State news roundup for November 22, 2014

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West Virginia – Employees, retirees speak out about proposed insurance cuts

West Virginai Education Association WVEA WV logoState employees and retirees vented their displeasure with the Public Employees Insurance Agency’s proposal to cut their health insurance benefits by a total of $40 million during a public hearing Thursday evening at the Charleston Civic Center.

“It is similar to asking us if we want to be in a head-on collision, or get T-boned on the highway,” Joe White, with the West Virginia School Service Personnel Association, said of asking employees which benefit cuts they prefer.In a theme common among nearly 30 speakers Thursday, White said public employees cannot afford higher co-pays, deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses, as proposed by PEIA.

“We need to reach out to the new Legislature to request additional funding,” he said, calling on PEIA Finance Board members who attended the hearing, “Let us go together and ask for the proper funding.”

Find out more about the proposed cuts at WVEA.org.

Utah – Bargaining Summit: Teachers meet to discuss ways to advance profession

UT bargaining summit 2More than 100 educators volunteered their time Saturday, Nov. 8, to discuss ways to improve classroom instruction and the teaching profession as part of the 2015 UEA Bargaining Summit [ed note: pictured above and at right]. The event was held at the Salt Lake Community College Larry Miller Campus in Sandy.

“The Summit is an opportunity for teacher leaders from across the state to share best practices for working effectively with district administrators and school boards,” said UEA Director of Policy and Research Jay Blain. “In addition to inviting those involved in district negotiations, this year for the first time we also invited teachers who are working to improve classroom instruction as leaders of the UEA’s efforts around student learning objectives and evaluations.”

Participating teachers separated into groups, depending on their role—those on district negotiations teams attended bargaining training, while those serving as evaluation and student learning objective leaders attended sessions focused on teaching improvement. Attendees also divided into rural and urban groups for some sessions to discuss their respective issues and develop possible solutions. Additional training topics included proposal writing, data collection and grievance procedures.

Visit MyUEA.org to read more about the summit.

Connecticut – Higher wages for child care providers would mean better quality early education for kids

CEA Connecticut LogoPublic school educators see firsthand the positive results of high-quality early childhood education. The problem is, all early childhood education isn’t top-quality. This morning at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford, early childhood advocates joined together at a press conference to call for improving the quality of education for the youngest in our state by raising the wages and standards for early childhood providers.

By July 1, 2015, 50 percent of early childhood education providers in Connecticut are required to have bachelor’s degrees, and by 2020, 100 percent must hold them. The workforce is on track to meet those numbers, but those who work in the field report that once providers have earned their degrees, they leave for positions where they can be better compensated.

“We’re headed toward a crisis in early education if we don’t figure this out,” said Karen Rainville, executive director of the Connecticut Association for the Education of Young Children. Rainville’s association was one of eighteen organizations, along with CEA, who cosponsored the press conference.

Get the full story at BlogCEA.org.

Michigan – MDE releases details of new M-STEP assessments

Michigan MI logoThe Michigan Department of Education (MDE) has given the okay for school districts to move ahead with their plans for the new statewide student assessment to be given in the spring of 2015. M-STEP, the Michigan Student Test of Educational Progress, meets the requirements mandated by the Legislature to update the MEAP.

In addition to a new name, other changes include: an online test with a paper-and-pencil option if approved by MDE; alignment with the current state standards; expanded writing assessments for additional grades; more opportunities for students to demonstrate higher-order skills like problem solving and communicating reasoning; and pilot testing before M-STEP is administered statewide.

The test includes content created with the help of Michigan public school educators, along with content develop by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, to which Michigan belongs.

Visit MEA.org to read more about the new assessments.

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