President’s Page

so as a lil reminder – here is that rant about asking for your involvement…cuz just once is not enough…

I am also personally asking for your involvementplease vote – and yes, even if there is only one candidate – point of self-disclosure – last election when less than half of our membership even bothered to vote I considered not taking the position – why should I travel to Boardman last Thursday to represent NHEA at the OEA presidents meeting, or advocate for many of you behind the scenes when our members will not even take the time to cast a ballot? – you all are also represented at NEOEA functions, board meetings, and I sit as Joint Chair on the Uni-serve council – a board the advocates for certified AND classified staff in NE Ohio – and while I completely understand this might all be “Greek” to you, as it was to me as well, I have surely seen the value in having our voice heard in all these forums – for example = Becky Higgins, the president of OEA is interested in hearing about what comes of the public records request for the entire staff at Lee Eaton, and she knows about this because you were represented.  These examples are all within the last week, multiply that by the last two years, or all the work that was done by your bargaining team on our contract and I hope you understand why I think your votes are important, it sends a message of validation and support.  If you don’t like the job we are doing, then run against any of us or let us know how we can represent you better.  I surely know that we have not made you all happy, and in most of those cases I am not happy as well, and more frustrated, but WE are only as strong as ALL of you – and this strength starts with these elections!  Nordonia is losing 2.2 million over the next two years because advocates of public education are not paying attention – (AND if you think this will not be a factor the NEXT time we negotiate, then I feel sorry for you – we need your involvement now) we are all dealing with testing, OTES, and loss of funds to charter schools because many are not getting involved – so start next month with the election of your officers for NHEA!  It will make you feel good J  – and us feel good/empowered as well.  If you think this is just hyperbole…check this and see how much of your tax money is being lost to charter schools because members from all over Ohio are not getting involved…



some interesting news on how Charters drain public money….

and some fun…singing happy birthday…:-)

xams party






Aug 27…and another entry from the Diane Ratovich blog…

Chris Roberts, a new teacher in Ohio, was attracted to the message of StudentsFirst. He was impressed by what he read and by “Waiting for Superman.” He joined and was invited to apply for their Teachers for Transformation Academy. He was offered a stipend of $5,000 to be StudentsFirst Teacher for Transformation Fellow in Ohio. But in his fourth year of teaching, he had an epiphany. He realized that StudentsFirst was wrong about everything that mattered to him as a teacher. He turned down their offer and the $5,000. And he wrote an eloquent letter to explain why.

This is a small part of a powerful letter:

“Now after four years in the classroom, my view of education has changed. Now, I am not so convinced that the StudentsFirst agenda is what is best for students. Those “older teachers” whom I felt didn’t deserve the seniority protections were actually some of the most helpful people I’ve ever come across. Their years of experience meant they had a wealth of classroom management advice to share. They weren’t stubborn curmudgeons as portrayed by those trying to “reform” education. They are some of the most caring, loving people I’ve known. Are there a couple of bad eggs every once in a while? Yes. But that is the case in any profession. You occasionally will find a bad doctor, hence malpractice suits. But instead of “reforming” the medical field and basing doctors’ evaluations on patients’ health, politicians instead push for tort reform to make it harder to sue doctors. I guess you could say that Republicans are pushing to protect bad doctors. One of the problems that I see with eliminating seniority protections boils down to money. Schools are strapped for money, it is nearly impossible to pass a levy and the state seems content with defunding. The more experienced teachers tend to be the most “expensive”. Despite their ratings and evaluations, I could see many schools getting rid of those teachers not because they perform poorly, but because it would be cheaper to bring in a new hire. Students could suffer from this.

“As a parent, I have a problem with the evaluation systems being pushed by StudentsFirst and other corporate-driven reformers. With teachers’ evaluations being based on progress on student test scores, that means students must be tested to an extent never seen before. In every single class, multiple times a year, students are taking more standardized tests. My six-year old daughter told me this summer that she was afraid to go to first grade “because of the tests”. She is afraid she won’t do well on them. That is pathetic. Children should be excited to go to school and learn, but school has become more about tests rather than learning. School is about getting a certain score on a certain test. Education policies are killing children’s natural curiosity and desire to learn. I can’t help but wonder if this is intentional. Are there certain people out there who want to destroy public schools through excessive testing, defunding, and unfunded mandates in order to make people “want” privatization of schools? It sometimes seems like it. Whether intentional or not, unfortunately StudentsFirst’s agenda aligns with this style of reform that we have been seeing take over the public education conversation. Although I believe in free market capitalism, I see that in the case of education the more private corporations get involved in education, the worse our schools get. There are large corporations making these tests, the politicians force these tests upon our schools, and the test companies also make the textbooks and curricula for the schools to follow. It is a terrible marriage of big business and big government and children are the ones taking a hit. Teachers are becoming scripted robots and these corporations are making billions from our tax dollars, which could instead be going towards improving our schools. I, for one, do not want my children subjected to so much testing.”


I have had some remarks from our staff about this latest survey from Todd RE PLC’s in our buildings…I read through it – albeit rather quickly – but I am not too inclined to take part in this one…I don’t know about you – but I am surely not feeling very valued – much of that survey was about shared vision and the like – in case you did not notice – there is a concerted effort from the State all they way down to this district working to TAKE AWAY the power of educational professionals in decision making – as evidenced but the elimination of just about every teacher committee in the current proposal- so why would I take the time now to take yet another survey that surely feels like just another hoop to jump through…I am not sure this is the “official” position of NHEA, and I am not trying to bite the nose to spite the face…(okay – maybe a little) – but a lil push back and civil disobedience may be in order…you surely can do what you want – but you have all seen and discussed what the board has offered us…so you can make up your own mind – this is just my two cents – I am a lil tired of acquiescing to every thing that comes down the pike…over and out…

and just for some other info – salary comparisons in Summit and Portage


some interesting information provided by one our members…Toby Thompson..

This is the salary information for FY10. – 10th out of 17 – but keep in mind the numbers below

       Rank DIST_NAME District FTE Number Of Classroom Teachers FY10 District Classroom Teacher Average Salary FY10 District Percent Of Teachers With 0-4 Years Experience FY10 District Percent Of Teachers With 4-10 Years Experience FY10 District Percent Of Teachers With 10+ Years Experience FY10 District K-12 Regular Education Pupil Teacher Ratio FY10
1 Hudson City 237.48 71,313.07 11.7 17.27 71.03 17.88
2 Revere Local 140.05 68,302.72 14.77 18.18 67.05 17.94
3 Twinsburg City 173 64,170.17 60.91 14.81 24.28 21.4
4 Copley-Fairlawn City 134.78 63,196.00 31.88 26.09 42.03 20.94
5 Tallmadge City 130.25 62,632.44 26.67 21.21 52.12 16.83
6 Stow-Munroe Falls Cit 227.1 61,388.99 21.73 23.68 54.6 21.48
7 Springfield Local 116.8 61,244.19 3.7 18.52 77.78 16.79
8 Akron City 1112.2 59,789.47 11.06 12.5 76.44 16.84
9 Woodridge Local 87.05 58,861.32 19.85 21.37 58.78 17.73
10 Nordonia Hills City 176.7 58,596.62 47.26 20.68 32.07 19.2
11 Mogadore Local 44.01 57,361.34 26.87 22.39 50.75 17.84
12 Green Local 182 56,602.82 19.92 23.98 56.1 19.07
13 Barberton City 177.69 56,327.00 18.73 20.14 61.13 17.19
14 Cuyahoga Falls City 227.3 54,614.77 20.96 20.36 58.68 17.86
15 Norton City 109.45 52,899.60 28.48 33.33 38.18 19.17
16 Manchester Local 58.8 51,873.90 26.74 22.09 51.16 22.91
17 Coventry Local 97.24 49,824.87 16.78 23.08 60.14 20.08

we are ranked third highest in median income…so all this talk about levy woes – whatever.

School Districts Median Household IncomeThese data are based on the American Community Survey (ACS) 2012 5-year estimates for school districts defined as of the 2011-12 school year.


Akron City School District $ 32,724
Barberton City Schools $ 37,413
Springfield Local School District $ 47,755
Mogadore Local Schools $ 47,948
Cuyahoga Falls City School D $ 48,681
Coventry Local Schools $ 49,577
Woodridge Local School District $ 52,259
Tallmadge City Schools $ 54,529
Norton Schools $ 60,129
Green Local Schools $ 61,762
Manchester Local School District $ 62,342
Copley Fairlawn City Schools $ 64,484
Stow-Munroe Falls City School D $ 64,788
Twinsburg City Schools $ 70,244
Nordonia Hills City Schools $ 73,896
Revere Local School District $ 91,250
Hudson City School District $112,109



here is a thought for you…from the Diane Ratvich blog…

“As a teacher of almost 20 years I am kind of getting tired of all of these “resignation letters”. Don’t these teachers realize that quitting is EXACTLY what the ed-deform crowd wants them to do? The ed-deformers want a constant churn of young, cheap labor. They want easily manipulated new teachers who will never become vested in a pension. They want teachers who will keep their mouths closed and do what they are told. They don’t want anbody to stir the boat. Most of all, they want QUITTERS. I say stick it out and fight the good fight! Be a thorn in the side of the ed-deform crowd. Never quit. Make the ed-deformers quit.”


Charter schools…

“Charter schools here to stay.” Really? Hoisting the white flag too soon

Many of those who are frustrated with Ohio’s version of charter schools are sometimes heard to say, “Charter schools are here to stay, so we will have to compete with them.” The privatizers, who are marketing the charter school industry to accumulate more personal wealth, welcome the sight of the white flag being raised. They interpret the “here to stay” voice as a surrender of the public common school to the private sector.

Under current laws and regulations, there is little the public common school advocates can do to compete with charter schools.

Opponents of charter schools who reconcile themselves to the charter school staying power need to understand the real objectives of the privatizers, some of which follow:

  • To eliminate boards of education, public school unions, employment rights of teachers and other education employees
  • To transform the teaching profession to a test-giving, minimum wage, limited-skilled trade
  • To eliminate the interrelationship between the community and the school
  • To accumulate massive profits while segregating students, slashing educational opportunities for students and stratifying communities
  • To replace democratically-controlled school districts with private sector charter schools.

The original idea of charter schools was to allow parents and teachers to collaborate in developing unique education opportunities via “schools” within the framework of existing school districts. This noble concept was hijacked and turned into a movement to eliminate public education and enrich those whose life’s mission is to make money, not to educate children.


VOTING MATTERS! – it is all political…think about the ripple effect of the 3rd grade reading guarantee


check out this…if you want to subscribe to this email list – drop a line here…

Boards of education are losing their voice on how children are educated

Citizen governance of public education via elected boards of education is being eroded in several ways. Voucher students are funded by deductions from school districts but every facet of control is privately executed. Likewise, charter school students are funded by deductions from school districts but public boards of education have no voice in the privately-operated charter school industry. The original purpose of the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) was to administer federal funds and advocate for public education but it is currently in collusion with America’s oligarchs and foundations. Now the USDOE is using federal funds to dictate education policy and advocate for charter schools and vouchers; hence, it is undermining the voice of public school boards of education.

All of the above is happening in the name of reform and if any local school board and/or their employees object, the “reform” crowd labels them as obstructionists and status quo seekers. Unfortunately, a large segment of state-level officials succumb to the pressure to advocate for the corporate “reform” agenda which is clearly the takeover of public education.

Thus, the traditional role of boards of education is being replaced by the corporate world. If you don’t believe this is true, consider some facts.

This year one online charter school operator, Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT) in Ohio, is receiving $97,952,888.78. Another one, K-12, Inc. (Ohio Virtual Academy) is receiving $84,503,765.26. Still another charter school operator, White Hat, is receiving $54,765,020.90. These private operations are void of state and community oversight.

In Ohio, a total of $900 million is taken away from elected boards of education this year for charter schools and another $135 million is removed for vouchers. Most of these operations are shielded from public scrutiny.

An article by Myra Blackmon in the March 8, 2014 Athens Banner-Herald is worth a read.

William Phillis

Ohio E & A


interesting point of view – teachers are dressing down in protest...


OTES THOUGHTS AS OF 1/15…my 2 cents…

having been through this process now on the evaluated side of the OTES process (note here – I have received the training to do these evaluations, and passed the test for the state of OH) I can say with a great deal of confidence, those of you that are out there writing up to 26 pages are at best nutty over achievers, and at worst- just down right crazy…:-)…I copied my written work for the process into Google docs and even with the prompts/questions included with my answers I wrote 2 and 1/4 pages…I can provide a link for those interested…for instance – the question that asks “How will safety in the classroom be ensured?”…I answered this way…I will be there.  Really folks – for a HS History class – what more do I need to say?…now, granted, this might be different if I was conducting a lab of some type with explosive chemicals in Chemistry class, but really – I am a State of OH certified educator, with admin credentials, my principals license, have been trained in CPR and first aid from my coaching days, and have received a day long training in how to be a “first responder” – and have been through more online training that I care to recall here – what more do I really need to say…

So it is my position that you all spend a lil more time with your families, loved ones, and even your outside interests and a lil less time writing 20 something pages for a process that we all know may not be with us long term.




little disclaimer…I work at the high school level, with students that the state says can get a drivers license and the like…so some of this might not be transferable to the lower grades…

let me share with you a lil story about why all this focus on students scores, testing, SLO data and the like is all for naught, (and at times if I do say so, feels a little like a “witch hunt/blame game” put on teachers)…especially as it pertains to linking the results to teacher performance, principal performance, and even district performance…last Friday I gave an objective test with a little essay attached…the essay went like this…“List the three words/phrases we used in class to describe the 1920’s and list an example of each”...this question was based directly from a power point we used in class with very specific examples…the words/themes were; prosperity, business/Republican power, and conflict…these words were spelled out and specific examples were discussed in class, along with images/documents of these examples that were embedded in the presentation, AND we used Reading Like a Historian activities in class to support these concepts over the course of this unit…

I have this one class at the end of the day that seems to have just checked out…they do not take notes, copy each other’s homework (this is actually running rampant in all classes), text in class, and as you will see, use Wikipedia to “inform” their learning…I am reading this one essay – and first off this student spells the word essay incorrectly at the top of the page, then the first sentence of their essay goes like this…In the 1920’s there was a variety of social issues.  The conflict coalesced into one large conflict between the liberal urban areas the conservative rural areas…”  – does this seem odd to anyone else?…a little Google search reveals a direct sentence/paragraph from Wikipedia that was copied and used on the test…:-) a lil amusing correct?…they then go on to spell other words incorrectly, but again, try to use a word like coalesce…

so here is my issue – it is sort of the lead a horse to water analogy…I think we are fighting forces here that WE as educators have helped to create…WE are doing TOO MUCH of the work for our students, and yes, parents you are as well…when they get confused, they ask, what do I do?…we as educators tell them, and then they go do it…but there is a loss of efficacy in the process, a loss of ownership in how to figure something out, and surely a loss in what “tools” to use to help them construct THEIR learning…we need to stop this!…there is no growth without a little failure, without some humility, some error…check out this lesson on vulnerability...

speaking of tools…my second thought about this is our use of technology (this student surely used their phone to copy this in some way)…but first off, let me say that I am one of the most tech friendly educators I know (just ask my students)…I call for more access, Google docs for staff and students alike, Flipped classrooms, going paperless and even advocate for use of tech in class to help students see their phones and tablets as “tools” and not toys…however, many of my students hate it…how do I know?…they tell me, and here is why –  they are too busy or it takes too much work to use the website I have created for them…they want everything GIVEN to them, and tell me accessing my website “takes too much work”…here we are back at this eroded work ethic…so apparently my stance for use of tech is not working he way I entend…I am wondering if all this easy access is causing students to miss the connection between effort and results…are we teaching students about efficacy as we make information too readily available?…there is an understanding that I fear is missing…they are not really using technology to get over the learning hurdle – they are totally circumnavigating the hurdle and just getting to an “answer” that they really do not know/understand…HOW DO YOU THINK THIS STUDENT WILL DO ON THOSE END OF YEAR TESTS AND THE LIKE?…with this said, they will never learn how to strike a balance if we do not give them an opportunity…I am not sure what the answer is at this point…I also caste a lil blame on administrators and the like for not supporting teachers like they should on issues like this…at some point we need to send a message of empowerment instead of enabling and the more we let ourselves be manipulated by politics, both locally and at the state level, the worse this will get.

so how does this relate back to my first point??…it is this…we as educators can be/ARE doing all the instruction we are expected to do, and even beyond…but if in the process we are not teaching ownership, efficacy, work and maybe consequence to our students, test scores will not reflect all the work we are really doing in the classroom.

it seems to me if expectations are rising for educators through SLO, ETES, EPES, standards, district grade cards, performance based tests for teachers, etc – then it seems to me expectations should be rising for students and families as well.

…the quote of the day…

You argue…that teachers have become scapegoats for our failing education system, even though cops haven’t been blamed for crime rates and nurses for health problems…



Walter Lippman, chief editorial writer of the New York World, delivered a lecture at the University of Virginia. Said he: “I believe that the body of educators has hardly realized the power it could exercise if it chose not to endure this perpetual bullying by the ignoramuses. The teachers will be slaves if they act like slaves. Weakness always tempts the bully. If they cower, they will be bullied. The tragedy and the absurdity of the thing is that they could so easily rally a following if they had the imagination to realize how strong they are. If they chose to say that they would not endure the intolerable indignities to which they are subjected they would very soon command a new kind of respect in the nation.”

professionalism is not a one way street….


HERE IS A LINK THE ARTICLE/COMMENTARY…(hope it opens – i have subscription so may not for all)

strongsville press release –


The strike has officially ended! This morning at 9 a.m. the Strongsville Board of Education unanimously approved the contract between the Strongsville Education Association (SEA) and the Strongsville Board of Education. The agreement had been overwhelmingly ratified by the SEA yesterday, April 27th .

After a futile attempt to break the union, the Strongsville Board finally agreed to end the eight week long strike and enter into a contract with the SEA. The EXACT same contract they could have had in July of 2012. The EXACT same contract they could have had on March 3rd after any one of the thirteen different bargaining sessions held prior to the strike. The EXACT same contract they could have had on any one of the previous eight days they bargained throughout the strike. So, the question is, “What did the Board achieve by refusing to move off of its last best offer and forcing the SEA to strike?”

The answers are many. They wasted two months of student learning. They ignored the needs of children on IEPs. They tore apart a school district. They divided the community. They drew nationwide attention to a once quiet city.

Yet, they accomplished so much more. They took a bargaining unit that was fragmented, and unified it. They took a bargaining unit that was angry and unhappy, and militarized it. They took a once indifferent community, and focused it. They took parents who were complacent, and energized them.

The District squandered time, resources, and good will. At what cost? The parents of the community have been awakened. The bargaining unit is now unified, focused and vigilant. In short, the District rolled the dice and lost. We are proud of our SEA family. Through their unwavering unity, determination and strength, the SEA is an example of courage and commitment. Welcome back SEA!!

Now for the details of the contract. The three-year contract is retroactive to the start of this school year and will expire June 30, 2015. The final agreement includes the SEA’s proposed language on no reprisal! It FULLY restores step and column increases for the next two school years  and provides teachers not eligible for step increases with a $1200 stipend EACH of the next two years. Additionally, the “pickup on the pickup” paid into the State Teachers Retirement System has been replaced and converted to a 10.3 percent raise in salary. The new base salary for starting teachers will now be $38,361; however, the employer pick-up of the employees STRS portion has been eliminated and that payment will now come directly from each teacher’s salary .  The contract includes the Progressive Discipline language and Interim Bargaining language proposed by the SEA.  Also agreed to was the SEAs language for comparable evaluation  which includes preservation of seniority language for bumping purposes within that definition. The language modifies the duty period guaranteeing that for a minimum of two days per week the duties will be teacher driven and academically focused. There is no increase to the school day in the new agreement.

Some concessions were made in the insurance package. The SEA agreed to an opt-in program for non-preventative dental and for all vision coverage. For those members who undergo annual biomedical screenings, the employee premium cost for major medical coverage will increase from 10% to 15%, with a $200 family/$100 single cap per month. The employee premium portion for those who do not undergo biomedical screening will increase to 20% per month. Insurance changes also included minimal increases to some co-insurance costs and to deductibles. These changes go into effect January 1, 2014.

School will be closed on Monday, April 29th which will be used as a transition day. Students will not report to school, and the building will be open from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. for teachers who wish to access their classrooms prior to Tuesday’s re-opening of school. The district will add one additional day to the end of the school calendar.

SEA members left their buildings on March 3rd filled with frustration, anger, and fear. On Tuesday they will return unified with pride, courage, and professionalism.