Issue 2, the referendum on collective bargaining law Senate Bill 5, would bring sweeping changes to how local and state governments operate, and to the lives of public workers — especially educators. Whether Issue 2 passes or fails could also affect homeowner property tax bills.
To help our readers educate themselves about Issue 2, we’ve summarized the arguments for and against some of the biggest changes Senate Bill 5 would bring to Ohio’s public education system:
1. SB 5 requires many public sector employees to pay a greater part of their health benefits and some to pay higher pension costs.
- On one hand: Requiring educators to pay at least 15 percent of the cost of their healthcare premiums and contribute 10 percent to their pensions would bring them more in line with private-sector workers and reduce school district costs.
- On the other: These changes would effectively reduce educators’ pay and limit their ability to negotiate. These and other changes included in SB 5 could make teaching a less attractive career for some talented potential teachers.
2. SB 5 abolishes tenure for teachers who don’t already have it.
- On one hand: Currently teachers can earn tenure, also called a continuing contract, after at least seven years of service and after meeting other requirements. To fire a teacher with tenure, a school district must follow a set legal process. Districts say this process can be expensive and thus it’s not common to try to dismiss a tenured teacher. Abolishing tenure for new teachers could reduce district costs.
- On the other: Because tenure makes it harder to fire teachers, it can protect good teachers from being dismissed without good reason.
3. SB 5 requires that most teachers be evaluated at least once a year and that school boards use the evaluation results to “inform” decisions about pay, nonrenewal of employment contracts and termination.
- On one hand: Having more information about teachers’ performance and using it to guide these important decisions could help schools identify and retain great teachers; identify good teachers and help them improve; and identify and remove lower-performing teachers.
- On the other: Each district can develop its own evaluation system as long as it follows certain state guidelines. A poorly designed or implemented evaluation system could ingrain favoritism and have negative effects for Ohio teachers and their students.
4. SB 5 would eliminate automatic pay raises based on seniority and substitute performance pay based on a plan that is still being developed.
- On one hand: For most Ohio teachers, salaries are not now directly connected to their classroom performance. By tying compensation to classroom performance, school districts will be able to identify and reward great teachers and give lower-performing teachers less of a reason to stay in the classroom.
- On the other: A poorly designed or implemented evaluation system could lead to unfair differences in teacher pay. And competition among teachers could lead to less collaboration among a school’s staff, which could hurt students.
5. SB 5 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 one hand: The changes give school boards much more power to control costs and gives them the upper hand in determining class sizes and other working conditions.
- On the other: The changes remove a powerful way for teachers to shape their schools and influence their compensation and working conditions. They also remove a check on school boards’ power. The changes lessen the opportunity for rigorous examination of what is in students’ best interests.