‘Blame the Teacher Movement’ a Union Thing

In last year’s budget bill, a provision was inserted that required core subject teachers in buildings that scored in the bottom 10% on the Performance Index to be re-tested. Schools can then use these re-tests in personnel decisions.

This spring the law was updated by SB 316. Now, the re-test requirement only applies to “teachers (who) have been rated ‘ineffective’ on evaluations for two of the three most recent years.” However, legislators and the governor actually approved the language of the budget bill, so in this post I put forward an examination of what lawmakers in Ohio actually voted to do and the consequence that action would have. There is no guarantee they won’t do this again.

Looking at the new Report Card data from last week, a total of up to 8,600 teachers would need to be re-tested in 35 districts under the budget language. It is difficult to know how many exactly would have been re-tested because the Cupp Report, which lists the number of full-time teachers, does not break them out by core and non-core subject teachers. The teachers listed there are the teachers who conduct “instructional service delivery of regular education to non-special and non-career tech education students.” If all the teachers listed in the Cupp Report had to be re-tested, it would be 8,617.

Some districts could have had more than 3 out of 4 teachers subject to testing, according to the data.

Is it really possible that all those teachers are to blame for low test scores, or even the fewer that will be tested post-SB 316? How about the fact that the average poverty rate in those 35 districts is about double that of the average Ohio district? The data and research indicate it is, in fact, poverty that drives test scores.

Take Warrensville Heights. More than 77% of that district’s teachers could need to be re-tested. In Cleveland, 69.4% could need re-testing. In Akron, 40%, and in Richmond Heights, 51%.

I include the list of districts, with the numbers of teachers in each eligible building, at the bottom of this post. The number required to take the test would have likely been less, but most teachers listed in the Cupp Report are, in fact, core teachers — especially in early grades. So it won’t be a huge difference.

The bottom line is this: Public school teachers get hammered for producing Performance Index Scores that are in line with what one would expect, given the demographics of the district. This “Blame the Teacher” movement is truly poisonous. Think about it. We expect teachers during the course of the day to serve as teachers, therapists, police officers and parents. And if the children don’t score well on a test whose outcome is all but assured given the district’s demographic makeup, then it’s the teachers’ fault. Or it’s the union’s fault.

Really?

So whose fault are the pitifully low scores of the non-union Charter Schools? Their average Performance Index score is worse than all but 5, or 0.8% of school districts.

Since there’s no similar outcry from the state’s leadership about Charter School teachers, I’m thinking that this isn’t really a teacher thing.

It’s a union thing.

 

District Number of Teachers Potentially
Re-tested
Total Number of District Teachers % of Districts Teachers Potentially Re-Tested % of Children in Poverty
Warrensville Heights City 101 131 77.1% 60.17%
Cleveland Municipal 2155 3107 69.4% 100.00%
Lima City 198 298 66.4% 80.83%
Dayton City 653 986 66.2% 92.51%
Columbus City School District 1785 2939 60.7% 81.86%
East Cleveland City School District 138 231 59.7% 88.47%
Youngstown City Schools 264 464 56.9% 91.87%
Lockland Local 27 50 54.0% 62.92%
Lorain City 275 514 53.5% 84.51%
Western Local 24 45 53.3% 81.57%
Jefferson Township Local 19 36 52.8% 5.26%
Warren City 190 368 51.6% 75.19%
Richmond Heights Local 24 47 51.1% 52.98%
Euclid City 154 375 41.1% 66.03%
Springfield City 174 441 39.5% 76.27%
Akron City 669 1704 39.3% 84.70%
Garfield Heights City Schools 78 205 38.0% 64.74%
Maple Heights City 79 233 33.9% 70.79%
Toledo City 518 1560 33.2% 76.65%
Cincinnati City 643 1970 32.6% 69.70%
Bettsville Local 4 15 26.7% 56.57%
New Lexington City 29 114 25.4% 58.23%
Canton City 154 645 23.9% 80.61%
Mansfield City 44 280 15.7% 84.05%
Winton Woods City 35 230 15.2% 57.70%
Painesville City Local 27 183 14.8% 75.94%
Cleveland Heights-University Heights City 64 466 13.7% 61.25%
Trotwood-Madison City 21 158 13.3% 81.93%
Whitehall City 23 175 13.1% 75.69%
Coshocton City 14 121 11.6% 59.70%
Athens City 20 215 9.3% 34.06%
Barberton City 24 259 9.3% 70.65%
Groveport Madison Local 22 318 6.9% 57.98%
Middletown City 27 427 6.3% 71.53%
Princeton City 20 377 5.3% 58.61%
Grand Total/Average 8617 19687 43.8% 70.04%