Putting Education Reform To The Test

Why Issue 2 Would Make Ohio Schools More Like Florida

Ohio AFL-CIO / Flickr

A woman protests against Ohio's Senate Bill 5. A referendum called Issue 2 would ratify those changes to public employee pay and collective bargaining rights.

A lot of money and attention is flowing into Ohio’s Issue 2 election Tuesday. If it passes, it would allow Ohio to do a lot of things Florida has already done.

Our friends at StateImpact Ohio have laid out the pros and cons of the referendum, which places limits on how public employees can collectively bargain and makes huge changes in how teachers are paid.

Florida made a lot of these same changes earlier this year with Senate Bill 736. Florida’s reform package and Ohio’s share a family resemblance.

  • Rating teacher performance. Florida’s law requires districts to rate teachers and administrators annually, with half of their score based on student Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test. Ohio’s proposal requires that most teachers be evaluated at least once a year and that school boards use the evaluation results to “inform” decisions about pay, non-renewal of employment contracts and termination.
  • No more automatic raises. In Florida, teachers no longer are guaranteed additional pay for advanced degrees. Ohio’s plan would eliminate automatic pay raises based on seniority and substitute performance pay based on a plan that is still being developed.
  • No more tenure. In Florida, new hires no longer enjoy long-term contracts, but instead must be rehired on an annual basis. If it passes, Ohio’s plan would do the same.
  • Requiring educators to contribute more to their pensions. Florida’s teachers took a 3 percent pay cut, supposedly to support their pensions (although the money went back into general revenues.) Ohio’s proposal requires educators to pay at least 15 percent of the cost of their healthcare premiums and contribute 10 percent to their pensions.

One big difference is collective bargaining. Ohio’s plan eliminates the requirement that schools collectively bargain over wages, hours and working conditions and prohibits collective bargaining over maximum class sizes. It also allows a school board to impose a contract on employees when all else fails, and prohibits public employee strikes.

On the other hand, Florida still has collective bargaining — it’s guaranteed in the state constitution. But public employees already cannot strike.

And despite all the efforts of public employee unions and the Florida Education Association, Senate Bill 736 steamrolled through the Florida legislature and became law — although it’s being challenged in court. In Ohio, there’s a good chance their referendum could fail.


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