State News Roundup for August 7, 2011

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Louisiana – St. Helena Judge Says No to BESE and Yes Parish Educators in Funding Dispute

A state district court judge ruled Monday that a lawsuit brought forth by the St. Helena Parish Association of Educators (SHPAE) and the St. Helena Parish School Board can proceed to trial.

“We applaud Judge Fields on this decision,” says Plaintiff Attorney Brian F. Blackwell of Blackwell & Associates. “The state made an illegal move by depriving the school district of much needed dollars. Drastic action needs to be taken in order to ensure that this money is restored.”

Earlier this year, four St. Helena Parish teachers sued the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) and the Superintendent of Education, claiming the state illegally included parish sales tax revenue in figuring the Minimum Foundation Program (MFP) formula – the primary mechanism through which the state funds public education. In April, the St. Helena Parish Association of Educators and the St. Helena Parish School Board joined the suit.

For more information, visit LAEducators.

Connecticut – Collaboration with Teachers Key to Effective School Reform

Governor Dannel P. Malloy praised teachers today, saying “they go above and beyond every day for their students,” when he addressed 500 educators at a CEA leadership conference in Uncasville. The governor says he believes teachers have “a calling” to make youngsters lives better. It’s why he’s counting on teachers’ input as he develops his education reform package for the 2012 session of the Connecticut General Assembly.

According to the governor, a key element of that package will be a better defined teacher evaluation system that includes strong professional development and opportunities for teachers to refine their skills to provide the best student instruction possible. CEA members have been forceful advocates for better evaluations linked to meaningful feedback and support. Malloy says collaboration with CEA and its members will be key as he develops a new system, adding that no teacher wants to be teaching in a school where any colleague is under-performing.

Check out BlogCEA for more information and video of the event.

Maryland – MSEA Responds to Pension Commission’s Final Report

On July 28, MSEA submitted a letter to Gov. O’Malley, Senate President Miller, and House Speaker Busch in response to the final report issued by the Public Employees’ and Retirees’ Benefit Sustainability Commission on July 15.

The Commission’s final report outlined their work over the last year, assessed legislative actions during the 2011 regular session, and made additional recommendations for the General Assembly to consider to further reduce the states’ liability on retirement related expenditures.

MSEA’s letter responded to this final report and suggested other recommendations for the General Assembly to consider as a part of short- and long-term sustainability of the pension system and the Maryland workforce.

The letter stressed the importance of ensuring a pension system that is sustainable for the state; providing educators with retirement security and maintaining an important retention incentive; and not upsetting the flow of resources to the classroom.

Click here for more information and to read the full response.

New Jersey – Teachers “Tech It Out” at Summer Conference

Students spend 10.5 hours in front of some kind of screen, whether it’s a television, a computer, a smartphone, or other technological device, keynote speaker Joe Dixon told NJEA members and others attending the first day of the NJEA Technology Integration Institute on Aug. 2 at Stockton College in Atlantic County [pictured above]. And that doesn’t include the hours between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m., he noted.

Today’s adults, including teachers, are spending increasingly more time interacting with technology as well.

“We shape our tools, and thereafter our tools shape us,” Dixon said, quoting Marshall McLuhan adding that “technology has filled the space we used to use to think deeply.”

Dixon’s comments were not a caution against the use of technology in the classroom, but to place it in the context of students’ and teachers’ everyday lives. Dixon is the chief learning officer for Teq, Inc., a provider of interactive classroom technology and support services.

“We are in classrooms that are connected to the rest of the world,” Dixon said. “Think about the power of those connections—whether they are with a classroom in another country or in the same school building.”

Read more at NJEA.org.

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