State news roundup for June 21, 2014

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Wisconsin – Taxpayers deserve to see the voucher school data, say families of students with disabilities

logo-weacFamilies of students with disabilities from across the state are dismayed at the hostile reaction to the reasonable request that Wisconsin’s private taxpayer-supported voucher schools should provide basic data on the disability status of their voucher students. The data request from Wisconsin’s Department of Public Instruction (DPI) comes 14 months after the U.S. Department of Justice responded to a complaint from Disability Rights Wisconsin and the Wisconsin ACLU, on behalf of families of students with disabilities who have experienced discrimination in Milwaukee’s private voucher schools.

“It all comes down to fairness and accountability,” says Joanne Juhnke, Madison parent of a student on the autism spectrum and chair of the Stop Special Needs Vouchers steering committee. “Wisconsin is sending our tax dollars and some of our most vulnerable children into private voucher schools, and in return we’ve encountered a black hole of data resistance. The taxpayers and families of Wisconsin deserve to know the full extent to which private voucher schools may be discriminating against students with disabilities. This utter lack of transparency is yet another reason why we should not even be considering special needs vouchers in the state of Wisconsin.”

Lennise Vickers of Milwaukee isn’t surprised that some voucher schools would prefer not to publicize their disability data, given her family’s experience of “smoke and mirrors” recruiting practices when she briefly enrolled her daughter, who has Emotional Behavior Disorder, in a Milwaukee voucher school several years ago. “I felt like I was duped. The voucher school teacher had no desire or training to help my daughter. When voucher schools take students with disabilities and public money, they should have to follow all the rules that the public schools do, including reporting their numbers.”

Get the full story at WEAC.org.

Connecticut – No Kid Hungry Campaign: Feeding students all summer long

summer-mealsWhen school is out for the summer, thousands of children miss meals that they received in school as part of the National School Lunch Program.

End Hunger CT! is trying to change that by providing summer meals for students across the state. The meals are free to all children and teens up to 18 years of age.

“We know summer is very challenging for many families and a lot of children go hungry,” said Jim Crawford with End Hunger CT! “The CT No Kid Hungry Campaign is an extension of the federally funded school lunch program and offers students the opportunity to receive a free nutritious meal every day.”

Find out how you can get involved in the campaign at BlogCEA.org!

Idaho – Teton School District 401 close to first ever Master Agreement with staff

IdahoThe Teton Education Association is one step closer to reaching an agreement with Teton School District 401 for the first time [ed note: pictured above].

A negotiation team made up of teachers reached a Master Agreement, but the contract has yet to be ratified by the teachers association and approved by the school board.

The Master Agreement in place would give teachers a 1.5 percent raise, as well as equitable lunch and prep time. Susan Pence and Juli Gottler, teachers on the negotiation team, said the Idaho Education Association was instrumental in the process.

“They provided a tremendous amount of support with us from the beginning, and they came to any meetings we asked them to,” said Gottler. “They provided support throughout the process.”

Pence said the teachers hope a master agreement will help keep good teachers around longer.

“We really believe that keeping a young, motivated teaching staff is best for our students,” said Pence.

Visit LocalNews8.com to read the complete article and watch local news coverage of the contract.

Ohio – Teacher evaluation language good “first step, but more fixes are needed”

Ohio OEA logoOhio Education Association President Becky Higgins said today that the compromise reached by the House and the Senate in the teacher evaluation provisions of HB362 were a step in the right direction but more work needs to be done to fix the state’s flawed teacher evaluation system.

HB 362, which was overwhelmingly approved by both branches, sets up an alternative framework that reduces from 50% to 42.5% both student growth measures and classroom performance as factors in teacher evaluations. It also provides local flexibility in determining how the remaining 15% of an evaluation will be calculated.

“We would have preferred to have seen the changes that were initially proposed in SB 229, which was unanimously approved by the Senate,” said OEA President Higgins. “But today’s actions by the House and Senate represent some progress which can be built on in the future. We appreciate that lawmakers listened to the concerns of educators and are thankful for the steps taken by the Senate leadership and the tenacity of Senators Gardner and Lehner in making this progress happen.”

Find out more about the new teacher evaluation language at OHEA.org.

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