State news roundup for July 11, 2015

Connecticut – National Teacher of the Year urges fellow educators to tell their stories

Monday marked the last day of a busy NEA Representative Assembly for delegates from across the country who have been hard at work on behalf of public education students and teachers. In addition to debating and voting on a long list of new business items, delegates heard from National Teacher of the Year Shanna Peeples who left them with an inspiring call to tell their stories, because “stories have a unique power” and “stay after the data fades.”


Peeples, a high school English teacher from Amarillo, Texas, said, “Our critics love cliches and simplistic slogans and manipulated data. This is how they attack. And the good news about that is the utter banality of those attacks. Stories are different. There is no defense against a good story. I contend that we advocate best for our students and our profession when we are brave enough to tell our stories.”


Michigan – ‘3 percent case’ sent back to MI Court of Appeals for reconsideration

Michigan MI logoThe Michigan Supreme Court is sending the “3 percent case” back to the Michigan Court of Appeals for reconsideration. The case involves the constitutionality of PA 75 of 2010 to require all school employees to pay an extra 3 percent into a fund for retiree health insurance. The Court vacated the prior ruling of the Michigan Court of Appeals which agreed with the Court of Claims that the practice is unconstitutional. The state Supreme Court is sending the case back there for reconsideration.

The Court of Appeals must also consider what issues in PA 75 have been superseded by the Supreme Court’s decision in the PA 300 case. And they are to deal with any outstanding issues that may emerge regarding PA 75 that were not affected by PA 300.

Visit to get the full story.

Ohio – An open letter to Kasich et al. about ditching the PARCC

Ohio OEA logoWhen I heard the news last week, my first instinct was to raise my fist in the air and yell “YESSSS!” You listened to the very public outcry from teachers and parents, and you got rid of the PARCC.

Then I began to think about the weeks of my life I spent training to prepare my students for the test. The summer days I missed being with my own daughter because I was in a workshop learning how the PARCC was structured. The days I missed teaching my students because I was taking the practice test myself with my colleagues, so we would know what we were preparing our kids to do. The time on my own that I spent revising my lesson plans and my assessments to mimic the PARCC style so that my students would be familiar with the format.

And then there’s the time PARCC wasted in my classroom. The days I spent giving my kids revised assignments so they could get used to the two-part questions and comparison/contrast style essays. The days we spent going to the computer labs to practice logging in (this ended up being five days before we were all successfully able to do it, due to computer issues and other communication fails on PARCC’s part). The days of learning we missed while we were actually taking the test, and the days we couldn’t move too far ahead because half of the class was testing in another subject during English class. The time involved in this little experiment, as you can see, was extensive.

Read the complete article at

Massachusetts – Racism, privatization and testing are key issues at the NEA RA

Barbara MadeloniThe following commentary was written by MTA President Barbara Madeloni upon returning from the 2015 Representative Assembly on July 7:

I just returned from Orlando, where 179 MTA delegates joined thousands of our union sisters and brothers from across the country at the NEA Representative Assembly. The debate, which took place over four days, covered topics including racism, high-stakes testing, the Common Core State Standards, adjunct faculty, the effects of poverty on our students, the rights of LGBTQ students, the NEA relationship with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and more.

In perhaps its boldest move, the RA approved New Business Item B, which calls for the NEA to work to dismantle institutional racism. This NBI extends the ideas supported by MTA Annual Meeting delegates to deepen our commitment to naming racism, understanding how it affects our students and our communities, and building coalitions to undo racist structures.

Visit to read the full commentary from MTA President Barbara Madeloni.

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