“It was a great feeling watching the returns come in!” said Jonas Knotts, a high school teacher and president of the Webster County Education Association, an affiliate of the West Virginia Education Association (WVEA). “People and educators are really starting to see the power that they possess. We have a voting bloc that, if we turn out to the polls, can outvote anybody. Teachers are realizing this. It’s something that fills us with a very empowering feeling.”
Early this spring, WVEA members kicked off what NEA President Lily Eskelsen García has called an “education spring” with a statewide, nine-day strike that brought red-shirted educators from every one of the state’s 55 counties to the state Capitol.
Their massive show of solidarity, which ended with significant pay raises for all public workers, including teachers and education support professionals, and the establishment of a state task force to address public-worker health insurance, inspired educators across the nation and has been followed by statewide educator walkouts in Oklahoma, Arizona, and Kentucky, and huge Capitol demonstrations in Colorado and North Carolina.
Now, WVEA members are modeling what happens next: They’re taking their energy and passion for public education to the ballot box. In this May’s primary races, WVEA endorsed 115 pro-public school candidates for U.S. Senate, U.S. House, and the state’s House of Delegates and Senate. Of those, 99 candidates—or nearly 90 percent—won. One state lawmaker who had called union members “free riders” was shown the door.
This is exactly what public-school educators across the nation have promised to do in the mid-term elections this November. With this latest show of union strength, WVEA members have shown how it can be done—and how good it feels.
“This election was a huge vindication for the power of the movement because, of course, the opposition was saying ‘they’re going to forget, they’re going to stay home,’” said Knotts. “But we know it’s only one victory in a long war. We have to keep up those conversations, we have to keep people engaged, we have to show them how we’re working to improve everybody’s status—from teachers to support personnel to students to communities…”
Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin is apologizing for saying a teachers’ strike left hundreds of thousands of children vulnerable to sexual assault and drug use.
On Friday, Bevin told reporters, “I guarantee you somewhere in Kentucky today, a child was sexually assaulted that was left at home because there was nobody there to watch them.”
He also claimed to see people “hanging out” and “taking the day off” as teachers rallied at the state Capitol for increased education funding. “I’m offended that people so cavalierly, and so flippantly, disregarded what’s truly best for children,” Bevin said.
Bevin’s comments provoked anger and a rapid backlash from teachers’ groups and state politicians. On Saturday, Kentucky’s Republican-led House of Representatives approved resolutions condemning Bevin’s comments.
Duncan, Okla.— Few educators here say they want a statewide teacher strike to happen. And yet there’s overwhelming agreement from educators that it’s the only way forward.
Union leaders have given the Oklahoma state legislature an April 1 deadline to pass a funding package that includes a $10,000 pay raise over three years for teachers and a $200 million boost to public schools. If that doesn’t happen, teachers across the state will walk out of their classrooms, and will not return until they get what they’re asking for, union officials pledge.
“I don’t like that [a walkout] seems to be the only course of action—I think if there was something else, we would all jump on that, but I just think we all feel at a loss,” said Kara Stoltenberg, a high school English teacher in Norman, Okla., who also works at a clothing store to help pay her bills. “It’s so disheartening. … I want to believe the best in people, I want to be optimistic. It just feels like with one thing after another, that hope is being crushed.”
Oklahoma’s shutdown proposal came on the heels of the nearly two-week-long teacher strike in West Virginia, which concluded when the legislature there passed a bill giving all public employees a 5 percent pay raise. After that stunning victory, teachers in Oklahoma, Kentucky, and Arizona began to ask: “What if we did that here?”
Read the full article here: May require an Education Week subscription.
One thing we’ll keep stressing again and again this week: how far federal policy has moved since the days of the No Child Left Behind Act (ESSA’s predecessor). Read on.
So, what kinds of goals are states setting?
Some states chose fixed goals that aim for all students, and all subgroups of vulnerable students, such as those qualifying for subsidized school lunches or English-language learners, to reach the same target (such as 80 percent proficiency). What’s nice about this kind of goal is that it sets the same endpoint, making it easier to see over time how achievement gaps are expected to close. States in this category include: Arkansas, Hawaii, Kansas, Mississippi, (grades 3-8 only), Ohio, Minnesota, New York, Rhode island, South Dakota, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming.
Read the full article here: May require an Education Week subscription.
(FRANKFORT, Ky.) –The Kentucky Department of Education and Valvoline Inc., sponsors of the Kentucky Teacher Awards, have opened the nomination process for the 2019 awards.
Nominations may be submitted electronically at kentuckytoy.com and are due by Feb. 15. Any full-time public school teacher in the state with at least three years of experience is eligible. Teachers may be nominated by students, parents, teaching peers, principals, superintendents or anyone from the community who has an interest in honoring an outstanding educator.
All nominated teachers are required to complete a formal application, which must be submitted by March 1. Judging will take place in March by a blue ribbon panel of education professionals from around the state; as many as 24 Valvoline Teacher Achievement Award winners will be announced in the spring.
Following site visits with nine semifinalists in April and personal interviews with the top three candidates, the Kentucky Teacher of the Year will be announced in Frankfort. At that time, all 24 teachers will be honored with cash awards and other mementos. Teacher Achievement Award winners will receive a cash gift of $500; two of the three finalists will receive a cash gift of $3,000; and the Teacher of the Year will receive a cash prize of $10,000, along with an exciting ambassadorship opportunity. The Kentucky Teacher of the Year then will represent the state in the National Teacher of the Year competition.
Now in its 18th year, the Kentucky Teacher Awards program is an innovative collaboration between private industry and public education.
The U.S. Department of Education is cranking out responses to state’s plans for implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act at a fast and furious pace. The latest states to hear back are: Hawaii, Kentucky, Nebraska, New Hampshire, and Wisconsin. (Scroll down to see which other states have gotten feedback and who has been approved.)
All five states, whose feedback letters were released Thursday, have work to do on the nuts-and-bolts of the accountability plans, their ideas for identifying and fixing schools, and more. Here’s a quick look at some highlights of the responses. Click on the state name to read the full letter.
Hawaii: The department wants the Aloha State to identify languages other than English spoken by a significant number of students. States must “make every effort” to offer tests in those languages, according to ESSA. And Hawaii needs to be more specific about what it will take for a school to get out of low-performing status. Right now, Hawaii says those schools need to make “significant improvement,” but it doesn’t say what that means. Hawaii also needs to make sure disadvantaged and minority students have access to their fair share of qualified teachers.
Kentucky: Kentucky needs to make sure that its English-language proficiency indicator stands alone, right now, it’s lumped in with other indicators in the state’s accountability system. The state also needs to make clear that it is targeting schools as “chronically underperforming” because of the performance of historically overlooked groups of students and not for another reason. And Kentucky cannot include writing test scores as part of a school’s overall “academic achievement” score, because those tests aren’t offered in every grade…
Read the full story here: May require an Education Week subscription.
(FRANKFORT, Ky.) – Kentucky’s plan for implementing the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) has taken a step forward in the process toward approval.
This week the United States Department of Education (USED) provided feedback based on its initial review of the plan submitted in September.
“Overall, I am pleased with where we are in the process and the feedback we have received,” Commissioner of Education Stephen Pruitt said. “Primarily, USED is requesting clarifying or additional information, and several revisions to language, some of which has already changed as a result of the state regulatory process, so that our plan is in clear compliance with the federal law. Certainly that is our intent.”
ESSA provides states flexibility in how they meet the letter of the law. As a result, each state plan is different. To date, many states have received similar types of feedback on their plans as Kentucky.
Kentucky developed its plan over the past year-and-a-half with input from thousands of shareholders including educators, business and community leaders, parents and legislators.
The plan outlines how the state will evaluate public schools and districts, including charter schools, and hold them accountable for equitably educating each child regardless of where he or she lives, the student’s race, ethnicity, family income or whether the student has a disability. Kentucky’s plan, based on a system of continuous improvement for all schools, incorporates a method for identifying the lowest-performing schools and providing support. The plan also includes aggressive goals for closing the achievement gap, increasing graduation rates and ensuring all students leave high school with the knowledge, skills and dispositions they need to be successful in college or the next phase of their career education and training.
A panel of four peer reviewers, the majority of which have had recent practical experience in the classroom, school administration, or state/local education agencies, also evaluated portions of Kentucky’s plan and had some very positive feedback. Specifically, they cited:
the state’s attempt to include every student in accountability
the growth of individual students toward proficiency and beyond
the state’s focus on reducing the achievement gap
the inclusion of social studies and science in accountability
the state’s plan to identify both Title I and non-Title I schools for comprehensive support and improvement
The peer reviewers also noted the state’s unique opportunity and access indicator, which includes multiple measures of school quality and student success. Among the strengths mentioned:
the inclusion of visual and performing arts, physical education, career exploration, cultural studies, and career and technical education including a work ethic certification the intent to focus on high-achieving students in addition to those who are low-performing
the focus on whole-child supports to address a variety of student and family needs
an opportunity for districts and charter schools to highlight their focus or priorities
the state’s plan to report additional measures not included in the accountability system
In the area of school improvement, reviewers praised the Kentucky Department of Education’s rigorous approach to providing supports and technical assistance for schools before state intervention and called the state’s support plan for schools identified for comprehensive or targeted support and improvement “well thought out and impressive.”
The goal of the peer review is to support state- and local-led innovation by providing objective feedback on the technical, educational and overall quality of the state plan and advising USED on the approval of the plan.
While the report highlighted strengths of Kentucky’s plan, both the USED and peer review reports also made suggestions on how Kentucky’s plan could be strengthened.
“We recognize there is always room for improvement,” Pruitt said. “We welcome the feedback and will consider it very carefully before resubmitting our plan. We anticipate that, when all is said and done, Kentucky’s plan will be approved and will set an example for other states. Most importantly, we will have a strong roadmap for school improvement that will close the achievement gap and ensure all Kentucky children have the opportunity to reach their full potential.”
The state has 15 calendar days to respond to the initial feedback and resubmit its consolidated state plan. However, due to the upcoming holidays, the state requested an extension beyond the January 4, 2018, deadline to ensure staff has adequate time to review all feedback and provide details that will clarify the state’s intent, methods and processes. It is anticipated the state will resubmit its plan sometime around the end of January 2018.
A copy of Kentucky’s plan as originally submitted and the initial feedback letter are available on the USED website, as are peer review reports related to Title I, Part A; Title III, Part A and the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act.
Democrats on the Senate education committee had some tough questions Tuesday for President Donald Trump’s picks to head up civil rights and special education policy at the U.S. Department of Education.
Kenneth Marcus, who is currently the head of a Jewish civil rights organization and has been tapped to lead the department’s office for civil rights, and Johnny Collett, the program director for special education at the Council of Chief State School Officers, are likely to be confirmed. But Democrats used the confirmation hearing to air deep concerns about the Trump administration’s record on both civil rights and disabilities issues.
“One of the most appalling ways that President Trump has damaged our country is when it comes to civil rights, and undermining the rights and safety of women, people of color, and people with disabilities,” said Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, the top Democrat on the panel.
Murray said Marcus appears to “share the goal of halting discrimination on the basis of race ethnicity or religion” particularly on college campuses. But she worries about his ability to stand up to Trump and to U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.
And she expressed qualms about Collett’s record as head of special education in Kentucky. She noted that the state was criticized for allowing frequent use of seclusion and restraint in schools, which are used to a disproportionate degree on students with disabilities.
“Only after public outcry and work from the [state’s] protection and advocacy agency did Kentucky take steps to address this,” Murray said. “Additionally, you told my staff you support Secretary DeVos’ privatization agenda, which includes $20 billion school voucher proposal. Voucher programs do not support all of the needs of students with disabilities.”
But Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., the chairman of the committee, defended both nominees. He said Marcus “has a deep understanding of civil rights issues having founded the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights and having served as staff director of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights for four years.” He said he had letters from 10 individuals and organizations supporting Marcus’ nomination. And he said that Collett is “widely supported by the special education community…”
Read the full article here: May require an Education Week subscription.
Most parents and educators want school cafeterias to serve food that is fresh, local, organic, and nutritious. But the truth is that many school nutrition programs operate on a freezer-to-oven basis. Meals arrive highly processed and ready to pop into the oven.
That’s what Sheila Mulrooney Eldred found nearly a decade ago when she first visited public elementary schools in Minneapolis trying to select one for her children. “I was appalled by the cafeteria choices: sugar-saturated cereals for breakfast, pre-packaged French Toast ‘stix’ with syrup for lunch, and chocolate- or strawberry-flavored milk,” the health and fitness journalist wrote in 2016 for Minnesota Monthly.
Changes in nutritional requirements under the Healthy and Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010, however, have required more fruits, vegetable, and whole grains, and cutbacks on calories and sodium. Now that the measure is law, students eat 16 percent more vegetables and 23 percent more fruit at lunch, according to a 2014 Harvard study.
The changes are also visible throughout Minneapolis Public Schools, where, since 2011, more than 30,000 students have received locally sourced foods—things like fresh produce, meats, and baked goods. Minneapolis isn’t the only city that’s changing its menu…
When Matthew Powell of Kentucky began his profession as instructional assistant and custodian, he was handed a big wad of keys and told to go upstairs. With no further direction, Powell figured out his professional path—for the most part—on his own.
Looking back now, “I wish I had a mentor,” he reflects, “someone to go along with me and explain the value of my role in that school and the different opportunities where I could be an educator for students.” Today, Powell is a custodial supervisor and bus driver for Graves County Schools in the Bluegrass State. He’s also night a night watchman and campus resident, meaning he lives on school grounds.
“Public education is my passion and my desire to live at school to look after students who are staying at school events or coming back from sporting events late at night is an example of my dedication to our children and their safety,” he says.
NEA members, like Powell, have always been passionate about their profession, appreciating the profound influence they have (in their many and varied roles as educators) on the health, safety, well-being, learning opportunities, and development of their students. So it’s fitting that NEA would become the vehicle for members to take the lead of their profession, express their voice, and make a difference for kids, schools, and the communities they serve.
Powell was one of several educators who were recently in Washington, D.C. to rollout two NEA developed reports, Great Teaching and Learning and the ESP Professional Growth Continuum. These reports offer teachers and education support professionals (ESP) recommendations to create a system of continual professional learning with an intense focus on student needs, and they were created with input from two expert panels and task forces focused on how educators, including ESP, can work even more effectively to help students, their families, and communities.
“Every student deserves to have a team of educators that cares for, engages and empowers learners, provides challenging instruction, and enlists the entire school community to ensure student success,” says NEA President Lily Eskelsen García. “The reports call for a new vision—a system of shared, mutual responsibility—that is founded on the premise that educators are ultimately responsible to students, to their colleagues, and to their professions.”
NEA began to chart a course to greater student learning through strong professional practice with its 2011 report, Transforming Teaching: Connecting Professional Responsibility with Student Learning, and its 2015 Accountability Task Force Report, which outlined a vision for shared responsibility and student success…