As Gov. Kasich releases his budget,
OEA prepares for referendum on SB 5,
and thanks Supt. Deb Delisle for her service
Governor Kasich's state budget is here, and it fulfills the Governor's stated intent of bolstering charter schools and expanding voucher programs -- all at the expense of the core budgets for traditional public schools.
Click here to see the OEA News Release here.
Please note a change in plans: We will not have a call-in meeting on the budget this Thursday evening. Instead, we're planning a conference call for 7 p.m. Monday, March 21. Watch for an email on how to call in to get our initial analysis of the state budget and how it will affect public education.
I am dismayed and disappointed. The Governor has cut all-day kindergarten and won't fund smaller class sizes for grades K-3, even though the research supports both. Our students are going to lose access to new textbooks, safe facilities and highly qualified teachers in billions of dollars of public school cuts.
Instead, the Governor is pushing money to charter and voucher programs, with research showing they do not improve the chances for student success. We hoped the Governor would focus on the essentials during this tough economy, but apparently not.
Delisle's resignation is a sign of brutal politics
There's a lot of heavy-handed politics going on here, including rude treatment of Ohio Supt. Deb Delisle at the hand of the Kasich-engineered GOP majority on the Ohio State Board of Education today. Even one Republican board member, Robin Hovis, called it "disgusting" as he was replaced by Tea Party advocate Debe Terhar of Cincinnati.
Deb Delisle served Ohio schools with integrity and energy, and she collaborated well with Ohio's elected leaders, as well as with all the education stakeholders, including OEA. She will be missed.
Clearly, this is designed to push a charter school, private school and voucher agenda at the expense of the 90% of students who attend our public schools. To attack the unsuspecting, they are moving fast, moving Republicans from House and Senate committees -- and now the State Board -- if they're not "on the bus."
If SB 5 passes, the referendum effort begins
We're working hard, but it looks like SB 5 will pass the Ohio House soon. If the House rubber-stamps the Senate-passed version, the legislation could go quickly to the Governor for signature. Once the Governor signs SB 5 into law, we have just 90 days to gather 231,149 valid signatures for the referendum vote November 8, 2011. Only the voters can reverse SB 5.
So as early as next week, we will be gathering signatures to repeal SB 5 in a referendum. We will need to channel all the energy of the last month into these fights – fast! Local leaders will need to drive member and community involvement on this issue. The alternative: live with less service, more costs, less fairness, less opportunity -- and less influence for all of us on the future of Ohio..
But we are not alone, and you are great messengers
We have to remember that all of organized labor -- the AFL-CIO, Teamsters, SEIU, AFSCME, OFT, CWA, OCSEA, OAPSE, the IAFF and FOP are all working overtime with us to fight back.
We all recognize that the key to driving public support for signatures and votes is to talk about education opportunity for students and quality services in our communities. But we also agree the referendum on SB 5 will be a tough door-to-door, face-to-face campaign.
Fortunately, you as our members and our allies in the safety forces enjoy positive support, as does collective bargaining for public employees. Meanwhile, Governor Kasich's approval ratings are tumbling. That's good news both for collective bargaining and for K-12 and higher education.
Our battles on multiple fronts -- and the need for action
This is our reality now. This is where the big issues start mounting up, and we don’t have the luxury of fighting just SB 5, or just the budget!
What can you do? Start planning your meetings on the referendum signature campaign now, and we'll get you materials. Start the conversations you need to recognize the threat to our members and start organizing them around the threat. Attend rallies, call legislators and keep the pressure on. Most of all, stay unified in our purpose and mission!
- Patricia Frost-Brooks