Feature

Michigan awarded grant for early childhood education

Michigan will receive $51.7 million in a federal grant in the third round of the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge. Five other states—Georgia, Kentucky, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Vermont—are also benefitting from the $280 million total being awarded.  So far, 20 states have received grants.

This is the first time Michigan has been awarded any money from Race to the Top.  The grant, jointly operated by the U.S. Department of Education and the Department of Health and Human Services, supports the education of children from birth to five years old.

In October 2013, the state submitted its grant application which set goals for the money: providing scholarships to early childhood education programs for families eligible for child care subsidies; promoting health and nutrition standards in child care facilities; and increasing participation in the state’s preschool ratings system.  It’s expected that more than 182,000 children from ages three to kindergarten from low-income families will benefit from the money.

MEA members take action to combat student poverty

Michigan teachers and support staff serving on the frontlines of education are increasingly seeing poverty among school kids as a direct obstacle to improving performances in the classroom. When school kids can’t adequately clothe themselves in winter or fill their bellies so they are prepared to learn, they will struggle to fill in the right answers on standardized tests. 

All across the state MEA members have been involved during this holiday season to make sure poverty doesn’t keep a student from getting a quality education.

MEA members in the Traverse City area are donating hundreds of food and care items to the student-run food bank at Traverse City High School, with the donations earmarked for local students and their families.

“For too many children in our community, learning is a challenge when they don’t have enough to eat in the morning or lack basic personal and school supplies,” said Mary McGee-Cullen, MEA’s UniServ Director. “Local teachers and education support professionals are stepping up to help those most in need this holiday season, because we all have deep roots in our community and we strongly believe in doing our part to make sure everyone in this community can succeed.”

MEA staff and members have been accepting donations for weeks at its Traverse City office, and have received contributions of everything from cereal to soap and shampoo.

Senate approves EAA expansion

After being discharged today from committee and taken up under general orders, the Senate voted 20-18 to expand the Education Achievement Authority. HB 4369 now allows persistently low -achieving schools to be operated by another public school or “reform/redesign district” as opposed to a private educational management organization as the EAA currently operates. The bill still allows the EAA to remain in place.

The EAA currently oversees the operation of 15 Detroit schools. While the original House version allowed the EAA to take over an additional 50 persistently low-achieving schools, the Senate’s substitute calls for a moratorium on expanding the EAA’s jurisdiction until January 2015.  After that, there is no cap on the number of schools that can be placed in the EAA and no schools would be functioning under the EAA until the 2015-16 school year.

Educators raising their hands on National Day of Action

Parents, students, educators and community leaders across the country are raising their hands and demanding more for America’s children. 

Dec. 9 is the National Day of Action, with the slogan of "Raise Your Hand for our Schools and our Solutions." Communities are demanding that those who know students best devise and implement community-driven solutions to tackle the opportunity gaps in American education.

The day of action is an outgrowth of ongoing collaboration among the National Education Association, the American Federation of Teachers, and several key community partners to mobilize support for public education, pushing back against the corporate takeover of our public schools and lifting up the voices of practitioners and communities about what is best for our students.

Together, the groups have developed "The Principles that Unite Us"—a common vision for public education. It stands in sharp contrast to the corporate agenda for public schools, market driven reform that attempts to impose a system of winners and losers. More than 100 community groups and unions have already endorsed the principles.

School employees explain why they’re sticking with MEA

MEA recently announced that despite Michigan’s so-called “right-to-work” law’s taking effect, 99 percent of MEA members have decided to remain with their union.

Teachers, education support professionals and higher-education employees who remain members enjoy numerous member-only advantages for their careers, for their rights, for their wallets and for public education.

MEA Voice asked members to explain why they decided to stick with their union. Here is a sample of responses:

  • Julie Brill, Kentwood Public Schools: “To me, my union is my family. I will stick with them through thick and thin. I also believe that collective bargaining rights are the only way to keep education strong and solid as we move forward. Having my working conditions protected means that the learning conditions for kids are protected.”

American Education Week celebrates public education, commitment to excellence

The nation is coming together this week to celebrate and honor a heritage of commitment to educational excellence.

American Education Week is an opportunity to shine a spotlight on local public schools, teachers, education support professionals, and others who work hard to ensure that every child can get a quality education that will prepare them for college and the workplace.

This year marks the 92nd year of American Education Week, which has been observed since 1921, when the National Education Association and the American Legion — teachers, school staff and military veterans — got together and adopted resolutions to raise public awareness about the importance of education.

99% of members remain with MEA, much to chagrin of opponents of public education

Ninety-nine percent of MEA members chose to stay with their union when given the choice under Michigan’s new so-called “right-to-work” law, MEA President Steve Cook announced to the hundreds of teachers, education support professionals and higher education employees gathered Oct. 5 at MEA’s Fall Representative Assembly in Lansing.

After Gov. Rick Snyder and Republicans in the state Legislature jammed through right-to-work bills last December, Cook said, “Some predicted it was the end of organized labor in Michigan — that it would never survive. Some emails to me said it was foolish to even try to retain members — tens of thousands were waiting to leave. That’s why I don’t read Mackinac Center emails anymore.”

“After the other side set up websites, held seminars and town halls, and sent tens of thousands of emails directly to members, 99 percent of the MEA membership said, ‘No, thank you,’” Cook said. “They stayed with the organization that protects and respects your profession and the important role you play in educating students.”

Cook in Detroit News: Lawmakers must take swift action on Student Safety Act

MEA President Steve Cook took to the editorial page of the Detroit News on Wednesday to urge state lawmakers to pass the Student Safety Act, which is stalled in the House Appropriations Committee. 

The legislation would create comprehensive communications infrastructure to provide students, school employees and parents with a way to anonymously submit tips about threats to student safety.

“Recent violent attacks in schools — including last week’s shootings outside Sexton High School in Lansing — emphasize the need for a comprehensive system for addressing threats to student safety,” Cook wrote.

MEA urges state Legislature to take swift action on Student Safety Act

EAST LANSING, Mich., Sept. 19, 2013 — The Michigan Education Association is urging state lawmakers to take immediate action and pass the Student Safety Act, which would establish a new tip line and an online interface to allow students to anonymously report safety threats.

This week’s shooting near Lansing’s Sexton High School emphasizes the need for a comprehensive program to address threats to student safety.

The state Senate in June unanimously passed legislation to create the program, dubbed “OK-2-SAY.” Since then, Senate Bill 374 has sat dormant in the House Appropriations Committee.

 “Safety is one of the most pressing issues facing our schools, and indeed our society,” MEA President Steve Cook said. “Teachers and education support professionals can’t help students reach their full academic potential without a safe learning environment in place. MEA strongly supports the Student Safety Act and urges Michigan lawmakers to make its passage a top priority.”

MEA members sound off on Facebook about upcoming opportunities, challenges

With the new school year finally upon us, MEA asked members via its Facebook page what they were looking forward to most in the 2013-14 school year. Here are just a few of the many responses:

 
  • Cherie Wade Honeycutt, teacher, Alpena Public Schools: “I look forward to being back with an amazing staff at Besser Elementary in Alpena. We are facing a financial crisis, as are many schools. But we are a group of passionate, caring professionals who strive every day to face the challenges that come with being an educator and to work towards giving our students a top-notch education.”
  • John Pakledinaz, teacher and president of the Farwell Education Association: “As president of our union, I am looking forward to the opportunity to discuss membership with new teachers hired in our district, Farwell Area Schools. In the classroom, I am looking forward to the flipped classroom model I will be experimenting with in my chemistry class.”
  • Bonnie Adams, food services ESP, Thornapple-Kellogg Schools: “I look forward to a great year at Thornapple Kellogg Schools in Middleville. Although times are hard, the children still come in smiling. When they graduate, they know T.K. put everything into teaching and they have learned everything they need to know in life. We work together (parents, teachers and support staff) to help all kids succeed.”
  • Brad Wenz, teacher, Romeo Community Schools: “Romeo Community Schools is implementing the technology that our community provided via a tech bond last fall. I’m looking forward to training and slowly integrating the tech into my daily class life.”

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