Last week, the Ohio House Education Committee, led by Gerald Stebelton, moved to eliminate the minimum salary schedule requirements from state law via House Bill 343. The bill passed out of the committee along straight party lines, with the approving Republicans stating that this move was designed to give local school districts flexibility in negotiating salary schedules, especially advocating for merit-based pay for teachers.
Committee chairman Gerald Stebelton, a Lancaster Republican, said the longstanding teacher pay scales that increase pay based on years of experience and degrees earned by a teacher, should no longer be required by the state. He said he wants to allow districts to have a merit pay system, or any other plan, if they choose.
“Right now, if two teachers who start on the same day and one is a terrible teacher and one’s a really good teacher, they’re still lockstep with their pay,” Stebelton said. “It’s an easy decision for schools to do the lockstep thing, but it’s not in the best interest of the kids.” (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
Asked Representative John Becker, “What makes teachers special as a profession that they can’t live on merit pay the way the rest of us do?”
Sounds like they’re firmly behind this notion of local flexibility and merit pay, doesn’t it?
Not so fast, my friends…
Seasoned GOP leader Gerald Stebelton introduced another bill (HB661) that has received some coverage this week alongside his move to cut the teacher salary schedule — a bill to mandate annual raises for elected officials by adjusting existing state law.
Kudos to him for seeking to amend the existing salary schedule in which all of these elected officials are paid at the same rate without consideration of their individual merit. I mean, surely he’s seeking to revamp these outdated salaries that are mandated in state law in order to give local communities more flexibility, right?
Not. Even. Close.
Instead of following the GOP’s own talking points about local flexibility and merit pay, Stebelton has instead proposed mandating annual raises – forever – for a variety of elected officials starting with the Governor and members of the General Assembly and all the way down to local officials like county sheriffs, engineers, coroners, and even township trustees.
And in Stebelton’s vastly hypocritical bill, the salaried amounts are in no way based on the performance or experience of the individuals, but are set amounts for all positions that have the same requirements – no merit pay in any way, shape, or form.
Furthermore, instead of giving local counties any “flexibility” to negotiate or make the financial decision at the local level, the amounts will simply be updated and codified into the existing state law. Counties, townships, etc., will continue to be mandated to pay all of these individuals an amount determined by the General Assembly without any ability to negotiate or make adjustments that might best fit the local entity’s budgetary needs, which, according to Stebelton himself, is apparently so important that he wants to eliminate an already-too-low salary schedule for teachers.
All of which leads us to pose a question for Stebelton, Becker and company:
“What makes Ohio’s GOP legislators so special that they think they don’t need to practice what they preach?”