Posted on 10/20/14 at 2:59pm

The Michigan Public Schools Partnership (MPSP) has launched InspirED, a newsletter featuring the innovative and inspiring stories happening every day for Michigan's 1.5 million public school students. 

Posted on 10/20/14 at 2:57pm

Michigan is one of 16 states that will probably be looking for flexibility from No Child Left Behind (NCLB) standards that call for using student test scores in teacher evaluations. The U.S. Department of Education (DOE) is offering to give states that already have an NCLB waiver even longer to create new assessments. Currently, the state still doesn't have an assessment that measures student growth.

Posted on 10/20/14 at 2:56pm

According to a report released last month by the National Center for Homeless Education (NCHE), nearly 1.26 million homeless students in primary and secondary grades across the country were enrolled in the 2012-13 school year. 

Posted on 10/14/14 at 9:53am

MEA members can now access MEA information and news via a new mobile app for iPhones and Android devices. You can link to the app or go into the iPhone "App Store" or Android's "Google Play" and search for "Michigan Education Association."

Posted on 10/14/14 at 9:04am

Amanda Erspamer-Berry, an MEA member and teacher in Marquette's Alternative High School, is one of 15 finalists for a $100,000 grant in Farmers Insurance "Dream Big Teacher Challenge." The grant is challenging educators from across the country to submit innovative proposals that would help students. Winners will be chosen based on the number of votes they receive. Your vote can help make Amanda's vision become a reality for her students.

Posted on 10/14/14 at 9:08am

NEA President Lily Eskelsen has finished her Back-to-School Tour and talks about "What I Saw, Who I Met and What You Should Know About My Back to School Tour" in her blog at LilysBlackboard.org.  She talks about her visit to Northwestern High School in Flint where students and staff worked hard to move the school off Michigan's Priority Schools list. Read what she learned from members across the country.

House Education Committee takes up SB 618

After much debate, the Senate narrowly passed SB 618 and the same debate seems to be brewing in the House Education Committee as expressed by the Committee Vice Chair Rep. Tom Hooker (R-Byron Center). A former teacher, Hooker is concerned that the bill to lift the cap on charter schools may harm traditional public schools. While he supports the idea of giving parents choices, he said he has no position on the bill right now.

Speak up at MDE hearings on teacher certification

There are still opportunities to make your voice heard at MDE hearings on teacher certification changes. Don't be dissuaded by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Mike Flanagan's assurance that teachers won't lose their certification if they don't receive three consecutive evaluation ratings of "effective" or "highly effective." The issue is still not resolved and this is our chance to change the direction of the conversation. MEA has provided a hearing schedule and talking points.

Senate passes SB 137; Dems call it “Republican license to bully”

On a 26-11 vote, the Senate passed SB 137 that requires schools districts to have an anti-bullying policy. The bill sparked heated debate, with Democrats criticizing the bill for the loopholes that allow bullying to still happen. Sen. Rick Jones (R-Grand Ledge) is sponsor of the bill.

As passed, the bill provides no real protection against bullying. It allows bullying comments which stem from religious beliefs; it lists no protections for homosexual or disabled students; and it excludes cyber-bullying.

Sen. Gretchen Whitmer (D-East Lansing) blasted the bill for having holes big enough “to drive a Mack truck through and was “worse than doing nothing.” In passionate support of her “no” vote on the bill, Whitmer called the legislation a “Republican license to bully.”

Senate Committee hears testimony on HB 4059

The Senate Reforms, Restructuring and Reinventing Committee heard testimony today on HB 4059 which would prohibit a school district from entering into a contract that pays union officials for time spent conducting union business. 

Video contest goes green

Consumers Energy is sponsoring a statewide student video contest that features how renewable energy can make a difference in the world. The winning school will receive a $5,000 prize for the most original video. Students can sign up through their high school administrator. Only one video per school is allowed and the deadline is November 15. Go to www.greenscenescontest.com for more information.

Senate Committee takes up HB 4059

This Wednesday, the Senate Reforms, Restructuring and Reinventing Committee will take up HB 4059 which would prohibit a school district from entering into a contract that pays union officials for time conducting union business. The bill was introduced by Rep. Marty Knollenberg (R-Troy). Supporters of the bill say that money should be going into the classroom and not into the pockets of union officials and union dues should fund union activities

Flanagan won't make teacher certification dependent on evaluations

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Mike Flanagan is now backtracking on some aspects of the administrative rule changes for teacher certification issued last month.

Citing his position as final authority, Flanagan is now assuring teachers that the new rule stripping teachers of their certification if they did not receive three consecutive evaluation ratings of “highly effective” or “effective” will be removed.

Senate passes so-called education reform bills

Today, the Senate passed SB 619, 621-623, 709, and 710—all part of the so-called education reform package. The bills passed on party-line votes with SB 619 barely squeaking by.  The bills have been referred to the House Education Committee. Only SB 624—mandating schools of choice—is left after tie bars to the bill were broken.

Despite testimony and research showing cyber schools are not an effective alternative to traditional schools, SB 619 removes all limitations on cyber schools. Democrats offered five amendments—one to limit the amount of state aid a cyber school student would receive to 50 percent; another to require a cyber school website that included management and third-party vendor contracts; and another to make the student/teacher ratio be equivalent to that of public schools—but all of them failed. Sen. Hoon-Young Hopgood (D-Taylor) chastised the Senate for “putting on the blinders” about the effectiveness of cyber schools.

School employee relatives barred from school board

Citing a blatant conflict of interest, Sen. Joe Hune (R-Hamburg) last week introduced SB 773 which would prohibit the spouse, child, parent or sibling of school employees from serving on the district’s school board. 

No sound rationale for ban on union dues deduction

In a brief 15-minute meeting today, the Senate Reforms, Restructuring and Reinventing Committee heard testimony on HB 4929 by its sponsor, Rep. Joe Haveman (R-Holland). The bill would prohibit the payroll deduction of union dues from an employee's paycheck. SB 636, a similar bill sponsored by Sen. Arlan Meekhof (R-West Olive) is also being considered by the Committee.

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