Posted on 03/02/15 at 12:10pm

Today and all this month, we encourage adults to pick up a book and read with a child. Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow did just that. She recorded two videos with her reading books written by Michigan authors—Grace for Presidentand Meteor!” Let her share her love of reading with your students. Everyone will enjoy the experience! 

Posted on 03/03/15 at 10:45am

And today is also the start of a nationwide search for students 5 to 18 years of age who excel in STEAM—science, technology, engineering, arts and math. In recognition of the 25th anniversary of the book, Dr. Seuss Enterprises and NEA will offer a $10,000 STEAM scholarship through its “Kid, You’ll Move Mountains” promotion. Go to www.nea.org/grants to learn more.

Posted on 02/25/15 at 9:21am

If you believe our schools and safer roads are important to the quality of life in Michigan, circle May 5 on your calendar. On that day, voters will be asked to vote on a proposal that would raise over $1 billion to repair Michigan’s dangerous roads and bridges, while raising $300 million in new revenue for Michigan public schools, funded by a 1-cent increase in the state sales tax.

Posted on 03/02/15 at 2:41pm

Thanks to the efforts of NEA and its members like you, the full House is waiting to vote on a version of H.R. 5, the Republican’s rewrite of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), which restores key elements we’ve been fighting for and makes a bad bill better.

Posted on 03/02/15 at 2:42pm

This is National Breakfast Week (March 2-6) and to raise awareness of the issue of child hunger, the NEA Health Information Network (NEA HIN) has released three new videos and created resources you can use in your classroom and in your school district. 

Posted on 03/02/15 at 2:40pm

Eighteen community colleges will be benefitting from a $50 million grant that will allow them to buy state-of-the-art equipment and provide training in their skilled trades courses. The grant is part of Gov. Snyder’s Community College Skilled Trades Equipment Program that will develop a talent base for skilled manufacturing jobs in the state.

President Steven Cook in the Detroit News: Be, see the good in the world

“Believe there is good in the world.”

That is the motto of Yale Education Association as teachers in this small district in St. Clair County seek to fulfill Gandhi’s dream and “be the change you wish to see in the world.” Their goal: raise $50,000 to build a home for a family in need in their community. Yale teachers have recruited students and community members in their mission and are partnering with the Blue Water Habitat for Humanity to achieve their goal.

The Heartlands Institute of Technology is a career tech center run by the Ionia Intermediate School District.

Students not only get hands-on experience in a number of fields, but are able to give back to the community as well; in the Dental Occupations program they use that experience to help provide free dental care to patients who lack insurance. Teachers set up the program, recruit dentists to provide free services and teach students the necessary skills to assist with the procedures.

These are just a few examples of school employees across the state going above and beyond to improve the learning experiences of their students, the communities they live and work in and, along the way, teach lessons that can’t be taught with a textbook or a computer. These efforts won’t show up on student standardized test scores or teacher evaluation forms, but they are essential lessons nonetheless.

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Michigan faced some of the same issues as in NEA’s biggest education story choices

NEA has selected “The 5 Biggest Education Stories of 2014”, reflecting education issues impacting members across the country—including Michigan. The stories deal with standardized testing, the student debt crisis, the assault on teacher due process, zero tolerance discipline policies and Common Core.
 

Supreme Court dismisses school districts’ suit claiming state underfunding

Last month, the Michigan Supreme Court dismissed a lawsuit alleging that school districts were underfunded for the 2010-11 and 2011-12 school years. More than 450 local school districts brought the suit.

Using the Headlee Amendment, the districts claimed that the state of Michigan, the Michigan Department of Education, state budget director, state treasurer and state superintendent of public instruction didn’t provide enough compensation to school districts for the new and increased costs of reporting information to the Center for Educational Performance and Information (CEPI). Under the Headlee Amendment, the Michigan Constitution prohibits the state from requiring new or expanded activities by local governments and school districts without full state funding.

The Supreme Court dismissed the cases on the grounds that the districts didn’t attempt to prove a specific amount of underfunding. The Court’s ruling agreed with the decision of a special master appointed by the Michigan Court of Appeals to review the case before it went to the Supreme Court.

In its opinion, the Court said, “A plaintiff claiming that the Legislature’s appropriation failed to fully fund the cost of a new or increased service or activity must allege and prove the specific amount of the shortfall. Plaintiffs failed to offer any proofs that could entitle them to relief.”

No action taken on charter authorizers on at-risk list

The 11 charter school authorizers named at-risk by State Superintendent Mike Flanagan have avoided suspension and still remain at-risk. In August, Flanagan required those authorizers to provide sufficient transparency and oversight of their operations or face suspension in October.
 

BOE Report calls for making school funding a budget priority

The state Board of Education (BOE) has adopted its"Recommendations for Change to Michigan School Organization and Finance" calling for the state to make education funding a budget priority. Since January 2014, the BOE has been analyzing the issue of school funding and holding meetings to make its final recommendations.
 

More schools added to list of schools facing financial deficit

The number of public schools and charters that are facing a financial deficit has risen to 55-up from 48 schools last year. On that list are schools that started the 2013-14 school year solvent, but after facing money problems during the year, are now part of the new list of deficit schools. The Education Achievement Authority is one of those schools newly added.

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."

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.

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