State news roundup for October 20, 2012


Connecticut – Teacher morale through the roof: Exciting progress in Bridgeport

Governor Malloy is all ears as he learns about plans and early progress being made in schools that are part of the new Commissioner’s Network — a key program enacted when the governor signed Public Act 12-116, Connecticut’s sweeping education reform law.

Today the governor was at Curiale School [ed note: pictured above] in Bridgeport. “This is a check-in. Are we moving toward improvement? Are we making progress?” The governor was speaking in the school’s library with key stakeholders, including teachers, administrators, and board of education members.

At the meeting, Malloy’s Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor credited the Bridgeport Education Association (BEA) and CEA with being “incredibly creative and flexible” about spawning innovation at the school.

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Wisconsin – They’re in. Are you?

Diana Callope, a WEAC member and president of the Whitewater Education Association, credits her district’s positive working relationship with strong collaboration between the local union, teachers, Education Support Professionals and building administrators. So when it came time for the local to sign up potential members for the union, a joint effort between the support staff and educators was formed and widely promoted.

From the beginning, Callope, a local president for five years, knew that everyone’s schedules were packed, so she and building representatives had individual, face-to-face meetings with potential members, where they were able to share the value of belonging to the union and hear members’ ideas of how the union can grow. As people joined they were given a button that read “I’m in,” and interest quickly grew.

From word of mouth, more than 60 percent of potential members signed up before Callope and the union hosted a celebratory event at a local senior center. By the end of the night, almost three quarters of members had renewed their commitment to the union, along with more than 60 percent of the support staff.

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Pennsylvania – PSEA President: Department of Education should answer charter school questions

Pennsylvania Secretary of Education Ron Tomalis owes parents, students, and educators an explanation about why he relaxed academic standards for charter schools without federal approval while targets for traditional public schools have increased dramatically.

In an October 18 statement, PSEA President Mike Crossey pointed out that it makes no sense to relax standards for a small category of charter schools while traditional public schools are struggling to meet high standards in the face of nearly $1 billion in state funding cuts.

“Pennsylvania’s public schools are in a perfect storm of unprecedented state funding cuts and rapidly increasing academic standards,” Crossey said. “Why is Secretary Tomalis letting charter schools off the hook and doing nothing to help the rest of the public schools?”

Recently, the state Department of Education changed the way that it determines whether charter schools have met state academic targets without first obtaining approval from the federal Department of Education. As a result, the new method overstates charter schools’ performance.

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New Jersey – This election is about your school

On the first day of school, in her first year of school, you want everything to go right for your little kindergartner. It’s her first time riding the big yellow school bus, and she’s got on a new outfit, and she’s sporting a spotless new backpack.

You anxiously clutch her bus pass that advises your precious cargo to be at the bus stop at least 10 minutes before School Bus #6 is to arrive at your corner. You go out even earlier—just to be sure.

It all goes well until the bus arrives and the door swings open. Suddenly your five-year-old clutches your leg. She’s hysterical. You don’t know what to do.

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