State news roundup for December 21, 2013

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Connecticut – Should schools close on Election Day?

CT election dayThe group looking into a uniform school calendar for Connecticut heard from Secretary of the State Denise Merrill today about the need to close schools on Election Day.

Merrill told the Uniform School Task Force Committee that, “because of increased security concerns for schools, many districts are closed on Election Day, and I would like to encourage that practice.”

According to Merrill, 105 schools and five regional schools close on Election Day, while 44 schools and 12 regional schools remain open.

Merrill said local municipalities are responsible for selecting polling locations based on specific criteria in Connecticut State Statutes, and schools tend to fit the criteria. She added that one-third of Connecticut towns are so small that they have only one voting precinct, and typically a school is the only place that fits the criteria for a polling site.

Get the full story at

Washington – Gov. Inslee’s budget fails to restore educator COLA

Inslee presserEducators across Washington are extremely disappointed Gov. Jay Inslee chose not to restore the cost-of-living adjustment for teachers and other school employees in the supplemental budget proposal he released Tuesday.

“If Gov. Inslee and the Legislature do not restore funding for the educator COLA next year, teachers and education support professionals will go six consecutive years without a state-funded COLA,” said WEA President Kim Mead. “And that isn’t fair.”

Mead and the entire WEA Executive Committee attended Inslee’s news conference in Olympia.

Instead of restoring the COLA for the next school year, Inslee promised to fund the educator COLA in the next biennium – which means September of 2015.

Visit to find out more about the educator COLA and 2014 budget.

Wisconsin – WEAC President Betsy Kippers, Vice President Ron Martin urge legislators to support rural public schools

Betsy_Ron_Rural_SchoolsIt is important to improve funding and access to technology in public schools throughout Wisconsin, but rural schools are especially in need of a fairer funding system and technology support, WEAC President Betsy Kippers said Tuesday in testimony before the Assembly Speaker’s Task Force on Rural Schools.

“Although we have made some progress in bringing computers and the Internet to students and staff, greater access is needed for technology to become a reliable tool for teaching and learning. The reality is that the availability and quality of technology is dismally inadequate in most classrooms,” Kippers said. “When used appropriately, technology can be an engaging, assistive-learning tool, particularly since students in lower income rural areas have less access to technology outside of school.”

Kippers said rural school teachers “are hungry to provide the latest in education technology to their students – to raise the bar for all students.” She noted that in Park Falls, the biggest “new thing” is the schoolwide technology program, which Library Media Specialist Michele Byholm is implementing.

Visit to get the full story.

Ohio – Rushed reforms are fantastic failures

Ohio OEA logoby Ohio Education Association and Sylvania Education Association member Dan Greenberg

When my daughters came home with their first quarter report cards a couple weeks ago, I was prepared to see straight A’s for both of them. They have both consistently been among the highest in their classes in all subjects, and their teachers have always told us they are excellent students.

What I found when I did open the report cards was not what I expected.

First of all, the school has moved from a completely A-F grading system to a standards-based grade card. My wife, an elementary teacher, explained this change to me, and it sounds like a good idea. After all, what does an “A” or a “C” really mean? What does that really tell me about my child’s abilities?  The new report card allowed me to see whether my daughters were “working towards,” “proficient” or “exceeding” standards.

The second thing that surprised me was the disparity in my girls’ grades. One daughter received all proficient or exceeds standards, while the other earned all working towards standards or proficient. I was confused. How could my children, who are both among the top performers in their classes, get such different marks?


Reader Comments

  1. The key to the report on Washington teacher’s COLA is the word consecutive. If you look back to when the voters originally approved the COLA, you will see that it has been frozen more often than not. I’m sick of democrats using us to get elected and then stabbing us in the back. at least the GOP is up front about how they’re going to screw us.

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