State news roundup for July 12, 2014


Utah – Former Utah Teacher of the Year elected president of nation’s largest union

Utah Education Association logoLily Eskelsen García, an elementary school teacher from North Salt Lake, has been elected president of the National Education Association [ed note: pictured above], the nation’s largest union representing nearly 3 million educators, making her the nation’s highest-ranking Latina labor leader. Nearly 8,000 NEA delegates voted for her to lead the organization during its 152nd Annual Meeting and 93rd Representative Assembly, held June 26–July 6 in Denver.

The daughter of an immigrant, Eskelsen García started her career in education as a lunch lady and then a kindergarten aide. Seeing the gift she had with children, Eskelsen García was encouraged by the teacher to go to college and become a teacher herself. She worked her way through the University of Utah on scholarships, student loans, and as a starving folk singer, graduating magna cum laude in elementary education and later earning her master’s degree in instructional technology.

During her 20-year career, Eskelsen García was an elementary teacher who also worked with homeless children at a shelter in Salt Lake City’s suburbs. Those personal experiences in the classroom, school and community, she said, are the very reasons why NEA must continue to lead the country in advocating for students, public education and the empowerment of their educators.

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West Virginia – W.VA. governor introduces new state schools superintendent

West Virginai Education Association WVEA WV logoGov. Earl Ray Tomblin and Board of Education President Gayle Manchin formally introduced new state Superintendent of Schools Michael Martirano to the public in a ceremony Tuesday at the West Virginia Capitol.

While Martirano, who will officially assume the position in the fall, is transitioning from his role as superintendent in St. Mary’s County, Maryland — among the highest-achieving and wealthiest districts in the state — he said he is “invigorated and energized” by West Virginia’s challenges but isn’t going to focus solely on the state’s consistently low national rankings.

“I’ve always put myself in environments where they need improvement, and have gone in and put sustainable programs that last the test of time to get improved results,” Martirano said. “So, for me, the rankings become critical in terms of the analysis and the data, but what’s more important to me is that young people are achieving — that they’re retaining information …”

Visit to find out more about the new Superintendent.

Ohio – Pickerington education support professionals vote to unionize, join OEA

Ohio OEA logoMore than 260 custodians, paraprofessionals, secretaries and other education support professionals in the Pickerington Local School District have voted to form a union affiliated with the Ohio Education Association (OEA). The ballots were counted today by the State Employment Relations Board.

“We organized our union to win job security, respect, and a voice at work” said Jessica Seymour, an 11- year Administrative Secretary in the district’s Welcome Center, “We look forward to negotiating our first contract and building a productive and mutually respectful relationship with the district.”

The vote was the culmination of a nine-month organizing campaign and a two-week mail-balloting period. During the campaign, the district agreed to remain neutral and allow employees to decide freely whether or not to organize. The new union, the Pickerington Support Staff Association OEA/NEA, will now begin the process of negotiating an initial union contract.

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Massachusetts – Legislature enacts fiscal 2015 budget

MTA 6-9-12The Legislature has enacted a $36.5 billion budget for fiscal 2015 that modestly increases funding for K-12 and early education and continues reinvestment in higher education. The budget also revives the Foundation Budget Review Commission, a key legislative priority of the MTA.

President Paul Toner said the MTA is “gratified that legislators saw fit to do the right thing” by investing in education and reviving the commission that will review and, if necessary, recalculate the foundation budget formula.

“Reviving this commission is so long overdue,” Toner said. A comprehensive examination of the foundation budget formula will “put us on the path toward adequate funding so all students can succeed.”

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