Dumbuya: Does TPS deserve $13 million each year for 5 years? You be the judge!Written by Guest Author | | GuestAuthor@toledofreepress.com
Written by Dr. Francis Dumbuya, Ph.D.
In the upcoming midterm elections, Toledo Public Schools want voters in Toledo to approve a 5.8 mill levy which will yield the school system a whopping $13 million for five years. The reason for the $65m-5-year levy, according to school leaders is that “the time has come for the district to reward teachers and administrators who took salary cuts when the district was losing money.” Board Vice President Bob Vasquez goes on to rationalize that “we had our employees take concessions and we are still working on getting them back up to those wages.” In an interview with local Television Station WNWO 24, Mr. Vasquez continued that “in addition to teacher and administration salaries, the money generated by the levy’s passage would pay for the restoration of transportation services that were cut in recent years.” In other words, transportation was a secondary reason for requesting the levy.
Inasmuch as Mr. Vasquez frivolously advocates for teacher and administrator salary increases, the evidence does not support a need for such raises especially during a period of austerity when the community has adversely been affected by plummeting home values.
But beyond this, let’s look at what’s truly at play here, and why voters are perhaps resistant to endorsing TPS’s Levy 1. TPS authorities claim that teachers need a raise because they haven’t had one in years. However, is this raise for teachers necessary, especially when home values have plummeted precipitously over the past six years? Furthermore, regardless of what advocates of the levy may say, wages all across the board have remained stagnant and employment outlook for many in our community remains less than favorable. And for individuals who are currently working, wages do not seem to be where they were nine years ago. The point of all this is our economy is still struggling to rebound. We are not there yet, and given the sluggishness of the economy, it might take us a long time to. Also, many community members are finding it difficult to take on an additional tax burden for a system that is not effectively educating the children.
Now, to see whether TPS teachers deserve a pay raise, let’s use the Ohio state department of education’s data to compare the salaries of Toledo Public School’s Teachers with those of teachers of surrounding districts. The comparison school systems have been selected based on their proximity to TPS. The table below shows the year 2012 regional teacher salary comparison:
District Expenditure per Expenditure per
Pupil (Overall) Pupil (Instructional)
Lucas- Maumee City $10,626 $6,491
Lucas- Oregon City $10,366 $5,887
Lucas-Ottawa Hills $14,265 $9,558
Lucas-Sylvania $11,574 $6,264
Lucas –Springfield $9,320 $5,814
Lucas- Toledo City $13,859 $7,537
Lucas –Anthony Wayne $8,260 $4,726
Let’s for a moment focus on the column titled, “Expenditure per Pupil (Instructional). What this column represents is the amount of money a school district pays a teacher to educate a child. It includes payment to paraprofessionals, classroom supplies, etc. In a nutshell, this amount represents teacher salary. Therefore, we can safely say that the City of Maumee paid a teacher $6,491 a year to educate a student in his or her classroom. And going down the column, Oregon City paid a teacher $5,887 to educate a child a year, and Ottawa Hills, $9,558. As you can see from this regional group, Ottawa Hills paid a teacher the highest salary ($9,558) to educate one child. On the other hand, Anthony Wayne was the least paying school district ($4,726). However, if we consider Ottawa Hills to be a statistical outlier (one that is not within the norm of the group), then Toledo Public School becomes the district that paid its teachers the highest salary($7,537) each year to educate one child in a teacher’s classroom.
Therefore, from the table above, using data from Ohio’s state department of education, we can conclude that Toledo Public school Teachers are not the lowest paid in the region at all. In fact, to the contrary, they are the highest paid, when Ottawa Hills is considered as an outlier.
Again, the data from the table clearly supports the argument that TPS teachers are well paid. There is certainly no need for a pay increase at this time. Even so, supporters of this levy would argue that the comparison is not fair, and that teachers and administrators haven’t had a pay increase in a long time. As a result, they deserve the raise regardless, they contend.
For this reason, this study has decided to include in its analysis, another area, which perhaps is the most troubling for the citizens of Toledo – TPS’s OGTs and Ohio Achievement Assessment (OAA) Performance.
Data from the Ohio Department of Education:
District Name # of Standards Letter Grade of Four-Year Expenditure per Met out of 24 Standards Met Graduation Rate Pupil (Instructional)
Maumee City 22 A 92.7 $6,491
Oregon City 17 C 90.4 $5,887
Lucas – Ottawa Hills 24 A 98.7 $9,558
Lucas – Sylvania 24 A 92.3 $6,264
Lucas – Springfield 17 C 91.7 $5,814
Lucas – Toledo City 2 F 64.5 $7,537
Lucas – A. Wayne 24 A 94.2 $4,726
This performance table shows Toledo Public School’s performance relative to area schools’ on the Ohio Graduation Test and the Ohio Achievement and Assessment (OAA) Test. In the first column, students were expected to meet 24 standards. The second column is a measure of overall student performance in those standards – in the form of a letter grade. Column three measures overall district performance in a period of four years. Finally, I have added the instructional expenditure per pupil to show what it cost each district to educate a student and the letter grade the district received against that expenditure.
Folks, this table cannot be more explicit and helpful in determining whether or not our region’s schools are worthy of the tax burden they put on the communities they operate in. For example, out of 24 standards, Maumee City schools met 22 standards. They received a letter A grade. They have done quite well within a period of four years, and are expected to do well in coming years. And they earned the A grade by paying each teachers $6,495 per pupil. On the one hand, Ottawa Hills in Lucas County met all 24 standards, and spent $9,558 per teacher per student to do so. Anthony Wayne, on the other hand, met all 24 standards by spending no more than $4,726. Finally, Toledo Public Schools earned an F grade, while spending $7,537 to do so.
A quick note about Ottawa Hills: this system spent the most money to education its children than any in the table. This is why taxes in Ottawa Hills are so high. However, citizens in that small district are more than willing to pay high taxes because their school takes the academic performance of their children seriously. They outperform every school district in the region just about all the time. Therefore, people are willing to pay the high taxes.
Question: what does it take for Toledo Public School to understand that money doesn’t solve all problems, especially academic ones? If all of the schools, apart from Ottawa Hills, spent less money than TPS to earn better grades than TPS, doesn’t that tell us that solving TPS’s academic problems might involve something other than money? Has the system ever taken a closer look at their suspension and expulsion rates? Toledo Public Schools are quick to suspend kids. Behavior Intervention Centers (BIC) are also not the best place to send kids either. Children belong in classrooms, period! Most learning takes place in the classroom with the guidance of a teacher. I recall as a youngster growing up. If I missed school for one day, I felt lost.
Could the consistent poor performance on the proficiencies also be attributable to teachers? Or, could there also be a cultural dichotomy between the teacher and the student? Whatever the solution is TPS needs to do some serious introspection – to dig deep and search for solutions for its academic woes. However, money, as we have shown, is not their problem.
Now, I have a question for anyone whose position differs from mine with respect to Levy 1: if your child were to come home from school with a bunch of F’s, and asks you to give him $20 to go to the movies; would you give it to him? Think about it! What about post-secondary school? Do you think your child will be accepted at Owens Community College, or for that matter, the University of Toledo or Lourdes, when your child has an F? I do not think colleges are that generous.
The point is, as African Americans we need to wake up. What we lack in Toledo is the political will to change the system, or to make the tough choices that will bring about economic growth to the community. We send the wrong message about the preparedness of our labor force when we fail to educate our children. We continue to tax our citizens to the point that we run them out of the city, causing our tax base to further erode. The truth is as a city, Toledo is at a tipping point. We need to act, and we need to do so fast. Our population is growing old fast, and we need to replenish our labor force with a younger, skilled, and more vibrant one, lest it becomes difficult to provide and care for the old.
As for our school system, the problem Toledo Public School board currently faces has less to do with finance than it is to do with educating the children. There might be some misallocation of their resources, but it is not the lack of finance – as the data clearly demonstrate. Yes, Mr. Vasquez talked about purchasing school buses, but only in an ancillary way. His main goal is to increase the pay for teachers and administrators, as he revealed in the news media.
The truth is, if we continue on this path, the path of making excuses for failing to educate the city’s future workforce, the few businesses we now have will leave, and no one will come here. Do you think it is coincidental that Dana, one of the few Fortune 500 companies left in our city, decided to move up the road to Maumee? Or does it just happen that Maumee is an A school district, while Toledo is an F? Do you know the consequences in terms of lost revenue when a city of our size loses a business? Or, how about when companies refuse to relocate here primarily because of our ill-prepared and ii-educated labor force? In 2011, Toledo’s general revenue fund was $253m. In 2012, Toledo’s revenue fell precipitously to $238m. Projections for the years 2013 and 2014 are $245m. Doesn’t this send a message? Has anyone ever made an attempt to study the contributing factor in our economy’s decline? Could education have anything to do with it?
The point is ten years from now why would any company want to relocate to Toledo when they know our labor force is not well educated, trained or skilled? As a school system, our leaders must understand that the kids we prepare for the work force no longer compete locally or regionally. The days whereby a kid can graduate from high school and go work for Jeep making $50,000 and $60,000 are long gone. Our high school kids now compete with kids in Singapore, South Korea, Hong Kong, India, and China for the same jobs. The point is globalization has taken hold – no job remains in one region permanently anymore.
As for African Americans, don’t we see that there is a direct correlation between education and economic development? Well, let’s see. Asian Americans have the highest level of educational attainment. As a result, they have the highest level of income. As for African Americans, we have the lowest level of educational attainment. As a result, we are the lowest income earners in the nation. Consequently, we are most visible in the fight for minimum wage. Does that surprise anyone in my community? This is all the more why education is so very important.
Finally, back to my original question: Does Toledo Public Schools (TPS) Deserve $13m each Year for 5 Years? You be the Judge. Personally, before I can, in good conscience, support the TPS levy, I want to see a comprehensive plan on how the School Board can turn things around – increase the graduation rate of the system, and close the achievement gap! No business gives its workers a raise when that business is losing money. TPS has an F grade. For that reason, it doesn’t deserve more money. TPS teachers already earn more than teachers in passing schools. In addition, TPS spends more money than all the area schools, excluding Ottawa Hills. Therefore, approving this levy will be tantamount to rewarding lethargy or failure
Francis I. Dumbuya, Ph.D, Senior President, Personal Achievement & Professional Development Institute, author of How They Got There – Mastering the Winning Strategies of Successful People; Strategies and Insights to Success