One might think that my sole purpose in posting would be to anger every single reader.
It might happen.
But it’s not the goal.
It’s nearly voting day and the time has come for me to decide how I vote in regards to Issue 2, the collective bargaining bill in Ohio (as if I have non-Ohioan readers). I’ll be honest, I can’t decide. I hear both sides of the argument and think there are valid points to both.
Disclosure: I have never been a public employee. However, my husband currently is a public employee; he loves his school and thinks highly of the system in place for our circumstances. I’d also like to note that Husband is in a vast minority of having private-sector experience. At least in schools, the majority only have career experience in the public setting, so I don’t necessarily put fault to those who they see the situation from a different perspective.
On the one hand, I think it quite unfair that a large group of possibly-uneducated-about-the-issue voters are making a decision that affects the life situation of others. No one votes on how my pay is calculated.
On the other hand, those voting are also paying the salaries.
On the one hand, these unions and organizations exist for a purpose; good reason founded them. Bad practices have existed and must be prevented.
On the other hand, I’m not a union gal. I think most issues can be worked out when employees do the best job they can and employers do everything they can to empower and enable them to do it well. Any employer worth their salt knows that happy employees are productive employees; that’s how you see results. And the joy (and concern!) of the public system is that these decision makers are hired and voted upon. So when leadership continually disregards the welfare of its employees, then vote. them. out.
My fortunate circumstance includes working for a man who strongly believes that happy employees are productive (and therefore profitable) employees. So, he takes us on holiday trips and picks up the tab. He’s probably ruined my outlook, in a good way. I’m well aware that this situation is in the minority.
On the one hand, I enjoy the robust benefits that the state system offers its employees and families. As the daughter of 2 small business owners, things like “dental and vision” insurance are unheard of. And these premiums that barely reach the three-figure mark but with a deductible smaller than my annual car insurance policy? Good heavens, the breathing room! Yes, I continue to maintain that the health insurance industry will be the demise of our good country. (Last December I “bought” a pair of designer sunglasses for Husband and had my eyes checked for 1/3 of the cost of what I typically paid for a visit. Astounding!)
On the other hand, having lived 9/10 of my life without such cushion, I caution: these are luxuries. Benefits. Not requirements, and many, many people must – and do – live without them. I could add in similar thoughts to the clauses on vacation and sick pay and how the corporate world deals with these issues.
On the one hand, I like performance-based pay. It’s how the private sector works. If you do a good job, you get to keep your job or even get a raise. If you’re not doing a good job, you probably won’t get to keep working. It’s common perception that once you land a public position you may simply maintain status quo and retain your role. The Husband’s school actually told them at orientation that there will be 3 evaluations for him to prove he’s doing what he’s been hired to do; if not up to snuff, then he’ll be looking for a new job after the third year. This isn’t common practice or mentality among public employment and even in a more rigid environment, it’s quite a liberal policy. I’d like to note that the standard time of evaluation for a new job is 90 days. Three months, not three years.
On the other hand, how do we go about evaluating teacher performance? I’m not convinced “measures of student academic growth” is the only indicator we can depend on. I’m a huge advocate that you can lead a horse to water (and don’t get me started on standardized tests)… but something has to be put in both the parents’ and the students’ hands in terms of responsibility for seeing success.
A third hand: however, I do believe effective teachers will see results. And ineffective teachers might not. But they could. But good teachers need not worry; if you’re doing a good job, you’ll continue to be afforded the opportunity to do so. Schools will fight for good teachers and I think we’ll see an even bigger attempt by schools to capture quality educators because there’s a market for them. Schools want to improve.
I do have concerns how market-driven pay will affect the disenfranchised districts, specifically places like the Appalachian region or even my alma mater. I don’t want to see districts that can’t afford it be stuck with bottom-of-the-barrel quality. Fortunately, the market is rich with teacher candidates. But this might be a future concern. (This is why the education system probably needs to remain in the hands of the state, not the market).
Back to that other hand. (I now have 5 hands, which would be helpful also in parenting.) Only 50% of the evaluation is based on student performance. Other factors include quality of practice, based on observations, parent and student satisfaction and communication, and “professionalism, including how well the teacher interacts with students, parents, other school employees and members of community.” So there will be a lot of opinions that go into the evaluation. Sure, some schools might have a jerk of a principal or a parent who believes that teachers should bend over backward for their kids. But there are a myriad of voices in this evaluation. I can see this type of evaluation working well, especially in Husband’s situation. His principal is in every classroom every day. He’s engaged in what is happening around the school and Husband can ask him for feedback at any time and the principal will be able to provide it. He has opportunity, prior to an evaluation, to know what to do better. If we see school leadership taking on this kind of role, I think it works. But I know that this simply isn’t the case in many, if not most, of the schools today. I can’t vote based only upon the ideal, but also the reality.
On that first hand: I have one person evaluating my performance, and while she may seek input from others, what she says, goes. And I have very little say in finding a new manager, unless I want to find a new job. But I also have the option of finding ways to do my job better and seeing results that make her happy.
I’ve read through the Bill
(as best I can with the legal mumbo-jumbo). I like that it blocks an employer from paying into multiple retirement systems for the employee (I’ve read this is common practice, especially with school superintendents – the school/board pays the employee share of retirement for them). I like that it will no longer mandate that non-union employees pay the union fee, which I view as a way of coercing people into the union (“well I have to pay for it, I might as well get the benefits from it…”).
On the other hand, I don’t like that it’s a million and two pages long. I don’t like the political background to it all, including the ins and outs of who is on what committee and how these things filter to the ballot. I don’t feel like these million and two pages are telling us the whole story, so I’m apprehensive to agree to it.
Also, I’ve primarily thought of this in terms of education; law enforcement, emergency personnel, city streets employees… I have not given much thought to how this bill interprets their situation. The guy that scoops the dead animals off the road probably can’t be evaluated like a teacher and deserves some consideration as well.
So, there you have it. Whew. My arms are tired from waving all these hands. Now that I lay it out there, it seems that I’m in favor of the Bill, but I’d love to be convinced otherwise. I’ve got until next Tuesday to sway back and forth.