We don't email our supporters often, we know you receive too much already, and we also know that most of our supporters follow us closely on Facebook,Twitter and our blog, but by now you have probably heard that the Columbus suburb of Reynoldsburg has become the front line in the fight between two very different visions for the future of education in our state.
On one side, a well-connected Superintendent, hand-picked and groomed by State Superintendent Richard Ross, a deeply divided school board, and the management attorney involved in 8 of the last 12 teacher strikes in Ohio is pushing an anti-public education agenda. On the other side, the 364 educators of the Reynoldsburg Education Association and the strongly supportive Reynoldsburg community are standing up for the future of public education in Ohio.
This was a fight that was picked intentionally and with a purpose. The board’s first proposal, was an appalling list of concessions and corporate reforms; no language on class size, planning time to be spent in meetings rather than teacher self-directed planning time, the end of a traditional salary schedule to be replaced by merit pay without defined criteria for obtaining it, the end of traditional employer health insurance by shifting all employees to the Affordable Care Act. Nothing was offered by the board to address the fact that one in five teachers left the district after the last school year. The list read so much like a corporate reform playbook we’ve brought to light over the past few years on Join the future.
The Reynoldsburg teachers message to the community is clear and simple: We are fighting for the schools Reynoldsburg students deserve, including class size limits and addressing runaway teacher turnover.
The community has responded in a huge way. Six hundred supporters, community members and REA members packed board meetings. Parents swarmed the Superintendents “office hours” causing the Superintendent to escape out the back door of the board office and refuse media questions. Two thousand “We Support Reynoldsburg Teachers” yard signs were distributed and gone in less than 48 hours and now dot lawns across the city. On the night when teachers rejected the board’s “offer” by 97%, more than 50 students and community members waited three and a half hours outside the meeting to chant, greet teachers, and show their support.
Despite all of this pressure, the board remains dug in. September 8th, teachers issued a 10 day strike notice for a work stoppage to begin September 19th. Now Reynoldsburg teachers need our help. Here’s what we can do: