Who needs licensed teachers anyway, right?

When last we saw Ohio Senate Bill 3, Valentine’s Day had just ended and stores were starting to stock the shelves with summer wear here in Ohio (though Christmas decorations weren’t far behind).  The bill had floundered for a while in the Ohio House and then appeared to be on the fast track for passage, though there did appear to be adequate time for hearings and public feedback.

And then John Kasich got in the heat of the presidential race and the Ohio Statehouse all but shut down and all committee meetings just stopped.

Senate Bill 3 is already a bill that is extremely wide-ranging in nature, addressing a wide variety of education-related legislation, but now the bill is expected to become what is called a “Christmas Tree Bill”, a bill that is expected to pass before the new members of the General Assembly take their seats in January and one that legislators in both houses “hang” loads of additional amendments, or “ornaments” on in order to get all of their favorite little pet projects passed.

The bill is now back on the agenda for the House Education Committee meeting scheduled for Monday, December 5, at 1:30 pm, a time when all educators can obviously attend.

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Instead of rewriting everything we wrote in February, it’s copied and pasted down at the end of this article, but it is important to focus on some very key points in this bill (in which much of the components are grossly out-of-date at this point).

Here it is (emphasis-added):

  • Exempts qualified school districts from several requirements of current law regarding teacher qualifications under the third-grade reading guarantee, teacher licensing, mentoring under the Ohio Teacher Residency Program, and class size restrictions.
  • Qualifies a school district for the above exemptions if, on its most recent report card, the district received (1) at least 85% of the total possible points for the performance index score, (2) an “A” for performance indicators met, and (3) at least 93% and 95% for the four-year and five-year adjusted cohort graduation rate, respectively.
  • Qualifies for an alternative resident educator license an individual who has not completed coursework in the subject area for which the individual is applying to teach.

Oh, that’s cool, because who needs licensed teachers?  Who needs teachers with extensive coursework in the content they are going to teach? And, of course, who needs a limit on the number of students in a class?  Just pack the kids into a gymnasium with computers!  The true absurdity of these particular components of this legislation is that they are literally restricted to only the “highest-performing” districts in the state (18 out of over 600 districts according to recent reports); districts that value well-prepared and educated teachers and their students.  But this legislation is a slap in the face to educators who have been required to get Master’s degrees, seek out additional endorsements, and who have sought to improve their professional practices at every turn.

What can you do to help curtail this bill?  As always, you can try to contact your legislators in the Ohio House, especially the tone-deaf House Education Committee and it’s illustrious leader, Representative Andrew Brenner (who infamously called for more privatization of America’s public schools to get rid of the current socialist system), but that might honestly be a waste of time given the strong anti-public education stance that exists under his leadership.  But still, go here to find and contact your state Rep: http://www.ohiohouse.gov/index  (See the bottom left corner of the page.)

As for me, I’ll be contacting the more…thoughtful(?)…Senate members, especially Senator Peggy Lehner, chair of the Senate Education Committee, to request caution before blindly passing whatever version of SB3 returns to the Senate after passing out of the House.  Rest assured, the bill will look NOTHING like the bill that the Senate passed way back in March, 2015.

While I do not agree with Senator Lehner on many things, I will say that she listens to educators’ opinions, and I can’t imagine that she will be thrilled that the lower chamber is hijacking her committee’s legislation.

More to the point, there is absolutely no reason for the Ohio General Assembly to rush this bill through to passage when it needs so many revisions and the political makeup of neither the House or Senate (or Governor’s office) is changing.

So contact your Senator and ask them to put the brakes on this bill when it comes back to them for consideration: http://ohiosenate.gov/members/contacting-your-senator

There is really no “emergency” in this bill and the future of Ohio’s children should be considered in a more measured and thoughtful manner.  Our kids are not simply “decorations” to be tossed up quickly on an Ohio legislator’s Christmas tree.

 

In lieu of copying and pasting from February (if you’ve made it this far, thank you), here’s the link to our previous post detailing more of Senate Bill 3: http://plunderbund.com/2016/02/21/is-wide-ranging-ohio-education-reform-bill-on-fast-track-for-passage/

 

 

 

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