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FAQ on MPSERA Litigation

For Members Only

We answer some of your Frequently Asked Questions Regarding the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement Act Litigation.

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Free to MEA members: WebEx on Certification this Wednesday

Considering the changes in the law regarding certification, there is nothing more important than keeping your certification up-to-date. Whether your certificate expires this summer or in five years—you need to develop a plan to protect your certification.

MEA can help!

Join the free WebEx workshop for MEA members on Wednesday, May 21 at 5 p.m.  (EDS). “What Every Teacher Needs to Know about Certification” will cover how to keep your certification current; how to renew and/or progress your certificate using the new certification rules; how to use District-Provided Professional Development and SCECHs; and how to use MOECS to complete the renewal process.

You can join the online workshop for free by going to https://mea.webex.com/mea/j.php?MTID=ma224c260e491ced484d1a33039bd8f74. When asked, enter your name and email address. If a password is required, enter 12345 and then click “Join.” The WebEx will also be recorded so MEA members can view it at a later date.

It’s American Education Week—Thank you for all you do!

Nov. 16-21 is set aside to celebrate public education and honor the school employees like you who make a difference in the lives of children every day. You’re committed to making sure every child receives a quality education. You believe in public education. And for that you deserve our gratitude and admiration. Follow MEA on Facebook for special messages all week. 

NEA has been a sponsor of American Education Week for the past 93 years and this year, the week’s theme is, “Great Public Schools: A Basic Right and Our Responsibility.”  NEA is sponsoring various events to recognize the hard work of students, the professionalism and commitment of educators, and to show appreciation for parents and community members who all contribute to great public schools. 

State extends deadline to opt out of electronic MEAP

In an effort to meet the Legislature’s requirement to revamp the MEAP test in time for next spring, the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) continues to make changes to the MEAP. The latest change requires administering the test online and school districts have until Nov. 14 to file an online waiver request with MDE to offer a paper and pencil test option.

This last requirement has left districts scrambling to prepare teachers to give the test, to ensure that students are prepared to take the tests using an online format, and to have the necessary working technology. Many districts feel they don’t have the time to make the changes required by the new test and are choosing to file a waiver request. 

MDE had been counting on using the Smarter Balanced assessments because they aligned with the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), but when lawmakers made it a requirement in MDE’S budget to offer the MEAP, it signaled the end to Smarter Balanced and a race to turn the MEAP into an assessment that would measure growth using CCSS. 

Last spring, when some school districts piloted the online Smarter Balanced, there were system crashes, computer screens frozen, or students needing to re-log in after they were kicked out of the system. Online testing had to be rescheduled which ultimately cost instructional time and unfairly penalized students for issues out of anyone’s control. 

These same concerns still linger with this new MEAP format.

In addition to changing the testing format of the MEAP, MDE has designated third through eighth and eleventh grade students to take the test and moved administration of the new MEAP from the fall to the spring.

 

Detroit News wrong about Dziadosz as a potential State Superintendent

MEA Executive Director Gretchen Dziadosz made it clear in a news release last week that she’s not a candidate for the position of State Superintendent despite claims made in a Detroit News editorial. Current State Superintendent Mike Flanagan will be retiring in June 2015 after 10 years in the position and the search is on for his replacement.

“Contrary to the News’ unnamed source, I am not a candidate for State Superintendent, nor have I had any conversations with anyone about a possible candidacy. I would have been happy to clarify that ahead of its appearing in the Detroit News, had I been given the opportunity. Unfortunately, I was not,” said Dziadosz.

The editorial claims that “cementing labor’s influence over the direction of education in Michigan would be a wrong turn.”  Dziadosz said, “Of course, as MEA works on behalf of the learning conditions of our students, we have a deep interest in the qualities and skills of the next superintendent. The column focused lots of attention on the perceived positon of potential candidates on charter schools. But this shouldn’t be a question of pro- or anti-charter—it should be a question of standing up for quality and transparency.” 

In addition to Dziadosz, the paper names Vicki Markavitch, superintendent of Oakland Schools; Scott Menzel, superintendent of the Washtenaw Intermediate School District; and Dan Varner, a current State Board of Education member and the CEO of Excellent Schools Detroit, part of a charter school network as possible candidates.

Want the truth about funding cuts? Ask educators!

Poll: 4 out of 5 educators have witnessed
school funding cuts in past four years
                                                                         

EAST LANSING, Mich., Oct. 15, 2014 — Roughly four out of five Michigan educators have experienced funding cuts at their school in the past four years, according to a member poll released today by the Michigan Education Association.

“If you want to know the truth about what’s really happening with education funding in our state, the people to ask are Michigan’s educators,” said MEA President Steven Cook.  “Cuts to K-12 and higher education aren’t just campaign rhetoric – they are reality experienced every day by MEA members across the state.”

In response to the question, “Thinking about the last four years, have you witnessed funding cuts to your local school district and school?", 78 percent responded that they had witnessed cuts, with 11 percent saying they had not and another 11 percent saying they were unsure. 

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.

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