Apparently, Ohio Governor John Kasich isn’t just running for President; he wants to be the King — and if Kasich were King, those pesky teachers’ unions wouldn’t be complaining about fair pay and treatment. On Wednesday, the Governor said that the solution to teachers worrying about losing their job isn’t to pay them better, to treat them better, or anything that would require actual effort or an understanding of education in general. Kasich’ solution is much more simple: Take away the places in which teachers discuss the very real problems with Ohio’s schools.
It’s no secret that Kasich is not at all popular with teachers. The Enquirer recently asked 355 Southwest Ohio educators if they would vote for Kasich, and only 11 of them said that they would. 89 percent of those asked rated Kasich’s impact on education in Ohio as “extremely negative,” while only one person rated him “extremely positive” — though the governor was slightly more popular with Republicans than with Democrats. The Enquirer notes that much of the animosity stems from Kasich’s signing of S.B. 5 in 2011, a bill that limited collective bargaining rights for public-sector workers. The bill was overturned that fall when teachers and other public workers joined together to overturn the bill in a statewide referendum.
Though Kasich has backed off his union-busting stance, he has done little to win the hearts of the state’s educators. “(Kasich) just has not been education friendly,” Anne Toohey, a guidance counselor and former teacher at Mason High School in Warren County, who says that there is so much red tape that teachers have little time left to actually do their jobs.
“Since Kasich took office, my teaching world has been falling apart,” middle school teacher Mary Hufford said. “The joy has been sucked out of the classroom, because everything is driven by the (state) test.” But that isn’t the only problem, she explains:
Hufford teaches middle school language arts in Clermont County. She lays out her grievances: the new Ohio Teacher Evaluation System; the botched roll-out – and subsequent scrapping – of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC tests; Kasich’s $78.3 million cut to the education budget in July, a single line-item veto.
Asked if she would vote for Kasich for President, she asked, “Can I vote ‘no’ twice?”
Kasich’ mission to alienate the people responsible for educating Ohio’s children continued on Wednesday, when he explained that if he was king, teachers wouldn’t even have a breakroom. At an educations summit in New Hampshire, Kasich complained that teachers think “we’re out to take their job.”
“No we’re not out to take their job. If you need help, we’ll help you. If you’re a terrible teacher, then you should be doing something else because you’re going to find more satisfaction doing something else that you’re good at,” he said. “We have to constantly communicate that.”
And then he renewed his assault on teachers’ unions, explaining that education woes were more concentrated in the teachers’ lounge than his policies:
“I’ll tell you what the unions do, unfortunately too much of the time. There’s a constant negative comment, ‘They’re going to take your benefits, they’re going to take your pay,’ So if I were, not president, but if I were king in America, I would abolish all teachers’ lounges, where they sit together and worry about, ‘Woe is us.'”
In addition to vetoing legislation that would have replaced $78 million that schools lost thanks to a now-defunct tax and other cuts resulting from Kasich’s vetoes (for a total of $99 million in cuts this year), charter schools also sap about $1 billion per year from the already tight state education budget — charter schools which were recently the center of controversy after an education official was busted excluding failing grades for charter schools in evaluations of the schools’ overseers.
Watch Kasich continue his assault on teachers and unions, below:
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Colin Taylor is the editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.