Ohio Law Would Force Public Schools To Share Levy Money With Charter Schools

photo of Columbus Mayor Michael B. Coleman
Columbus Mayor Michael B. Coleman (D) supports taking money from public schools

This was a very scary read in the Columbus Dispatch. It seems a bill in the Ohio legislature, if passed, would require the Columbus City School District to share future levy funds with charter schools in the city. Some Democrats including Columbus Mayor Michael B. Coleman support the slap to Unions and voters. He and other supporters claim that the measure would improve education in the city but current science doesn’t support that view. The bill is another attempt to corporatize education and give a big pay day to Charter school operators.

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Aaron Swartz Case Highlights Our Unbalanced Scales Of Justice

clipart of justice scales

I didn’t know who Aaron Swartz was before hearing about his death this weekend. I realized I had heard of him once his biography was reported when the story of his death spread across the Internet. It seems Swartz committed suicide and that action might have been the result of stress due to his upcoming trial for computer fraud and abuse. If convicted he was looking at least 35 to 50 years in federal prison. What crime did he commit with his computer? He “stole” information from behind a paywall that he believed should be free to the public since we paid for the creation of the information. While his death is tragic for his friends and family, his case shows how unbalanced our justice system can be.

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Troublesome that Rep Jordan doesn’t know how postal service works

I was checking out the Toledo Blade today and stumbled onto an article talking about the trouble caused by consolidating the US Postal Service’s Lima sorting center with the Toledo operation. The article quoted Congressman Jim Jordan who represents the district that was served by the Lima center. Unfortunately he, like many Americans, falsely believe the postal service is supported by direct tax payer dollars.

“When it comes to government consolidation, streamlining, and saving money, we’re all for it. In fact, we’ve been one of the loudest voices in Washington for finding ways to save federal money,” said Ray Yonkura, Mr. Jordan’s chief-of-staff.

But when the congressman’s office began getting flooded with calls from constituents about erratic mail delivery after the consolidation, he stepped in. Mr. Jordan asked the Office of Inspector General to review the consolidation to reveal what went wrong, whether the hundreds of complaints his office received were legitimate, and what could be done to fix things.

USPS consolidation sparks complaints in Lima

Congress does have oversight of the postal service but it hasn’t been supported by tax dollars since 1970.

The Modern Postal Service: Agency or Business?

Until adoption of the Postal Reorganization Act of 1970, the U.S. Postal Service functioned as a regular, tax-supported, agency of the federal government.

According to the laws under which it now operates, the U.S. Postal Service is a semi-independent federal agency, mandated to be revenue-neutral. That is, it is supposed to break even, not make a profit.

In 1982, U.S. postage stamps became “postal products,” rather than a form of taxation. Since then, The bulk of the cost of operating the postal system has been paid for by customers through the sale of “postal products” and services rather than taxes.

About the U.S. Postal Service

And from the USPS website:

0 — tax dollars received for operating the Postal Service

Postal Facts

So Jordan’s effort to score political points took a hit on this issue.

Toledo Blade columnist doesn’t understand how education system works

Anytime a state or school system has financial problems, conservatives tend to argue that teachers are paid too much and the system can’t get out of hock because of the big bad teachers union. Jack Kelly, a columnist with the Toledo Blade, goes back to that well to attack public employees in general and teachers and unions specifically.

In 2009, state and local government employees had total compensation packages that averaged $39.66 an hour, 45 percent more than the $27.42 an hour earned by workers in the private sector, according to a study by the Cato Institute.

Education is a good example. A whopping 27 cents of every state and local tax dollar goes to K-12 education. In 2008, according to the Center for Education Reform, $10,889 was spent per student in public schools.

Public employees make too much

Kelly is barking up the wrong tree for a couple of reasons.

Teaching is a profession and as such someone can’t be a teacher unless they graduate from college. It isn’t like making butter knives where someone off the street can be trained for a couple of weeks and do the job. In order for a teacher to get a raise they have to increase their education level. The teachers who make the most money are the ones who have the highest level of education themselves. Teachers can’t just pick up a teaching job in the private sector. Private schools that hire usually stick with new teachers with only the minimum education.

Education isn’t a factory where labor is merely a variable cost. We are talking about an important part of our lives, the education of our children. I don’t think any parent would want to outsource education on the cheap. Many towns and cities “value” is in part due to the quality of the schools. Those areas with “poor” schools don’t grow and improve. It is a lot cheaper to spend money on better schools than to build new roads.

Why is it teachers have to take the hit when a school is in money trouble? No one really talks about the administrators who make more than a teacher and we don’t hear about cutting the perks those administrators get like a car allowance for example.

It seems that went cuts are needed teachers and books get the ax first. That is insane since that is the reason the educational system exists – education – without teachers or books there isn’t education.

The argument against the teacher’s union is simply silly.

It takes two to tango. No school district is forced to sign a union contract with teachers. That goes for any entity signing a contract with any union.

I’ve taken classes on how to bust unions and I know if push came to shove a school district could get out of having the union contract. It would be messy but if the issue is serious enough to do it then they should. People like Kelly attack unions because they want a scapegoat and not show any responsibility to the other group that signs the contracts.

Let’s stop the hate on teachers and unions and deal with real ways to save money as long it doesn’t hurt the children or undercut education.

Public works IS a national interest

On Saturday, President-elect Barack Obama announced the largest public works program since the Eisenhower adminstration in the 1950’s.

Today, I am announcing a few key parts of my plan. First, we will launch a massive effort to make public buildings more energy-efficient. Our government now pays the highest energy bill in the world. We need to change that. We need to upgrade our federal buildings by replacing old heating systems and installing efficient light bulbs. That won’t just save you, the American taxpayer, billions of dollars each year. It will put people back to work.

Second, we will create millions of jobs by making the single largest new investment in our national infrastructure since the creation of the federal highway system in the 1950s. We’ll invest your precious tax dollars in new and smarter ways, and we’ll set a simple rule – use it or lose it. If a state doesn’t act quickly to invest in roads and bridges in their communities, they’ll lose the money.

Third, my economic recovery plan will launch the most sweeping effort to modernize and upgrade school buildings that this country has ever seen. We will repair broken schools, make them energy-efficient, and put new computers in our classrooms. Because to help our children compete in a 21st century economy, we need to send them to 21st century schools.

As we renew our schools and highways, we’ll also renew our information superhighway. It is unacceptable that the United States ranks 15th in the world in broadband adoption. Here, in the country that invented the internet, every child should have the chance to get online, and they’ll get that chance when I’m President – because that’s how we’ll strengthen America’s competitiveness in the world.

In addition to connecting our libraries and schools to the internet, we must also ensure that our hospitals are connected to each other through the internet. That is why the economic recovery plan I’m proposing will help modernize our health care system – and that won’t just save jobs, it will save lives. We will make sure that every doctor’s office and hospital in this country is using cutting edge technology and electronic medical records so that we can cut red tape, prevent medical mistakes, and help save billions of dollars each year.

Weekly Address

Not only will this try and jump start our crashing economy but would fix some serious problems we have with our infrastructure. The prime example of the teetering collapse was the literal collapse of the I-35 bridge in Minneapolis in 2007.

Of course some people will complain about the spending of large sums of tax payer dollars but like the Interstate Highway System, our infrastructure should be of a national interest. Good roads, safe bridges, and school buildings are foundations for a strong society.

Only the federal government can marshal the money and vision to make these things happen on a scale to help the country on the whole. The Interstate system not only helped to support the military if needed, it transformed the economics of this country and allowed for more national businesses rather than local or regional ones. With that scale came lower prices and new products and services spreading from coast to coast. Would McDonald’s be an American icon today if there had not been interstate highways?