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 06/29/15 at 12:27pm

Michigan delegates to NEA's Representative Assembly will join more than 7,000 educators on their way to Orlando to help set education policy and talk about what's best for students. The annual meeting starts July 3 and runs through July 6.

Posted on 06/22/15 at 5:38pm

SaveOnEnergy.com is looking for the best lesson plans for teaching students about energy. By submitting your plan, you have a chance to win a $500 Teacher Grant for your classroom. Save On Energy.com will be awarding six $500 grants in the form of Visa Reward Cards to be used toward classroom materials and activities. SaveOnEnergy.com is a resource for consumers on all aspects of energy and sustainability.

Posted on 06/22/15 at 5:25pm

Lt. Gov. Brian Calley is holding meetings around the state with parents of special education students to gather input on their experiences with the state’s special education system. To reach even more parents, Calley also launched an online survey which will be available through August. 

Posted on 06/22/15 at 5:31pm

The U.S. Supreme Court has unanimously ruled that teachers and educators should not be put in law enforcement roles when they carry out their duty of reporting suspected child abuse or neglect. The National Education Association (NEA) filed an amicus brief in the case, Ohio v. Clark, stating that “educators’ valuable role as mandatory reporters and caregivers should not be compromised.”

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.

Anti-bullying law expanded to include cyberbullying

A cyberbullying bill that would require school districts and academies to change their existing anti-bullying policies to include electronic or online bullying passed during the lame duck session. SB 74 describes cyberbullying as "any electronic communication that is intended or that a reasonable person would know is likely to harm one or more pupils either directly or indirectly."

2011 guidelines in place since evaluation bills die in lame duck

HB 5223 and HB 5224, which would have established a statewide evaluation system for teachers and administrators, did not survive the Legislature's lame duck session. While the bills may be reintroduced next year, the evaluation guidelines from 2011 will be in place.
 
The bills, sponsored by Rep. Margaret O'Brien (R-Portage) and Rep. Adam Zemke (D-Ann Arbor), passed the House and had strong bipartisan support. MEA lobbyists were instrumental in fashioning the legislation that created an evaluation system that supported rather than punished teachers. 

However, the bills could not get out of the Senate Education Committee. Sen. Phil Pavlov (R-St. Clair Shores), Committee chair, called the bills flawed because they did not give local school districts enough flexibility.

MEA also supported legislation that would have instituted much needed charter school reforms. Unfortunately, those bills also did not make it through lame duck.

However, bills that MEA opposed that would have held back third graders who weren't reading at grade level, assigned letter grades to failing schools, expanded the Education Achievement Authority, and established an early financial warning system for school districts died in lame duck. 

Borders named DTE Energy Foundation Educator of the Year

MEA member Ann Marie Borders has been named United Musical Society (UMS) DTE Energy Foundation Educator of the Year. Borders is a vocal music teacher at Carpenter Elementary School in Ann Arbor. Karen McDonald, a Carpenter art teacher, shares the award with Borders since the UMS selection committee declared a tie.

MEA members earn NEA Foundation grants

Educators and MEA members from New Haven, Swartz Creek, Redford and Saginaw Valley State University received $2,000 and $5,000 grants from the NEA Foundation. The grants support proposals that have the potential for enhancing student achievement and for delivering high-quality educational professional development activities.

Tod Wolfgram, a New Haven High School social studies teacher received a $2,000 Learning and Leadership grant to attend the National Council for Social Studies Annual Conference. There he will learn more about the college, career, and civic life framework for social studies state standards. He will bring back information to his social studies colleagues and share ways to promote civil instruction in the modern classroom.

Kayla Trundle, a special education teacher from Swartz Creek Middle School, received a $2,000 Student Achievement Grant to improve community-based instruction opportunities for students with cognitive impairments. With help from the grant, their students will learn functional skills that apply to the Common Core Essential Elements through trips to a grocery store, post office, bank, restaurant, library, nature center and pet adoption center.

Kara Clayton, a Thurston High School language arts educator in Redford, earned a $2,000 Learning and Leadership Grant to learn more about the use of digital tools to improve students’ literacy skills. She will use the grant to attend seminars at the University of Rhode Island’s Institute in Digital Literacy. Clayton will attend seminars on assisting students to choose reliable and credible sources, reading comprehension, and using digital tools to conduct research. At the end of the Institute, Kara will create a collaborative lesson to be shared with other attendees and colleagues in Redford.

Dr. Marlena Bravender, an assistant professor at Saginaw Valley State University, received a $5,000 Learning and Leadership Grant to research effective ways to integrate virtual language simulations into middle school Spanish lessons. Using the lessons, students will understand authentic situations involving food, clothing, culture, common phrases and study lessons. The grant will also allow Bravender to track the impact of the virtual simulations.

The NEA Foundation awards its grants to educators three times a year. In this round, 42 educators across 22 states received $168,000 in grants to support efforts to improve teaching and learning. The next education grant deadline is Feb. 1, 2015. Go to www.neafoundation.org for more information. 

MI taxpayers helping charter school management companies make big profits

How charter management companies spend more than $1 billion dollars in state taxpayer dollars is again the focus of a news article in the Detroit Free Press. "Public money for schools buys private property" uncovers the arrangement National Heritage Academies (NHA) has with its schools. NHA, not the school, owns the school buildings and the contents, even though that's all been purchased with taxpayer money.

MDE's proposed special education rule changes delayed until next year

The Michigan Department of Education's (MDE) special education rule changes did not make it through a Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) and will have to be reintroduced next year. MDE wanted the rule changes to clarify language and help carry out federal law.

NEA President talks to Detroit Economic Club about educating the whole child

Tomorrow, Tuesday, Dec. 16, NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia will be telling the Detroit Economic Club why we must invest in the education of students for work and society in the 21st Century. She will be promoting an approach that favors policies that nurture creative thinking and meet the needs of the whole child.

Prior to her luncheon policy speech, she will be meeting with 80 local area high school students, including students from Gibraltar's Carlson High School, Grosse Pointe North, and Harper Woods. The students will hear a preview of Lily's speech and be able to ask questions on any topics they choose. They will also be guests at the luncheon program.

Lily's speech will be live-streamed at www.neatoday.org and you can tune in from 12:35 to 1:15 p.m. to watch and follow @NEAToday and @NEAmedia. If you can't tune in live, the speech will be archived at www.neatoday.org to watch later. Lily will also be a guest on Paul W. Smith's WJR Radio show from 5:30 to 9 a.m. You can listen at http://p.cmlsdet.com/player/?feed=49&id=12869

Message to MEA Members on Officers’ salaries

Last week the Mackinac Center was at it again, and this week the Detroit Free Press joined it in pushing anti-MEA propaganda for the sole purpose of sowing suspicion, doubt and disunity among MEA members.  Not unlike the Mackinac Center’s hugely expensive effort this summer to get members to leave their union, it has been a failure. The policy of my office remains clear—any dues paying MEA member who wishes to learn exactly what their officers make—has only to ask.

It’s not MEA! Be careful of a questionable scholarship offer

Don’t be taken in by a message to “coaches, teachers, and other interested parties” from a “Scholarship Selection Committee” offering scholarships to “Michigan High School Seniors.” MEA is not involved with nor endorses this program.

Students taking longer than four years to get their college degrees

Too much time and too little money keep most college students from earning a degree in four years according to Complete College America’s report, “4-year degrees now a myth in American higher education.” 

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