State news roundup for September 19, 2015

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Washington – Kelso EA members on strike

Kelso strikeKelso Education Association teachers and other school employees are officially on strike [ed note: pictured above and at left] beginning Wednesday, Sept. 16.

“We did not want to take this step,” KEA spokesperson Sandy DeBruler says. “But we feel we have little choice left since the District is unwilling to budge on our priority issues.”

Both bargaining teams continue to meet with a state-appointed mediator but negotiations have not moved forward. Teachers and other educators have been working without a contract since June 30. Workload and pay are the two main sticking points.

“All we are looking for is a fair and reasonable contract,” DeBruler says.

The District has received nearly $4 million in new money from the legislature. One of Kelso’s main strategic goals is that every Kelso student will experience high quality instruction. As teachers, we heartily support that goal, but in order to give students what they deserve, we need to make sure we can attract and retain high quality educators.

Get the full story and check out more pictures from the strike at WashingtonEA.org.

Michigan – ‘Ask Me’ media campaign shares members frustration over policy decisions

MEA members are frustrated when policymakers, most of whom haven’t set foot in a classroom in years, make decisions that impact students and educators without asking for input from those who serve on the front lines. That was one of several themes MEA President Steven Cook shared in a recent presentation to the State Board of Education.

On Thursday, MEA launched a new statewide ad campaign called “Ask Me,” which shares this common frustration felt by members. If you don’t catch it on your local cable network or radio station, you can watch the video above.

Learn more about the campaign at MEA.org.

Massachusetts – Charter school lawsuit is part of a large effort to privatize public education

MTAThis lawsuit is part of a far-reaching goal of privatizing public education in our Commonwealth.

If the lawyers pursuing this lawsuit truly cared about providing children with a high-quality public education, they would be advocating for state funding and other initiatives that benefit all students — not for establishing a parallel system of publicly funded, privately run schools.

This lawsuit demonstrates how the charter school movement ignores the will of the majority — which is at the center of our democracy — to benefit the few. Local school committees, which have no say over the operation of charter schools, almost always oppose charter schools in their communities, as do a majority of the local taxpayers who must pay for them.

They oppose charters because charters hurt public schools by draining funds and forcing staff and program cuts. They also oppose charters because charters promote a two-tiered system of education that is extremely harmful to the common good.

Visit MassTeacher.org to read more about the lawsuit.

Connecticut – Continued need for improvements to teacher evaluation

sheila-at-peac
CEA President Sheila Cohen (at right) spoke with other members of the Performance Evaluation Advisory Council about the future of teacher evaluation in Connecticut.

A lot is up in the air for the future of teacher evaluation as members of the U.S. House and Senate hash out new federal education policy this fall. The versions of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) passed by the House and Senate don’t require teacher evaluation plans, so Connecticut will likely have increased discretion going forward to make changes to educator evaluation if state lawmakers see fit.

“Regardless of what we want to plan for, a lot is going to depend on what happens in Washington, D.C.,” CEA President Sheila Cohen told other members of Connecticut’s Performance Evaluation Advisory Council (PEAC) at a meeting yesterday. “Obviously that is going to be the main driver in terms of what our guidelines end up being and in terms of what our mandates are.”

Until a new version of ESEA comes out of Washington, PEAC members are focusing on improving the state’s evaluation system as it currently stands.

Find out more at BlogCEA.org.

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