According to the latest Quinnipiac poll, Ohio’s Issue 2 — the issue that addresses collective bargaining and pension and health care benefits for public employees, among other matters — will get trounced at the polls. Nevertheless, we are still getting blitzed by fliers and ads about Issue 2, so the campaigns apparently still think the outcome is in doubt.
One of the anti-Issue 2 mailings features a fresh-faced young teacher named Kyley Richardson of the Continental Local Schools. She says “Issue 2 takes my voice out of my classroom.” The mailing explains that “Issue 2 takes away the voice of teachers to negotiate for things that keep our students safe and successful — like smaller class sizes, up-to-date textbooks and safe classrooms.” It also says that Issue 2 “could force teachers to do even more standardized testing” and “could mean more teacher layoffs.”
According to the school website, Ms. Richardson teaches Spanish at the Continental Middle School. Continental is a small town in rural northwest Ohio. Its website says it is a “very stable community” made up principally of farm families “with excellent work ethics.” It has a population of about 1,100. Given these circumstances, how often do you think Ms. Richardson, or any Continental teacher, has had to engage in hard-fought negotiations about class size or safe classrooms? And if Issue 2 passed, do we really think that Ms. Richardson would be “silenced” — or do we think she could go to the next Board of Education meeting and they would listen respectfully to whatever she might say about “textbooks,” “standardized tests,” and “teacher layoffs”?
With all due respect, Ms. Richardson’s views about what Issue 2 “could” do don’t have a lot of credibility with me. I remain convinced that most public employees oppose the measure because they know it will affect their pay and benefits, and not because of these other issues. Why don’t they just come out and say it?