Some items while waiting for Toledo City Council to assemble its task force for an anti-smoking ordinance:
CROSSROADS AHEAD?: Quite unexpectedly, I stumbled into a “hot-button issue” last week. I had no idea that the topic of teacher pay would generate such passionate feedback from readers. Of the local issues that I've addressed in this space during the past two years, only Sandy Isenberg's double-dipping saga rivals it for generating emotionally charged e-mails.
There was a big difference between the reactions, however. Readers overwhelmingly criticized Ms. Isenberg (she later reversed her position), whereas last week's feedback was evenly split. I've never had so many readers tell me that I “hit the nail on the head” as last week; conversely, I've never had so many readers tell me that I should be ashamed of what I wrote.
To recap: I said the Toledo Federation of Teachers should back off its demand of a 1.48 percent raise this year because Toledo Public Schools can't afford it. I added that the 3,300-member organization should realize it's a two-way street and Toledo taxpayers deserve a “thank you” for the two levies that have been passed since 2000.
Some teachers construed what I wrote as an attack on their profession, which, of course, it wasn't. I was merely suggesting that the timing wasn't right to stage a public demonstration for more pay. (The teachers pointed out that some administrators received a 1.48 percent raise and asked if I thought that was fair. It's not, I replied.)
Teachers, I've got some bad news: More people than you might think resent it when you say you should be paid more. And I'm not talking about a mild resentment -- this is the deep variety.
Therein lies a major problem for Toledo. Its 37,000-student public school system is not a source of pride among residents. Blame it on the district being in a perpetual state of “academic emergency.”
I don't see how Toledo can become the “elegant” city that Mayor Jack Ford envisions until TPS commands our respect. This is more than just a TPS problem. Ultimately, it affects the entire region.
All we have now is a bunch of finger-pointing. Teachers say administrators and parents are to blame for the sad state of schools. But I've never heard a teacher say, “You know what? We also share in the blame.” Likewise, good luck finding an administrator or parent who doesn't point fingers elsewhere.
I'll make this prediction: Toledo voters will not pass another levy as long as TPS is in “academic emergency.” The level of resentment is that deep.
As one reader put it, “The Toledo Federation of Teachers needs a reality check, and its members must work with the school board, administrators, students, and parents to clean up TPS's Augean stable. Not only is it filthy, it's broken. Fix it before picketing.”
If TPS isn't careful, it could be headed to a voter-induced meltdown.
TWIN PACK: Two slant-free questions. As a tribute to White Castle hamburgers, I'm offering 48 points to all participants. (Note: Click on the link below and check out reader response to last week's questions.)
1) How likely is it that Colin Powell will be elected president one day?
2) What would Toledo be like today if voters had elected Mike Ferner (instead of Carty Finkbeiner) as mayor in 1993?