New York – Testing: Capitol Region educators ‘tell it like it is’ to NYSUT leaders
Capital Region teachers vividly described [ed note: pictured above] how the state’s obsession with standardized testing and the poor implementation of teacher evaluations in some districts are putting them in a frustrating and “conflicted” place.
Niskayuna teacher Annette Romano explained how, during the first week of school, kindergartners were subjected to computerized tests that were not even designed to measure student growth, but will be used for exactly that purpose.
“In our effort to become more standardized in assessing teachers across the state, we are implementing some very unreliable practices which are detrimental to our students, teachers and schools,” Romano said.
“There’s a real fear that we’re being set up,” said Amsterdam’s Stacey Caruso-Sharpe, a member of NYSUT’s Board of Directors who noted the state is moving forward with common core-based tests this spring before teachers have had the time or the curriculum to include common core in their instruction.
Get the full story at NYSUT.org.
Washington – Supreme Court hands kids and school another huge victory
In a 6-3 vote the Washington State Supreme Court ruled today that Initiative 1053, which required a supermajority – two-thirds — vote in the state legislature to raise revenues or close tax loopholes, is unconstitutional. Read the decision [ed note: pdf link].
“This ruling is a huge win for kids and schools,” said Chris Korsmo, CEO of the League of Education Voters, one of the lead plaintiffs. “Washington schools need to be fully funded in order to ensure that all kids reach their potential. This ruling, combined with the recent McCleary decision, will help ensure that our kids have all the resources they need to get an excellent education.”
The lawsuit to challenge the constitutionality of Initiative 1053 (Tim Eyman’s I-1053) was brought by a broad coalition that includes the League of Education Voters, Washington Education Association, parents, educators, and state legislators, including Representatives Jamie Pedersen, Laurie Jinkins, Chris Reykdal and Senator David Frockt.
“This latest Supreme Court ruling paves the way for the legislature to fully fund K-12 public schools as mandated by the Washington Constitution and the Court’s earlier McCleary decision. We urge the House and the Senate to increase funding for our schools so we can begin to reduce overcrowded class sizes and expand all-day kindergarten. Our students’ future depends on it,” said Mary Lindquist, President of the Washington Education Association.
Illinois – House rejects pension-cutting proposal
The Illinois House Thursday overwhelmingly rejected a series of harsh pension proposals that were placed on the floor without going through the usual process of hearings and public testimony.
Here are the four proposals voted on Thursday:
- End cost-of-living adjustments to pension benefits for anyone hired before Jan. 1, 2011. Retirees now receive a 3 percent compounded COLA annually. Other pension proposals have called for limiting COLAs, but not eliminating them.
- Stipulate that COLAs would be eliminated until the pension systems achieve an 80 percent funding level. The five state-funded pension systems now have a funding level of about 39 percent.
- Raise the retirement age at which a person could collect full pension benefits to 67.
- Increase working employees’ contributions to their pensions by 5 percent of salary, in addition to what employees already pay into the system.
The four proposals required 60 votes to pass. None received more than five votes.
House Republican Leader Tom Cross called Thursday’s session “a joke.” Most of his caucus members did not cast votes on the proposals.
Pennsylvania – PSEA President: Restoring Corbett’s school funding cuts should be top priority
Lawmakers should make restoring Gov. Tom Corbett’s nearly $1 billion in public school funding cuts a priority in this year’s state budget, said PSEA President Mike Crossey.
Crossey’s comments came after Education Secretary Ron Tomalis testified about Pennsylvania’s education budget before the House Appropriations Committee on Feb. 27.
“Pennsylvania’s students need leaders to address the school funding crisis, not play political games,” Crossey said. “Secretary Tomalis should fight to increase funding for our schools to begin to fix the school funding crisis Gov. Corbett caused – period.”
Crossey pointed out that Gov. Tom Corbett’s nearly $1 billion in public school funding cuts have caused a school funding crisis, forcing 70 percent of school districts to increase class sizes, 44 percent to cut programs that work for students, and 35 percent to slash tutoring programs.
Read more and use PSEA’s online calculator to find out how much funding is being cut from your district at PSEA.org.