Posted on 03/30/15 at 9:44am

According to the Michigan Department of Education (MDE), there is no provision in state or federal law that allows parents to opt their children out of assessments, like the M-STEP currently being administered in schools, without it counting against their school and district’s participation rates. MDE offered its official position last week in a memo to ISD Superintendents, Local Agency Superintendents, and Public School Academy Directors.

Posted on 03/30/15 at 9:15am

MEA is partnering with NEA, the Center for Teaching Quality (CTQ) and the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards to sponsor the Teaching Leadership Initiative (TLI) program. If you’re an MEA member and ready to take hold of your career and learn to lead in matters of practice and policy—if you’re an MEA member eager to make a difference in your classroom, but not sure where to begin—TLI is for you.

Posted on 03/30/15 at 9:33am

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

Posted on 03/25/15 at 10:10am

The Center for Michigan, a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization, is collecting feedback from Michigan citizens about the Michigan workforce experience through an online surveyThey’re specifically looking for information from educators like you about career navigation.

Posted on 03/25/15 at 1:20pm

The ice has melted and the roads are worse.

Michigan’s deteriorating roads and bridges pose a serious safety threat to drivers. Crater-size potholes are responsible for extensive damage to our automobiles.

Posted on 03/23/15 at 12:01pm

There is a push on for the next two weeks to ensure that reauthorization of the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) is done right this time. It's expected that the Senate will take up the ESEA on April 14.

Borders named DTE Energy Foundation Educator of the Year

MEA member Ann Marie Borders has been named United Musical Society (UMS) DTE Energy Foundation Educator of the Year. Borders is a vocal music teacher at Carpenter Elementary School in Ann Arbor. Karen McDonald, a Carpenter art teacher, shares the award with Borders since the UMS selection committee declared a tie.

MEA members earn NEA Foundation grants

Educators and MEA members from New Haven, Swartz Creek, Redford and Saginaw Valley State University received $2,000 and $5,000 grants from the NEA Foundation. The grants support proposals that have the potential for enhancing student achievement and for delivering high-quality educational professional development activities.

Tod Wolfgram, a New Haven High School social studies teacher received a $2,000 Learning and Leadership grant to attend the National Council for Social Studies Annual Conference. There he will learn more about the college, career, and civic life framework for social studies state standards. He will bring back information to his social studies colleagues and share ways to promote civil instruction in the modern classroom.

Kayla Trundle, a special education teacher from Swartz Creek Middle School, received a $2,000 Student Achievement Grant to improve community-based instruction opportunities for students with cognitive impairments. With help from the grant, their students will learn functional skills that apply to the Common Core Essential Elements through trips to a grocery store, post office, bank, restaurant, library, nature center and pet adoption center.

Kara Clayton, a Thurston High School language arts educator in Redford, earned a $2,000 Learning and Leadership Grant to learn more about the use of digital tools to improve students’ literacy skills. She will use the grant to attend seminars at the University of Rhode Island’s Institute in Digital Literacy. Clayton will attend seminars on assisting students to choose reliable and credible sources, reading comprehension, and using digital tools to conduct research. At the end of the Institute, Kara will create a collaborative lesson to be shared with other attendees and colleagues in Redford.

Dr. Marlena Bravender, an assistant professor at Saginaw Valley State University, received a $5,000 Learning and Leadership Grant to research effective ways to integrate virtual language simulations into middle school Spanish lessons. Using the lessons, students will understand authentic situations involving food, clothing, culture, common phrases and study lessons. The grant will also allow Bravender to track the impact of the virtual simulations.

The NEA Foundation awards its grants to educators three times a year. In this round, 42 educators across 22 states received $168,000 in grants to support efforts to improve teaching and learning. The next education grant deadline is Feb. 1, 2015. Go to www.neafoundation.org for more information. 

MI taxpayers helping charter school management companies make big profits

How charter management companies spend more than $1 billion dollars in state taxpayer dollars is again the focus of a news article in the Detroit Free Press. "Public money for schools buys private property" uncovers the arrangement National Heritage Academies (NHA) has with its schools. NHA, not the school, owns the school buildings and the contents, even though that's all been purchased with taxpayer money.

MDE's proposed special education rule changes delayed until next year

The Michigan Department of Education's (MDE) special education rule changes did not make it through a Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) and will have to be reintroduced next year. MDE wanted the rule changes to clarify language and help carry out federal law.

NEA President talks to Detroit Economic Club about educating the whole child

Tomorrow, Tuesday, Dec. 16, NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia will be telling the Detroit Economic Club why we must invest in the education of students for work and society in the 21st Century. She will be promoting an approach that favors policies that nurture creative thinking and meet the needs of the whole child.

Prior to her luncheon policy speech, she will be meeting with 80 local area high school students, including students from Gibraltar's Carlson High School, Grosse Pointe North, and Harper Woods. The students will hear a preview of Lily's speech and be able to ask questions on any topics they choose. They will also be guests at the luncheon program.

Lily's speech will be live-streamed at www.neatoday.org and you can tune in from 12:35 to 1:15 p.m. to watch and follow @NEAToday and @NEAmedia. If you can't tune in live, the speech will be archived at www.neatoday.org to watch later. Lily will also be a guest on Paul W. Smith's WJR Radio show from 5:30 to 9 a.m. You can listen at http://p.cmlsdet.com/player/?feed=49&id=12869

Message to MEA Members on Officers’ salaries

Last week the Mackinac Center was at it again, and this week the Detroit Free Press joined it in pushing anti-MEA propaganda for the sole purpose of sowing suspicion, doubt and disunity among MEA members.  Not unlike the Mackinac Center’s hugely expensive effort this summer to get members to leave their union, it has been a failure. The policy of my office remains clear—any dues paying MEA member who wishes to learn exactly what their officers make—has only to ask.

It’s not MEA! Be careful of a questionable scholarship offer

Don’t be taken in by a message to “coaches, teachers, and other interested parties” from a “Scholarship Selection Committee” offering scholarships to “Michigan High School Seniors.” MEA is not involved with nor endorses this program.

Students taking longer than four years to get their college degrees

Too much time and too little money keep most college students from earning a degree in four years according to Complete College America’s report, “4-year degrees now a myth in American higher education.” 

Michigan’s ranks low on its record of charter school oversight

Michigan may lead the nation in the number of charter schools it authorizes, but it ranks at the bottom among states when it comes to oversight of those authorizers. That finding in a report by the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA) supports efforts by some lawmakers and the state school Superintendent Mike Flanagan to strengthen the oversight and accountability of the state’s charter school operators.

Currently, Michigan has 136,850 students attending 297 charter schools with 39 authorizers. The number of charter schools, along with student enrollment, has grown rapidly since the authorizing of charter schools 20 years ago this year. 

The report, “On the Road to Better Accountability: an Analysis of State Charter Schools,” specifically faults the state for not automatically closing academically failing charters; for not setting quality standards for authorizers; for not requiring annual reports on academic performance; and for not having an evaluation process in place for authorizers. 

NACSA recommends a revamping of the state’s charter school laws that includes the ability to revoke the authority of a charter school authorizer to open any new schools; enforce oversight standards of current charter schools; and strengthen requirements for charter renewals. 

Flanagan threatened to suspend the ability of authorizers to open new charter schools unless they met similar standards. And a package of House bills—HB 5852HB 5915HB 5918—would keep authorizers from giving a contract to charter schools that have been closed for academic performance, and prohibit authorizers from giving contracts to new charter schools if the authorizer is not doing enough oversight on current charter schools.

MEA and AFT urge House to oppose third-grade reading bills

In a letter to members of the House of Representatives today, MEA President Steve Cook and AFT-Michigan President David Hecker are urging members of the House of Representatives to oppose HB 5111 if it continues to require retention of third grade students who are not reading at grade level. Both MEA and AFT are instead recommending early intervention with a reading improvement plan that is adequately funded on a long-term basis.

 

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