Feature

Evaluation bills pass the House

On a 95-14 vote today, the House passed HB 5223, the bipartisan effort to establish a statewide teacher evaluation process. And with a 96-13 vote, the House also passed HB 5224 which creates an administrator evaluation system.

The bills represent several years of work and address the teacher tenure reforms the Legislature passed in 2011. Under that legislation, 50 percent of a teacher’s evaluation would be based on student growth in the 2015-16 school year.

But thanks to the work of MEA lobbyists and other work group members, 25 percent of student growth will continue to be part of teacher evaluations through the 2016-17 school year. Beginning in 2017-18, the percentage would increase to 40 percent. That represents a significant change.

On the House floor today, the only change to the bill came in an amendment requiring the Department of Education to provide a report to the Legislature in 2018 that describes the impact of this new statewide evaluation process.

The bills will now go to the Senate for consideration.

An invitation for you: BE IN OUR PICTURE!

Have you ever had a secret desire to see your face on the cover of a magazine? Or how about having thousands of people see your picture every day?

If you have—we’ve got an opportunity to make you dreams come true!

On Saturday, May 17, 2014, we are shooting the picture that will be on the cover of the 2014-15 MEA calendar. This year’s theme, “We believe in  public education,” will be brought to life with a group shot of as many MEA members and their children who want to be a part of MEA history. We want to showcase you and your commitment to public education and students.

We need bright, shiny faces of members wearing bright colors—please no T-shirts with slogans or pictures—and dressed in your regular work clothes or uniforms. Diversity is our goal.  We want a representation of all of our MEA members—from gender to race to age to job classifications.

We also want to include students, so please bring your children with you to the photo shoot.

It’s National Teacher/School Employee Appreciation Week! Thank you for all you do!

This week is a celebration of all school employees and their contributions to public education, students, the community and society in general. 

“Each year schools and communities observe Teacher Day/School Family Day with local celebrations that pay tribute to the contributions school employees make to our communities. We at MEA invite you to observe this important date by continuing the traditions of celebratory activities,” said MEA President Steve Cook.

Several days this week are set aside to recognize specific groups of school employees. Tuesday, May 6 is designated Teacher Day/School Family Day and May 7 is National School Nurse Day. 

We asked MEA members to submit their suggestions for ways schools and the public can honor schools employees. Here’s what we heard:

Cathryn Therese, from Walden AGS Fenton Schools said, “I’d like to have people—students, parents, the media—ask candidates for governor if they support teacher retirement and medical coverage; allowing teachers to have their seniority back for jobs within their schools; union rights restored, and do away with taxing teacher retirement. Not just discuss restoring funding to schools. Teachers have taken huge hits while teacher certification requirements continue to demand high levels of education and skill.”

STOP EAA EXPANSION! Sign the petition now!

Despite powerful testimony from EAA teachers, education experts and parents yesterday at a special hearing with Senate Democrats at the Capitol, Republicans legislators are refusing to listen and right now are doing all they can to get enough votes to expand the EAA.

You can help stop this dangerous legislation by signing the petition at www.senatedems.com/StopEAA now and tell Republicans to vote NO on EAA.

 

Fellowship recognizes leaders in educational excellence

Have you created a successful Common Core lesson? Has student achievement in your school reached new levels? Are you looking to influence public policy on education?

American Achieves is looking for candidates for its America Achieves Fellowship for Teachers that recognizes successful teachers or principals who have proven outstanding results for students, demonstrated leadership in their school communities, and seek to expand their voice in public policy.

Consider nominating one of your colleagues, administrators or yourself for this honor. Applications must be submitted by May 18.

How should we show our appreciation to school employees?

There’s a lot of news and information out there already in preparation for May 4-11 designated as National Teacher Appreciation Week when teachers and all school employees are recognized for their contributions to public education.

But has anybody asked you lately how we should show appreciation to you for all the time and effort you put in to make sure students receive a quality education? That communities understand what great work is going on in their schools every day—and not just during school hours? That legislators realize you are not the enemy of public education?

More students are taking online classes—is that a good thing?


In the last three years, the number of K-12 students taking online courses has grown to 52 percent, according to a report to the Legislature prepared by the Michigan Virtual Learning Research Institute. The overall number of online courses has also more than doubled in the last three years. In 2011-12, 89,921 courses were taken; in 2012-13, 185,053 courses were taken overall.

The effectiveness of online courses gets mixed reviews. For students taking a blend of online and traditional classes, the completion or passing rate was 60 percent. The completion or passing rate for non-online courses was 72 percent.

The Institute analyzed data from students enrolled in courses through the Michigan Virtual University School, students who did all of their coursework online through a cyber school, and students who took online courses through other sources, such as through their school district. Most of the students taking online courses are students who are academically behind and need to catch up on credits.

Help for Common Core available through MEA Cadre

The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) has an impact on virtually every facet of education, but there are still members needing assistance putting them into practice in their classrooms. Now, there’s professional development help available with the MEA Leading with Common Core Leadership and Advocacy Cadre (CCLAC). 

Through the efforts of MEA’s Professional Development/Human Rights Department, 26 MEA members were invited to join CCLAC to assist teachers across the state in dealing with the instructional and policy implications of CCSS. The Cadre is made up of teachers from across the state and will be providing professional development through online and face-to-face trainings.

Melanie Waltz, Field Services Consultant and organizer of the program, said, “The Cadre will have the opportunity to work with teachers across the state to advocate and support CCSS in a way that will have a positive impact on teachers and students.”

Dexter custodian receives Leon Brunner Award at ESP Conference

Richard Wines of Dexter is the 2014 recipient of the Leon A. Brunner Award for his contributions to ESP.

Richard Wines, a custodian at Wylie Elementary School in Dexter, was honored with the ESP Caucus' highest award, the 2014 Leon A. Brunner Award at this year’s MEA ESP Statewide Conference. The award is given to an educational support professional who has made significant contributions to ESP and has exhibited a high degree of commitment to ESP issues and concerns.

Wines is president of his local, Coordinating Council Chair, and a Region 3 member of the ESP Caucus Executive Board.

In accepting his award, Wines described MEA and its members as a family and how “the family” is at a crossroads.

“Our family is being hurt. We need to sway our family to have a reunion and start rebuilding this union.  And we can do that by engaging each member of the family,” Wines said. 

Keep children safe while they’re online

Michigan children are inundated with advertisements from alcohol, tobacco, pornography and gambling marketers through the Internet and cell phones.

The State of Michigan offers a free registry to stop adult advertisements from reaching emails, mobile phones, text messages and instant messenger addresses. At www.ProtectMichild.com, parents, educators, schools and families can sign up for this free do-not-contact service that MEA supports.

Help spread the word. Tell your colleagues, friends and school district how they can protect children and families from unwanted adult advertising.

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