Posted on 09/15/14 at 3:12pm

Grants of up to $2,500 for arts-related equipment or supplies to be used in schools are available through Michigan Youth Arts with assistance from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs (MCACA). "Art Equipment & Supplies Grant" applies to performing arts subjects like instrumental music, vocal music, theatre, dance, creative writing, media arts, special education and more.

Posted on 09/15/14 at 3:11pm

State Board of Education (SBE) members are looking for someone with experience in education-perhaps a former local superintendent or teacher-to be the next state superintendent of instruction. Their search is expected to be completed by January 2015, well ahead of current Superintendent Mike Flanagan's retirement in July 2015.

Posted on 09/15/14 at 3:09pm

On Wednesday, Sept. 24, NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia is making Michigan a stop on her Back to School Tour! Location details are still being finalized, but put the date on your calendar.

Posted on 09/09/14 at 12:17pm

recent EPIC-MRA poll of 600 likely voters showed that 82 percent of them believe that for-profit management companies should be required to publicly explain how they're spending the $1 billion in taxpayer dollars they're getting from the state.

Posted on 09/09/14 at 12:20pm

NEA's Works4Me is a free weekly newsletter with practical classroom tips written by teachers for teachers. There are tips and best ideas on classroom management, teaching techniques, curriculum, content, and more. When you sign up to receive the newsletter, you'll join other Michigan teachers who have already provided tips and suggestions.  

Posted on 09/09/14 at 12:21pm

The California's Teachers Association (CTA) and the California Federation of Teachers (CFT) have appealed the Los Angeles Superior Court's decision to strip state educators of their tenure rights. The action by the teacher unions follows a similar appeal by the State of California and California Gov. Jerry Brown

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House Education Committee takes up SB 618

After much debate, the Senate narrowly passed SB 618 and the same debate seems to be brewing in the House Education Committee as expressed by the Committee Vice Chair Rep. Tom Hooker (R-Byron Center). A former teacher, Hooker is concerned that the bill to lift the cap on charter schools may harm traditional public schools. While he supports the idea of giving parents choices, he said he has no position on the bill right now.

Speak up at MDE hearings on teacher certification

There are still opportunities to make your voice heard at MDE hearings on teacher certification changes. Don't be dissuaded by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Mike Flanagan's assurance that teachers won't lose their certification if they don't receive three consecutive evaluation ratings of "effective" or "highly effective." The issue is still not resolved and this is our chance to change the direction of the conversation. MEA has provided a hearing schedule and talking points.

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. 

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