Posted on 07/06/15 at 2:58pm

You only have until July 14-next Tuesday-- to register for MEA's 2015 Summer Leadership Conference, "Power from the Past-A Force for the Future." The Conference is scheduled for July 28-30 at Lake Superior State College in Sault Ste. Marie.

Posted on 07/06/15 at 2:57pm

Public Sector Consultants, a non-partisan public policy research firm in Lansing, has released a report offering financial recommendations and policy proposals to move Michigan forward. This comes on the heels of new State Superintendent Brian Whiston's goal of making Michigan one of the top 10 states in the next 10 years.

Posted on 07/06/15 at 2:56pm

The Senate's version of the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Act (ESEA) will finally get a hearing on the full U.S. Senate floor starting tomorrow on July 7. In mid-April, the Senate Education Committee approved the Every Child Achieves Act (ECAA) a week after it was introduced by co-sponsors Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA). 

Posted on 06/29/15 at 12:25pm

Two weeks ago, Gov. Snyder's education advisor led House Education Committee members to believe that the Governor opposed SB 103, the teacher evaluation bill sponsored by Sen. Phil Pavlov (R-St. Clair), chair of the Senate Education Committee. Under direct questioning, Karen McPhee replied that Snyder did not support the bill in its present form. 

However, last week his media spokesperson said that Gov. Snyder has taken no position on SB 103, but would support some changes to the bill. So far, the bill has had four hearings in Committee that still has not voted to discharge the bill.

Pavlov's bill emphasizes local control with districts allowed to choose whatever evaluation tool they wish. There are no provisions for training and no standards by which to judge those evaluation tools. MEA lobbyist Christina Canfield spoke in opposition to the bill, saying the bill is not in the best interest of teachers or children.

Last year, the House plan for teacher evaluations was very different from SB 103. That set of evaluation bills never made it through lame duck last year. Those bills set standards for the evaluation tools districts use; emphasized training for evaluators; and created a much fairer evaluation system for teachers. The MEA remains hopeful this year's House Education Committee will introduce similar amendments to SB 103.

Posted on 06/29/15 at 12:26pm

This Wednesday, Brian Whiston takes over as the new State Superintendent. In an interview with the Detroit Free Press, he talks about standardized testing, school funding, charter and cyber schools, deficit schools and teacher evaluations.

Posted on 06/30/15 at 9:19am

With the passage of Michigan’s Public Employment Relations Act in 1965, teachers finally went from begging to bargaining. Thanks to PERA, all public school employees have the right to negotiate for fair wages, quality health care benefits and decent working conditions.

Will research or emotional appeals sway votes for SB 619?

SB 619allowing for the expansion of cyber schools—could see action this week on the House floor. While MEA leaders, members and staff have continued to send the message to their legislators that there is no reliable research or data to support such a move, SB 619 supporters are trying to use emotions to sway legislators.

The Michigan chapter of the National Coalition for Public School Options (NCPSO) has stepped into the fight by posting heartfelt letters on its website targeting legislators and urging them to vote “yes” on SB 619.

Written by parents, the form letters tell how cyber schools are helping their gifted students excel, their failing students catch up, and providing their students with health and developmental issues an alternative to traditional public schools.

NCPSO makes the claim that nearly 10,000 Michigan students are being denied the opportunity to attend a cyber school. Individual letters exploit student stories to make the case that cyber schools are the only way to get customized, personal access to a certified teacher; provide safety from bullying; and allow a student the flexibility to speed ahead or slow down their lessons.

Romulus Middle School featured in Huffington Post

It’s been our message all along—to ensure student success and to turn around struggling schools, the education community has to work together. And right here in Michigan, Romulus Middle Schools is proof of that.

Performance bonus criteria raises concerns

This week, the House Appropriations School Aid Subcommittee outlined how schools would qualify for Gov. Snyder’s funding bonuses and then got an earful from traditional and charter school representatives concerned that they might miss out on the extra money.

Senate bans graduate assistants from unionizing

The Senate acted quickly on Wednesday to make sure graduate student research assistants wouldn’t have a say in whether they could unionize or not. SB 971 was introduced last week, passed on a party-line vote by the Government Operations Committee on Tuesday and passed on the Senate floor on a 26-12 party line vote on Wednesday.

Commentary: The two Romneys are a study in contrasts

MEA submitted the following opinion piece to the Detroit News for President Cook’s monthly column.  The News, without MEA’s permission, edited out the paragraphs in bold.  MEA believes it is in the public interest to present the full, unedited piece. 

With the upcoming primary on Tuesday, Michigan has become the focus of Republican presidential politics – especially for Gov. Mitt Romney, for whom a win in his home state is at stake.

For those of us who know our Michigan history, it’s interesting to view this campaign through the lens of another Gov. Romney: Mitt’s father, George. 

In 1965, Michigan Gov. George Romney signed into law the Public Employee Relations Act.  This legislation gave public sector employees (teachers, school support staff, police officers, firefighters and other public workers) the right to form unions and engage in collective bargaining. 

In 1967, Gov. Romney signed the Michigan Income Tax Act, creating a flat rate income tax that helped drive greater investment in our state and its infrastructure.

Prior to becoming governor, George Romney was the CEO of American Motors, helping to build Michigan’s modern auto industry.  He was also a prominent advocate for investing in and improving public schools in our state – so much so that the Michigan Education Association awarded Romney our “Distinguished Service Award” in 1960 for contributions to the cause of public education.

NAESP sponsors children's book award contest

If you've thought about becoming a published children's author, enter the 2011 Children's Book of the Year contest sponsored by the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) in cooperation with Charlesbridge Publishing of Boston.

Read for the Trees on March 2

NEA's Read Across America Day--March 2--is going green this year to showcase the opening of The Lorax, the new animated version of the book by Dr. Seuss--whose birthday is celebrated with the Read Across America Day.

MEAP scores show mixed results

Despite the warnings that Michigan Educational Assessment Program (MEAP) scores released publicly last week would be drastically impacted by a new grading scale, state Department of Education (MDE) officials are now saying that Michigan elementary and middle school students showed improvement in their math and reading scores.

Snyder's education budget--an increase or a cut?

Gov. Snyder promoted his 2013 budget proposal for K-12 funding as a boost to education, but information from the House Fiscal Agency shows something different. The "boost" is only a mere .2 percent from 2012 funding levels. And for 2014, schools will see a .7 percent decrease.

Senate passes election reform bills

Yesterday, the Senate passed 11 Republican-sponsored election reform bills that impact voting.

Two of the bills--HB 5085 and 5086--are anti-union bills that prevent a public employer from automatically deducting PAC contributions from an employee’s paycheck.

The bills put into law a 2010 state Supreme Court ruling on the issue. In MEA v. Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land, the Court ruled that public school districts cannot administer payroll deduction plans that send money to a political action fund.

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