Ohio voters have handed an overwhelming defeat to attacks on workers’ rights, and that’s good news for Idaho students and teachers, Idaho Education Association President Penni Cyr said today.
“One year from now, Idaho voters will have the chance to overturn a bill that, like Ohio’s Senate Bill 5, has eliminated educators’ rights to have a say in their jobs,” Cyr said. “Based on the success of the petition drive last spring, we know that Idahoans are unhappy with Senate Bill 1108 and do not want to see similar attacks spread to other hard-working public employees including police and firefighters.”
“Ohio’s vote was the first sign that Americans are tired of extremist policies,” Cyr added. “Idaho educators have been tightening our belts for several years. We are willing to sacrifice. But we can only cut school budgets so far before our children suffer, and that is what we are seeing this year through crowded classes, pay-to-play policies, and other cutbacks, as well as through the mean-spirited laws passed by the Legislature in 2011.”
Cyr also noted that in Idaho, as in Ohio, opposition to attacks on educators is transcending political lines. “Our children’s future is never a partisan issue,” she added.
Ohio voters turned back the anti-worker legislation in their state by a 61-39 margin, with all but a handful of counties in the politically moderate swing state voting to kill the bill that limited collective bargaining. As in Idaho, Ohioans collected signatures to put Senate Bill 5 to a vote of the people. But in Idaho, referendum elections can only be held in an on-year general election, which is why Idahoans must wait until 2012 to vote to overturn Senate Bills 1108, 1110, and 1184.
NEA President Dennis Van Roekel said the Ohio vote was a backlash against “those who play politics with the lives of teachers, nurses, and firefighters.”
“This vote indicates Ohioans not only support public employees, but they also understand that we have been problem solvers and have done so by making more than $1 billion in sacrifices in just the last three years,” said Ohio Education Association President Patricia Frost-Brooks. “Policy makers behind Issue 2 must respond to the results of this election with fairness for public employees and commitment to safety and service toward our communities. Ohio needs and deserves a full-time focus on jobs and the education of students for good jobs and careers.”
“Issue 2 was a purposeful attack on teachers,” said Courtney Johnson, a high school English teacher in Ironton, Ohio. Johnson became one of the faces of the We Are Ohio campaign to defeat Issue 2. “They said this was about the budget, but it was never about the budget. This was about taking away the rights of middle-class Ohioans.”
Kindergarten teacher Theresa Foster, who identifies herself as a staunch Republican and whose husband is serving in Afghanistan, says that Issue 2 was not about politics; it was about power, political payback, and very bad policy.
“Attacking educators and other public employees is not what I expected and it's not what the Republican Party stands for,” said Foster, who teaches at Glendening Elementary School in Groveport, Ohio. Foster was outraged by how elected leaders in her own party tried to pass such an extreme law that it caused her to go door to door to campaign against Issue 2. “I took a pay cut like many educators and have shared in the sacrifices. I'm disappointed in the leaders of my party, and I'll be watching them from here on out.”
“This decisive vote should be a wakeup call for politicians who go too far or who are considering following in on the footsteps of Gov. Kasich,” concluded Van Roekel. “They'll have to think twice before launching politically motivated and unfair attacks on public workers.”