Matthew Kyle
is currently a policy and research intern with Fordham’s Columbus team.
He is working on his master’s degree in education at Antioch
University, after recently earning a bachelor’s in economics from The
Ohio State University.  In pursuit of his master’s degree, he has begun
student teaching and will be entering the field as a full-time
professional in 2012.

I still remember when I was 13 years old and began my first job
bailing hay for a local farmer.  I remember the heat, the dirt and the
sweat that went into that job; it was hard work–for some of us.  As much
as I remember the difficulties of that job, I remember some of my older
co-workers that had been working for this farmer for a couple of
summers sitting down watching a few of us younger kids do most of the
work.  To this day I remember the frustration I felt when I found that
not only were some of them getting paid as much as me, but many were
getting paid more simply because they had been there longer.

A week after Issue 2
was voted down, I’ve had some time to ponder the reasons why I
supported it in the first place, and they still hold true. Here are my

  • As an up-and-coming teacher I desperately want to work in a system
    that rewards me for my efforts.  I am not going into teaching for the
    money; however, I believe that I should be properly compensated for my
    efforts. I am inspired by systems like IMPACT in Washington D.C. where top end teachers can earn bonuses as much as $25K
    and it doesn’t matter how long you have been teaching! I wouldn’t be
    able to give away my tenure fast enough for that opportunity.
  • As someone who studied economics in college, I understand the
    troubles that federal, state, and local budgets are facing during this
    long recession.  So why am I disappointed that Issue 2 failed?  Its
    failure will result in more lay-offs and fewer job opportunities for yours truly.
  • The passage of Issue 2 would have sparked a flood of retirements
    across the state of teachers eager to protect their precious pensions. 
    If the collective bargaining reforms had survived, job openings across
    the state would have flooded the marketplace providing opportunities for
    new teachers with fresh ideas, keeping some of those college graduates
    in Ohio.  This particularly affected me. A teacher, whose position I was
    hoping to fill, may decide not to retire now that Issue 2 failed
    potentially leaving me seeking employment in another city or even
    another state.
  • Now, we have more of the status-quo. More strains on state and local budgets.  More begging for levies during stagnant economic times. More cuts to gifted-programs for students. More cuts
    to sports and other extra-curricular activities.  More low-performing
    teachers protected by tenure. More cuts in busing and administrative
    support. Now we are fixing these problems with less incentive for
    improvement and less opportunity for students.

So what ever happened to that frustrated young man bailing hay?

Since I was not yet part of a union, I was able to take my grievance
to the farmer who employed me.  I received my first raise, and for some
odd reason the next day several of the older boys began to work much
harder.  We even began to brainstorm on ways to improve our efficiency
and began to work well as a team.  It was a small victory in my life,
but a powerful lesson.  At that time, I never would have expected to be
facing the very same frustrating circumstances over a decade later.

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