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Julie Rine is a vocal public school and teacher advocate who makes her voice known to legislators, but when The Washington Post picked up an editorial she wrote, her voice became a bit louder.
Rine is a high school English teacher at Minerva High School. She wrote a letter to Gov. John Kasich addressing his recent biennium budget proposal and its new requirement that teachers spend time with business professionals as a part of their professional development.
The piece she wrote was originally published on Plunderbund, a political news website she has been featured on before. A few days later she saw a familiar name in her email inbox -- Valerie Strauss, education writer and blogger for The Washington Post.
Strauss requested permission to publish Rine's piece in The Post's online edition and Rine agreed. The piece published on March 9 and the following week was "overwhelming" for Rine, as she described it.
"It's been an overwhelming response. It has gotten so many shares on social media... I've gotten many emails of support from other teachers and I even got a card in the mail," she said.
In the editorial, Rine argued that teachers already know the skills that employers value and teach them to students daily, despite the suggestion from Kasich's plan that teachers need more time in the business world to figure out what students will need to know upon graduation.
"We know what those skills are. And you know what? We already teach those skills," she wrote, citing deadlines, rules, procedures and assignments that teachers give that help develop real-world professional skills, such as initiative, responsibility and accountability.
The real problem, she argued, comes in the standardized tests.
"Incidentally, it would be a lot easier to prepare our kids for life after school if we didn't have to spend so much time preparing them for a myriad of standardized tests," she wrote.
Rine said that Ohio requires seven more standardized tests to be given to students than what is already required by the federal government. Teachers have to teach students how each test needs to be taken to be able to show what they know despite differing timing, methodology and pacing of each test.
To solve the problem of a flawed evaluation system, Rine suggested an alternative to the governor.
Rather than teachers spending time with business professionals, legislators should spend time in the classroom, learning about how standardized testing is affecting their teaching and how teachers are going about preparing students for life after high school.
"Governor, your proposal indicates that you think teachers are in the dark about life after high school. Frankly, we think you are in the dark about life in the classroom. Perhaps this could be remedied if you and our state legislators spent time with a teacher," she wrote.
Rine further explained that Kasich may think of creating a day when local and state legislators can spend a day in schools, talk to teachers, and observe what is really going on in the classrooms across the state.
"It's a place to start," she said.
Rine has not received a response from the governor, but she has received responses from local legislators, such as Rep. Kent Smith and Sen. Joe Schiavoni.
Both were supportive of her position.
She also got a personal call from Sen. Scott Oelslager. She said he encouraged her to organize a day when legislators could shadow teachers, noting that in the 1980s there was such a day.
Despite all the attention about her opinion, and not all of it was positive on the message boards, Rine said she will write again.
"I'm happy I did it. It's heartening to know that I'm not alone in my thoughts and the more attention (the issue) gets the more likely (Gov. Kasich) or other legislators are to look at it seriously," she said.
In the meantime, Rine said she has faith in the teachers of Ohio.
"Teachers care very much about kids. You don't get into teaching unless you really care about kids. There's nothing more exciting, for example, than watching a student realize they love poetry," she said.
The Ohio House and Senate will hold hearings on Kasich's budget plan and vote on it by June. The budget will go into effect from 2018 to 2019.