State News Roundup for November 26, 2011


Wisconsin – Educators, Parents: Accountability Must Include a Complete Approach

When it comes to measuring the success of Wisconsin schools, nothing is more essential than taking a complete approach, parents and educators agree.

The findings come from a new report released today by the state’s largest unions of educators, the Wisconsin Education Association Council and the American Federation of Teachers-Wisconsin. The report, The ABC’s of School Accountability, includes recommendations for measuring how well local schools are preparing students for the future.

Mary Bell, a Wisconsin Rapids teacher and president of the Wisconsin Education Association, delivered the report to State Superintendent Tony Evers, who will take the input from parents, grandparents, other citizens and educators to a panel developing a statewide accountability system.

“In July, Wisconsin teachers and support staff vowed to do our part to provide input from local schools and communities to the School Accountability Task Force,” said Bell. “Since then, our union of educators has focused our time and energy in engaging our members and their communities on the critical issues that impact school success. Through that work, we are giving voice to their views and priorities.”

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Colorado – Association Members Named to New Teacher-Leader Fellows Program

The Aspen Institute and Bellwether Education Partners announced the selection of the inaugural class of the Aspen Teacher Leader Fellows Program. The pilot fellowship is designed to cultivate and support a cohort of teacher leaders – including classroom teachers and union leaders and other advocates – who are working to strengthen and improve the profession of teaching and the educational outcomes of K-12 students. The program is modeled after two successful Aspen Institute leadership programs, the Henry Crown Fellowship and the Aspen Institute-New Schools Entrepreneurial Leaders for Public Education Fellowship Program. It will provide 21 accomplished leaders with the unique opportunity to step back from their demanding daily work and reflect with their peers on their individual and collective work as educational change agents.

Two Association members – Kerrie Dallman, president of Jefferson County Education Association, and Mark Sass of District Twelve Educators Association – are among 21 accomplished leaders selected from more than 160 nominations.

“Supporting and advancing the teaching profession is so critical to educational improvement, but leaders of these efforts too rarely receive the focused, sustained attention they need to develop their own leadership capacity,” said Kim Smith, Executive Director of the program and CEO of Bellwether Education Partners. “By investing in these leaders and giving them an opportunity for greater collaboration and leadership encouragement over the course of two years together, we believe they will create even more positive change for the profession and for the children of this country.”

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Massachusetts – Legislature Restores Evergreen Clauses

The state Legislature gave final approval on November 17 to a bill backed by the MTA and other labor organizations affirming the legality of “evergreen clauses,” which extend the terms of public-sector collective bargaining agreements after they expire while unions and employers negotiate new agreements.

Governor Deval Patrick signed the bill November 22.

The MTA played a leading role in a coalition of labor organizations that advocated for the bill.

“We are extremely happy that the Legislature has approved this bill,” said MTA President Paul Toner. “It is important that state lawmakers are reaffirming what we’ve always believed – that public employers and employees may agree that their contracts will remain in place if they are still negotiating when the existing contracts expire.”

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Maine – Not Another Cent

Over the last 20 years, Maine’s average teacher salary fell from 31st in the nation to 44th. Pensions and benefits under the Maine Public Employee Retirement System were cut and frozen. Health insurance plans provided by MEA’s Benefits Trust are threatened by a legislative attack that could increase rates and lower coverage.

By any honest comparative standard, educator pay is low, the retirement plan is weak, and the health insurance plan is at risk.

“Enough is enough,” says MEA President Chris Galgay. “The time has come to tell the Maine Legislature to stop its misguided thinking and to take steps to preserve public education before the damage inflicted is too great.”

“Educators must stand together and warn legislators not to take another cent from education or educators,” adds Galgay. “If legislators do more harm, they will be held accountable by parents, civic-minded citizens and educators in their districts.”

To read more and find out how you can get involved, visit

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