Eye on Education

Meet Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s Chosen Teacher

“I disagree with so much of what OEA says and does. I can’t imagine them taking even one more penny from my paycheck.”

That’s a Facebook post from Ohio’s new teacher liaison, an elementary teacher from Gahanna named Sarah Dove who has been charged with reaching out to educators across the state to get their input on changes such as a new evaluation system and performance pay, and to communicate teachers’ concerns back to policy makers in Columbus.

Dove’s position isn’t new: The Taft administration, for example, had teachers in similar roles, Ohio Department of Education spokesperson Patrick Gallaway said.

What is new is putting a teacher in that role who is sharply critical of unions and a public supporter of the collective bargaining law that the Ohio teachers’ unions despise. And that highlights the ongoing tension between Republican leaders led by Gov. John Kasich, and unions, and raises questions about which teachers get significant input and how that will be reflected in rules on performance pay, school funding and other changes coming to Ohio schools.

Representing Teachers

Meet Ohio’s teacher liaison

Ohio Department of Education

Name: Sarah Dove

Age: 31

Education: B.A., Communications, Ohio State University; Master of Education, Ohio State University

Experience: Production Assistant, Fox News (three years); fourth and fifth grade teacher, Gahanna-Jefferson School District (five years)

School District: Gahanna-Jefferson is a 7,000-student district in a suburb northeast of Columbus. Sixty-nine percent of its students are white and 26 percent are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch

Salary: $51,544, plus additional pay at $20 per hour for working during the summer. Dove is technically employed by the Gahanna-Jefferson School District, but the Ohio Department of Education is reimbursing the district for her compensation, according to the district’s superintendent.

Source: Ohio Department of Education, Ohio State University, Gahanna-Jefferson School District

Before her current position, which is funded by the Department of Education but based at the governor’s office, Dove spent five years as a fourth and fifth grade teacher in the Gahanna-Jefferson School District, a suburb northeast of Columbus.

Gahanna Superintendent Mark White called Dove “an outstanding educator.”

“She has a lot of energy, knows her students really well, is really bright and is up on the latest practices. She’s a leader in the building and one our bright spots in education,” he said.

As Dove explains it, her job now is to gather input from teachers on the new evaluation system and performance pay plans coming to Ohio public schools and to package it into a report later this year for Robert Sommers, the governor’s lead education advisor, and the Ohio Board of Education.

“I’m here to advocate for my profession,” said Dove, who met Kasich while working as a production assistant on his Fox News show, before she decided to become a teacher.

Even after moving into the classroom, Dove kept in touch with Kasich. She worked on his campaign and served as a founding member of the campaign group Teachers for Kasich. When she was offered the teacher-liaison position, she didn’t feel like it was something she could turn down, she said.

“I, like many, many teachers, was concerned that policy makers and decision makers don’t know what it’s like to be me,” she said.

All After the Same Thing

Dove said she’s one of only two teachers working in the governor’s education policy division, and the only one who’s been in the classroom in the past decade. (The other former teacher is Sommers.)

Since her appointment in June, she has been poring through the 1,300 or so emails teachers sent to the governor in response to his invitation to tell him their thoughts on performance pay and more; meeting with teachers who sent those emails; and talking with members of her office’s performance-pay steering committee, she said.

Some of Dove’s work duplicates that of the Department of Education and the Board of Education. The board is the group actually charged with approving the new teacher evaluation model that the education department has been working on for several years. It has already gathered plenty of input from teachers and principals on evaluation models and plans to gather more during the coming school year.

No matter, said Board of Education Vice President Tom Gunlock, particularly given that the Department of Education had been without a superintendent for several months earlier this year and faces a $6 million budget cut.

“I don’t feel like anybody’s stepping on anybody’s toes by doing it this way,” he said. “We’re all after the same thing, a great education for all of our children.”

But Not Union Leaders

What Dove hasn’t been doing in her role as Ohio’s teacher liaison is talking with education union leaders. She and Sommers have held 19 meetings with teachers to hear their thoughts on how they should be evaluated and paid. But those meetings have been by-invitation-only. Leaders of the Ohio Education Association and the Ohio Federation of Teachers have not received invites.

“I’m going through the emails that we’ve received and looking for people that have valuable things to add. We’re meeting with those people,” Dove said.

OFT President Sue Taylor said by not talking with union leaders—or asking them to publicize opportunities to comment to their members—Dove risks missing out on some teachers’ views, as well as not reflecting the views of educators from different types of schools.

“If he’s (Kasich is) just choosing teachers who’ve supported his campaign (for governor), … then the citizens of Ohio have a lot to fear about the merits and the integrity of whatever education design comes from these mysterious processes and people,” she said.

The OEA would not comment for this story.

For her part, Dove said she has already talked with “lots and lots of union members.”

But “I’m the teacher liaison, I’m not the union liaison,” she said.

A Private Role

Two months into her role as teacher liaison, Dove’s official Twitter account (@OHTeach) already has more Twitter followers than Sommers, Kasich’s lead education policy advisor. (Recent tweet: “I’m hearing from highly effective teachers who want to innovate & lead! What are your thoughts?”)

But on her personal Twitter account (@sarahedove), Dove is a critic of OEA and of efforts to repeal Senate Bill 5, the collective bargaining law that, among other things, bars seniority in determining teacher pay and layoffs. The OEA is one of the biggest backers of a referendum to repeal SB 5 in the November election.

Dove’s public comments on that personal account have sparked reactions from union groups. “Sarah works for the Gov. as his “teacher liaison”. Which is apparently shorthand for ignoring teachers,” @jointhefutureOH tweeted earlier this month.

Dove said she would never use her post as teacher liaison to “advocate for my personal views.”

“My job is to listen and provide feedback and advocate for my profession and that’s what I’m doing,” she said.


  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=740014081 Paula Garfield

    as soon as I saw she worked previously for Fox news..enuf said

  • tsp

    If Ms. Dove does not want to give OEA another penny she can quit complaining and find a job in a private school, parochial school, virtual learning school, or charter school, Oops she will not make as much money or have as good benefits because she is non union. Kind of ironic she works in a public school, reaps the benefits of a union, compains about the union, but won’t leave to teach in a non union school.

    • Amanda in Gahanna

      She doesn’t have the option to be non-union in a public school. That’s the problem. Saying she could go elsewhere when the vast majority of teaching jobs are in the public sector is pretty ridiculous. Why shouldn’t teachers and public schools have the freedom to negotiate salaries, benefits, merit pay, etc.? Our students, schools, and communities would be better served if the system had some flexibility and weren’t being constrained by the union’s requirements. In the end education should be about the kids, not the teachers.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Carrie-Preston/100000765994211 Carrie Preston

        Your school and communities are not constrained by the unions requirements. These “requirements” are negotiated upon the request of the employees and are agreed upon by the school board. Unions have listened to teachers when they negotiate the classroom size, materials to be used in the classroom, and other classroom conditions. It is not all about teachers, talk to some knowledgeable teachers who know what they did not have before unions in the way of classroom size and materials and other classroom conditions that benefit the students. You will learn that we are not just concerned with pay and benefits like most people in their current jobs, or how those in Columbus want you to think.

  • Rj

    Wow……why is ODE paying this person?

    • Jnfsg

      The question is – how much is ode paying this person? What are her benefits – contributions to STRS? Health insurance? Surely she is paying 20% for her health insurance as the governor wanted in SB 5. Well, okay, they went down to 15%. And I’m sure she is paying the 14% in to her retirement system as the governor wanted. Oh, and I’m just certain she has reduced her sick leave to , what is it, 9 days a year? Not what teachers have per year, that would be just wrong….

    • forte

      Because Kasich is a player in ODE.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Carrie-Preston/100000765994211 Carrie Preston

        and not a very good one!

    • Megan raleigh

      she was my old teacher so STOP talking about her she is the best.

  • Forte

    Sarah Dove only has 5 years in teaching. Anybody in the profession knows that she is still in rookie status.

  • K-5 teacher

    The title of this article intrigued me. But then: You’ve GOT to be kidding me, she’s not even teaching! I don’t care if she was a “star teacher” in a great school district for five years, wow funny

  • Rob

    She is just Another Fox liar, no wonder Kasich likes her.
    Kasich should be recalled, why do we have a Fox lying shill who then left to help run Lehman Bros. into the ground and his reward, a tiny majority of ignorant Ohio voters make him Governor.
    I guess running Lehman bros into the dustbin of history, now he wants to take all his failed policies to run a once fine state into the dirt. Please elect this idiot and all his teabagger cronies out of office when their terms are up.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Carrie-Preston/100000765994211 Carrie Preston

    Really if you don’t like unions than give up your job in the public sector and work were there are no unions and let’s see if you still are a fun loving innovative teacher, working for less pay, less benefits, and no pension.

    • Amanda in Gahanna

      then, not than. where, not were.

    • Aaron

      I dont need someone to fight my battles. I negotiate my own contract, letting my work speak for itself. Tenure is bull and nobody is complaining with all these days off… actually I take that back…there is bou d to be a teacher complaining somewhere…. Unions are counterproductive to a realistic, long term sustainable system…. they are bleeding districts dry and bully boards to get it done or take things away like bussing or sports or arts… when a levy fails… its the kids who suffer…cause the teachers deserve more!

  • Meganraleigh

    Mrs.Dove use to work at 136 Carpenter Dr Gahanna Ohio 43230. I know that because im her Ollie. Last year she was my science teacher and the class from 216. Hi Mrs.dove sorry if you get rude comments ur still the best teacher i know hop you come back to jefferson!!! Im in Mrs. McCanns class this year!!


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