin hearings on HB 193 in the coming weeks.It is critical that the implementation of new graduation standards and end-of-course exams linked with the Common Core standards provide sufficient time, resources and support for teachers and students to adequately prepare and succeed.  In particular, it is vital that school districts are supported with the technological capacity and training required for effective and efficient on-line assessments.The OEA is closely monitoring this process and working on various concerns specific to each proposal, including the effective date of new graduation requirements, school district capacity and readiness issues, teacher and student training, the number of end-of-course exams, alternative pathways to graduation, diploma endorsements (e.g. “remediation free” and “workforce ready”), course credit for performance on examinations, availability of substitute equivalent end-of-course exams and the need to avoid double-testing during the transition.

House Passes Modified Calamity Day Plan
While Senate Considers Different Proposal

On Wednesday, February 19, 2014, the Ohio House passed legislation by a vote of 80-16 to provide school districts with more calamity days due to this year’s brutal weather.  House Bill 416 (Burkley-Hill) was amended on the floor to provide an additional two calamity days to school districts with the option of two more days if teachers report to school for two professional development days currently not on the calendar.  These additional calamity days would occur after a school district has exhausted its five statutory calamity days.  The bill would also allow for school districts to add half-hour increments to the school day to make up any additional time.
While House Bill 416 is waiting to be referred to the Ohio Senate, the Senate Education Committee received testimony on its plan to address calamity days detailed in Senate Bill 284 (Coley).  This bill would grant school districts an additional four days after the school district has exhausted its statutory calamity days and has made up the five days outlined in the district’s contingency plan.  Like the House bill, it would allow districts to add half-hour increments to existing school days to make up any additional missed time.  Chairwoman Lehner indicated that her intent is to hold a hearing on calamity day legislation next Tuesday with a Senate Floor vote next Wednesday.
OEA believes that both chambers will continue to push for their respective version of calamity day legislation.  At this time, it is not clear what the final plan will be.   OEA will continue to monitor the legislation keeping in mind the best educational interests of students.
Legislature Passes Two Election Bills on Party-Line Votes
The General Assembly has passed two more election bills on party-line votes.  On Wednesday, February 19, 2014, the House passed Senate Bills 205 and 238.  Senate Bill 205, Sponsored by Senator Bill Coley (R- Liberty Township) would prohibit unsolicited mailing of absentee applications by anyone other than the Secretary of State and only in even numbered years when the General Assembly makes an appropriation.  Senate Bill 238, Sponsored by Senator Frank LaRose (R- Copley Township) reduces the number of days for absentee voting, eliminating “Golden Week” the period of time when citizens can register to vote and cast a ballot.  Democrats in the legislature decried both bills as attempts by the Republican majority to suppress the vote and tilt elections in their favor.Also on Wednesday, the House Policy and Legislative Oversight Committee held its first hearing on House Bill 240.  The bill would eliminate February and August special elections.  OEA opposes this bill.  Similar legislation has been proposed in prior years.  HB 240 has 26 Republican co-sponsors including the Chair of the Committee.