1/31/08

GOP lawmaker wants binding arbitration for teachers

A school teacher's work day doesn't end when the day's final bell rings. Professional teachers work hard in Ohio, and deserve respect for their contributions to our communities. That said, a student's right to learn at one of Ohio's public schools shouldn't come to a screeching halt when a union has labor problems with school boards.

Ohio Senate Bill 264, legislation introduced by State Sen. John Carey, a Wellston Republican who is calling his proposal the "Kids First" plan, would put teachers in the same category as Ohio's police officers and firefighters. Namely, it would disallow teachers' unions from striking when contract negotiations come to an impasse.

Instead, the proposal would have teachers and school board negotiators go to binding arbitration to resolve disputes -- as public safety officers do now -- and keep educators in the classroom.

Carey admitted he doubted his plan would pass in the legislature. However, he wanted to get a statewide discussion going about the issue.

Thankfully, we haven't had that issue locally in recent years, at least among teachers. But we agree the time to discuss it is when teachers are not on strike.

Ohio's Constitution promises an adequate education for students enrolled in the state's public schools. A district with teachers on strike, with unfamiliar and possibly untrained substitute teachers, may not live up to the promise laid out by the state constitution.

So, which is more important?

A student's constitutional right to an education, or the method by which teachers and school boards resolve their differences?

It's a tough issue to consider, which is why starting a debate about the issue is a good thing.

Teachers are one of the greatest influences on a child's life. And, the tensions of labor negotiations and a teachers' strike weigh on young minds.

When parents dream about their child's education, they don't think about having to cross a picket line.

Let the debate on this issue begin.

(mansfieldnewsjournal.com)

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