JULIE CARR SMYTH
AP Statehouse Correspondent
COLUMBUS — Gov. John Kasich said Monday that his upcoming education bill will give school districts the ability to design programs that pay bonuses to teachers for high student performance.
Speaking to reporters after a separate bill-signing, the Republican governor said the legislation is “not just a simple funding bill” and contains a host of heavy policy concepts — including groundwork for future teacher bonus programs.
“I’m a big believer that you can pay people more who do excellent jobs,” Kasich said. “I would rather have it come from the bottom up than from the top down because if it can come from the bottom up, then we can get agreement within the districts with the school boards, the teachers, and everybody else — but it’s absolutely something I think makes a lot of sense.”
He expects to unveil the highly anticipated legislation before the end of the month. The bill he signed Monday establishes new A-through-F grades for school districts and buildings that will replace the current rankings from Academic Emergency to Excellent with Distinction. The new system will be phased in as Ohio rises to meet higher performance standards.
Some teachers and their unions have opposed performance-based pay systems that Kasich supports, arguing that whether students do well in school can depend on factors outside a teacher’s control.
A sweeping collective bargaining law that Ohio voters turned back in 2011 included what would have been the first mandatory performance-based pay system in the nation. It was among the elements that most rankled the public.
The handful of states that have tried performance-based pay programs have often had trouble finding a way to offer pay raises to everyone and merit pay to only some.
Kasich pointed to the Cleveland Schools Plan, approved last year with bipartisan backing, which includes something similar. The governor emphasized that his bill would allow districts to develop the details of bonus programs themselves.
“There will be things in that bill that I believe can empower local districts to make decisions like that,” he said.
Besides bonuses, Kasich said he hopes to incorporate some of the online education innovations of Google Labs’ Sebastian Thrun into his future proposals. The governor said he met with Thrun earlier Monday and was impressed with his ideas.
“He has some ideas about some things we can do with remediation, some things we can do with AP (Advanced Placement) courses,” Kasich said. “I’ve embraced Sebastian. We are going to work aggressively with him.”
Kasich said he supports getting businesses “fully integrated with the education system.” That includes allowing students to earn course credit for activities related to their future profession and more exposure for future teachers in how to incorporate real-world experiences into their classroom activities.
Also on Monday, members of the State Board of Education re-elected Debe Terhar as their president, and she created an accountability committee that will provide policy direction to the Ohio Department of Education as it implements the new A-through-F ranking system and other elements of the new law.