Dear Editor, I am a 5th year teacher at Portsmouth City Schools. I love teaching my 3rd grade students and working in my home community. I am married and just starting a young family and would like to finish my career in my hometown. My husband also works as a public employee here in the city. Recently, there has been a wave of criticism turned towards public employees that has manifested in Senate Bill 5. I am writing to inform and express deep concern over the proposed Senate Bill 5. This bill will adversely affect all public employees (police, firefighters, teachers, state workers) and, therefore, our community and our local economy. As a local teacher, I am very concerned about the strain this bill will put on our profession and our abilities to truly focus on our students. There is also another proposed HB 30 that could eliminate restrictions on class size that would further hurt our students. Please don’t believe the lies being told. SB 5’s main focus is not to save money; its main purpose is to take away our unions. SB 5 does negatively affect our salaries and increase our health care and retirement costs, but it also takes away our seniority, our right to a continuing contract, our step-pay increases and our collective bargaining rights that have been working well for almost 30 years. This agenda is wrong, and it will hurt Ohio. Presently, the state average salary for teachers is $55, 000. As a young teacher I make a little over $40,000. This is with both a bachelor’s degree, master's degree and extra coursework that is required for license renewal. Additionally, many of us are paying on student loans which already places a significant burden on us financially. For our area, the state average is at the high end of our pay scale. None of us are getting rich! Furthermore, state/public workers have already taken financial "hits" for the state. In my district, we did not get a raise this year. We have also made insurance sacrifices already. Additionally, I know that other state employees have taken forced furlough days. But this bill puts us, working class Ohioans, in financial danger. Also, state workers' salaries make up only a small percentage of the state’s budget--not a large enough portion to significantly cut the budget deficit. Personally, if you cut my salary and make me pay more of my health insurance/retirement costs, I will most likely have to sell my house, stop saving for my child's college, and budget more of my dollars that I now spend in the community--which in turn hurts our local economy. And, with all of these financial burdens now on my plate, it will make it harder to focus on my job. Additionally, state workers are taxpayers too, but if this bill passes and our salaries decrease, then Ohio will also collect less taxes from us and will therefore hurt the state's budget more. Moreover, as teachers, taking away our bargaining rights takes away from us being able to only focus on our teaching jobs. Instead we will constantly be worried about this new merit pay system, our job security, our funding, etc. Taking away collective bargaining gives the state too much power. Our government is rooted in a system of checks and balances. This unbalances the democratic system. This is a huge step in the wrong direction. Please believe that we are working so hard for the state of Ohio and your children! This bill is leaving us with a feeling of violation and a sense of no place to turn. Please call Senator Niehaus and Representative Johnson at 1-888-907-7309 and tell them to vote no on this bill so that we can stay focused on our students and be able to afford to continue in the job love--which is teaching our children. This bill affects everyone negatively. Please think of your state workers, your neighbors, your community, your local economy and the people that we are helping every day and how such a bill will have a terrible impact on Ohio. This bill is not our answer to Ohio's budget. Call 1-888-907-7309 or email Senator Niehaus and Representative Johnson and tell them to vote no on Senate Bill 5.
Third Grade Teacher, Portsmouth Elementary