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Legislative Action and Advocacy Blog

This blog serves as an online resource, providing current alerts and analyses of educational policy and advocacy work.  It is maintained by members of the UCEA Legislative Action and Advocacy Committee.

Friday
Mar162012

Occupy the US Department of Education

Occupy the US Dept of Education is mobilizing in DC from Friday March 30 to Monday April 2, with events at the Department and Capitol Hill as well as workshops over the weekend.

United Opt Out National is one place you get get more information including a detailed schedule

Thursday
Mar012012

MN State Senate Strikes Down Teacher Tenure

According to the StarTribune, a bill to end the tenure system in Minnesota was passed 36-26 by the Minnesota Senate on Monday, moving it a step closer to Gov. Mark Dayton's desk. A similar bill has already passed the House. Once differences in the two bills are resolved, it will go to Dayton for his signature or veto. Senate sponsor Pam Wolf, R-Spring Lake Park, herself a middle school teacher, said the change restores basic fairness. "In the event of a layoff, teachers would be laid off based on their effectiveness," Wolf said, noting that under the current system, a teacher could have decades of experience but still end up first in line for layoffs by transfering to another school and losing seniority. 

The Senate bill differs from the House version passed earlier this month by protecting new, probationary teachers from being automatically targeted for layoffs. It also includes a provision that prohibits districts from basing layoffs on financial grounds -- an attempt to stop schools from targeting teachers with the most seniority and the highest salaries at layoff time.

Opponents say the legislation is an attack on unions and an attempt to strip teachers of what little job security they have. Some teachers wondered why, out of all the education priorities in the state, a worst-case scenario plan for budget crises is the one that made it all the way to a vote.

Education Minnesota President Tom Dooher called Monday's vote a wasted opportunity in a state where school districts already have the option of devising their own systems for dealing with layoffs -- and 40 percent have systems that are not based strictly on seniority."Instead of tackling the serious issues facing our schools, these bills will make it easier for school administrators to shed experienced teachers for their less-expensive colleagues," Dooher said in a statement. "These bills also confuse the layoff process with teacher effectiveness. Make no mistake, if there's a problem with a teacher, there's no reason for a principal to wait until a budget crisis to act."

The legislation would rely on a teacher evaluation system that is still being worked out and which would not go into effect until 2016-17 school year -- the same year the legislation would take effect.

Thursday
Feb092012

NY Should Try a Pilot First

A thoughtful blog from Aaron Pallas, this time on teacher evaluation systems, focusing on NY but of much wider interest. He discusses balancing efficiency with fairness, notes big holes in so-called 'value added,' asks whether an unfair system will decrease the numbers of people willing to go into teaching, wonders how NYC, for example, will train 1500 principals or other raters to reasonably provide classroom evaluation. He suggests pilot projects make more sense. And one commenter notes that efficiency can contradict effectiveness.

Wednesday
Feb082012

NYC Favors Eval Plan Making it Easier to Fire Teachers

Mayor Bloomberg’s administration has declared its keenness to embrace Governor Andrew Cuomo’s teacher evaluation proposals, and replace the 2010 law with one that makes it easier to fire low-rated teachers and spells out how they can appeal a poor evaluation. The article is in EducationNews.org.

Wednesday
Feb082012

NGA Supports More State Control

The National Governor's Association wants Congress to give states lots of running room when it comes to crafting their accountability plans, according to an interim proposal outlining NGA's priorities for reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (aka the No Child Left Behind Act.) The governors are asking lawmakers to reshape the federal role in K-12, focusing it on sharing information and research, and helping states collaborate on "innovations to better serve students." They like the idea of federal incentives, but not a lot of federal control. This excerpt is from a post in the Education Week Politics Blog.