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.




  • Progressive Willy

    Please don’t feel your hard work is in vain, PB.  I definitely appreciate you being on the ball with your reporting!  I also think your existence helps to keep ‘the powers that be’ in check.  Keep up the good work!

  • Real Get Real

    Since the approval rating of lawmakers and the governor is so low, I would like to see a bill introduced that requires all politicians to retake the Bar exam.  This would apply if voters no longer support the elected officials based on polling data.

    This only seems reasonable.  How can we expect to have quality legislation if the people coming up with the laws have a weak understanding of legal issues?

    And if the Bar is considered too difficult, then at least make ’em take the OGT, ACT, or Praxis II for Social Studies and at least require a passing grade on those exams.

    I suspect you’d see a very different approach to education.   Hey, maybe these teacher haters would even gain some respect for the shoulders upon which they stand.

  • G

    Echoing Real Get Real below I’d like to see all candidates for Federal office be tested for their knowledge of American govt, finance, history (American and World), basic economics and science.  I am really tired of seeing morons running for office.

  • What troubles me the most about this whole affectation is the bases in which these ODE and Law Makers pretend to know what the reason is for a low performing school. If I understand this correctly you may be a nationally certified teacher of the year in Ohio, but if you work at a school that is in the lowest 10%, you will be tested.  So, now I expect, no I think teachers and unions should demand to have the test results of teachers taking these test be  made public, and an accounting be required of ODE and Law Makers as to the bases for testing teachers that can pass the test ( I have every confidence that the mass majority of teachers will pass).  Their next move will be to point the finger at cafeteria workers and custodians as the reason for low performance, or John may decide it is really the bus drivers.

  • Being  a teacher of a very transient inner-city school who no doubt is on the non list I want to thank you of making me aware of this disrespectful and ill thought out requirement of teachers. It is just another way to vilify teachers so that they can say non education Teach for America graduates can do a better (cheaper) job than those of us who are dedicated enough to do what we do for more than 3 years. And then when that of course fails they will privatize all the schools they can. I am not going to take a test for something that is not relevant to my knowledge of teaching. I took those test and passed them. I know so much more than any first year who just passed those tests. I really take offense to all this. Teaching is tooo hard to do if you don’t know how to do it. I invite State Superintendent Stan Heffner to come to my room on Tuesday and tell me I don’t have the knowledge I need to teach my students!

  • I agree with you 100% Right now there is no specific educational requirement for candidates. How can they say they are competent to lead a STATE’S GOVERNMENT when there are not basic requirements

  • dlw

    I’m confused… you said that sawyers has the effected teachers wrong. But what I’m reading from sawyers above has him saying core teachers in the bottom 10% of schools… and that is what the law says. So…

  • Anonymous

    He defines “core” incorrectly as being only math, reading, science.  A common error because that is how we often define it in schools.  In state and federal law, however, “core” includes all of the fine arts, too.  This is not the first time they have made this mistake.

  • dlw

    Except he said core subjects “like” math, reading, and science. The “like” indicates he’s giving examples and not a whole list.

    I gotta say, I don’t see what diff it makes if such a list exists at ODE or if he was referring to the PB list… that provision won’t take affect this year and there will be a new ranking system in place when it does take affect. So while the retesting is not a good idea and it’s good to bring attention to it sooner rather than later, what diff does it really make if ODE put together a list similar to yours? It actually makes sense that someone might have as they would need to have a idea of the number of people affected as they go through the process of figuring out just how it is going to work.

  • Anonymous

    My problem with this is Heffner’s pattern of dishonesty on this topic. At the meeting (8:00 – 10:00 am Monday morning; unlikely he knew of our list), he speaks about a list as though it is something ODE has and has been working on, yet Monday afternoon ODE states that no list exists.  And again, at no point did Heffner explain that no official list existed.  And if no list exists, then Heffner was being completely dishonest in his reply (again).

    Heffner has outright lied on multiple occasions about this small component (in the scheme of things) of the budgetary changes.  If he’s will to lie about the little things, how is he to be trusted about the major funding issues?  He has a serious problem with honesty and education in Ohio is getting screwed as a result.  He should be advocating for sound education policy, not playing the role of Kasich stooge.

  • Check PB’s list. They are on it.

  • Adrienne

    I think that elected officials should take the exams first. This is the R’s idea so  them first. If they can’t pass, they don’t get paid.

    R’s don’t ask the right questions like why and how? But they don’t care because they are in the biz of robbing and wrecking.  They don’t care about children except as pawns in a fixed game. 

  • I can tell you where the problem is for the students who are performing low. It is different for each child. Some may have 1 specific thing they need while others have multiple areas that are problematic. When a teacher cannot do her work with out the nagging worries that our ill informed and thought through government hand down to  us, we could work better with these children. Give me some aids-real tutors who do not need to service too many kids in too little time. Then I can get all my students who come to me low where they need to be by the end of the year. Give every low performing student a well trained teacher in tutoring working with the student in a small group of 3-4 who need help in the same specific areas. If these students need counseling for social/emotional problems give them that help daily by qualified professionals. All students who actually have a low IQ of 80 or less should get help from intervention specialists not just those who are 70 or less. Keep class rooms sizes at 20 or less. Make it so when there are discipline problems that  administration backs you up because you know when someone’s behavior is effecting the learning in your class. Make sure that all, (ALL!!!) schools get the funding they need to do this successfully. Did I say pay us more? no Did I say I want anything more than I already have? no. Just let me work like I know how to with out non teaching individuals telling me to do things they have no real knowledge of what would work.

  • Thanks for the video

  • ThatDeborahGirl

    The only issue I have with this post is that you don’t have to be a lawyer to be a politician and shouldn’t have to be. Laws are not only meant to understood by people with degrees. The Law is  meant for all of us to be able to read, comprehend and interpret. Passing the bar should never be a requirement for being in office.

  • Anonymous

    Correct me if I’m wrong but I believe I heard on the video recording that the school districts that  are low performing will be paying for the testing.  I believe the money used for testing of qualified teachers could be better used toward educating the children with, as you pointed out, smaller class rooms and specialized professionals to help children through their difficulties etc.

  • Anonymous

    How about a grade school civics test, Deborah? I have long said that should be a requirement for running for office. You should be able to display a sixth-grade understanding of the Constitution and how government works. I’ll bet many of our legislators could not ass that, and I assume all have completed sixth grade.

  • Anonymous

    But Greg, wasn’t he actually HIRED to be a Kasich stooge? Otherwise, wouldn’t Deb Delisle still be superintendent?

  • ThatDeborahGirl

    I think testing for office, just like a test for voting is a bad idea.
    People who are ignorant show it soon enough as most people in the GOP
    plainly show.

  • ThatDeborahGirl

    I just found my old science teacher on the list. How about we protest the retesting? Anywhere and anytime the testing is held, we protest and block the testing.

    We should not just accept this and let our teachers fend for themselves.

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  • So, when are the Legislatures tests coming out? Im concerned that they dont understand n are not meeting the needs of their constituents in Ohio, u no, the ones that voted u in to represent them, n not the corps? I also believe we need to ask the people of Ohio if they feel poor legislatures should be given there pay for just showing up, as well as, Id like the people of Ohio, to be able to hear how n why Kasich gave all his people, state workers, legislators, etc, a 40 percent raise on top of their $250,000 a year  salary, @2 weeks ago..How can we afford a 40 percent raise that Kasich gave across the board, without evaluatn them the same way he stated SB 5 would b used to evaluate teachers. Which if I understand the evaluation process correctly accordn to SB 5..they would need to get the citizens approval, Governors, and it should be based on the promises, contract, abilities to serve th constituents of Ohio for the job Ohioans elected them to do….Now, these step raises, 40 percent their is that allow the govt to manage there salary in this huge deficeit? Merit pay would allow them to receive if all 3 of his requirements as they stated in sb 5 are met…I clearly can see, he mustve made a math error..40 percent raise? Id also like to make sure those state workers r payn there fair share on pensions, insurance..ohhh n 1 last thing..Does this mean  that The Republican Govs Association will also not have a seat at the collective bargaining..which gives their bosses…us..the power to control the moey that he’s just throwing at them for no reason? SB 5 states they should b based on performance, not just being there…We the People..would love to hear more about this…they do fall under stae workers, n I guess this means their union is possibly gonna b out too..right?lol

  • Im sure WE ARE OHIO ARE WORKING ON THIS PRESENTATION,  along with the official documentation…oh n while we get these public servants to “lead by modelling, ” live by what they feel is right 4 Ohioans..

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