Posts Tagged 'National Teacher Appreciation Week'

Teacher Appreciation: by State Rep. Teresa Fedor

In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, consider all the ways that teachers have impacted your life.  It is hard to quantify how much or how well someone inspires a child, but the proof is all around us: the American public education system has helped propel the United States to its position as a world leader and will help it stay there.

We need to remember the importance of public education to society and the importance of society to public education.  We need to support our public schools, because all children deserve the benefit of a well-rounded, comprehensive education that creates life-long learners.

Some years ago, I taught in the Toledo Public School system.  The Revolutionary War period was always my favorite thing to teach, and one year I integrated every other subject into a year-long study of the Revolutionary War.  I am also a veteran, so to me it seemed natural to connect social studies and civics.  I remember that year so well because the kids were so engaged – they were so intent on reading, they forgot when it was time to go to gym.  I wanted to pass that love of American history and civic responsibility to my students, because my teachers instilled it in me – and that changed the course of my life.

After 12 years in the Toledo Public Schools, I moved on to elected office and served as a legislator to the citizens of Northwest Ohio.  I have been both a State Senator and a State Representative, and in my years in the legislature, I have noticed that respect for teachers has significantly eroded.  I was shocked last year to hear people criticize teachers as the bane of society, when everything teachers do props society up.  The reality of the obstacles teachers face every day just to do their jobs is sobering – and it is all happening with larger and larger classrooms and smaller and smaller budgets.

When teachers are negotiating to do our jobs, we are advocating for our children.  Politicians think we’re separate from the children we serve, advocating only for ourselves as teachers, but we are advocating for the children we are working to inspire.  As an adult, I can look back at the teachers from my youth – the women and men who shaped me intellectually – and know that they had my best interests in mind, they worked hard, and they only made it look easy.  This week, show your teacher you appreciate the effort!

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Teacher Appreciation: by State Rep. Debbie Phillips

This week is national teacher appreciation week. Each of us can think of a teacher, or teachers, who made a difference in our lives. My children have both had excellent teachers, and we feel very fortunate to live in a community that has such a wealth of smart, caring educators. I hope we all take a moment to thank a teacher this week, and to proudly recognize educators who work every day to help nurture Ohio’s children and prepare them for the future.

Public education is the foundation of the middle class, and we must fight to protect and improve our schools. Having the best schools and teachers is vital to growing our economy and preparing young people in our community for the jobs of the future.

Local school districts across the state are facing difficult decisions, including laying off teachers and cutting programs. Supporting teachers in their work necessarily includes providing the tools and resources to prepare our children for a successful future. It would be wise for leaders to recognize and support their hard work.

We have a responsibility together to make sure schools are working for our children. Last year, the state budget made historically deep cuts to education. To understand the impact, House Democrats calculated the projected school-funding deficit for every school district in Ohio based on their five-year forecasts. The results are sobering. In fiscal year 2014, the combined school-funding deficit in Ohio is estimated to be $1.79 billion.

Every week newspapers around the state are reporting possible teacher cuts, the elimination of bus routes, building closures, and lots of new levy attempts. Rural, urban, and suburban schools are all struggling in the current climate, and we cannot turn our backs on the kids and communities of this state.

My colleagues in the Ohio House and I have proposed a modest plan to help our schools and communities during these difficult times. Our plan, the Kids and Communities First Fund, would make up to $400 million available this year to keep teachers in the classroom, and police and firefighters on the streets.

While this would not solve all the problems, it would provide some immediate relief to communities around the state without a local tax increase. Our fund would use surplus revenue, currently $350 million and growing, and a portion of the Rainy Day Fund. Sadly, when offered as a budget amendment, it was rejected along party lines without ever being seriously considered, but I will be introducing this proposal as a standalone bill in the near future.

Currently, the state of Ohio is functioning without a formula or a plan for funding schools. Governor Kasich’s budget repealed the formula, and replaced it with “bridge” funding. This has caused deep uncertainty for schools, and hearings on a new proposal are only now beginning. I trust that a good faith effort will be made to work together in a nonpartisan way to make real progress on a fair way of funding schools, so that children in Ohio have a good education, no matter where they live.

Students in our region should have access to a full curriculum, high level coursework, early childhood education, and other resources to enable them to develop their talents and find success in the world at large. Teachers are the key, and real appreciation will have to include making sure that teachers can do their life’s work—helping to nurture the inquisitive minds entrusted to their care. Teachers are called to service. Let’s do our part to show respect and appreciation for our teachers by taking seriously our responsibility to fund public education in Ohio.

This week, teacher appreciation week, I thank all the educators who work tirelessly for our children. I will continue working to ensure that our children have access to a high quality public education, throughout Ohio, and I hope you will too.

Teacher Appreciation: by State Rep. Nickie Antonio

Recently we celebrated National Teacher Appreciation Week; the reality that many teachers face in the classroom is anything but appreciation.  Teachers are forced to deal with the results of state budget cuts while at the same time, expected to perform to perfection with limited resources in order to meet state mandates.

In Fiscal Year 2013, Ohio’s schools are facing a budget deficit of over $1.13 billion.  The financial outlook becomes bleaker in Fiscal Year 2014, when the combined budget deficit reaches over $1.78 billion.  These unprecedented cuts have led to teacher and staff layoffs and potential reductions in curriculum across the state.

School districts have taken massive hits on Governor Kasich’s watch. Lakewood City Schools’ projections for the next two fiscal years are short by about $13-15 million. If we want to just get by, the money will have to come from somewhere. Lawmakers can’t keep crying wolf about our schools, saying we have to defund them to “fix them”.  Not only does doing so work against students, families and teachers, but it builds a narrative that public education is so askew that we should settle on privatizing tax dollars for education without acknowledging the excellence that also exists in many of our public schools.

Just a few weeks ago, Cleveland City Schools announced that 508 teaching positions would be lost at the end of this year while another 200 teachers took retirement packages. The district plans on shortening the school day and cutting music and arts programs. At the same time, the district has devised a transformation strategy and will ask voters to further subsidize public education in the area due to some $60 million that was slashed from our district in the biennium budget. Surely we can all agree that there are cost savings measures which could put in place. Teachers consistently take pay cuts, pay for supplies with their salary, and see reductions in benefits. Already, teachers in Cleveland have settled on a 5-6 percent pay cut next year. There’s no compromise from the state.

I want to state here that I support Mayor Jackson’s plan as presented to the Legislature through HB 525. I participated in many of the planning meetings in a process nothing short of amazing. A group of concerned leaders from the Mayor, school superintendent, business and philanthropy made room at the table to include teachers and legislators to refine a plan in hopes of reinventing the CMSD.  I support the legislation as introduced because sometimes exercising leadership requires taking a risk, and this plan gives hope to our children and their future beyond partisan rhetoric.

In this challenging climate other casualties emerge that give me pause. Women are disproportionately affected by education budget cuts as they make up the majority of teachers in our state.  According to the Cleveland Teachers Union, 63% of those who will lose their job with the Cleveland City Schools are women.  The Department of Education states that 85,045.00 of the total 113,123.00 teachers in Ohio are women.  Defunding education certainly will have a negative impact on women and their families. Not much appreciation felt here.

Today, as we continue to face economic challenges, budget deficits, and competing requests for funds such as quality education for all, the public may begin to place blame and point to quick fixes.  But in the spirit of National Teacher Appreciation Week, let’s remember that our teachers are actually investing in Ohio and our children. Maybe the state should think about doing the same.


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