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.

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 .

Bargaining

Bargaining

Kids Not CEOs clears 35k hits -- share your story today!

Since the launch of www.KidsNotCEOs.com, more than 35,000 people have viewed the satirical web video on YouTube!  Please, keep sharing it with your friends who may not have seen it yet.

More important than just the video, however, are the stories being shared on the site.  Parents and school employees have been visiting and telling their stories about the devastating effects of education cuts on their schools and communities.  Here are just a few of their stories:

Kids Not CEOs clears 35k hits -- share your story today!

Since the launch of www.KidsNotCEOs.com, more than 35,000 people have viewed the satirical web video on YouTube!  Please, keep sharing it with your friends who may not have seen it yet.

More important than just the video, however, are the stories being shared on the site.  Parents and school employees have been visiting and telling their stories about the devastating effects of education cuts on their schools and communities.  Here are just a few of their stories:

Report shows cyber schools no substitute for regular schools

SB 619 opens the door to unlimited and unregulated cyber schools. Such schools would be run by private companies and would use public taxpayer dollars for funding.

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