State news roundup for December 22, 2012


Ohio – The truth about so-called “right to work”

Ohio OEA logoSupporters of so-called “right to work” laws argue that they advocate for a cause whose noble aim is to advance personal liberty and promote economic growth. They wield buzz words like “freedom” and “choice” for their messaging. They opine that too many workers needlessly suffer because corporate America cannot free itself from the shackles of greedy labor unions. A non-critical eye may see a movement that champions freedom and offers hope. However, if you look just beneath the surface of the “right to work” cause, you will see a campaign that is built on distortions and predicated on lies and whose unstated purpose would undermine workers’ safety, economic security and well-being. The true goal of right to work is to put more money into the pockets of corporate shareholders. The consequence of these purposes, whether intended or unintended, is a diminished middle class.

Right to work (RTW) does not provide a financial benefit to workers. It hurts them – financially and physically. A viable labor movement is the best way to advance the wellbeing of the middle class. Here’s what the empirical research shows in terms of worker compensation and workplace safety:

•The average worker in a RTW state earns about $1,500 less per year than a person working in a non-RTW state.
•Unions raise worker pay by roughly 20 percent.
•In Ohio, teachers working in non-union charter schools receive annual salaries that are about $16,000 less than those paid to traditional public school teachers. The gap is even larger when compared to what for-profit charter schools pay their teachers.
•The rate of employer-sponsored health insurance and pensions is lower in RTW states.
•Worker fatalities in the construction industry are 34 percent higher in RTW states.

Read the complete article at

Illinois – We Are One Illinois announces pension plan to boost revenue, close loopholes

Leaders of the We Are One Illinois coalition released studies today to shed light on the devastating, unfair and unconstitutional pension cuts in the “Quinn plan” and to detail the recommendation of the group, which includes IEA, to address Illinois’ fiscal dilemma.

Find out more about the new plan at

Massachusetts – NEA, AFT, partner to build Common Core tools

MTAThe Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust announced on December 17, 2012 an expansion of its commitment to students and teachers, with an investment of $11 million over a three year period to engage teachers to develop the tools they need to help students meet the expectations of the new college and career-ready academic standards.

Known as the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), these new standards have been adopted by 45 states and are internationally benchmarked. The standards specifically outline the skills a student needs to master in order to be prepared to succeed in college and the workforce. The implementation of these standards will require significant changes in instructional practice for both literacy and math, creating the need for new tools and resources for all teachers.

The Helmsley Charitable Trust is supporting Student Achievement Partners and NEA and AFT––which together represent more than five million teachers––to jointly design tools and digital applications to support teachers in their practice. The investment will reinforce the unions ongoing efforts to support teachers as they incorporate the major shifts required by the Common Core. The tools will be distributed at no cost by Student Achievement Partners––an organization central to the development of the standards. Teachers are by far the most critical in-school factor to improving student achievement, and Helmsley Charitable Trust is deepening its commitment to the success of teachers.

Visit to learn more about the new tools.

Florida – Raising parent wages is most effective way to improve education performance of students

FEAlogoLifting families out of poverty through increased wages would have a significant and positive  impact on academic outcomes for low-income students. Studies have shown that every additional $1,000 in annual income translates into a one point increase in an intelligence test, leading to significantly higher math and reading test scores. Raising income levels above the federal free or reduced lunch thresholds would also have a dramatic positive impact on graduation and college readiness rates. The findings following a study that looked at the impact of poverty on learning and student academic success.

There is a direct relationship between education and poverty. Students living in or experiencing childhood poverty are much more likely to face significant unaddressed obstacles to classroom learning than their middle- and upper-income counterparts, and this impacts educational outcomes. In fact, data shows that family income is now the most significant predictor of academic success among students in the U.S.

Stand Up! Chicago released the new report (December 2012) [ed note: pdf link] detailing the impact that poverty-level wages have on educational outcomes for Chicago kids. Stand Up! Chicago’s Elizabeth Parisian says the report shows if you’re serious about improving student performance raise their parent’s wages.

Visit to get the full story.

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