State News Roundup for February 4, 2012
New York – Put your voice to work at new action center
We know who has been lobbying for students in our state for years: It’s you. Whether it was advocating to get automated defibrillators in schools to save dozens of lives
or for additional state aid to lower class sizes, NYSUT members and retirees have been fighting for what students need since the union was founded in 1973.
This month, NYSUT debuts an online action center — mac.nysut.org [ed note: pictured above]— to connect members in a way they haven’t been able to before.
“Now all in one spot, members will have easy links to contact lawmakers, watch videos, register to vote and get advice, tips and news,” said NYSUT Executive Vice President Andy Pallotta.
The center, which is linked with www.nysut.org, will do even more. Members who join the activist list will receive email alerts about specific issues and when lawmakers need to hear their voice.
“We know how busy everyone is,” Pallotta said. “I know how much I always appreciate the reminders I get from friends to get things done. That’s what this website will do. It will reach out to our members to tell them what they need to do, when and why.”
Colorado – ASSET passes Senate Education Committee
Colorado ASSET passed the first legislative test of the 2012 session by coming out of the Senate Education committee on a 4-3 vote, January 26. Next the bill will head to the Senate floor.
Senate Bill 12-015, sponsored by Sen. Giron and Sen. Michael Johnston, would create a new category of tuition called ‘standard-rate tuition’ for undocumented students who attend three or more years of high school in Colorado and graduate (or obtain a GED). Colorado ASSET students must meet other eligibility requirements, to include beginning the process to seek legal status to live in the United States.
“We believe that we can’t and must not allow another generation of young immigrants to struggle for the chance to contribute to American society,” Senator Angela Giron, a bill sponsor, told the committee. “These students were brought here as babies and small children. They’ve worked hard, gotten good grades and have been accepted to college. Many of them are leaders in their schools, in their communities…We’ve already invested in their education and we need to realize that investment back.”
Colorado Education Association is a partner in the Higher Education Access Alliance, a broad coalition backing the measure united in the belief that all students should have access to higher education. Dorian DeLong, a civics teacher from Thornton High School and District 12 Education Association member, testified at the committe hearing.
Read the complete article and check out Dorian DeLong’s testimony at ColoradoEA.org.
New Jersey – New Jersey legislators become teachers for the day
In response to Hopewell Valley’s Education Association’s (HVEA) Teacher for a Day Challenge, four New Jersey legislators learned firsthand what it’s like to walk a mile in educators’ shoes.
“I didn’t put my hands in there, the students dissected the compost,” said Greenstein. “But Mrs. Greener dove into the dissection with gusto. Teachers are not like they were in the old days, when I went to school, and they stood at the front of the classroom.”
Greenstein, a lawyer by training, was amazed at just how different the classroom experience has changed over the years. “Today, teachers are really engaged, and this experiential learning is something the kids will really remember. I was also surprised at how teaching has become so physically demanding.”
Showing lawmakers what teachers do every day was the idea behind NJEA’s Teacher for the Day Challenge, which the HVEA embraced this winter.
“Education is in the forefront of many conversations and decisions,” stated HVEA President Heidi Olson, a special education teacher at Hopewell Elementary School. “We believe that for people to make valid decisions that affect our schools, they should have the knowledge and current understanding of the achievements and challenges of today’s classrooms.”
“By inviting decision makers into our classes, we can provide them with that knowledge,” Olson continued. “We also wanted to remind legislators about all of the wonderful things that happen in our classrooms and of how hard our teachers and students work.”
Visit NJEA.org to find out more.
Maryland – Education advocates release blueprint for fixing Maintenance of Effort
A cross-section of education advocates released a blueprint for how to fix the state’s broken maintenance of effort (MOE) law, which is currently putting $2.6 billion in local education funding at risk.
The Maryland State Education Association, the Maryland Association of Boards of Education, and the Public School Superintendents Association of Maryland released the blueprint, calling on Governor O’Malley and the General Assembly to adopt comprehensive reform to protect the student programs and crucial services in danger of being cut if MOE is not fixed.
The blueprint reflects a number of important principles for reform, including:
- Creating predictability and a consistent funding floor without a permanent funding ceiling
- Accurate accounting of MOE
- Preserving school funding for education rather than retirement costs
- Accountability and a mandatory waiver process
- Increased flexibility for county governments
- Assistance in finding and applying new revenue
“Students, educators, and parents are depending on our elected officials to protect the critical investments that we’ve made in our schools by fixing MOE,” said MSEA President Clara Floyd.
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