State news roundup for August 11, 2012


Illinois – Say no to the proposed constitutional amendment

On the November Ballot, Illinois voters will be asked if they believe the Illinois constitution should be amended to require a three-fifths majority vote in order to increase a benefit under any public pension or retirement system. The current Illinois constitution requires a simple majority and holds every legislator accountable for the votes they take. The idea of amending the constitution will not only have lasting effects at the state level, but it will also create an unnecessary burden on local entities, such as school boards. The IEA is urging members to Say NO to the Proposed Constitutional Amendment (HJRCA 49). Here’s why:

Possibility of Disagreement on Terms

The proposed amendment creates new definitions for the terms “benefit increase,” “emolument increase,” and “beneficial determination,” which are not defined in other statutes or in existing case law. These definitions could generate litigation, resulting in additional costs. The governing body itself may disagree on whether a bill, resolution, or other action constitutes a “benefit increase,” “emolument increase,” or “beneficial determination.”

Recruiting Employees for Public Service

Like any employer, units of government wish to attract good employees. This constitutional amendment will make it more difficult for employers to increase benefits to employees and, therefore, make it harder to attract the best people to public service.

Now is not the time to amend the 1970 Illinois constitution. The 1970 Constitutional Convention, which established the current constitution, began with a commission to study the issue and public hearings. The question that will be before the general public this November has had little or no public discussion, and no academic papers have been written to prepare for the November referendum. A constitutional amendment is serious business and Illinois is clearly not prepared to make such a drastic change.

Find out more about HJRCA 49 at

New Jersey – New law to address shortages of teachers in math and sciences

A pilot program pioneered by the New Jersey Center for Teaching and Learning to help reduce teacher shortages primarily in math and science was made permanent under legislation recently signed into law.

The bill, A-2311/S1718, permits already certified New Jersey teachers to enroll in a program to become credentialed to teach high school math and science, or any other area where there is a shortage of teachers.

The New Jersey Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL), in collaboration with Kean University, has run the only pilot program in the state that has led to an endorsement for teachers in physics and chemistry.

“We are thrilled that Gov. Christie has signed this bill into law,” said Bob Goodman, the director of CTL. “This program will lead to an immediate increase in the number of teachers in physics and chemistry, where we are facing a shortage of qualified teachers.”

Get the full story at

Colorado – Online radio series to examine Colorado education funding

CEA is proud to further advance the conversation of K-12 public education funding in Colorado by sponsoring a three-part series on MileHiRadio entitled “Planning for Colorado’s Future in Education.”

The series started Thursday, August 9, on MileHiRadio’s “The Leader’s Edge” show with Dave Meyer. The first show, an hour-long segment called “Setting the Stage: Where We Are Today,” featured Tracie Rainey, executive director of the Colorado School Finance Project, and Charlie Brown, former director of the the Center for Colorado’s Economic Future.

Colorado legislators will debate public education and funding policy in the following shows. Sen. Cheri Jahn and Rep. Ken Summers will discuss “Prospects for a Better Tomorrow” Aug. 16, with Rep. Judy Solano and Rep. Tom Massey rounding out the series by “Overcoming the Obstacles” Aug. 23.

“We put this program together so that experts from unbiased organizations could provide factual information, and leaders from both sides of the political table could address possible solutions for our state,” commented Denny Hill, director of series producer Strategic Resources West. “Education funding has not kept pace with business and personal income growth. Why is there such a disconnect between incomes and education funding? It’s the leaders of our great state that must help us move forward, and we hope to lead the conversations in a positive direction.”

Visit to find out more about the radio series.

Florida – Put your mobile device to work for education

You work hard every day, right? Isn’t it time to get a little help?

Sign up for FEA Text Alerts by clicking here.

You can expect to receive text alerts on breaking education news that relates to you, FEA updates and legislative alerts during session when your voice can make a critical difference for students and our public schools.

Become the first among your colleagues to know what’s happening in your profession.Click the link and fill out the form to give us your mobile number and provider, and we’ll sign you up for FEA Text Alerts.

Read more about FEA’s text program here, or click here to sign up!

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