Posted on 06/29/15 at 12:26pm

This Wednesday, Brian Whiston takes over as the new State Superintendent. In an interview with the Detroit Free Press, he talks about standardized testing, school funding, charter and cyber schools, deficit schools and teacher evaluations.

Posted on 06/29/15 at 12:27pm

Michigan delegates to NEA's Representative Assembly will join more than 7,000 educators on their way to Orlando to help set education policy and talk about what's best for students. The annual meeting starts July 3 and runs through July 6.

Posted on 06/22/15 at 5:38pm

SaveOnEnergy.com is looking for the best lesson plans for teaching students about energy. By submitting your plan, you have a chance to win a $500 Teacher Grant for your classroom. Save On Energy.com will be awarding six $500 grants in the form of Visa Reward Cards to be used toward classroom materials and activities. SaveOnEnergy.com is a resource for consumers on all aspects of energy and sustainability.

Posted on 06/22/15 at 5:25pm

Lt. Gov. Brian Calley is holding meetings around the state with parents of special education students to gather input on their experiences with the state’s special education system. To reach even more parents, Calley also launched an online survey which will be available through August. 

Posted on 06/22/15 at 5:31pm

The U.S. Supreme Court has unanimously ruled that teachers and educators should not be put in law enforcement roles when they carry out their duty of reporting suspected child abuse or neglect. The National Education Association (NEA) filed an amicus brief in the case, Ohio v. Clark, stating that “educators’ valuable role as mandatory reporters and caregivers should not be compromised.”

Posted on 06/16/15 at 4:28pm

Some intermediate school district superintendents want the State Board of Education (SBE) to waive certain certification standards for career and technical education (CTE) teachers so they can have an easier time attracting them for jobs. Without the waiver, the group says some CTE programs could close.

Some charter school authorizers at risk of suspension

Fallout is still being felt two months after the release of the Detroit Free Press' report on the state's charter schools. The investigative report uncovered a general lack of accountability and transparency in how charter schools spend the more than $1 billion in state taxpayer money they receive.

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.

MEA Matters!

It is important to be an MEA member. Our communities need an organization that will challenge school budget cuts, stand up for students, and inform the public on the status of bills in the legislature.

The E-Newsletters, MEA Voice Magazine, and other communications keep members alert! We continue to challenge educational issues such as charter school accountability, '”toxic testing”, and teacher retention.

Mackinac Center is Not Your Friend!!

By now, many of you have may have received an email from an individual named Peter Boyd, who is affiliated with the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. The email provides information about how you can drop your membership in the union. This email went out to school employees statewide. I have talked with other local presidents whose members received the same email.

Let me remind you of who the Mackinac Center really is.

Schools get money to try out a year-round calendar

Seven schools will benefit from a $2 million pilot program established in the new state education budget that helps them switch to an alternative school calendar. The State Board of Education is expected to approve five schools and two more schools will receive money through the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) to offset costs. All seven schools are moving to a year-round calendar.

New book on teacher preparation features the Michigan approach

Schools across the state will be starting a new school year in less than a month, but there’s been no further legislative action on the adoption of a statewide teacher and administrator evaluation system. And the MEAP will still be used this school year since no new statewide student assessment has been chosen that will measure student growth—a measurement that will impact teacher and administrator evaluations.

Having problems with Common Core?

While MEA members support the concept of Common Core State Standards (CCSS), many are finding it difficult to effectively implement it in their classrooms because of a lack of training or adequate resources. If you’re an MEA/NEA member, there is help.

What MEA membership means

I come from what I consider a relatively unique background.  My father is a Democrat and union organizer.  My mother is a Republican whose father didn’t see the need for a wife and mother to go to college, so as an elementary student, I witnessed the drive for and benefits of higher education.  My mother became a CPA who passed the CPA exam on her first sitting and eventually represented management.   I am a second career teacher who was in risk management for a private sector property management company before a divorce led me to teaching.  These life experi

Flanagan wants more accountability from charter school authorizers

In a meeting last week, State Superintendent Mike Flanagan made it clear to Michigan's state school authorizers that he's going to hold them accountable-especially when it comes to poor performing authorizers opening up any new schools. In Michigan, local and intermediate school districts, community colleges and public universities can authorize charter schools.

Science students can now opt out of doing animal dissections

If the State Board of Education has its way, students won't have to dissect animals in their science classes if they have moral or religious objections or other reasons. The State Board adopted the policy in May and has since gained strong support from the animal rights group, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). 

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