State news roundup for November 9, 2013

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Montana – Nominate now: Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching

math teacherDo you know a great science or math teacher, teaching in grades K-6, with 5 or more years of professional teaching experience?

Do you think that person should get some special recognition for their expertise and dedication to student learning?

Would that person like to receive a $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation, along with an expenses-paid trip to DC to meet with other awardees and attend math and science professional development opportunities?

If your answer is yes, please take a few minutes to nominate that person for the 2013 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST). In addition, please share this important nomination information with your staff and colleagues and encourage them to make nominations as well.

You can read the complete article at MEA-MFT.org or click here to nominate an educator for the award.

Massachusetts – Retiree health bill hearing draws big crowd

MTA 6-9-12Gardner Auditorium in the State House was packed on October 31 [ed note: pictured at top] with public employees, state and municipal leaders, retirees and legislators testifying for and against House 59, the governor’s bill to reduce the unfunded liability for retiree health insurance by changing certain eligibility requirements and increasing the health insurance premium share paid by some future retirees.

MTA President Paul Toner acknowledged that there is a serious fiscal issue regarding other post-employment benefits – or OPEB – and that the MTA is in a “bind” on this issue because the association wants to protect benefits for current employees but also wants to support a sustainable system capable of providing benefits to retirees in the future as well as prevent future layoffs and service cuts.

The governor’s bill is based on the recommendations of a special commission co-chaired by former MTA President Anne Wass that concluded the current level of benefits is unsustainable. The projected unfunded liability for retiree health insurance is $30 billion for municipalities and another $16 billion for the Commonwealth over the next 30 years.

“I’m here to say that we support the recommendations [made by the special commission] but we want to work with you to improve upon this bill,” Toner testified at the hearing before the Joint Committee on Public Service.

“At my Annual Meeting, I’ll be honest with you, I took a lot of flak from a number of people,” he said. “However, even at the Annual Meeting, people recognized that something has got to happen.”

Visit MassTeacher.org to get the full story.

Pennsylvania – Help recruit Partners for Public Education

PA Partners logoWhy are Pennsylvania’s public schools among the best in the nation? Because parents, community leaders, elected officials, and educators are working together as partners.

PSEA formed a community outreach program, Partners for Public Education to bring these partners together to provide them with information about public education policy in Pennsylvania, and to create connections with public schools in their communities.

There’s no cost to join, and Partners receive news about the schools in their community and opportunities to speak up about school funding cuts and other issues. Partners also receive discounts and savings at businesses nationwide.

To date, thousands have joined Partners for Public Education. And PSEA members are working to help partners understand the power of a great education.

Community support of public education is more important now than ever before, and anyone can become a Partner – your families, friends, neighbors, and community members. Help support the Partners for Public Education initiative by enrolling new members today.

Visit PSEA.org to read the complete article or click through to PartnersForPublicEd.org to get involved today!

Wisconsin – Educational researcher touring Wisconsin to talk about the impact of vouchers and voucher expansion

logo-weacfrom the Institute for Wisconsin’s Future

Nationally recognized researcher and academic Deven Carlson will be in Wisconsin in November on a week-long tour to talk about the impact on students, schools, and communities of using public tax dollars for private schools — better known as the voucher program.

His most startling finding is that children who leave or are asked to leave the voucher schools in Milwaukee are the poorest and the lowest performing, despite what is said by so-called school choice advocates. The good news is that once they leave the private schools these same poor, low-performing children make large academic gains once they are back in Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS).

Carlson, an assistant professor of political science at the University of Oklahoma, will make stops in Green Bay, Rothschild, and Milwaukee (see below for schedule) to talk about his latest work, “Life After Vouchers: What Happens to Students Who Leave Private Schools for the Traditional Public Sector?” He earned a PhD in political science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

He said he is not coming to Wisconsin “to tell you if the private school voucher program should or should not be expanded or whether or not Wisconsin should or should not have one at all.” Carlson is making this tour to lay out the relevant issues, research, and evidence — not the political consequences — that should be considered in the decision.

Find out more about the tour at WEAC.org.

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