Quolke's Corner 3/4/12

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QUOLKE’S CORNER
KEVIN O’BRIEN OPINES ON SENATE BILL 5 RESTART
 
It’s not often I read a Kevin O’Brien Op-Ed piece that I find much I could agree with or something that really gets me wondering if his assumptions may be correct. But this past Thursday (in what was still a typical blame teachers and teacher union editorial) two items stuck out with me. 
 
First, I have said all along that the Mayor’s Plan for education in Cleveland is not a “fresh start” but simply a Senate Bill 5 restart. While many have argued that this is not the case, O’Brien cuts right to the chase when he opines…
 
”The party that passed Senate Bill 5 on solid arguments and solid principals needs to step back up to the plate and offer Cleveland to the state as a clear demonstration of the benefits of taking control of a government entity from a union.”  
 
Like I said, I seldom find agreement with Kevin O’Brien but his Op-Ed accurately describes the Mayor’s Plan for education in Cleveland. No where in the Op-Ed piece does O’Brien talk about improving learning outcomes for student.   Nowhere does he talk about quality education in all of our schools. Instead he praises a plan that is Senate Bill 5 on steroids for Cleveland teachers only.
 
EDITORIAL NOTE:
{The CTU had been asked to meet and continue to meet with the Mayor and the partners (Greater Cleveland Partnership, Breakthrough Academies, and Foundations) that crafted the plan.} 
 
Secondly, and what really got me thinking was the connection O’Brien tries to make between unions and our locally elected democratic lawmakers. As it relates to the Mayor’s plan, O’Brien states…The Democrats, willing prisoners of teacher union money that they are, aren’t going to jump on board.” Wow…a pretty strong statement outlining O’Brien’s premise that political contributions control how legislators vote.
 
HHMMMMM.  I remembered the Mayors email to all CMSD employees informing all of us that he directed the CEO to work with the Greater Cleveland Partnership, Break Through Academy, and the foundations to create this plan and I wondered if these members made contributions to politicians. This article made me think of David Brennan and his ties with Republicans and how they voted for charter school legislation that directly benefits Brennan.
 
A little while ago I purchased the list of the top 40 CEOs in NE Ohio and discovered that they made $215,000,000 in total compensation. (Yes, that’s 40 people making $215 million). This is just a little less than the total amount that the 3,000+ classroom teachers in CMSD make. Now, since O’Brien believes that political contributions would be the only reason Democrats would vote against this plan. One could argue the opposite, the only reason legislators may vote for this plan is because of the political $$$ members from the business community and GCP contribute to Republican legislators (similar to the argument of how David Brennan bought legislators for favorable Charter school legislation). 
 
So I did a quick look:   The Cleveland Teachers Union raises about $50,000 a year in our COPE funds. These are voluntary contributions (not dues) made by our members that are used for political contributions. We then coordinate contributions to various candidates with the Ohio Federation of Teachers and make contributions to both candidates and various committees that support our issues. Those candidate contributions can be found on the Ohio Secretary of State website. Likewise, individual contributions can be found on this website.
So I researched a few names of the Cleveland Business Community, GCP, Foundations, etc.  What I found was eye opening. I only did a few names and what I got through was not even close to the entire list business community members and GCP and I haven’t even compiled the individual candidates they made contributions to.
 
Just 10 individuals alone, with ties to the Cleveland Business Community, GCP, or the Cleveland Foundation contributed to the following Political Action Committees between 2008-2011:
 
The Ohio Republican State Central and Executive Committee State Candidate Fund: $172,710
 
The Ohio House Republican Organizational Committee: $67,557
 
The Republican Senate Campaign Committee: $72,500
 
The Cuyahoga County Party Restricted Fund: $107,220
 
And these are not even what they contributed to individual candidates, just Party affiliations. The amount given to Republican in the last 3+ years is staggering. 
 
Based on this information, would it be fair to say that the only reason that a Republican would vote for the Mayor’s Plan is because of the amount of money they are given by corporate executives that are in favor of the plan? If Kevin O’Brien is going to disparage good local Democratic House and Senate members, then he need be consistent and disparage those that contribute to Republicans at the same time. If not, he owes those Democratic legislators an apology.  
 
In Union,
 
David