State news roundup for August 25, 2012
Wisconsin – Starting off school with a smile
In the hills of western Wisconsin the Onalaska Kindergarten Center has special visitors, even though school won’t start until next mo
nth. Children, each wearing a brightly colored circular name tag, patiently take turns while walking through the schoolwork to experience a snapshot of what school will be like in the fall.
“This is all about building the home/school connection,” said Alli Pratt, a WEAC member and kindergarten teacher at the school. “Without hesitation, I know that this program alleviates fears for our youngest students and encourages parents to become more connected to the school and staff.”
In place for 12 years, the children are attending a summer orientation program [ed note: pictured above], during which those who will enter kindergarten in the fall attend for one-and-a-half hours each morning. During that time, the children interact with teachers and participate in abbreviated versions of the classes they will take in the fall – art, physical education, music, working in a general classroom and using the library.
Click through to visit WEAC.org and read the full story.
Illinois – President Klickna: Politicians should listen to voters on pensions
That’s because Gov. Pat Quinn and other policymakers have been ignoring the values and priorities of working families and backing the pension-cutting schemes of millionaires who only want to protect their tax breaks.
So, instead of signing off on unfair and illegal proposals, taking no action on pensions was the best option for the session. However, Illinois still has an $83 billion pension deficit that needs to be addressed fairly and in a way that upholds the state Constitution.
It’s time for the policymakers to listen to the voters.
Read the complete article at IEANEA.org.
Florida – Judge invalidates state education teacher evaluations rule
An administrative law judge today invalidated in its entirety the rule the State Board of Education had sought to impose upon Florida school districts, teachers and administrators regarding performance evaluations under the law passed last year requiring evaluations to be based in large part upon standardized test scores.
In the challenge brought by the Florida Education Association, Judge John G. Van Laningham found, among other things, that the State Board of Education and Department of Education had not followed proper procedures in trying to incorporate into the evaluation process a mathematical formula for calculating the effect of FCAT scores on teacher evaluations.
The judge concluded that the state’s numerous failures to follow correct rulemaking procedures were so significant as to “taint” the resulting rule, and that the flaws “cannot be cured without starting over and redoing the process.”
“This is a huge victory in our battle for fair, reliable and valid evaluations,” said FEA President Andy Ford. “The State Board of Education and the Department of Education skirted rule-making procedures and exceeded the scope of their authority. It’s time for the state’s education bureaucracy to stop trying to impose its will on teachers and administrators and start having a meaningful dialogue with us to put together a fair evaluation system that is understandable, valid and accepted.”
Visit FEAWeb.org to find out more.
Louisiana – LAE moves forward with legal challenge
LAE says they will move forward with a lawsuit seeking a declaration that Act 2 and Senate Concurrent Resolution (SCR) 99 are unconstitutional, despite the Louisiana Supreme Court’s denial of a request to put voucher spending on hold pending the outcome of a decision on the constitutionality of the laws.
“The courts only denied our request for a spending halt; the merits of the case have not yet been determined,” said LAE President Joyce Haynes. “The constitutionality of these laws is still very much in question. Until a final decision is made on the merits, we will continue our appeal to the courts. We stand behind our commitment to make sure that every child in Louisiana has access to a quality public school education.”
On July 12th, Baton Rouge judge Tim Kelley ruled that he did not have jurisdiction to grant the injunctive relief requesting a delay in funding for two new, Jindal-backed education laws. LAE attorneys requested review of that decision.
“Through our request, we were hoping to prevent the recipients of funds from having to pay back the money when the courts hear the case and rule that Act 2 and SCR 99 are unconstitutional,” said LAE Attorney Brian Blackwell. “If Superintendent White and members of the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education were so confident in the legality of these laws, they should have agreed to litigate this case quickly, rather than have it go beyond August 1st.”