Posted on 07/06/15 at 2:58pm

You only have until July 14-next Tuesday-- to register for MEA's 2015 Summer Leadership Conference, "Power from the Past-A Force for the Future." The Conference is scheduled for July 28-30 at Lake Superior State College in Sault Ste. Marie.

Posted on 07/06/15 at 2:57pm

Public Sector Consultants, a non-partisan public policy research firm in Lansing, has released a report offering financial recommendations and policy proposals to move Michigan forward. This comes on the heels of new State Superintendent Brian Whiston's goal of making Michigan one of the top 10 states in the next 10 years.

Posted on 07/06/15 at 2:56pm

The Senate's version of the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Act (ESEA) will finally get a hearing on the full U.S. Senate floor starting tomorrow on July 7. In mid-April, the Senate Education Committee approved the Every Child Achieves Act (ECAA) a week after it was introduced by co-sponsors Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA). 

Posted on 06/29/15 at 12:25pm

Two weeks ago, Gov. Snyder's education advisor led House Education Committee members to believe that the Governor opposed SB 103, the teacher evaluation bill sponsored by Sen. Phil Pavlov (R-St. Clair), chair of the Senate Education Committee. Under direct questioning, Karen McPhee replied that Snyder did not support the bill in its present form. 

However, last week his media spokesperson said that Gov. Snyder has taken no position on SB 103, but would support some changes to the bill. So far, the bill has had four hearings in Committee that still has not voted to discharge the bill.

Pavlov's bill emphasizes local control with districts allowed to choose whatever evaluation tool they wish. There are no provisions for training and no standards by which to judge those evaluation tools. MEA lobbyist Christina Canfield spoke in opposition to the bill, saying the bill is not in the best interest of teachers or children.

Last year, the House plan for teacher evaluations was very different from SB 103. That set of evaluation bills never made it through lame duck last year. Those bills set standards for the evaluation tools districts use; emphasized training for evaluators; and created a much fairer evaluation system for teachers. The MEA remains hopeful this year's House Education Committee will introduce similar amendments to SB 103.

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 06/30/15 at 9:19am

With the passage of Michigan’s Public Employment Relations Act in 1965, teachers finally went from begging to bargaining. Thanks to PERA, all public school employees have the right to negotiate for fair wages, quality health care benefits and decent working conditions.

Proposal 5--too good to be true

Proponents of Proposal 5 are trying to push a rosy story about their constitutional amendment, which would require a 2/3 supermajority of the House and the Senate or a statewide vote of the people in order to raise taxes.  While that would make it harder to raise taxes, it would also allow for a minority of lawmakers to block needed funding for schools and public safety, while protecting the latest round of corporate special interest tax breaks.

Breaking News -- New Prop 2 ad counters false claims

Protect Working Families has released its newest ad in support of Proposal 2. The 30-second ad features law enforcement officials setting the record straight on Proposal 2 and showing how collective bargaining keeps our children safe.

Are you registered to vote? Need an absentee ballot?

The deadline for registering to vote is Tues., Oct. 9. You must be a U.S. citizen, at least 18 years old by Nov. 6, and a resident of Michigan and the city or township where you’re apply to register to vote. 

2012 Presidential debate schedule begins Wednesday

The first Presidential debate of Election 2012 is Wed., Oct. 3. The University of Denver will be hosting President Obama and Mitt Romney debating the issue of domestic policy. The moderator is Jim Lehrer, host of PBS “News Hour.”

It's not too late to get involved in Election 2012

Does seeing the latest TV ad attacking Proposal 2 or hearing critics bashing public education and public school employees make you mad? 

House considers yet another 'education reform'

The House Education Committee is still avidly pursuing Gov. Snyder's education reform agenda, and this time cyber schools are taking center stage. The Committee Chair, Rep. Lisa Posthumus Lyons (R-Lowell), has come up with legislation that she says will "totally transform traditional public schools as we know it."

School groups weigh in on Proposal 2

 

Proposal 2--the constitutional amendment to protect collective bargaining rights and working families--lately has been the target of outrageous lies meant to scare voters into rejecting the proposal. The State Board of Education has joined the outrage over the latest ad by Protecting Michigan Taxpayers which completely misrepresents Proposal 2. 
 
After linking passage of Proposal 2 to an outbreak of teacher strikes like the one in Chicago, opponents are now falsely claiming that when Proposal 2 passes, employees with criminal backgrounds will have free reign in the classroom and school bus drivers will be endangering students since safety standards will be removed. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth.
 
Now, State Board of Education members are joining the Protect Working Families campaign in demanding the ad be pulled from the air.
 
John Austin, State Board of Education President, blasted the ad, “We entrust our teachers and school personnel with the care and education of our children every day. This ad repugnantly suggests our teachers would negotiate away the safety of school children. Those claims have no credibility.”

Snyder: 'We've ignored vocational education.'

Gov. Snyder will be holding a summit of educators and employers next year to find out where the job demand is in Michigan and what jobs are in demand.

New charter schools open with no track record of success

This year, the Legislature allowed for the expansion of cyber and charter schools, despite concern from education experts that too many charter school management companies had questionable success records and were only out to make a profit. While the new law requires charters to meet academic goals, there’s no guarantee that the new schools will be operated by companies with proven academic records.

This fall, 31 new charter schools opened, with number 32 opening in January. This is the largest number of charter school openings since the late 1990s. A report by the Education Trust-Midwest showed that only 14 already had schools operating in Michigan and had a measurable track record.

Charter companies whose schools are in the top third of the state’s top-to-bottom ranking are considered “quality” by the Trust. Only eight out of the 14 operators in Michigan earned that rating.

If more than half of an operator’s schools were below the 33rd percentile in the top-to-bottom ranking, they were considered “struggling” and the companies were to improve the performance of the schools currently operating before opening any new ones. Among all the operators opening charter schools, only 22 of the 47 met the Trust’s criteria for quality.

Schools benefit from little-known government surplus program

Christmas has come early for more than 15 school districts who will be dividing up $500,000 worth of free government surplus technology equipment. The Pentagon’s Defense Reutilization Management Office (DRMO) makes the technology available to schools as federal agencies receive new equipment.

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