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.




  • Portia A. Boulger

    Excellent article. Thank you. So sad to witness this anti-union stance from Turner.

  • gregmild

    You mean the article I linked to instead of cutting and pasting the entire Plain Dealer?

    And do you mean parts of the article like:
    “The issue between Turner and the OFT came to light this week when Turner blasted Cropper for an April 17 email the union president sent to her members that was entitled “Say NO to local levy money for charters.”
    The letter clearly states the OFT’s opposition to the levy sharing provision and Turner said it is loaded with buzz words to fire up the teachers by mentioning Senate Bill 5, noting that levy money would go to “for-profit” charter schools and mentioning Kasich’s support of the measure.”

    If you’re calling OFT president Melissa Cropper a rogue individual, you’re way off target.  Turner is clearly calling out the entire OFT, not some some “rogue individual teachers.”

  • It’s a matter of if one falls then we all will fall like dominoes.  Or so the Republicans think. It shows their strategy is to get what they want, an all state charter school (for profit schools) where their friends who really do not care about education but making money are in charge of the education of our children. The strategy of if we cannot make everyone do what “Republicans” want all at one time than they will be the snake in the grass that attacks us one school district at a time until there is no one left. Unfortunately teachers are educated and smart. We will not let any SB5 bill or any SB355 bill come into play. The union is here to look out for the interests of the workers and to make sure their employers do not take unfair advantage of them. So I can see why our employers the Republicans want to get rid of the unions.Unions keep them in line.. not where they want to be. They want to make all the decisions.  I can see why they want to start with the teachers and other public employees. It is a good place to get a foot hold in getting rid of all unions (such as the right to work laws that have nothing to do with a persons right to work when you really look at it.) Now is the time that all employees really need their unions. Because together we stand and we will stand tall!  Once the unions are gone where will they stop? Think about it? Some people complain saying that the only way to get in a union is cronyism well just look at those who are working in the state house for the treasurer and ask yourself where they qualified or was it cronyism? And after they get rid of unions where do you think the wages and insurance benefits go to. UP or down? Who will make sure that a boss cannot fire you just because he wants his friend doing the job? or someone less qualified but cheaper? What will keep him from firing you before you just reach that retirement qualification? Think on both sides not just one side and then make a wise decision Senator Nina Tuner. Look beyond the immediate and into what it will lead to in the future for all. If it is not a good work environment for the teachers it will not be a good learning environment for the students.

  • gregmild

    It is messy, and it isn’t so much a case of Turner “changing sides” as it is her being a politician.  It’s important to point out that the Cleveland Mayor is a powerful man in the Cuyahoga County Democratic party and all of the elected officials from the area have signed on to the legislation as supporters/co-sponsors.  It’s not that they have become Republicans overnight or anything, but it is indicative of the overall ignorance of politicians about the education profession.  These elected officials have no experience as K-12 educators and have chosen to ignore the professionals and take the word of their local party boss, a career politician.

    Regardless of party affiliation, when elected officials disregard hard-working professionals with years of on-the-job experience and craft bills that will have detrimental effects, it is just plain ignorance.  
    We’ve heard these analogies for years — 

    Do you think Turner sits down in the dentist chair and demands treatment contradictory to his recommendation?

    Does Turner await the arrival of the firemen and then proceed to lecture them on how to attack the blaze?

    Does Turner waltz into her doctor’s office, self-diagnose her illness while prescribing further tests and medication without bothering to even talk to her physician?

    Good morning Mr. Airline Pilot – today we’re going to fly at 30,000 feet and kick the speed up a notch faster than usual because I’m in a hurry.  Ignore the air traffic controllers’ directions to enter the holding pattern and just land on either runway.  After all, I’m an elected State Senator — we know these things.

  • Retrofuturistic

    It sounds like Nina Turner has become a Kasich collaborator.  Very disappointing.

  • Shame on you Nina TurncoatTurner! How can SB 5 be in your words, “unfair, unsafe and unjust…n then 6 months later..under the name of “reform,” The Cleveland Plan which contains the same exact language as SB 5 now b ok?

  • Mr. Brown

    This is a simple matter of bad legislation. That’s why I am against it. Hopefully, Turner will do the right thing and change this bill. 

  • Doveside

    Get Comfortable Saying NO!

    In November 2012, Mayor Frank G. Jackson and several public
    officials, law makers community advocates are pushing for a Cleveland school
    levy on the November 2012 Ballot. The problem with this levy is three fold.
    First, it is clear and obvious that the way our schools are funded is
    unconstitutional. Home owners (alone) should not be responsible for educating
    Cleveland’s young people. A fair amount of Cleveland home owners do not have
    school age children. To target a population suffering from economic turmoil is
    a travesty. It is unbelievable to expect anyone to take this levy seriously.
    Home owners are barely able to pay their mortgages and to financially bully
    them into a local school taxed mandate is not a fiscal responsible practice. To
    date, it has not been explained why home owners should be responsible for a $60
    million dollar deficit that was caused by poor risk management,
    meager leadership and pitiable oversight. To issue Cleveland Municipal School
    District a bailout is irresponsible. It’s not about the children while lay-offs
    are still occurring within the district. Simultaneously, CMSD recently hired Michelle
    N. Pierre-Farid as Chief Academic Officer with an annual salary of $200,000
    (Cleveland Plain Dealer, June 13, 2012). This is an apparent contradiction to
    the proposed financially strapped district and clearly exposes a need for best

    Secondly, risk management
    over haul is warranted. CMSD is a public entity. For years, CMSD has struggled
    in this area. As such, the district has neglected to employ drill down methods
    to understand and publicly explain how spending spiraled aimlessly. The
    continue failure to manage and measure public funds should be internally
    investigated by an outside non political organization. The institution of claw
    backs ranging from raises, bonuses and promotions should be examined and
    established. The effects of educational hiccups will aid the transformation
    with slight interruption. This will command new leadership, executive and
    mid-level management accountability, openness, compliance and transparency
    while assuring tax payers that real change is under way. Home owners need to
    know how the district will emerge from fiscal malfeasance and what will
    preclude future losses and poor performance?

    the appointed school board should perform as advocates for the Mayor, tax payers
    and the community. Tough questions must be driven for real solutions and
    results. The appointed board must conduct themselves as fiduciary agents. They
    must protect the goods and services of our education system.

    levy is not a determinate factor for fixing our school district. Throwing good
    money after bad financial decisions, amount to insurmountable financial losses,
    and public deception. To deceive the public by edging law makers to pass an
    education transformation bill so that it can sit on the anchor of a proposed
    school levy that will less likely benefit the children of Cleveland is
    shameful. It would have been plausible to introduce new and inviting human
    capital (who live in the district) measures to talk about what really needs to
    be fixed before asking a targeted few for more money. It is a granted
    assumption that we will not produce smarter children with a levy however we
    will see growth in political manipulation and a strong decline of public trust.

    Payers merit a workable model. Home owners deserve risk management preventative
    measures – a risk management accountability overhaul.

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