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What’s Working in Ohio- Standing with and Supporting Teachers

Photo Courtesy of Hilary Frambes

The past few years have been anything but easy for those in the teaching profession in this country.  Not only have teachers been the focus of blame for everything that is wrong with public education, but lack of funding, mandates requiring more standardized testing, and attacks on unions all serve to further dishearten our nation’s teachers. 

Senate Bill 5 which passed last year in Ohio, greatly reduced teachers’ abilities to collectively bargain for things such as smaller class sizes.  Of course public employees consist of more than just teachers.  First responders, nurses, and government employees’ collective bargaining rights were all affected by the passage of this bill.  However, teachers do make up a great majority of the public employee system in Ohio.  After this bill passed, something amazing happened.  Organizers all across the state collected a record 1.3 million signatures, to get a referendum on the November, 2011 ballot to overturn Senate Bill 5.  As a result, the referendum easily made it on the ballot as “Issue 2”. 

Television advertisements were aired by those both for and against Issue 2 in the weeks leading up to the election.  One particular advertisement featured a teacher standing in front of a typical classroom touting a message that passing Issue 2 would ensure that good teachers would be rewarded through merit pay instead of “just showing up for a paycheck”.  I don’t know about you, but frankly I don’t know of any teachers who go into the profession just to collect a paycheck.  They choose to teach because they want to make a difference in the lives of young people.  They teach because they truly care.  Thankfully the people of Ohio saw through the rhetoric and voted to repeal Senate Bill 5 in a landslide. 

I think the repeal of Senate Bill 5 sends a powerful message to our young people.  It shows them that anything can be accomplished if enough people care and join together for a worthy cause.

At this time of year, I think it’s important to reflect upon everything we have to be thankful for.  Our family is lucky enough to live in the Jonathan Alder district in a rural suburb of Columbus, Ohio, with amazing teachers who in the past few months voted to accept a pay freeze.  This is not what I would call “just showing up for a paycheck”.   I’ve had the pleasure of knowing these teachers since my son was in kindergarten 7 years ago.  They have always gone above and beyond for both of my children and I truly appreciate that. 

When I think back to my own education, I reflect upon teachers in my life who really made a difference.  They saw potential in me when I couldn’t see it myself.  Great teachers can inspire.  That’s the educational experience I want for my own children.  This is why I choose to support and stand with teachers, as the majority of Ohioans did on Election Day in November.  I think about all of the good that they do day in and day out.  Let’s face it… the education of our children is the most important issue of our times and we need to support those who guide our children on their educational journey.

I believe teachers are an extremely important part of children’s lives as well as the future of our nation, however, they cannot do it all alone.  Parental involvement is definitely part of the student success equation.  I think it’s important for parents to be aware of any legislation that may affect their children’s teachers and schools.  Look beyond television advertisements and sound bytes.  Do your own research and homework on the issues and ask yourselves if what is being presented is in the best interest of our children.  As my friend and professor Dr. Elizabeth Delacruz says, “We are all in this together”. 

Hilary Frambes is the proud mother of two children: Grant age 11 and Maddy age 8, living in a rural suburb of Columbus, Ohio with her husband, Jeff.  As a visual artist and art education advocate, Hilary started an after school art program for 4th graders in her children’s elementary school along with the school art teacher.   Additionally, she is pursuing her master of art education through University of Florida’s online program, with a prospective graduation date of August 2012.