Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Ugly defeat in Ohio should be a wake-up call for education reformers across America

I have mixed feelings about the beating the unions put on the Republicans in Ohio.  I think Republicans went too far in pushing their agenda, but the victory by the unions will surely embolden them to resist ALL reforms, even wise, much needed ones…  Here's EAG's take:


November 9, 2011


Ugly defeat in Ohio should be a wake-up call for education reformers across America


By Steve Gunn

EAG Communications


     COLUMBUS, Ohio - There are two important lessons to be gleaned from Tuesday's catastrophic election results in Ohio:


     It's unwise to make major changes to longtime state policy without first educating the public.


     And once you've riled up the big money leadership of Big Labor, you shouldn't spend weeks yawning and stretching before preparing to fight back.


     They learned those lessons the hard way in Ohio, where Issue 2, which would have upheld Senate Bill 5and limited collective bargaining privileges for public employee labor unions, went down to an ugly defeat. Sixty-three percent of voters opposed the public union reform law.


     That means Ohioans can probably expect a major push-back from labor in the coming months, which will be bad news for many school districts. Local teachers unions will feel like they have a mandate from the public to demand even higher wages and more lucrative benefits, at a time when schools can least afford them.


     There were rays of hope in the months following the passage of SB 5, even though the law was suspended pending the election. Some local teachers unions, fearing the loss of collective bargaining, raced back to the negotiation table and made major financial concessions in exchange for extended contracts. This saved some school districts millions of dollars, which preserved the jobs of younger teachers and many student programs.


     Now we're certain those unions that panicked regret the concessions they made. And you can bet the unions that held out will not be offering any type of concessions any time soon.


     The voters tragically put Big Labor back in charge of the schools.


Sorry to say we saw this coming


     Many observers, including our staff at Education Action Group, saw the disastrous election result on the horizon. We noticed trouble as early as August, after the unions had already collected more than a million petition signatures to put SB 5 on the public ballot, and had already started building a huge campaign war chest for the general election fight.


      The Ohio Education Association, the state's largest teachers union, led the way by charging individual members an extra $54 to put toward the campaign. That alone raised about $5.5 million, and other angry unions followed that example by dumping millions into the effort.


     Meanwhile, supporters of the legislation, like officials from the state chamber of commerce, were telling reporters they still hadn't decided how much they would spend to defend the new law.


     In the end, labor opponents of SB 5 raised about $30 million, while supporters raised about $9 million.

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