And the politician doesn’t appear to be looking back.

On Wednesday, State Senator Nina Turner lashed out at the Ohio Federation of Teachers, accusing them of threatening her political career because the union objects to a provision in the Turner-sponsored Cleveland schools reform bill (SB335) that would allow charter schools to share funds raised by city school levies.

Ohio Federation of Teachers’ president, Melissa Cropper, denied targeting Turner and stated that she was “taken aback by the senator’s harsh statements.” (Plain Dealer, 5/10/12)

“They are pretending in public like they want to play fair, but behind the scenes they are getting their members all stirred up. I’ve received several calls into my office, threats into my office, saying ‘we’re not going to fund your campaigns, we’re going to run people against you,'” said Turner in a very public statement, the irony of which was obviously lost on her.  Because the last time I checked, people tend to not fund candidates that fight against their best interests.

“They are deliberately invoking Senate Bill 5 and Kasich’s name to stir up controversy.  Just because Gov. Kasich may support this plan doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad plan. If someone were lying on the road dying would it matter to you who came to save you? If it was a Democrat or a Republican, would it matter?”

Okay, there are a few things in that last statement that merit discussion.

  1. They are deliberately invoking Senate Bill 5 because of the anti-union items included in Senator Turner’s bill.  As a teachers’ union, they wouldn’t be serving their members if they ignored provisions that weaken the contribution of teachers and eliminate provisions of collective bargaining.  If stating the obvious is a threat to her political career, well, yeah…sorry.
  2. An informal poll of myself and our blog does indeed confirm that if Kasich supports a plan, it’s bad for organized labor in Ohio.  Again, I would request that the Democratic Senator from Cleveland avoid from further insulting the intelligence of educators in future public statements.  Since I’ve always heard that family business should be conducted behind close doors, this not-behind-closed-doors rant is revealing about Nina Turner’s perspective on who she considers family.
  3. Yes, it would matter who came to save me, because I fear that only one of the two would actually do so without requiring that I produce proof of health insurance first. (Republican candidate Ron Paul, anyone?)
When this plan was first proposed by the Cleveland mayor, the teachers were not consulted, allowing anything and everything proposed by the local politician to establish the starting point for negotiations.  Before they would sponsor it, however, members of the General Assembly urged the mayor and the Cleveland Teachers Union to try to work out some of the provisions through mediated talks.  When those talks failed to resolve all of the proposed reforms, Turner and Senator Peggy Lehner introduced the legislation, using Mayor Jackson’s proposal as default language for all of the unresolved issues.  She did NOT believe the teachers’ positions from the get-go, putting the educators immediately on the defensive and having to argue against her to remove SB5-style items by coming to Columbus to state their case to the Republican-heavy (6-3) education committee.

Two weeks ago, we posted about this conundrum with Turner is a post aptly titled “Cleveland Schools Plan legislation contains Senate Bill 5 merit pay.”

And over a month ago we expressed our concerns about Turner’s support for the legislation in “Democrats get swindled as they co-sponsor Cleveland Schools legislation.”

But seeing as how Turner is going all-in on this anti-teacher bill, we’ll keep exposing its detrimental components so that maybe she can start hearing from more people pulling their support of her “political career.”

Here are more excerpts from Senate Bill 335, the Cleveland Plan, that highlight Turner’s lack of respect for the position of teachers:

…the chief executive officer shall first identify which schools are in need of corrective action, what corrective action is warranted at each school, and when the corrective action should be implemented. Collectively, these items shall be known as the “corrective plan.”

If the chief executive officer disagrees with all or part of the recommendations of a corrective action team, or if a corrective action team fails to make timely recommendations on the implementation of all or part of the corrective plan, the chief executive officer may implement the corrective plan in the manner in which the chief executive officer determines to be in the best interest of the students, consistent with the timelines originally established.

The chief executive officer and any corrective action team are not bound by the applicable provisions of collective bargaining agreements in developing recommendations for and implementing the corrective plan.

As part of the smokescreen they have placed in this section, here is how a corrective team(s) is formed: “Immediately after developing the corrective plan, the chief executive officer and the presiding officer of each labor organization whose members will be affected by the corrective plan shall each appoint up to four individuals to form one or more corrective action teams.” So the labor unions can appoint members to teams who can then have the privilege of being ignored by the chief executive officer who ignored them when helping to craft this plan in the first place.  Can I have some volunteers, please?

And, of course, there’s the standard anti-collective bargaining statement at the end of this section.

(4) Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in Chapter 4117. of the Revised Code, the content and implementation of the corrective plan prevail over any conflicting provision of a collective bargaining agreement entered into on or after the effective date of this amendment.

The bill also messes with beginning teachers’ contracts.

(D) The term of an initial limited contract for a teacher…shall not exceed two years.

Current law explains that a limited contract (non-tenured) may not exceed five years, but Turner’s plan reduces that down to two, the same number of years it takes Teach for America teachers to exit stage right.  The mandated two-year limit is most interesting when we consider that the state of Ohio recognized that beginning teachers should complete a four-year “residency” program at the outset of their careers under the mentorship of an experienced teacher who has received specific training by the Ohio Department of Education.  If the state of Ohio recognizes the need for a four year process to become a skilled teacher, why can’t the state of Ohio recognize it?  Hmm…

And finally, the “due process” a teacher can follow to challenge the outcome of a new performance-based evaluation.

A teacher may challenge any violations of the evaluation procedures in accordance with the grievance procedure specified in any applicable collective bargaining agreement. A challenge under this division is limited to the determination of procedural errors that have resulted in substantive harm to the teacher and to ordering the correction of procedural errors. The failure of the board or a person conducting an evaluation to strictly comply with any deadline or evaluation forms established as part of the evaluation process shall not be cause for an arbitrator to determine that a procedural error occurred, unless the arbitrator finds that the failure resulted in substantive harm to the teacher. The arbitrator shall have no jurisdiction to modify the evaluation results, but the arbitrator may stay any decision taken pursuant to division (E) of this section pending the board’s correction of any procedural error. The board shall correct any procedural error within fifteen business days after the arbitrator’s determination that a procedural error occurred.

Procedural errors.  That’s what the teacher can contest.  Not the competency of the evaluator nor the context of the observations.  Not the interpretation of the results nor any flaws in the evaluator’s expertise.  Any high school teachers out there ever been observed by someone without content expertise?  Right — of course not.  😉

Sure, Turner was the most outspoken Senator on SB5 last year and teachers absolutely considered her a friend of education.  This year she again seems to be the most outspoken on these collective bargaining issues, but she’s chosen the wrong side of the issue.

Senator Turner, the teachers have made educating children their profession and have the years of experience to show for it.  When you were looking for experts to help you turn around the schools, you should have looked to the professionals, not the local mayor — regardless of his political sway over local politics.

Teaching isn’t just a Cleveland thing.