State news roundup for September 26, 2015

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Pennsylvania – Parents and community leaders rally for Chester Upland School District

ChesterUplandRally-Harrisburg-Sept212015Nearly 80 parents, community members, and education advocates gathered in the state capitol [pictured above and left] to rally to #KeepChesterUplandOpen.

Parents and community leaders traveled to Harrisburg in the hope of resolving Chester Upland’s chronic fiscal problems and ensuring students can continue to learn in the district’s public schools.

When the Chester Upland School District worried it would be unable to make payroll at the start of the school year, teachers and support staff agreed to keep working so that schools could stay open, and the Chester Upland community rallied to support them.

Chester Upland employees were paid on Sept. 9 thanks to a commitment from the state to advance funding, but until the financial crisis in Chester Upland is resolved, no one will know what to expect from one week to the next.

Learn more at PSEA.org.

Connecticut – Finding a better way: New testing committee gets down to work

CEA Connecticut LogoMembers of the new Mastery Examination Committee, created by the legislature to examine student assessment, pledged to do what’s best for children at their first meeting today in Hartford.

But there were no indications that the committee has consensus to act quickly to fix Connecticut’s flawed testing system that has SBAC as its centerpiece.

Educator Marcia Ferreira, a Windsor literacy coach, and Donald Williams, CEA’s director of Policy, Research and Reform, are CEA’s representatives on the committee. “We know the best way to assess students is to review their ongoing work rather than focus on a limited snapshot from a high-stakes, standardized test,” Ferreira said. “I welcome this opportunity to recommend better assessments.”

Visit BlogCEA.org to find out more about the new committee.

Illinois – Rauner agenda criticized at town hall meeting

At a “town hall” meeting in Springfield on Wednesday, members of various unions spoke of the ways Gov. Bruce Rauner’s “Turnaround Agenda” would damage public education and the lives of working Illinoisans.

The governor’s “Agenda” was the subject of the event, held at Springfield’s Union Baptist Church, and featured as speakers members of various unions, the church’s pastor and Sen. Andy Manar

Part of the Rauner agenda seeks to eliminate collective bargaining in order to diminish the ability of unions to advocate.

Crysta Weitekamp, a teacher and president of the Springfield Education Association, explained that collective bargaining gives teachers a voice in the teaching and learning conditions in Illinois schools, which is a tremendous benefit to students and public education. (Weitekamp’s remarks begin at 5:41 of the video above).

Get involved in the fight at IEANEA.org.

Michigan – Labor voices: Policymakers need to listen to educators

Michigan MI logo‘Ask us!’

When I talk to school employees across Michigan, I hear this frequent frustration — too many decisions that impact students and educators get made by policymakers without input from the experts working every day on the front lines.

Thankfully, some policymakers in Lansing are starting to ask — and listen.

Recently, Brian Whiston, the new state Superintendent of Public Instruction, and the State Board of Education invited education stakeholders to share ideas to make Michigan public schools among the best in the nation. David Hecker, president of the American Federation of Teachers Michigan, and I accepted the invitation.

Visit MEA.org to read the complete story.

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