Posted In: Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rallies and Events, Workers' Rights

State news roundup for June 23, 2012

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Pennsylvania State Education Association lobby day pictured above

New Jersey – The evolution of tenure reform in New Jersey

NJEA recently testified in support of two tenure reform proposals being considered by the Legislature.  Our ability to do so was the result of extensive discussions with legislators in both the Assembly and the Senate to ensure that these bills met NJEA’s high standards for smart tenure reform.  After more than 18 months of work, those efforts have paid off in the form of tenure reform bills that NJEA and many other educational groups support.

It was not always certain that tenure reform efforts would achieve broad consensus.  An earlier version of the Senate legislation, S-1455, contained a number of provisions that were unacceptable to NJEA and other education groups.  Among our concerns with the original legislation were:

  • New teachers could have been kept in a permanently nontenured state simply by giving them a single rating of partially effective once every three years.
  • It would have eliminated seniority rights in layoffs.
  • It would have given principals de facto authority to fire tenured teachers simply by blocking their ability to transfer from one school to another.
  • Evaluations would have been conducted by teachers, rather than by certified administrators.
  • Worst of all, it would have eliminated due process rights by taking away the ability of teachers to contest the loss of their tenure or their job as a result of poor or unfair evaluations.
  • And the whole process would have remained in the court system, with its long and costly hearings.

Get the full story at NJEA.org.

Pennsylvania – PSEA members rock the Capitol

PSEA President Mike Crossey asked PSEA members to help fill the state Capitol rotunda on June 13 [ed note: pictured above].And that’s exactly what they did.

More than 700 members from across Pennsylvania traveled to Harrisburg to advocate for Pennsylvania’s public schools. They visited their legislators. And they crammed the rotunda for one of the loudest and largest events held there this year.

“On June 13, we made our voices heard in the Capitol,” Crossey said. “I am so proud to be a part of this organization. Our schools are under attack. But we are standing up, speaking up, and asking legislators to tell the governor ‘No More!’”

Visit PSEA.org to read more and check out a slideshow of more great pictures from the event.

New York – Bill upholds privacy for educators

New York State United Teachers President Richard C. Iannuzzi said on June 21 that the privacy bill passed by both houses of the state Legislature accomplishes two important goals: It stops the shameless media exploitation and distortion of evaluation information, and it appropriately keeps teacher personnel records confidential. The governor’s bill also permits parents – and parents only – to request limited composite information concerning their child’s current teacher(s).

“The governor and Legislature did the right thing by stopping the media from distorting and disseminating evaluation results,” Iannuzzi said. “This bill accomplishes that goal and preserves the purpose of evaluations, which is to provide opportunity for continued growth and improvement.”

Passage by the Senate and Assembly – and the governor’s expected signature – marks an advance for teachers and parents, and reinforces that a quality evaluation system must be dedicated to promoting student learning,” Iannuzzi said.

Iannuzzi thanked the governor for initiating the legislation and the Legislature for acting to pass it, noting the bill “reinforces the bedrock principle that accountability does not equate with public servants being shamed and humiliated in the press.”

You can read the full article at NYSUT.org.

Massachusetts – MA Teacher of the Year on the Stand for Children agreement

The Massachusetts Teachers Association and Stand for Children recently reached a compromise agreement on legislation that would put teacher performance over seniority in decisions about hiring, transfers, and layoffs. This is the right move for both students and teachers.

Historically, there were good reasons to base staffing decisions on seniority alone: gender equity, transparency, and freedom to voice disagreement, among them. Today, there are still reasons to take seniority into account. But times have changed. As teachers and union members, we must ask if the rules we’ve been accustomed to are continuing to serve our best interests and the interests of our students.

This issue is personal for me. Last spring, I was displaced from my school as a result of seniority-based, quality-blind staffing policies. A month later, I was named Massachusetts Teacher of the Year.

[…]

With my displacement, I moved from the struggling school I’d grown to love to the highest-performing school in the district, where — as much as I continued to love my work and my students — I no longer felt that I was having the same impact. Former students have emailed me to ask why I left them “for the ‘good’ kids.” This is truly heart-wrenching.

You can read the rest of the opinion piece at boston.com.

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