State News Roundup for May 15, 2011

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Pennsylvania – House Republican Budget Plan is a Positive Step, but Still Means Major Cuts to Schools

The state budget proposal announced by Republican lawmakers in the state House of Representatives Tuesday is a positive move, but would still result in funding cuts to public education that would harm students.“The House Republicans’ budget plan is a step in the right direction, but it still would mean unprecedented cuts to our schools, because it only reduces Governor Corbett’s nearly $1.2 billion in proposed public school funding cuts to almost $1 billion in cuts,” said PSEA President Jim Testerman.

“School districts will still be forced to increase class sizes, cut programs that work for our students, raise property taxes – or do all three,” Testerman said. “The next step is for the House and Senate to use the $500 million in surplus funds to restore even more of these cuts and use the taxpayers’ money to support schools, students, and communities that are struggling to fund their schools.

Get the whole story at

New Jersey – Lower Standards for Charter School Teachers?

During his testimony yesterday before the Senate Budget Committee, Acting Commissioner of Education Chris Cerf was asked about Gov. Chris Christie’s curious proposal to eliminate certification requirements for teachers in New Jersey’s public charter schools.

When pressed to clarify his position, he said “I don’t care if a teacher is certified and has a Ph.D from Harvard. If their students aren’t learning in a year, we ought to take note of that,” according to published reports.  He continued by calling the state’s certification process “jumping through hoops.”  He then suggested that teachers should take subject matter tests in order to be certified, apparently unaware that such tests are already required under the current certification process.

The suggestion that charter school teachers need not be certified drew a strong response from the education community.  “It is baffling that the governor and acting commissioner actually want to lower standards for charter school teachers,“ said NJEA president Barbara Keshishian.


New York and Michigan – New Websites Invite You to Share How Union Members Make a Difference in Your Community

New York State United Teachers and Progress Michigan along with the We Are The People coalition have started new websites that feature stories of teachers and other union members who make a real difference in their communities. Both of these sites feature easy ways for you to submit a video speaking about how you enhance your community for all residents.

New York – It’s What We Do

New York State United Teachers this week launched a website that focuses on the good work its members do everyday — on the job and in their communities.

The “It’s What We Do” site parallels a series of radio ads the union began earlier this year. In those ads, and on the new website, members’ stories are told to remind New Yorkers that NYSUT is more than a large labor organization but that it is also 600,000 individuals who — every day — perform their jobs with the highest level of excellence and commitment.

“NYSUT members make a difference in the lives of the people they serve, whether it is in a classroom, on a college campus, in public service or in their neighborhood,” said NYSUT President Richard C. Iannuzzi. “It’s important that New Yorkers be reminded that our members are their neighbors and friends, and are the professionals who educate their children and keep our community healthy.”

Michigan – I Make Michigan Work

Today Progress Michigan and the We Are the People coalition launched, a new website that showcases the personal stories of Michigan’s teachers, firefighters and other public sector workers.

With Lansing politicians pushing a budget that would cut $180 million in wages and benefits from public workers to pay for a $1.8 billion tax break for corporate special interests, the interactive website gives workers a forum to push back against the attacks by showing Michiganders how vital their work is to Michigan’s continued economic recovery.

Visit It’s What We Do and I Make Michigan Work to share your own story.

Illinois – Labor Tells Legislative Leaders, “Don’t Repeat the Pension Ambush”

Labor leaders from We Are One Illinois, advocating on behalf of over 1 million statewide members, today called on Senate President John Cullerton, Speaker Michael Madigan, Minority Leaders Christine Radogno and Tom Cross today not to repeat last year’s mistake by passing legislation that would cut pensions for Illinois public employees in just a few hours, well before the impact of the bill could be examined and understood by lawmakers.

Last March, a bill that cut pension benefits for nearly all future public employees was introduced without any prior viewing, then rammed through the Illinois House and Senate, all in the space of 12 hours.

“What happened last year was an insult to the democratic process, Illinois AFL-CIO President Mike Carrigan said.  “We urge the leaders that any pension legislation considered this session be posted for a minimum seven day period. This will allow for transparency and accountability, which were missing from last year’s pension ambush.”

Visit for the full article, and check out We Are One Illinois for videos and more information on this coalition effort.

West Virginia – Lee, Spangler Re-elected to WVEA Top Posts

WVEA President Dale Lee and Vice President Wayne Spangler were re-elected to a second term at the annual WVEA Delegate Assembly held in Charleston on last week.

Dale Lee, a special education teacher at Princeton Senior High School in Mercer County, has served as WVEA president for the past three years. He was re-elected to another three-year term. Lee hails from a family of educators. His father, brothers, and daughter are all teachers. Lee is on a leave of absence from his teaching position to serve as WVEA President.

Wayne Spangler is a second grade teacher in Monroe County. In addition to serving as the current vice president of WVEA, he has held a number of local leadership positions in Monroe County and at the state level. Spangler was also re-elected for a second three-year term.


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