State news roundup for March 16, 2013


Wisconsin – ‘This has to stop,’ State Superintendent Evers says of attacks on public education

Underfunding public schools, diverting money to private schools, undercutting special education, and disrespecting educators are all policies that must be changed by organizing in communities to stand up for public education, State Superintendent Tony Evers told more than 200 members of the Kettle Moraine UniServ Council Monday night (March 11, 2013) at the Millhome Supper Club in Kiel.

“This has to stop,” Evers said of ongoing policies that damage public education.

Evers noted that Governor Walker’s budget from two years ago not only stripped educators of their collective bargaining rights but also cut $1.8 billion from public schools.

Walker’s new 2013-15 state budget plan essentially freezes public school funding, providing a $0 per-pupil spending increase for public school students while increasing funding for private voucher school students by $1,400 each. Money for vouchers is coming out of public school budgets, he told the room full of educators. “This money isn’t coming from Madison. This money is coming directly from your school districts.”

“It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see what the priority is here,” Evers said. “It’s not public schools. It’s voucher schools. It’s privatization, and don’t let anybody tell you differently.”

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Connecticut – CEA retirees spring into action to protect the teachers’ health insurance fund

CEA Connecticut retired meeting“Active and retired teachers need to get involved in issues of importance to the profession,” said Marsha Baretta, a retired South Windsor teacher. “And right now a key issue is our teachers’ health insurance fund, and it affects all teachers.”

Baretta, who was among a group of retirees at a CEA Retired Regional Member Activist Workshop in Glastonbury today [ed ntoe: pictured above], was talking about the governor’s proposed budget plan that completely eliminates the state’s contribution to the retired teachers’ health insurance fund for the next two years.

Jon-Paul Roden, CEA-Retired president and NEA-Retired Executive Council member, told his colleagues that the governor’s plan puts the retired health insurance fund in jeopardy. He called on the retirees to speak up on the issue and become more politically active. “Do whatever you can and whatever you can fit into your schedules,” said Roden. “It could be making a phone call, talking to other retirees about the issue, sending an email, or writing a letter to legislators—anything that will increase your activism and let your voices be heard.”

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New York – Union activists, students join forces to advocate for higher education

NYSUT NY New York higher ed_130312_lobbyday_02Kate Zhukova got up at dawn Tuesday to catch a bus to Albany so she could participate in the joint NYSUT-student day of advocacy for public higher education.

Born and educated in the Ukraine, Zhukova is now a chemistry student at the City University of New York’s Hunter College. She almost burst out laughing when asked if she could imagine her former Ukrainian classmates engaging in a similar day of activism.

“They wouldn’t do anything like this . It’s very hard to get anybody to speak to you, like the politicians,” she said.

Nearly 1,000 students and NYSUT members had no problem finding politicians who would listen to them Tuesday, as unionists from the State University and City University of New York and the state’s community colleges joined forces with students for a first-ever joint Higher Education Advocacy Day. Many of the students started their journey to Albany yesterday and slept on the floor at overnight stopovers; others worked all night and slept for a couple of hours on their way to the event.

Learn how you can get involved in the fight to support higher education in New York at

Utah – Coalition kills bill aimed at weakening collective bargaining

Utah Education Association logoThe Utah One Coalition – representing 120,000 working men and women throughout Utah, including the 18,000-member Utah Education Association – had as one of its goals this year the defeat of any legislation aimed at weakening employee bargaining rights. They succeeded.

For much of the 2013 legislative session, no anti-collective bargaining bills emerged. But in early March – on the last day the House Government Operations Committee could meet – a bill was placed on the agenda that would have required negotiation meetings between public employers and public employee labor organizations to be open to the public.

Sponsored by Rep. Daniel McCayHB362 (2nd Sub.): Transparency in Public Employment Negotiation Process not only opened bargaining meetings, but required public notice of the meetings and a mandate that public employers to keep minutes and make audio recordings of the proceedings.

Despite little advance notice, the Utah One Coalition prepared an issue brief on the bill and went to work urging members of the Government Operations Committee to vote it down. The Coalition packed the meeting with firefighters, police, educators, education support personnel and other public employee groups that negotiate contracts.

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