State news roundup for June 6, 2015


Connecticut – New transparency and oversight ensured for Connecticut charter schools

CEA Connecticut LogoCharter schools, which have become a parallel school system in Connecticut—allowed to play by a different set of rules than those that govern traditional neighborhood public schools—are now subject to some much-needed oversight thanks to Senate Bill 1096 that passed the state House and Senate this week. With this bill legislators took important action to increase transparency of the charter school industry and require that all new charter schools are subject to General Assembly approval.

CEA has been a strong advocate of increased charter school oversight, urging the legislature to make sure choice program opportunities are provided for all children in ways that are consistent and transparent.

“Charter schools are privately run but publicly funded with our taxpayer dollars,” said Rep. Edwin Vargas, a former Hartford public school teacher, during discussion on SB 1096 on the floor of the House. “This accountability and transparency bill gives us an opportunity as legislators to make sure that the hard-earned cash of the people we represent is truly going to the needs of our kids.”

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Massachusetts – Tell your story: Advocate for less testing and more learning

Less testing more learningAs part of the upcoming Week of Action on high-stakes testing, the MTA is asking that members call their state representatives and senators to tell their own stories about testing and urge support for House bill 340, An Act Relative to a Moratorium on High-Stakes Testing and PARCC.

The legislation would institute a three-year moratorium on the high-stakes use of testing and create a task force to study how the focus on testing is changing our schools.

Tuesday, June 9, is advocacy day for H. 340, but you don’t have to wait until then. You can reach out to your state senator and state representative anytime, 24 hours a day, between Thursday, June 4, and Thursday, June 11, when the bill will be heard before the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Education.

Get involved in the Less Testing, More Learning campaign at!

Illinois – Rauner report: Gov needs to hear how unions improve lives

IL Gov Rauner Report squareIt is a shame the governor wasn’t present when Jean Rogers [ed note: pictured at top] testified at an Illinois Senate committee hearing last week.

Gov. Rauner has made it clear he believes the ability of public employees to have a voice in their working conditions is a scourge he intends to eliminate.

That belief is the basis for his “turnaround agenda,” calling for the elimination of collective bargaining via “empowerment zones” (aka “right-to-work” zones) – areas where voters can deny rights, reduce pay and cut benefits to workers.

The fact the zones are apparently illegal and, if they became prevalent, would damage the frail state economy does not concern the governor.

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Michigan – New incoming State Superintendent, Board of Ed. share their strategic plans

brian whiston
Brian Whiston

Incoming State Superintendent Brian Whiston shared his draft of a strategic plan to move Michigan to the top five states for education improvement within the next five years. The State Board has a similar draft plan and various education groups are expected to be adding their recommendations at upcoming board meetings.

Whiston is looking for a rapid turnaround for education in Michigan, and his plan targets eight key areas, among them special education, testing, developing a P-14 system, and school funding.

He would like to see model classrooms developed for each grade level which includes an emphasis on career and technical education. Another of Whiston’s proposals encourages adopting a system of dual enrollment that would provide all students with access to college credits since many school districts aren’t covered by a community college district.

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