Feature

NEA President making Michigan a stop on her Back-to-School Tour

On Wednesday, Sept. 24, NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia will be stopping in Flint, East Lansing, at MSU, and Plymouth. She is starting off her new term as president with visits to states to connect with members.

In Flint, Lily will be visiting Northwestern High School, once labeled a Priority School. Thanks to the efforts of the staff and students, and the partnerships with MEA, NEA and the school district, Northwestern no longer ranks in the bottom 5 percent when it comes to student achievement.  

At MSU, Lily will have the chance to meet with future educators to carry NEA’s message of “Degrees not Debt” that addresses the escalating cost of a college education. She will also meet with MEA members to discuss NEA’s role in fighting for more higher education funding.

Lily will finish her day with a meet-and-greet with Mark Schauer at the Plymouth MEA office. Members from Livonia, Plymouth and Wayne-Westland will hear from Lily and have the chance to learn more about Schauer, MEA’s recommended candidate for governor, and his plans for investing in public education.

You can follow Lily’s tour at “Lily’s blackboard”, on Twitter @lily NEA, or read her blog.

Ann Arbor teachers invite you to a rally for public schools

What does the largest class size in the world look like? Come to the Rally for Public Schools in Ann Arbor on Thursday, Aug. 28 and find out!

It's a chance to celebrate teachers, students and a new school year with Ann Arbor teachers and the Michigan Teachers and Allies for Change (M-TAC) from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. in downtown Ann Arbor. There will be something for the whole family-music, dancing, face painting and ice cream.

In addition to a good time, it's a chance to let legislators know about the good things going on in schools despite cuts to funding, pay freezes and increased class sizes. Lisa Brown, Mark Schauer's running mate, Rep. Jeff Irwin, and Ann Arbor EA President Linda Carter-all strong supporters of public education-will be guest speakers.

RSVP on Facebook. Come out and show your support for public education!

One third of Priority Schools no longer ranked in the bottom 5 percent

The 2014 School Accountability Scorecard released last week by the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) provided good news for the 34 percent of 2013 Priority Schools which were removed from that list of lowest-performing schools. According to the Scorecard, more than 1,000 schools met targets in all areas, such as proficiency, participation, attendance, and graduation rates. 

There are 60 new Priority Schools which by law are placed under the authority of the State School Reform Office. The schools will be required to create and implement an intervention model to improve student achievement. The federally defined intervention models include transformation, turnaround, restart and school closure.

The color-coded Scorecard gives schools, districts, parents and the public a way to identify strengths and weaknesses of a school's performance. Colors are determined by points accumulated for goals met or by demonstrating improvement. Green is the highest level, indicating that most goals were met. The next level is lime, followed by yellow and orange. Red is the lowest level, indicating that few goals were met.

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.

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