State news roundup for June 7, 2014


Hawaii-Evaluation system blasted as unfair and overwhelming

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Growing criticism over the state’s rollout of its high-stakes teacher evaluations came to a head recently, with the Hawaii State Teachers Association filing a class-action grievance with the Department of Education over what it calls a “flawed implementation” of an evaluation system that lacks equity and transparency.

The grievance, filed late last month on behalf of the union’s 13,500 members, seeks to unlink “adverse personnel actions” from evaluation ratings, which are based in part on student surveys, test scores and classroom observations. The move was prompted by a contract deal recently awarded to principals that the HSTA says removed high-stakes evaluations for school leaders.

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Michigan-New federal ranking system for colleges, universities could jeopardize fundingpen-pad

A new proposed government rating system for colleges and universities could have an effect on how much in federal grants and loans Michigan schools receive. The rating system would be based on factors such as affordability, how many students graduate, how much debt students accumulate, and how much money students earn after they graduate.

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Missouri-MNEA takes stand on ‘firearms for teachers’ legislation

Missouri NEA, along with the Missouri PTA, has been in the news recently for taking a stand against the state’s “firearms-for-teachers legislation,” now awaiting Gov. Jay Nixon’s signature or veto.

The final version of Senate Bill 656, which the legislature passed this spring, includes language that grants authority for school districts to have teachers and other staff carry concealed weapons and assume an additional duty as a “school protection officer.”

Missouri NEA leaders believe that any person carrying a weapon on school property should be a duly commissioned and dedicated law enforcement officer performing an authorized law enforcement duty.

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Wisconsin-Don’t let special needs voucher proponents amend the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

ACTION ALERT: Stop Special Needs Vouchers Wisconsin, a local child advocacy group, is opposing S.1909/H.R.4773, the so-called Creating Hope and Opportunity for Individuals and Communities through Education (CHOICE) Act .stopvouchers

The CHOICE Act is the first legislative attempt to support special needs vouchers on the federal level. The bill does several things regarding special needs vouchers educators oppose:

  • Provides federal start-up money for new states to create special needs voucher programs (like the proposals we’ve been successfully fighting in Wisconsin).
  • Amends the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) to allow federal IDEA funds to flow into private schools in existing voucher programs that are explicitly excused from following IDEA. The amendment also permits such private schools to discriminate against students on the basis of a disability.

Click here to find out what you can do to block this harmful legislation.

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