Ohio Issue 2In your guest column, “Taking Sides on Issue 2: Repeal Senate Bill 5,” posted in the Plain Dealer, Oct. 1, 2011, you assert that the passage of Ohio’s Issue 2 will result in public-school teachers becoming “serfs” and their employers becoming “lords.”

Well, if public-school teachers become “serfs,” then what will we private-sector employees become? Serfs even less deserving of the “milk of human kindness” than the woe-begotten “teacher serfs” you describe? Think about it: public-school teachers not only earn their own paychecks, but help themselves to a portion of OUR paychecks as well. Put another way, we private-sector employees pay approximately 30% of our own healthcare costs, and then on top of that we cover public-school teachers’ healthcare costs.

And, as if that’s not already bad enough, we also contribute to their rather cushy, altogether- guaranteed retirement accounts (pensions). Funny how that works. When we private-sector employees retire, the only guarantee we’re given is the guarantee that we’ll have to support ourselves with whatever we were able to save throughout our working years. No lifelong, sweetheart deals for us. Don’t get me wrong, we’re not complaining. On the contrary, we actually PREFER to pay for the things we benefit from and have a powerful sense of satisfaction when we do. It’s just that we’ve never been able to figure out why we have to foot the bill for teachers’ benefits, too.

You rail against the fact that Senate Bill 5 (SB5) requires teachers to undergo performance-based evaluations, i.e., evaluations which are, in part, based on student performance.  I ask you: upon what other basis should teachers be evaluated? Should they be evaluated according to how many pairs of “Birkenstocks” they own?  (The greater the number of pairs, the higher the score.)  Should they be evaluated according to the kind of vehicle they drive (e.g.: those driving Ford Fusions might score 10 points; those driving Cadillac Escalades might score -7)? Perhaps they should be evaluated on the basis of how many “World Peace” organizations they support.  Hey, I know: let’s evaluate them on the basis of whether or not they include meat in their diets (vegans score 20 points; carnivores score -12).

I’m being no more disingenuous, here, than you are, Mr. DeColibus, when you suggest that performance-based evaluations are ill-conceived, overly-complicated and unfair. In truth, they are anything but. How do I know? I just asked two of my middle-school-aged nephews this question: “Which of the following would you consider the better teacher: a) the teacher whose students consistently learn enough, by the end of each year, to advance to the next grade? Or b) the teacher whose students consistently fail to learn enough, by the end of each year, to advance to the next grade?

Without hesitation, each answered “a,” the teacher whose students consistently learn enough, by the end of each year, to advance to the next grade. Imagine that! A 10-year-old and a 12-year-old using common sense and logic to distinguish between a teacher who’s doing a good job and a teacher who’s not.

Let’s cut through the chase, Mr. DeColibus. Every argument you make in your effort to defeat Issue 2, is designed solely to distract private-sector voters from the fact that passing Issue 2 will result in: 1) them being able to take home a larger chunk of their paychecks, and 2) their children no longer being subjected to unqualified, unmotivated, oft-times wholly-inept, teachers.

I am by no means implying that all public-school teachers are incompetent. I am just pointing out that those who truly are incompetent are, as a rule, allowed to keep their jobs–and to continue receiving their salaries–despite their incompetence.

You allege that you “have no clue what murky logic lurks behind the elimination of ‘step raises’”–i.e., the elimination of giving teachers raises automatically, regardless of whether they do their jobs well or poorly. In all honesty, Mr. DeColibus, you have EVERY clue what logic “lurks behind” that prospective elimination, and that’s what worries you. You realize full well that voters who come to know the truth about Issue 2 will choose to vote “yes” on it faster than Mitt Romney can change his tune when he realizes he’s taken the “wrong” stand.

Besides, it’s not the elimination of step raises that truly concerns you. What truly concerns you is the fact that the provisions in SB5 begin to reduce the enormous power government unions wield not only over teachers, but over government employees, in general, police officers and firefighters included. In other words, SB5: 1) prohibits unions from collecting “fair share” fees from employees who choose not to join a union, and 2) allows employees who DO belong to a union to choose whether or not that union can use their dues to contribute to political candidates. Translation: the fewer the dues/“fair share” fees flowing into union coffers, the fewer the donations flowing into democrat campaigns. The fewer the donations flowing into democrat campaigns, the fewer the democrats elected. The fewer the democrats elected, the less the likelihood that unions will ultimately survive.

You lament the fact that SB5 eliminates “seniority rights.” In other words, you think that teachers should be fired NOT on the basis of how effective their teaching is, but simply on how many years they have taught. This makes about as much sense as showering students with ribbons and trophies for merely participating in competitions they don’t have the skills to win.

It all boils down to this: if Issue 2 fails and seniority rights stand, second and third-rate teachers will continue to FAIL our children–year after year–while exceptional teachers will continue to be shown the door. I now ask you the question you so insincerely asked in your derisive attempt to discredit the idea of eliminating such illusory “rights”: “What could be better and fairer for education than that?”

The TRUTH is, Mr. DeColibus, even if Issue 2 passes, we in the private sector will STILL be contributing to government employees’ benefits and perks.  Public employees will have to pay (gasp!) at least 15% to their healthcare costs, and 10% to their OWN retirement.

Granted, government employees will have to start proving their worth to their employers just as those in the private sector have always had to do.  But they still won’t be “paying their own way” like we in the private sector have always had to do; not by a long shot.  If that renders them utterly-helpless, bottom-of-the-barrel serfs, in your fictitious, feudalistic society-to-come, then utterly-helpless, bottom-of-the-barrel serfs they will be.

Stop taking grade-school shots at republicans and deal with it.



4Issue 2 requires government employees to start contributing



  1. U know who says:

    Finally, someone got it right! I would love to hear more from this writer on say the “Occupy” movement.


  2. Hi U Know Who –

    Karen is a valued contributor to ToBeRIGHT. In this piece, she nailed it. I think you’re right, her insight into the Occupods would be interesting indeed.

    What do you say, Karen! 🙂

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