State news roundup for June 30, 2012

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by Tim Reed/photo above courtesy of NYSUT

New York – NYSUT President Iannuzzi named to board of Robert F Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights

New York State United Teachers President Richard C. Iannuzzi has been named to the Board of Directors of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, one of the world’s foremost human rights organizations. [ed note: RFK Center President Kerry Kennedy and NYSUT President Richard Iannuzzi pictured above]

In announcing his appointment, RFK Center President Kerry Kennedy cited Iannuzzi’s leadership on social justice issues at the state and national levels, where he serves as vice president of both the American Federation of Teachers and the New York State AFL-CIO. She also recognized NYSUT’s commitment to developing a human rights curriculum for students in New York and around the world.

“Our human rights school curriculum, Speak Truth To Power, could not have found a better partner than Dick and NYSUT. He understands the role Speak Truth To Power plays in empowering youth in this country and around the world, and we’re honored to add his unique perspective and insight to our talented board,” Kennedy said.

Iannuzzi, a leading voice in the labor movement, joins an international board comprised of renowned human rights advocates and business and non-profit leaders.

Click here to read the complete article at

New Jersey – Answers to your questions about the new tenure bill

Q:  What is the status of tenure reform legislation in the Legislature?
A:  The Senate and Assembly have both passed tenure reform legislation unanimously.  It now awaits the governor’s signature in order to become law.

Q:  Whose idea was this legislation?
A.  The version passed by both houses represents a melding of two earlier proposals sponsored by Senator Ruiz and Assemblyman Diegnan, as well as input from many other stakeholders.  NJEA suggested many of its provisions, based on education reform proposals we announced in late 2011.

Q:  How is tenure acquired under the bill?
A:  The time period to achieve tenure will be lengthened to four years from the current three.  To achieve tenure, teachers must complete a district mentorship in their first year of teaching.  They must then be rated effective or highly effective in two of their next three years’ annual summative evaluations.

Q:  Will this affect non-tenured teaching staff who are currently employed?
A:  All employees in the process of earning tenure before the signing of the bill will still earn tenure in three years.  The four-year provision only applies to new hires.

Read all the FAQs at

Massachusetts – MTA backed alternative to ballot initiative is passed by House

An MTA-backed legislative alternative to Stand for Children’s ballot initiative was approved by the House of Representatives on June 27 and is expected to be signed into law by Governor Deval Patrick. The Senate recently approved the same version of the bill.

When enacted, the new law will require districts and local associations to negotiate contract changes by school year 2016-17 to ensure that teacher performance plays a more significant role than seniority in layoff and transfer decisions.

“The MTA has advocated for excellent teachers for all students since our founding, and we continue that tradition in supporting this legislative alternative,” said MTA President Paul Toner. “The alternative plan is vastly superior to the Stand initiative, and it mirrors the views expressed by a majority of our members.”

Toner continued, “Fighting this on the ballot would have been extremely expensive and divisive. It would have distracted us from pursuing other important priorities that are good for students and fair to educators.”

Get the full story at

Illinois – Pension update

It appears there will be no action on pensions until August, at the earliest.

The state’s top lawmakers announced last week that they are waiting at least five weeks to resume talks aimed at developing pension legislation.

Following a two-hour, closed-door meeting in Chicago, legislative leaders announced they remain stuck on the issue of whether the state should continue to contribute to employee pensions, or whether the cost should be shifted to local school districts.

Speaker Madigan is a proponent of the “cost shift,” saying local districts have been enjoying a “free lunch,” paid for by the state. He says decisions that determine the size of an educators’ pension, and how much the state will contribute to that pension, are made by local school boards, with the legislature having no say in the matter.

Republican legislators in particular have refused to sign on to any pension proposals that call for the shift, saying that forcing districts to take on new costs would cause a local tax increase.

Visit to read the complete article.

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