Last Saturday, based on recently released school data from the Ohio Department of Education, we calculated and published a list of the 6,333 teachers and 349 schools who would be impacted by the new Retesting Teachers law initiated by Governor John Kasich in his state budget bill (HB153). The reaction to our post was swift. Before the end of the day, over 2,000 people had accessed The List.
Teachers around Ohio called their friends to share the information and still others burned up the phone lines of their union leaders to inquire about the effects. On Tuesday, August 30, multiple media outlets in central Ohio finally ran stories about this provision, including the Columbus Dispatch, and the local NBC and CBS affiliates. (Note our superior ability to cite them.)
Initially, it was disappointing to once again see work done exclusively by Plunderbund get stolen by the mainstream media outlets without any credit; not even a single sentence citation. Until we discovered that the media outlets didn’t steal our work.
The Ohio Department of Education (ODE) did. That almost absolves the news reporters of getting the facts wrong – they obtained their “facts” from ODE.
Here’s how it unfolded:
On Monday, two days after we published the list, State Superintendent Stan Heffner held a presentation for state education leaders titled “Ohio’s Newly Enacted State Education Budget and Related Policy Changes.” This was a previously scheduled event that lasted two hours and during which Heffner took questions from the attendees. During the event, Heffner was asked questions about “The List” by two attendees. His responses were . . . a bit off the mark.
We have pulled out that section of the video and added some helpful comments throughout. Read on after watching the video to find out how ODE responded to Heffner’s poor showing.
In an effort to answer the number of inquiries they were now receiving at ODE and to correct Heffner’s missteps, an internal memo (emphasis added) was sent to ODE staff:
You may have seen a series of blogs and articles from the weekend on the retesting of teachers in the lowest performing 10% of schools in Ohio. While the bloggers [hey, that’s us] have created their own list of teachers, no such list exists at ODE. The message below was sent to the Dispatch this afternoon in hopes that clarification may be provided to the misinformaiton [sic] that is being circulated on this topic. ODE will continue to work with OEA and OFT to help publish accurate information. Both have received inquiries to date.
Michael [Sawyers, ODE Interim Deputy Superintendent]
ODE media response regarding retesting of teacher inquiries:
Ohio is committed to having great teachers and leaders in every school and classroom throughout the state. Identifying the causes for low-performing schools is essential if children, parents/guardians and their communities will have the educational opportunities necessary to be college and career ready. Testing teachers in low-performing schools will help identify opportunities to help them improve and grow. It’s a valuable professional development opportunity that will ultimately benefit students.
When retesting teachers in the lowest-performing 10 percent of schools is in effect, core content teachers like English language arts, math or science will be impacted. Non-core teachers are presently not required for retesting.
ODE will be working in the coming year to develop guidance for schools on how this law, effective September 29, 2011, is to be applied. ODE does not always have real-time information about teacher assignments, therefore schools will need to employ the forthcoming ODE guidance to determine exactly which educators may be impacted. The teacher retesting provision of HB 153 will take effect with the 2012-13 school year. The effort will be initiated with the new school ranking system – also required by HB 153 – which is currently under development. ODE remains focused on increasing student achievement and progress statewide.
Ouch. Accused us of misinformation. Well, we have to assume that Mr. Sawyers didn’t read our posts, or else he would have gotten the media release correct instead of actually spreading misinformation about the impacted teachers. As we have reported too many times to count, the Legislative Service Commission report is clear about which teachers will be impacted.
Requires each building in the lowest 10 percentiles to require its core subject area teachers to retake any written tests prescribed by the State Board for licensure in the teacher’s subject area and grade level. (“Core subject areas” are: reading and English language arts, math, science, foreign language, government, economics, fine arts, history, and geography, as defined by state and federal law for determining “highly qualified teacher” status.)
Most troubling in ODE’s statement are six simple words:
…no such list exists at ODE.
If no list exists, then why didn’t Heffner simply respond that way? Instead, Ohio’s Superintendent of Schools clearly responded in a way that affirmed that he was aware of a list and that it included, in his words, around 8,000 teachers. He then talked at length about the process and NEVER DENIED SUCH A LIST EXISTED. In fact, he even talked about how the teachers on this year’s list wouldn’t be affected – it is delayed until next year.
So which scenario is correct?
- Sawyers wasn’t being honest when he said a list doesn’t exist.
- Heffner lied when he discussed the list in his responses.
- A list exists and Sawyers is ignorant of its existence.
- Heffner is ignorant of whether a list exists.
- Heffner testified in favor of a provision he didn’t understand.
No way this ends well for educators in Ohio when the state education agency can’t agree on the truth.
Or the lies.