OEA’S 2022 FALL REPRESENTATIVE ASSEMBLY
The 2022 Fall Representative Assembly was held on Saturday, December 3, at 9:00 a.m., at the Ohio Fairgrounds, Kasich Hall (717 E. 17th Ave. Columbus, OH 43211).
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Watch this space for information on the 2023 Fall Representative Assembly.
2022 OEA Fall Representative Assembly takes action to end the educator shortage crisis in Ohio
Delegates to the 2022 OEA Fall Representative Assembly held December 3 focused on the need for advocacy and action to lead change for Ohio’s public schools. The 607 registered delegates at the assembly took action to organize to end the educator shortage crisis in Ohio and to oppose any attempt to weaken citizens’ voices by increasing the threshold of votes needed to pass a citizen-initiated ballot measure to amend the Ohio Constitution. Those participating in the assembly celebrated efforts by members and locals to support Ohio’s students and public schools, discussed the 2022 election and key education legislation, shared organizing and advocacy successes.
In his address, OEA President Scott DiMauro spoke of the challenges facing public education in recent years and the work of members who have persevered despite such challenges. He addressed the issue of the educator shortage and OEA’s efforts to find an end to the crisis. DiMauro also stressed the need for advocacy and action to fight back against legislation detrimental to public education.
“The results of the November election have the potential to put us in one of the most hostile political environments we’ve been in since 2010, when John Kasich was elected and gave us Senate Bill 5. But now, as then, we must dig deep, recognize our power, and use it to defend ourselves, our students, and public education. Leonardo DaVinci’s wise words from over 500 years ago have never been truer: “Nothing strengthens authority so much as silence.” My friends, it’s time to use your educator voice to defend your students’ right to learn! Use your educator voice to end the teacher and ESP shortage! Use your educator voice to stop privatization of our public schools! Use your educator voice to demand fully and fairly funded schools! And use your educator voice to protect our union!”
President DiMauro introduced panelists Jen Miller, executive director of the Ohio League of Women Voters; Cynthia Peeples, executive director for the Coalition for Honesty for Ohio Education; Tom Roberts, president of the Ohio NAACP; and Molly Shack, co- executive director of the Ohio Organizing Collaborative who shared insights about protecting democracy, protecting public education, protecting union rights, advocating for racial, social and economic justice, and protecting our students freedom to learn, and talked about how their organizations can connect with the OEA on these issues.
Miller said that the Ohio League of Women Voters has focused on advocacy issues, including compulsory education and state funding for public schools in Ohio, since its founding. The league partners with organizations like the OEA to defend Ohioans right to quality public education and the right to a functioning democracy.
“Honesty for Ohio Education—a statewide nonpartisan coalition with a top line mission to ensure that every student across the state of Ohio receives an honest, high-quality education grounded in truth, facts, and diverse perspectives regardless of their race, identity, background, and zip code—educates, advocates, and builds community around protecting honest education,” Peeples said.
“What that looks like right now is that we are constantly responding to this national extremist agenda which is essentially trying to dismantle the face of public education as we know it. And they’re using the pipeline of gerrymandering and democracy to do it, because we know that it is our elected leaders at different levels of education that are importing this hurt and harm into public education.
“Education intersects with every facet of our lives, so we all have to pay attention and we cannot politicize and polarize this issue. Public education is the bedrock of a high-functioning democracy, so we all have to be active participants and advocates.”
Ohio NAACP’s Roberts told delegates his organization’s mission is to ensure political, social, economic equality rights to eliminate race-based discrimination and to assure the health and well-being of all persons. In 2017, leadership decided to focus on seven areas one of which was education.
“Let’s make no mistake about it—Our democracy is being challenged by those who don’t believe in a democracy,” Roberts said. “Let’s not be afraid to stand up for this democracy. We should not be afraid to say we are for democracy, and we’re for public education.”
The Ohio Organizing Collaborative is one of the largest community organizing networks in the state, made up of members of faith-based organizations, student organizations, and community organizations. Shack said, “In the faith-based organizing tradition, we talk about a concept called abundance, the idea that we have everything we need right here to provide for our communities, for our families to thrive. And I believe that we have everything we need to have fully and fairly funded schools in Ohio.
“We need to trust educators and local communities to serve their students the best way they know how but there’s a lot of people in the statehouse who do not have the degrees you all have who are trying to decide how we should teach our students and we just think they’re not equipped,” Shack told delegates. “Our mission is to fund our schools fully and fairly. We have enough states across the country, red and blue, that have done this. And frankly, this should not be about right versus left. This should be about right versus wrong. What is right is to fully fund our schools, and that’s what we’re here to do.”
In her address to delegates, OEA Executive Director Patricia Collins Murdock also stressed the importance of connections.
“In 2022, OEA members made critical connections: they connected the dots between local, state, and national elections to what happens in schools; they connected school board elections and levies with strong and successful public schools; they connected local and state educational policies to effective relationships with community partners; they connected what happens at the bargaining table to the best interests of their students, their families, and their communities; and they connected the need for a fair school funding plan to what it takes to have great public schools for every child.
Collins Murdock said connecting OEA’s mission, vison, and goals to its collective actions will allow OEA to build support for public education in Ohio, and that continuing to make timely and effective connections is vital to OEA’s success.
Presenting the Association’s financial report for Fiscal Year 2022, OEA Secretary Treasurer Mark Hill reviewed membership, revenues, expenses, and liabilities.
Hill noted that fiscal year 2021-22 was quite a different fiscal year for the Association than recent years on record. OEA had increases in membership revenue—an important note because member revenue is the mainstay of operational funding for the Association. But financial markets were volatile due to the impact from the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank’s battle against inflation. As a result, OEA recorded substantial losses on the investment of its reserves. The impact of these losses on the overall financial viability of OEA is minimal because OEA does not rely on investment income to fund operations.
As of November 30, membership is 117,029. At the same time last year, the membership count was 118,906 which reflects a 1,697-member reduction. Membership numbers will continue to fluctuate as locals continue to update their records. OEA signed up 5,613 first time members as of the end of November—an increase from 4,193 first time members at the same point last year.
Hill reminded delegates that dues are determined in OEA Bylaws as a multiple of the Average Teacher Salary, two years prior, as reported by the Ohio Department of Education.
In fiscal year 2022, dues increased overall due to a 5.7% increase in the Average Teacher Salary. For the current fiscal year, full-time educator annual dues increased by $14 and ESP dues by $8 because of a 2.6% increase in the Average Teacher Salary. OEA recently received the Average Teacher Salary to be used for the fiscal year 2023-24 dues calculation. Due to a 2.6% increase in the Average Teacher Salary, annual fulltime educator dues will increase by $15 and full-time ESP dues by $8.
“Because we are mindful of expenses, we have experienced a modest increase in dues income, and still maintain a reserve for emergencies; OEA remains in a strong financial position and that allows us to be prepared to tackle the challenges facing our members and public education,” Hill said.
In his report, OEA Vice President Jeff Wensing shared 2022 election results, saying, “While the result of the statewide elections was not in our favor, we should be proud of the unprecedented actions our members took to ensure that their colleagues understood the importance of voting and turned out to vote.”
OEA helped elect allies to the U.S. Congress, including Representative Marcy Kaptur and return her to the U.S. House of Representatives, and two new allies to the U.S. House, Greg Landsman in the 1st Congressional District and Emilia Sykes in the 13th. OEA also helped to flip three State Board of Education districts—sending Teresa Fedor, Katie Hofmann, and Tom Jackson to the State Board and increasing the block of pro-public education allies on the State Board from four to seven.
Wensing shared OEA’s legislative successes in the 134th General Assembly:
- Fair School Funding Plan (HB 110) better supports public schools
- Direct state funding of charters and vouchers protecting local school taxes (HB 110)
- New state report card which eliminates A-F letter grades; including new Student Opportunity Profiles proposed by OEA (HB 82)
- New pathway out of state control for Youngstown, Lorain, and East Cleveland (HB 110)
- HB 151 passed by the Ohio House which makes reforms to the Ohio Teacher Residency Program
- HB 497 passed by the Ohio House ends retention under Third Grade Reading Guarantee.
“These successes make real differences in the lives of your colleagues and the students we serve,” Wensing told delegates. “We must continue working with pro-public education elected officials from both parties to strengthen and protect public education in Ohio.”
He noted that OEA also saw challenging legislation passed into law during the year, including House Bill 99 which gutted training requirements, from over 700 hours to a state cap of 24 hours, for teachers and other school staff members authorized by their local school boards to carry guns in school buildings.
As the General Assembly was set to wrap up before the end of the year, OEA continued to monitor legislation regarding the eliminate mandatory student retention based on test scores under the Third Grade Reading Guarantee; voting rights/HB 294; State Board of Education reform; divisive concepts/anti-LGBTQ+; and other issues.
“We must continue to be vigilant through the remainder of this General Assembly,” Wensing told delegates. “Our engagement of our legislators is critical to pass bills like HB 497 and stop bad policy changes like HB 327 or 616. We must demand that our elected officials do better for our students, colleagues, and public education.
“As the next general assembly begins, we must demand that our elected officials pass policies that support Ohio’s educators and students.”
OEA’s legislative priorities for the 135th include fully implementing the Fair School Funding Plan, addressing the educator shortage, supporting student and staff well-being, enhancing school safety, and protecting the rights of educators.
Wensing followed his legislative report with an introduction of the proposed 2022-2023 Legislative Policies for Achieving Excellence in Education. Delegates adopted the 2022-2023 Legislative Policies as amended.
During the RA, delegates took action to pass the following Emergency New Business Items:
- FA-2022-01—OEA Staff and/or officers will rebrand, create strategies for promotion, and add to the functionality of the OEA Legislative Scorecard website to allow for increased member engagement in legislative advocacy and member lobbying. The increased functionality shall create the ability for reviewing important priority legislation OEA tracks that is relevant to education, the legislator/s who proposed it, and how legislators voted on it.
- FA-2022-02—The Representative Assembly endorses the recommendations of the OEA Educator Voice Academy Cadre on Teacher Recruitment and Retention and directs OEA governance and staff to take necessary steps to immediately organize and implement a campaign to end the educator shortage crisis facing Ohio. Such actions shall include but not be limited to the following:
- Raise member and public awareness about the educator pay gap and organize to increase minimum salaries and overall compensation for educators to attract a diverse pool of caring, qualified, committed people into our professions.
- Advocate for fully and fairly funded public schools, strengthening of retirement security, extension of public service loan forgiveness opportunities, removal of financial barriers for aspiring educators, a comprehensive assessment of alignment of educator preparation programs, and support systems to ensure all educators are adequately prepared for success.
- Improve educator retention by organizing for improved working conditions and student learning conditions, including using labor-management strategies and collective bargaining tools, to ensure all educators are respected and supported in their work with students.
- Work with partners and allies to advocate for a statewide database of education job openings to provide quality, timely data on trends in education employment.
- Identify best practices related to Grow Your Own and Apprenticeship programs, quality mentoring support, effective strategies for elevating and celebrating the education profession and organize for implementation of best practices that will meaningfully address educator recruitment and retention needs in Ohio.
- Align and expand OEA’s continuum of support for promising future educators through local Educators Rising chapters, OEA’s Aspiring Educator Division, the Ohio’s New Educator (ONE) program, support for experienced educators, and OEA’s Retired Division with particular focus on diversifying the education profession and ensuring all members are empowered for success through their involvement in their union.
- Develop and strengthen strategies to recruit and retain educators of color.
- Convene an Educator Voice Academy team of education support professionals (ESPs) to address the unique needs of ESP members and advance organizing and advocacy strategies to recruit, retain and support ESPs in Ohio’s public schools.
- FA-2022-03—The Ohio Education Association shall actively oppose any proposal that would weaken citizens’ voices by increasing the threshold of votes needed to pass a citizen-initiated ballot measure to amend the Ohio Constitution.
At the Fall RA, delegates contributed $35,380.71 to the OEA Fund for Children and Public Education. Winners of the FCPE giveaway were $500— Andre Kuchta (Parma EA), $300— Elliott Bradley (South-Western EA), and $100 – May Alayamini (Canton Professional EA).
The following Constitution articles were read by title for amendment at the May 2023 RA: Article II— Membership; Article III—Governance Structure; Article VII—Appeals Board; Article IX—Affiliates; and Article X—Amendment to the Constitution and Bylaws.