Ohio Governor John Kasich is in hot water after saying he would like to take away teachers’ lounges in the state in order to reduce the amount of time teachers spend being concerned about their jobs.
During an education forum featuring a number of GOP presidential contenders in New Hampshire, Kasich had many good things to say about teachers and teachers unions in Ohio. However, he also argued that the unions tend to block change within the state and cause teachers to feel that “we’re out to take their jobs” during teacher evaluations, and that the teachers lounge provides just the right type of environment to spread that concern, writes Caitlin Macneal for TPM.
“There’s a constant negative comment to, ‘They’re gonna take your benefits, they’re gonna take your pay.'” he said. “And so if I were, not president, but if I were king in America, I’d abolish all teachers’ lounges where they sit together and worry about, ‘Woe is us.'”
Kasich added that he does understand how teachers feel “pounded upon,” comparing their pay to that of a football coach.
“But if you’re a terrible teacher, then you should be doing something else. You’re going to find more satisfaction doing something that you’re good at,” Kasich said.
The comments have been met with controversy by a number of those in the education field. American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten took to Twitter to respond to Kasich, saying “after u get rid of places teachers eat lunch, what’s next -getting rid of teachers’ chairs so they stand all day?”
Lily Eskelsen García, President of the National Education Association, also spoke out against Kasich and his efforts to increase private school vouchers and cut education spending in Ohio, which she argues takes away resources from the public school system, writes Caitlin Emma for Politico.
“Educators will absolutely discuss how they can overcome these obstacles to help their students, as well as hold elected leaders accountable,” she said in a statement.
Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols said the governor did not mean for the comment to be taken literally. He did not mean he wants to actually take away teachers lounges, but that it was meant to be a metaphor.
This is not the first time Kasich has made such a statement. Prior to his election, he promised to “break the back of organized labor in the schools,” a comment which riled public school teachers in Ohio.
This summer, a survey conducted by The Cincinnati Explorer of 355 Southwest educators found that 340 of the respondents would not vote for Kasich for President. In addition, only 2% believed his time as governor of the state has led to positive impacts for the field of education.