Posted on 05/04/15 at 2:52pm

NEA and the National PTA have set aside this week, May 4-8, as Teacher Appreciation Week, to recognize and celebrate the important roles and contributions of educators. NEA, along with Kansas and Indiana state affiliates, and the Dodge City, Kansas local chapter lobbied Congress for a day to recognize educators. The first Teacher Day was celebrated on March 7, 1980. 

Posted on 05/04/15 at 2:53pm

Charter schools in urban areas don’t generate better outcomes than traditional public schools, according to Andrew Maul, assistant professor at the University of California Santa Barbara. Maul reviewed the Urban Charter School Study done by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) at Stanford University which states “charter schools in urban environments provide a slightly greater test score advantage than those in non-urban environments."

Posted on 05/04/15 at 2:55pm

Gov. Snyder’s K-12 education plan to restructure Detroit splits the district into two separate ones—one to pay off the $483 million debt, and one to oversee enrollment and other district functions.

Posted on 04/28/15 at 2:53pm

Charter schools in urban areas don’t generate better outcomes than traditional public schools according to Andrew Maul, assistant professor at the University of California Santa Barbara. Maul reviewed the Urban Charter School Study  done by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) at Stanford University which states “charter schools in urban environments provide a slightly greater test score advantage than those in non-urban environments.

Posted on 04/27/15 at 4:11pm

Waterford child care workers, custodians, bus drivers, bus driver aides and maintenance employees are being threatened with privatization. You can show support for them at a rally and school board meeting on Thursday, May 7.

Posted on 04/27/15 at 4:12pm

Tuesday, May 5, is Teacher Day/School Family Day when schools and communities pay tribute to the lasting contributions all school employees make to public education. It’s part of a week-long celebration honoring educators.

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.

Will third time be the charm for RTT funds?

Michigan is making its third application to receive a Race to the Top (RTT) funds. So far, 35 states are vying for $500 million for education reform.

National Opportunity to Learn Campaign comes to Lansing Nov. 15

Mark your calendars for Tues., Nov. 15 when the National Opportunity to Learn Campaign (OTL) will be at the Radisson Hotel in Lansing to discuss the basic principles required to provide meaningful education to all of Michigan’s children. The program runs from 9 a.m. to noon. You can RSVP at www.middlecities.org .

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