State news roundup for September 22, 2012


Illinois – Vote NO on 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. We say Vote NO on the Proposed Constitutional Amendment (HJRCA 49).

This Constitutional Amendment would also require that any local collectively bargained
agreement be approved by a 3/5th majority if those agreements had incentives or additional compensation increases beyond salary.

Find out why you should vote NO on the proposed amendment at

New Jersey – Hundreds of teachers, secretaries, hold “smart walk” in Washington Township

Calling the event a “Smart Walk,” more than 600 members of the Washington Township Education Association (WTEA) walked the sidewalks in front of Whitman Elementary school in Washington Township, Gloucester County alongside supportive parents, friends and family. Carrying signs that read “Time to Settle,” members called attention to the fact that the WTEA is beginning its third year without a contract and is currently waiting a report from a state-appointed fact finder.

The walk was organized to celebrate the successes of the WTEA, which represents more than 800 teachers and secretaries, and to highlight the achievements of our students. As members walked outside, other members conducted the back to school night activities inside the school building.

“I was so impressed that the membership came out in such large numbers to show their pride in our schools and to inform the parents about our bargaining crisis,” said WTEA President Camy Kobylinski, “This event was an effective way to communicate with the community while being positive and upbeat!”

Get the full story at

Colorado – CEA endorses “No on 64” campaign

Kerrie Dallman, president of the Colorado Education Association, today announced CEA’s opposition to Amendment 64, the amendment to legalize marijuana use in Colorado, and the Association’s reasons for endorsing the “No on 64” campaign at a press conference held in the CEA building, Sep 19.

“We remain incredibly concerned about the impact of having additional access to marijuana would have on our students and our schools,” said Dallman.

A social studies teacher at Pomona High School in Arvada, Dallman said she has seen the harmful impact marijuana use has on students.

“I could see over the course of a semester or a year [these students’] motivation decrease dramatically, and I could begin to see the real effects of depression begin to set in, and that had real and lasting impacts on their success in school,” Dallman said.

Get more information on Amendment 64 at

New York – RFK Center, NYSUT launch second annual human rights student video contest

The Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights and New York State United Teachers, in partnership with the Tribeca Film Institute, are proud to announce the 2nd Annual Speak Truth To Power student video contest. The contest will kick-off on September 27, 2012, with a gathering of teachers, students, human rights activists, film makers, and RFK Center President Kerry Kennedy at the United Federation of Teachers headquarters.

The contest builds upon the RFK Center’s Speak Truth To Power human rights curriculum, currently being taught in schools across New York state, and it challenges students to create a 3-6 minute video introducing a human rights violation and profiling the defenders fighting to restore justice. The 2011 inaugural grand prize went to the students of the Washington-Saratoga-Warren-Hamilton-Essex BOCES for their documentary on Wangari Maathai’s Greenbelt Movement in Kenya and the innovative plastic bag recycling program they launched in her honor.

“It was inspiring to see the transformative impact of the Speak Truth To Power curriculum reflected in last year’s video entries,” said John Heffernan, director of the RFK Center’s Speak Truth To Power program. “This year’s contest will reach even more students, inspiring them to identify with some of the most courageous people on the planet and become human rights defenders in their own communities.”

Visit to find out how you can enter the contest.

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