State news roundup for October 11, 2014

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Washington – ‘I’ll be talking to lots of people’ about Initiative 1351 and smaller class sizes

Wondering what you can do to help pass Initiative 1351 for smaller class sizes?

First-grade teacher Ashley Young has some ideas.

 

“I’ll be talking to lots of people, (including) my family members. I’ll be talking to neighbors. I’ll be talking to friends and letting them know how important it is to have low class size,” says Young, who teaches in Mount Vernon.

Visit OurVoiceWashingtonEA.org to read the complete article or click here to learn how you can get involved in phone banking in support of Intiiative 1351.

California – San Ysidro educators call strike

San Ysidro StrikeTeachers of the San Ysidro School District officially went on strike this week in protest of the planned imposition of a 6.5% pay cut, among the county’s worst health benefits, and a present lack of respect by SYSD officials. The San Ysidro Education Association (SYEA) received notification from the school district’s attorney that the SYSD would meet in special session either Tuesday or Wednesday, to impose provisions of the contract in dispute. SYEA’s Executive Board voted to call the strike unless a settlement was reached with the district beforehand. Issues include the district’s determination to cut salaries across the board using dubious and inaccurate projections that even the state-appointed fact-finder admitted has been an ongoing practice of the District.

SYEA President Carol Wallace was resolute in her response to the ongoing crisis. “The district has lied to our community about the budget, and we will not be bullied into believing that lie. It’s tragic. The district has shuffled and hidden millions while in the classrooms, crayons are on back order,” she said. “If the district continues to refuse to put dollars back into the classroom, to lie about the budget, and to refuse to pay San Ysidro’s dedicated teachers a fair wage, we will continue to be at odds.”

Find out more at CTA.org.

Massachusetts – Unions demand fairness for UMass employees

UMass rally 2More than 100 demonstrators [ed note: pictured at top and right] calling for fair labor contracts for faculty and staff throughout the UMass system brought their message to administrators who gathered in Boston for the 50th anniversary of UMass Boston.

Members of MTA affiliates representing classified and professional staff, graduate employees and faculty at UMass Boston organized the October 7 rally. They were joined by MTA members of other higher education locals, MTA staff members and representatives of labor and social justice organizations in the city.

As administrators from the UMass system marched from the State House to Boston Common to celebrate the 50th anniversary, the demonstrators lined Beacon Street, carrying signs demanding respect for employees and highlighting the vast pay disparity between employees and management in the UMass system.

The demonstrators also highlighted the contradictory messages of the UMass administration, which publicly touts the success of UMass while claiming in negotiations with workers that it needs to take back benefits. “The UMass system provides incredible opportunities to students,” said MTA President Barbara Madeloni, who was among the demonstrators.

Visit MassTeacher.org to learn more about the rally.

Mississippi – School funding headed to Nov. ’15 ballot

MS better schools better jobsA constitutional amendment to force the Legislature to spend more money on public education will likely be before voters in November 2015 , after 188,000 Mississippians signed a petition.

“Mississippi is 33 percent below the national average in per-pupil expenditures,” said Luther Munford, a Jackson attorney and longtime public education advocate. “We are well short of the figures being spent in surrounding states. We are 23-percent short of Arkansas, and we are 13 percent short of Alabama. We think it’s time we beat Alabama in something other than just football.”

The amendment would change Section 201 of the state Constitution to require the Legislature to fund an “adequate and efficient” public education system. Proponents criticize lawmakers for failing to fund the Mississippi Adequate Education Program, which the Legislature adopted in 1997 but has only fully funded twice. MAEP has been under funded by more than $1.5 billion over the last six years.

Find out more about the school funding ballot measure at MAEToday.org.

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