Governor John Kasich’s latest budget bill, House Bill 49, contains a variety of non-budget related legislation (as has always been the case), but one short section tucked far into the budget has captured the attention of teachers and administrators more than any other — a requirement to complete an “internship”, of sorts, in order to renew a license.

Here is the exact language from page 1,056 of the bill:

Sec. 3319.236. Beginning September 1, 2018, the state board of education’s rules for the renewal of educator licenses shall require each applicant for renewal of a license to complete an on-site work experience with a local business or chamber of commerce as a condition of renewal. Work experience obtained pursuant to this section shall count toward any required continuing education. Each local professional development committee established under section 3319.22 of the Revised Code shall work with its teachers to identify local work experience opportunities that meet the requirements of this section.

While some educators have reached out to us asking if this only applies to some teachers (career-tech teachers, for example), the proposal as Kasich has submitted it makes no such differentiation between any particular job, but links it directly to the holder of any educator license.

This means that such a requirement would apply equally to licensed PreK and Kindergarten teachers all the way up through teachers at the high school level.  The provision also does not simply apply to just teachers, but would apply to ANY license holder, meaning that, as written, your local superintendents and all building principals would ALSO be required to partake in an on-site work experience to renew their educator licenses.

But why stop there?

Are you aware that school treasurers also have licenses issued by the Ohio Department of Education and have to meet the requirements of continuing education under the authority of a Local Professional Development Committee (LPDC)?  So will all school treasurers actually have to have “on-site work experience with a local business”?  Hard to tell, but a strict interpretation of this legislation, especially the specific mention of the continuing education linked to a local professional development committee sure makes it appear to be the case.

The real question is this — can teachers count their second jobs as part of this?  The summer jobs, the driving for Uber, the tutoring, the music lessons – all of the various jobs teachers hold “on the side” to make more money – why not simply allow this “on-site work experience with a local business” to count?  Seems legit to me.

This also seems like a great way to have our educators flood the job market while taking their attention away from their full-time, salaried job of delivering the state-mandated academic content to our test-taking children across the state as also mandated by numerous state laws.

Aside from the obvious eye-rolling that we did when we first saw this broadly-mandated provision and envisioned rolling up to get Wendy’s (Hot & Fresh!) handed out through the drive-thru window from our teachers, slowing down the line as we hold an impromptu parent-teacher conference or heading out to Kohl’s on Saturday to catch the principal re-stocking shoes so we can intrude and discuss our ideas for improving the speed of the drop-off and pick-up procedures (larger orange cones and a traffic guard would be helpful, you know), we started to dissect this provision on a little deeper level to identify some of the many holes it would once again leave the state board of education to fill.

Here’s an easy one, for starters. Governor Kasich and the crafters of this legislation make the erroneous assumption that every person that holds an educator license in Ohio is employed full time and is covered by an LPDC.  WRONG.  Many teachers in Ohio are either unable to find full-time employment as a teacher or choose to work in a part-time or substitute teaching capacity, leaving them out of the authority or guidance of an LPDC.  These educators (who might even be retired and doing part-time tutoring work) renew their licenses directly through the Ohio Department of Education.  Who, exactly, at ODE will be “working with [these] teachers to identify local work experience opportunities that meet the requirements of this section”?  Will someone down at ODE in Columbus be making “on-site work experience” recommendations to teachers, principals, superintendents, school counselors, school psychologists, and yes, school treasurers working up in Lima and Toledo or down in Portsmouth and Pike County?

If you thought ODE was over-tasked and under-funded now, just you wait and see how that turns out.

Furthermore, what local businesses are going to want to take on the role of trying to help manage this and all that it would entail?  Certificates of work?  Letters of attendance signed off on by the CEO?  Picture this in the Central Ohio area where there are well over 12,000 full-time educators in public school districts alone (many more in charters and private schools), each of whom would be required to complete this “experience” and have it verified by the employer, the school/district, and subsequently ODE (push paper much?).

Or we could look at the over 100,000 full-time educators state-wide (again, many more “license-holders” when all schools & part-time teachers are factored in) who would be required to participate despite over 99% of them having Bachelor’s degrees and 65% having Master’s degrees.

Hmm.  Random thought: I wonder if those teachers who have Ph.D.’s and teach college courses “on-the-side” could count that as on-site work experience or if they would also need to shelve books at Barnes & Noble for one or two weekends?

Sure, is it important that a first grade teacher get out to a local business to confirm that yes, their young 6-year-old students need to be able to read, write, and calculate to be able to be successful in the world these days?  Sure, because apparently they are unaware of this new development in the world.  <sarcastic eye-roll> <sorry, not sorry>

In case we weren’t clear, we believe this provision is beyond absurd.  Beyond the usual absurd level of Kasich’s education reform proposals that he likes to dump in his budget bill.

To summarize, if you hold an educator license issued by the Ohio Department of Education and you wish to renew that license, this applies to you.  No exceptions.

But to be serious, the implications of the Governor including this provision are clear – Kasich, who famously compared teaching children to making pizzas, does not believe that teaching is a “real job”.  Educators who work tirelessly to educate children with all of their diverse needs on a daily basis?  Apparently none of that does counts as “on-site work experience with a local business”.

Let that sink in…