State News Roundup for April 21, 2012
Florida – Dismal state budget shortchanges public schools
FEA President Andy Ford issued this statement on the state budget signed Tuesday, April 17 by Gov. Rick Scott and its implication for public education:
The state budget passed by the Florida Legislature and signed by Gov. Rick Scott is a dismal failure to provide for the students who rely on the state to attain a high-quality education. Despite the governor’s claims that the increases in funding for education represent his commitment to our schools, he has failed to point out that this budget restores less than a third of what was cut from last year’s education budget and that our schools are still miles behind the funding levels in our state five years ago.
Total school funding will not change much next year, as local school districts will have to use the added state money to make up for the loss of federal funding, an increase in enrollment and a drop in local property taxes. Officials at school districts throughout the state say they’re considering layoffs of teachers and other school employees, and curtailing arts programs and athletics for students.
At the same time the governor and lawmakers doled out more tax giveaways for corporations, more money for unaccountable voucher schools and more support and autonomy to for-profit charter schools, our public schools are given a budget nowhere close to adequate and light years away from a true investment in our children.
Illinois – 2012 MAP grant rally
Community college students from around Illinois lobbied legislators, asking them to please increase money for MAP grants. MAP grants are given to college students around the state to help defray the cost of going to college.
Visit IEANEA.org for more information and to find out how you can get involved.
Wisconsin – Wisconsin schools cut 2,312 positions this year, student-teacher ratio highest in nine years
Under Governor Scott Walker, 73 percent of Wisconsin school districts have lost teachers, the Department of Public Instruction reports. According to the new report [ed note: pdf link], the number of teachers and other staff working in Wisconsin schools dropped 2.3 percent this school year.
The report, an annual tracking of staffing levels and other details about Wisconsin public schools, shows the true impact that $1.6 billion in reduced state education funding has had on local schools. According to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, which uses these figures for federal reporting purposes, this year’s annual school staff report shows that school districts cut 2,312 positions for the 2011-12 school year, a 50 percent increase in staff losses from the previous school year. That is the steepest decline in the nine years that the DPI has been consistently tracking staffing levels. Teaching positions accounted for more than 60 percent of the cuts.
The report said the student-teacher ratio increased from 14.33 to 14.66, the highest level in nine years.
“The numbers released by the state Department of Public Instruction underline the damage Governor Walker has inflicted on students and schools in all areas of Wisconsin. The facts are undeniable and show that – despite what the governor tries to hide – public education in Wisconsin has indeed suffered under Governor Walker,” said WEAC President Mary Bell.
Get the whole story at WEAC.org.
Utah – Educational Excellence Task Force members selected
Each year dozens of policy changes affect Utah’s public schools, yet these changes do not always result in the best outcomes for students. Educators are uniquely positioned to identify critical academic priorities and propose important solutions to strengthen teaching effectiveness and improve student outcomes. Therefore, the UEA has organized the Educational Excellence Task Force to study and prioritize critical education issues and create a vision of teaching excellence that is designed and led by educators.
The Task Force will be chaired by Park City teacher and instructional coach Anna Williams. “I’m honored to serve with such an outstanding group of educators who excel in their field,” said Williams. “It’s important that we as educators take the lead in identifying changes that will promote educational excellence for our students and enhance our profession.”
“The educators participating on our Educational Excellence Task Force represent a breadth and depth of experience in many areas,” said UEA Director of Educational Excellence and Community Outreach Sara Jones. “The end goal of the Task Force will be to impact decision-making and priorities at UEA as well as broader state policy.”
The Task Force will meet regularly with the charge to analyze relevant research in order to identify priorities for the Utah Education Association and public education in Utah; develop a comprehensive set of policy recommendations regarding teaching quality and effectiveness; and engage the association, policymakers and the public in the important dialogue of change.
To find out more and see the complete list of task force members, visit MyUEA.org.