In his first State of the State address, Ohio Gov. John Kasich defended his support of a much-debated proposal, which is rolling through the legislature, to curb teachers’ and other public workers’ collective bargaining rights.
The Republican had to overcome a heckler in the audience (apparently a visitor in the House chamber, from what I could gather from the video feed) to get his point across.
Kasich cruised through that brief spate of jeering, telling lawmakers that he “grew up in the ‘70s,” and so he knows something about public protests. His state has seen plenty of those in the time since Republicans, who control the legislature, introduced a sweeping proposal to rewrite collective bargaining laws. That measure would limit bargaining for teachers and other public employees mostly to wages, though it would also mandate that teachers be paid based on performance, as determined by student achievement and other factors. Teachers would not be allowed to bargaining on a host of other issues, such as class sizes, and would be asked to make minimum contributions in paying for their health care.
Kasich, like Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, argues that the proposal will save money for state and local school districts. And like Walker, he said the measure is needed to provide local governments with the “tools” and “flexibility” to lower costs. The Ohio governor, whose state faces an $8 billion, two-year projected budget shortfall, also said he will support efforts to encourage school districts and local governments to share services, as a way to save money.
He vowed to press for more school choice, saying his recent experience watching the film “Waiting for Superman” had convinced him of the need to give students stuck in low-performing schools more options. He also said he would create opportunities in Ohio for Teach for America, a New York-based nonprofit that seeks to bring talented college graduates into teaching.
TFA currently faces restrictions in Ohio because of state rules on the subjects and grades that educators who go through alternate-certification programs can teach. The organization hopes that legislation under consideration in the Ohio statehouse to lift those restrictions, TFA spokeswoman Rebecca Neale said.
Teach for America “is coming to Ohio, I promise you that,” Kasich told lawmakers.
A version of this news article first appeared in the State EdWatch blog.