State news roundup for September 8, 2012
New York – Taking Stock: New report marks NY’s education gains; warns of impact of cuts
As a new academic year begins, New York State United Teachers today issued a report [ed note: pictured above] highlighting impressive gains by New York’s public schools and colleges, but said the state’s dramatic progress is jeopardized by budget cuts that have wiped out billions of dollars in state support for public education since 2008-09.
NYSUT’s report, Taking Stock: A Progress Report on Public Education in New York State [ed note: pdf link], uses new research as well as national studies to demonstrate that educational success is significantly deeper and far more widespread than has been recognized by policymakers, politicians and the press. The union, however, also emphasizes in its report that celebrating educational success does not mean “ignoring the very real needs of students who are not yet achieving at a level necessary for success in school and in life.”
“No one knows better than those in engaged in education how significant the challenges are and how urgently the achievement gap must be addressed to further improve public education at all levels and for all students,” said NYSUT President Richard C. Iannuzzi. “At the same time, public discourse about New York’s public schools and colleges can – and should – recognize that New York’s public education system is among the best in the nation.”
Read more at NYSUT.org.
Wisconsin – Deep cuts are ‘limiting opportunities for Wisconsin students
WEAC members delivered powerful testimony this week on the effects of Wisconsin’s historically deep cuts to education funding. During a Senate Education Committee hearing, Ron Martin – an Eau Claire teacher, president of the Eau Claire Association of Educators and NEA Director – testified about increasing class sizes and decreasing course offerings. Those are just some of the consequences Wisconsin districts saw during the first year of a state budget that cut hundreds of millions in state aid while also decreasing the amount school districts can collect without going to referendum.
“In my own school district there has been a significant reduction in support staff who serve a vitally important role in educating children,” Martin said. “Our school board has struggled with being able to maintain and keep the SAGE program to provide small class sizes for our youngest students. Here’s the bottom line – and I hear this from teachers all over the state: Increased class sizes, staff cuts and reduced course offerings are limiting opportunities for Wisconsin students.”
Martin noted that solutions – not politics – are needed to solve the long-running school funding problem made worse by the most recent budget. “It is my hope, and the hope of educators across the state, that policymakers will chart a new course in the next legislative session – one that honors Wisconsin’s proud tradition of making public education a priority.”
Visit WEAC.org to get the full story.
California – We need new ways to evaluate teachers
California Teachers Association Vice President Eric Heins wrote the following Op-Ed for the SF Gate.
Some reformers are looking for a silver bullet to answer that question.
Some are avoiding it all together, and instead are blaming teachers for all that’s wrong with our public schools.
And some, like members of the California Teachers Association, are offering solutions focused on bolstering student achievement and generating meaningful feedback to teachers to help them improve their craft. CTA also supports pursuing a collaborative approach to reform by including local school administrators, educators, parents and community members.
You can read the complete Op-Ed at SFGate.com.
Connecticut – First three Alliance District plans to be approved this week
The first three plans from Alliance Districts will be approved this week, Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor told the State Board of Education this morning. All 30 Alliance Districts, the lowest performing school districts in the state, have submitted plans to the State Department of Education (SDE). Windsor Locks, Naugatuck, and Ansonia will be the first to be approved by the SDE this week, according to Pryor.
The education reform bill that became Public Act 12-116 allotted $39.5 million in Education Cost Sharing funding to the Alliance Districts. To receive any increase in state funding over the amount the district received for the prior fiscal year, these districts are required to apply to the SDE with a plan meeting criteria and conditions set forth by the Public Act and the SDE. Districts are required to provide funds to match the state money received for their plans. Once the state approves the plans they must be submitted to the local board of education for approval.
Two of the three Alliance Districts receiving approval this week , Windsor Locks and Naugatuck, are CEA local affiliates.
To find out more about the specific plans being approved for each district, visit BlogCEA.org.
This week we talk about the Utah leadership academy looking at teacher evaluations, the dismal Massachusett’s Senate education budget, and feature video of Connecticut’s Teacher of the Year on activism and the recent lobby day in Illinois. Read More
This week we talk about devastating special education changes in New Jersey, a new school funding coalition in Colorado, a wrapup of Florida's legislative session and the Wisconsin Teachers of the Year on school funding. Read More