Now, however, public education in Ohio is in danger of taking a step back. Ohio faces a major budget deficit in this tough economy. But instead of focusing on the essentials – jobs and preparing young people for jobs and careers – legislators here are promoting more tax cuts while blaming public employees and collective bargaining for our budget problems.

Instead of looking for real solutions to our state’s budget challenges, these lawmakers are using the budget crisis not only for a temporary effort to cut costs, but also to silence our voices permanently by drastically curtailing our collective bargaining rights.

This bill would be bad for Ohio. It would harm the families of people who work hard to keep us safe, protect our homes from fire, and educate our children. It would not address our need for more good jobs. And it would threaten the progress Ohio has made in improving public education, which is the surest path to more good jobs in the future.

The politicians would be wise to recognize the valuable contribution of public sector workers to this state’s economy. Educators in particular are influential advocates for improvement and adequate resources in our public schools. To say that pay should be the only issue we can discuss is just wrong, because when people talk about working conditions for teachers, they’re also talking about learning conditions for students. The number of students in a classroom is just one example of the kind of issue on which educators must be heard.

Patricia Frost-Brooks,  president of the Ohio Education Association