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FAQ on MPSERA Litigation

For Members Only

We answer some of your Frequently Asked Questions Regarding the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement Act Litigation.

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Free to MEA members: WebEx on Certification this Wednesday

Considering the changes in the law regarding certification, there is nothing more important than keeping your certification up-to-date. Whether your certificate expires this summer or in five years—you need to develop a plan to protect your certification.

MEA can help!

Join the free WebEx workshop for MEA members on Wednesday, May 21 at 5 p.m.  (EDS). “What Every Teacher Needs to Know about Certification” will cover how to keep your certification current; how to renew and/or progress your certificate using the new certification rules; how to use District-Provided Professional Development and SCECHs; and how to use MOECS to complete the renewal process.

You can join the online workshop for free by going to https://mea.webex.com/mea/j.php?MTID=ma224c260e491ced484d1a33039bd8f74. When asked, enter your name and email address. If a password is required, enter 12345 and then click “Join.” The WebEx will also be recorded so MEA members can view it at a later date.

Mackinac Center proposes cutting education to fix potholes

Targets for the 2015-16 budget have been set are in House and Senate conference committees to hammer out a final budget.

Legislative leaders and Gov. Snyder have agreed to use $400 million from the General Fund to fix roads since the defeat of Proposal 1 left us with no real plan. But the rest of the targets for spending—like education—are still yet to be decided.

The Mackinac Center has “stepped up” with its own road funding plan—How Michigan can fix its roads--that calls on legislators to redirect current or future state money to help pay for roads. The Center proposes that most of the money come from “reducing expenditures on programs that offer little or no benefit to the typical Michigan taxpayer.”

It seems the Mackinac Center includes education spending on K-12, community colleges and universities in those programs “offering little or no benefit.” They recommend freezing the School Aid Fund and using the money for road repairs.

Their rationale?

K-12 enrollment is declining, and since budget targets for 2015-16 set $169 million from the General Fund for schools—school districts will have plenty of money left over. That “extra” money could be put into roads.

And they claim there’s little evidence that state spending on colleges leads to more college graduates or a better state economy, so legislators could reduce the $1.5 billion for universities to $637 million and put it into road repairs. School Aid money can’t be used for roads, so if higher education needs more money, the Mackinac Center says to take it out of the School Aid Fund. That frees up more General Fund money for roads.

The Mackinac Center is ready to start their campaign to convince members to opt out of their MEA membership. Like last year, they’ll be sending out letters and postcards; they’ll be taking out full-page newspaper ads paid for by anti-public education and anti-union groups; and they’ll be using television, radio and social media to promote the idea that MEA doesn’t have the best interest of public education employees, students or public education at heart.

Don’t be fooled! Not when it’s the Mackinac Center suggesting we sacrifice students and a quality education for a pothole! Whose best interests do you think they have at heart when they want to divert millions of dollars from schools to give to roads? 

 

Senate passes teacher evaluation bill with some improvements

The Senate passed its version of a teacher and administration evaluation bill last week. SB 103 is very different from the 2014 House bills (HB 5223 and HB 5224) which received wide support, but those bills did not make it through the Senate Education Committee last year. 

An important change to this new bill is a decrease in the percentage of student growth used in a teacher’s evaluation. In the 2017-18 school year, the first year of implementation, 25 percent of a teacher’s evaluation would be based on student growth as determined by a statewide assessment. The next school year, the percentage increases to 40 percent. According to current law, student growth will be 50 percent of a teacher’s evaluation next year if no changes are made. 

Of the 40 percent of the evaluation based on student growth, 16 percent would be based on state assessments. The remaining 24 percent would be based on student growth as measured by local assessments used by a school district. The bill requires school districts to use the same evaluation tool in all of their schools. While they can choose the evaluation model that best works for them, information about it must be posted on the district’s website. The state Department of Technology, Management and Budget—which Gov. Snyder named to take over administration of state assessments from the Department of Education—will keep a list of effective evaluation tools districts could use.

Another important change delays the uses of student growth and assessment data until three consecutive years of data is available. That postpones using M-STEP test results until the 2018-19 school year. 

 

Birmingham teacher, MEA member honored as Michigan Teacher of the Year

Twenty years of teaching his students to “learn globally and serve locally” earned Rick Joseph the title of the 2015-16 Michigan Teacher of the YearJoseph is a fifth/sixth grade language arts and social studies teacher at Birmingham Covington School and an MEA member. He was selected for the honor from 487 teachers across the state who applied.

“This is a huge surprise, but there is no way I can be Teacher of the Year without the help of my team. I always say there is no “I” in team. My colleagues and students inspire me and teach me every day and they share in this honor,” Joseph said.

The announcement also came as a surprise to students and staff who had gathered in the school gym supposedly to be recognized by State Superintendent Mike Flanagan for being one of the top 50 best middle schools in the U.S. Flanagan used the opportunity to recognize Joseph for his outstanding work.

“I had the honor to watch him in his classroom. He is truly an inspiration to his students. Like all teachers, Rick makes a profound impact and will influence his students forever,” said Flanagan.

Joseph is the first Birmingham teacher to receive the honor from the State Board of Education.  He is also a National Board Certified teacher and a 2012 winner of the Microsoft Global Forum for Expert Educators. He was one of the world’s most innovative educators chosen from 75 countries and honored at a reception in Prague.

Laughter and play aren’t luxuries—they’re necessities!

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Participants in the annual BFCL Ladies Day at the MEA on May 8 got inspiration and ideas for their professional and personal lives from an unusual keynote speaker—a stand-up comedian. Sharon Lacey is a former award-winning teacher who quit the profession when she feared she was showing early signs of Alzheimer’s which runs in her family.

“I was scared. I decided it was better to do everything in life I wanted to do while I still could. I always wanted to be a stand-up comedian. It’s been quite an adventure and I’ve learned to embrace it,” Lacey said. 

That was more than nine years ago, but she still draws on her experiences as a middle school history teacher to connect with her audience through humor. 

“Considering what you’re dealing with—mandatory testing with test results tied to your evaluations, union busting, wage cuts—a mountain of problems—it feels  like you’re working in a war zone. And I should know, I’ve been in Iraq entertaining our troops,” Lacey told the ladies.

She touched on topics familiar to her audience—homework, Facebook, classroom supplies, and school pictures—bringing humor to every-day situations that, at some point, have tested the patience of every educator in the room. 

MEA urges postponement in using M-STEP results because of testing problems

EAST LANSING, Mich., April 21, 2015 — In an open letter to Gov. Snyder and state education stakeholders, MEA President Steve Cook is asking that data from the Michigan Student Test of Educational Progress (M-STEP) not be used this year in teacher evaluations, district rankings, or for any other purposes. The letter details numerous problems associated with the test, which is now in its second week of implementation in school districts across the state.

Cook said, “After just five days, we’re hearing loud and clear from our members just some of the many problems associated with M-STEP. It’s impossible to believe that this test could be an accurate measure of student growth. We can’t use unreliable data to judge teachers and school districts.”

The letter points out that M-STEP is taking huge amounts of time away from classroom instruction and curriculum. In some cases, a whole school day is absorbed with testing, when only a few hours were scheduled. Teachers reported that students are not finishing the test and were “locked out” of completing the test later.

Since M-STEP is an online test, computers and computer labs are unavailable to other students and classes to do their work. In many schools, computer labs are in school libraries which are now off limits during the testing period.

In too many cases, a school district’s infrastructure isn’t able to provide the technology needed for administration of M-STEP. A middle school test coordinator spent the first days of the testing window working with computers locking up or crashing; insufficient server capacity, equipment failures, and software issues. “It seemed M-STEP became an assessment of a student’s ability to manipulate the technology, and less a test of what a student learned.”

Detroit school coalition calls for overhaul of Detroit schools

After three months, the Coalition for the Future of Detroit Schoolchildren issued its report for Gov. Snyder. The group was charged with coming up with ideas and recommendations to reform education in Detroit.

David Hecker, president of the American Federation of Teachers in Michigan (AFT-Michigan) and one of five Coalition co-chairs, said, "We have a system that isn't working. The fact is all urban districts are performing much better than Detroit. All we're asking for is a level playing field."

The Coalition wants the state to assume $53 million a year of Detroit Public Schools' (DPS) $450 million debt since it occurred while the state was in charge of the district. For many years, DPS has been under the control of several emergency managers to deal with its financial problems and in 2011, came under the control of the Education Achievement Authority (EAA) to improve its academic standing.

In keeping with that idea, the Coalition recommended the control of DPS be returned to an elected school board and the agreement with EAA be ended.

Is it easy for Michigan students to find career information?

Take the online survey

The Center for Michigan, a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization, is looking for information from educators like you about improving career outcomes for Michigan students after high school. It’s critical that you share your ideas and opinions in an online survey they’re conducting.

The survey is part of the Center’s Community Conversations to better understand career navigation, college affordability and the opportunities and hurdles students face in getting a good job and pursuing a successful career in Michigan. 

Your responses will be confidential and not linked to you in any way. The data will be used to create a report summarizing what Michigan citizens feel about these issues. 

Go online now to complete the survey. The survey will be available until April 6.

2015 M-STEP vendors win three-year contract

The two vendors who are currently administering the 2015 M-STEP assessments won a three-year contract to continue their work. Data Recognition Corporation and Measurement, Inc. were awarded the contract by the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) and the Department of Technology, Management and Budget (DTMB).

This year, the Smarter Balanced consortium content is being used for the math and English Language Arts portion of M-STEP, with Michigan-developed content aligned to state standards provident questions the for science and social studies questions. That will be the same combination for the 2016 statewide assessment.

Five companies submitted bids for the statewide testing contract. The three-year $103.7 million contract for Data Recognition Corp. and Measurement, Inc. still needs to be approved.

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