Late yesterday, Joe Vardon of the Dispatch first reported on statements made by John Kasich regarding his two-years-late school funding plan.  According to Vardon’s updated article this morning, Kasich wants to “allow” school districts to design pay-for-performance systems to compensate teachers for higher student test performance.


Sound familiar?  Sure, a variety of performance pay was a component of 2011’s Senate Bill 5 that was repealed by voters, but more importantly, performance pay systems were actually mandated for many school districts via the adoption of House Bill 153 during that same summer of 2011.  The changes were enacted in Ohio Revised Code 3317.141:

3317.141 Recipients of race to the top program grants.

The board of education of any city, exempted village, local, or joint vocational school district that is the recipient of moneys from a grant awarded under the federal race to the top program, Division (A), Title XIV, Sections 14005 and 14006 of the “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009,” Pub. L. No. 111-5, 123 Stat. 115, shall comply with this section in accordance with the timeline contained in the board’s scope of work, as approved by the superintendent of public instruction, and shall not be subject to sections 3317.13 and 3317.14 of the Revised Code. The board of education of any other school district, and the governing board of each educational service center, shall comply with either this section or sections 3317.13 and 3317.14 of the Revised Code.

(A) The board annually shall adopt a salary schedule for teachers based upon performance as described in division (B) of this section.

(B) For purposes of the schedule, a board shall measure a teacher’s performance by considering all of the following:

(1) The level of license issued under section 3319.22 of the Revised Code that the teacher holds;

(2) Whether the teacher is a highly qualified teacher, as defined in section 3319.074 of the Revised Code;

(3) Ratings received by the teacher on performance evaluations conducted under section 3319.111 of the Revised Code.

(C) The schedule shall provide for annual adjustments based on performance on the evaluations conducted under section 3319.111 of the Revised Code. The annual performance-based adjustment for a teacher rated as accomplished shall be greater than the annual performance-based adjustment for a teacher rated as proficient.

Any district receiving Federal Race-to-the-Top funding is required to adopt a salary schedule based on performance that is based on the new state evaluation model (OTES), that is currently being piloted and has every principle in the state receiving training on the process of evaluating teachers.

Vardon quotes Kasich is as saying:

I’m a big believer that you have to pay people more who do excellent jobs.  I would rather have it come from the bottom up than from the top down. Because if it can come from the bottom up, then we can get agreement within the districts with the school board and the teachers and everybody else.

But it’s absolutely something I think makes a lot of sense.

Well, we can (and have) argue whether it actually makes any sense, but to argue whether the state should “allow school districts to design programs” to tie teacher pay to performance through his overdue school funding plan seems to be a bit of a moot point and quite the anti-climactic first hint of what’s to come considering that this very component was adopted into law nearly two full years ago in the governor’s sleight-of-hand budget bill.

Or perhaps the definition of “empowerment” is at issue:

em·pow·er [em-pou-er], verb

  1. to give power or authority to; authorize, esp. by legal or official means
  2. to enable or permit

When the law says, “the board shall adopt…”, that means “the board is required to adopt…”, not authorized, or enabled, or permitted to adopt.  Ask any kid and they can explain the difference between homework they are required to do vs. homework they are permitted to complete.  Seriously — try doing this on your own.

The second level of this reality is that every school district in Ohio (not required by ORC 3317.141 above) is ALREADY empowered to implement any form of performance pay that they would like to through the collective bargaining process with teachers.  In Columbus, the largest school district in the entire state, for example, the district and teachers have had multiple processes for years that enable teachers to earn performance-based incentive pay based on the specific results of students on a variety of test measures.  One model, called gainsharing, rewards educators at an entire school, while the PAS process allows individual teachers to demonstrate gains in their students and earn compensation if the students meet certain benchmark criteria.  These processes are not a secret to the Dispatch or the state of Ohio, either, as they have been frequently mentioned throughout reporting on the Auditor’s attendance investigation that has delayed the official test results that are used to calculate payouts.

So, while 2013 is only 15 days old, it appears we can already expect more sleight-of-hand, obfuscation, redirection, smoke and mirrors, and blatant ignorance from the Kasich Administration on education for a third straight year.

We’re SO excited…