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Ohio Law Forces Statewide Merit Pay

A law affecting all public workers in Ohio would effectively end tenure-based pay raises for teachers.

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A new law that limits collective bargaining for public workers in Ohio will fundamentally change the way teachers are paid in that state.

Senate Bill 5, signed into law by Ohio Gov. John Kasich March 31, limits collective bargaining for teachers, police officers, firefighters, and thousands of other public employees. This means that automatic pay raises for public school teachers would be illegal, effectively creating the first statewide merit-pay system in the country. The law is scheduled to go into effect by July 1, 2013.

While the law is expected to save the cash-strapped state millions of dollars, teachers aren't happy. Thousands of public employees, including many teachers, protested outside the statehouse in February while the bill was being debated. They argue that a is just one of many factors affecting a student's achievement.

Many states have recently passed, or are debating, bills that would establish merit-pay bonuses, including Indiana and Virginia. The Ohio law is more comprehensive. It eliminates salary schedules, so school districts would be forced to create an entirely new salary system.

Florida recently passed a law that would create yearly contracts for teachers and merit bonuses for new teachers, but current teachers would be unaffected. Under the Florida law, poorly performing teachers would not have their contracts renewed.

According to the Ohio law, pay raises would be based on teacher performance. Teachers would be judged via in-class observations and class performance on a yet-to-be-developed test. The state education board has to adopt testing and evaluation guidelines by July 1, 2012.

For more information, see this article by the Cleveland Plain Dealer, which first reported the story on Saturday.

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