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The Sound of Ideas

A Labor Dispute at the Heart of the Region’s Livelihood

Posted Tuesday, May 18, 2010

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Contract talks at Ohio's largest school district have reached an impasse over how to close a $53 million budget gap. Among the sticking points are how to decide which teachers get laid off and how much of a pay cut the rest take. Other school districts across the state face similar questions. As Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson has said, the schools' success is vital to 50,000 school children and to the region's future. Tuesday morning at 9, analysis of a labor dispute at the heart of the region's livelihood.


Education, Government/Politics


David Quolke President, Cleveland Teachers' Union
Eugene Sanders CEO Cleveland Metropolitan School District
Scott Stephens reporter, Catalyst Ohio
Thomas Ott reporter, The Plain Dealer

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John 7:55 AM 5/18/10

Fopr Dr. Sanders - is it realistic to layoff this many teachers and still have the district improve it’s academic standing as well as implement the transformation plan?

For Mr. Quolke - While you continue to say you will not negotiate in public, can you say anything about the proposals that you claim the Union has given to the District for consideration?

john 8:22 AM 5/18/10

As a followup do any of the proposals even without specifics save any teacher jobs?

Joane Johnson 8:38 AM 5/18/10

We have been hoodwinked with ‘charter schools’ by way of school vouchers which was really a way to get around separation of church and state issues and like the Civil War, we, black people, were used as the wick to get that bogus fire started.  So don’t insult my intelligence on that one.  I have a really big problem with teachers catching the brunt of failing schools.  Most of it you can lay at the feet of parents.  Period.  My four sisters and I are CPS(Wade Park, Addison and East High) graduates.  So are our children(School of Arts, MLK).  The last two, still in school, are 16 and 14, 11th and 9th graders repectively.  They attend Arts.  The older of the two was inducted into the Honor Society.  She has carries a 4.0 grade average from kindergarten and has passed the senior test without cheating.  My family has instilled the value of an education and it has and is paying off. 
We did our part.  We worked with teachers and made sure our children did as they should. 
Don’t get me wrong, I do not like teachers who are there for a pay check and our children have had to deal with any number of them.  I have a problem with teachers who cannot speak a grammatically correct sentence.  I am black and my parents taught us better and demanded better.  My grandson attends one of the proposed schools for closing.  He is in the second/third grade and reads on an eighth grade level.  His IQ was 115 in the first grade. Has mastered bookworm.  Knows Greek Mythology.  We did this.  We knew the poor teacher would have to deal with being father confessor before teaching anything. From the days of Paul Briggs, when I had to attend half day classes because white people did not want us in their schools, down the street and Wade Park was horribly over crowded, We have been used to our detriment and the detriment of the system by forced busing, charter schools and now this debacle of school closings, mostly on the East side, again.

JOhn 8:46 AM 5/18/10

It sounds as if Dr. Sanders is not listening and that he has already made up his mind and is not willing to discuss anything.

Cleveland Resident 8:52 AM 5/18/10

Eugene Sanders mentioned the transformation plan which is great, he appears to be willing to work on a solution. 

David Quolke mentioned that the teacher’s union is addressing the issue of NOT using seniority as a method of teacher layoffs, but his comments are disingenuous. 

Layoffs are inevitable, all industries across Cleveland have been affected.  I am tired of hearing the teachers union trying to protect themselves.  The Cleveland students deserve better! 

We should start with what is the best way to educate the Cleveland children and work to increase graduation rates.  Get rid of the under performing teachers, period, regardless of their seniority!

Cleveland, North Colinwood Resident

Brian 8:53 AM 5/18/10

What role is the Race to the Top funding playing in the current negotiations, specifically as regards the potential elimination of Teacher Seniority Clause in the CTU/CMSD contract?
Also, can the seniority clause be addressed at the district level seeing as it is written into Ohio State Law?
And finally, what of Senator Harkin’s $23 billion teachers jobs bill - does it threaten to undermine the leverage created by the RTTT dollars?

Maggie Obrien 9:11 AM 5/18/10

I am a teacher in Cleveland, if I give up 4.62% of my salary, and take the increase in healthcare premimums and other benefits cut, plus a step freeze it will add up to more than 15% give back.  Is that fair?  15% to someone like Dr. Sanders who makes 320,000.00 is a year is a whole lot easier for him to swallow than, I who make 65,000.00 a year.  Who will feed my children?  In addition, Sanders says 4.62 will close the budget deficit...not true...if it would eliminate the debt he would accept a straight 4.62 and not ask for more.  He is trying to fund a 70 million dollar transformation plan on the backs of teachers and garner sympathy by laying off teachers.  His chief negotiator claims that 275 teachers will still be laid off no matter how much the union gives back.  Sanders has multiple messages, and multiple personalities to match.  The union is willing to work on a new evaluation system, and tackle other hard issues.  Sanders wants to implement top down as always.

Michelle Webster 3:16 PM 5/20/10

Thank you so much, Scott Stephens and Thomas Ott, for presenting information from both sides in this nasty case of big business balancing their poor budget decisions on the backs of front line employees AND ultimately short changing our children. 

Could Eugene Sanders manage a classroom for forty minutes, let alone a day, let alone teach them anything?  I’d love to be a fly on the wall.

The details and particulars of how the district is attempting to present their side to the public are complex, so hopefully you gentlemen and the rest of the media continue to be attentive to reporting the truth to the public.
Again, many thanks!

Angela Bruehler 8:30 PM 5/22/10

After 12 years of teaching in Cleveland, I am not surprised that the Administration is attempting such big changes. I AM surprised and even disgusted by the Administration’s apparent lack of understanding that we are dealing with people who deserve some amount of dignity: both children and staff. I am more surprised by the public attacks towards teachers: teachers are not teaching, teachers are greedy, teachers are not quality and are lazy. I take huge offense that the public thinks because some of our students are not performing that we are not teaching, and I find it even more offensive that the public is willing to pay athletes and actors millions of dollars per year, but feel teacher salaries are too high if they are over 60k a year. I pay for classroom materials and incentives; I pay for my REQUIRED continuing education; I have also bought studentS (note: that is multiple children) dress-code and lunch and medical care--never once did I call a parent and say they weren’t doing their jobs. Never once did I bring up the families’ short comings in public (until now). Does anyone out there really think it’s possible to teach Physical Science to a child that can’t read or write @ higher than a 2nd grade level? Guess what? I did it. And I know--literally--hundreds of other teachers that are giving as much or more than I am…


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