|AAE State Policy Update|
|posted by: Alix | May 03, 2011, 08:56 PM|
As the 2011 legislative session draws to an end, state legislatures across the country are proceeding with bills that seeks to curb union power and implement sweeping education reform. While Wisconsin and Ohio have received the bulk of the media attention, nearly the entire country will see historic changes in the coming year.
Michigan- Last week Michigan Governor Rick Snyder proposed yet another innovative reform idea relating to school choice, called the "Any Time, Any Place, Any Way, Any Pace" plan aimed at creating an open-market school system for students and parents. The plan would allow students who live in a school district the first option to enroll, but school systems would also be required to accept out-of-district students if space permits. If more students want a spot in a district than space allows, schools would fill those spots via lottery.
Governor Snyder also calls for removing restrictions on the seat time and the length of the school year, week, and day. He wants to encourage more blended learning, which combines online and face-to-face instruction, and he says that any student interested in up to two hours of daily online education should be able to receive it.
While Governor Snyder's choice-oriented plan is being applauded by reformers, it is being panned by the Michigan Education Association. They claim the plan will essentially empty Detroit's inner-city schools.
Tennessee- House Republican leaders have backed away from an earlier compromise that allowed teachers to continue collective bargaining on base salaries and benefits, clearing the way for total repeal of bargaining between teachers and school boards.
The amendment and the bill by Senator Jack Johnson, repeals Tennessee's Education Professional Negotiations Act of 1978, which established collective bargaining privileges for teachers. Currently 92 of 136 school districts do collectively bargain in some way. The Senate has advanced the bill completely repealing the 1978 law, but the House Education Committee last month approved a different version that maintained collective bargaining on base salaries and some benefits and work conditions. The House will vote this week on the total repeal.
Florida- Florida's legislature is still proposing new education reform ideas, last week voting to expand Florida's school voucher program for students with disabilities. House Bill 1329, passed 98-17 on Thursday, would add to the program children with lesser disabilities such as asthma and allergies.
The current voucher program provides public funds to 21,000 students with physical and learning disabilities so they can attend private schools. The bill's funding is estimated to serve 51,000 more students. Under the plan, school districts would lose funding for each voucher student but not money spent on accommodating their disabilities. The bill now goes the Senate for approval this week.
Ohio- With Senate Bill 5 critics collecting signatures for a ballot initiative, Governor Kasich is moving on to the teacher evaluation portion of the legislation by asking for input from Ohio teachers.
Governor Kasich and his team are asking for input in establishing a performance pay system that would ultimately account for 50% of an overall evaluation. He asked for teachers to suggest how to judge their performance in the classroom. "There are teachers in the state who are concerned about the criteria," Kasich said. "I want to make sure that teachers across the state know that if they want to participate in establishing this criteria, we want to invite them to be a part of this process."
Texas- Last week, the Texas Senate approved legislation aimed at improving evaluations of the state's public school teachers. Senator Florence Shapiro touts the bill as a bipartisan effort to keep effective teachers while helping them improve.
The bill, approved Thursday, would require teachers to be evaluated based on observation and student performance, among other measures. Schools would have to provide timely feedback and offer opportunities for teachers to reach established goals if their performance is not sufficient. Supporters say the bill will help teachers know their strengths and gather practical methods for improving their weaknesses.
California- In the wake of a CTA-led effort to combat education spending cuts, Governor Brown spoke to supporters and expressed his commitment to raising taxes to combat budget shortfalls. Governor Brown plans to extend for five years increases to the personal income, sales and vehicle taxes, but negotiations have stalled due to Republican opposition. The tax increases are scheduled to expire at the end of the year and renewing them would bring the state an additional $9.2 billion a year.
Governor Brown wanted to hold a special election in June to put the tax question to voters, but has been unable to get the necessary Republican votes in the state legislature to get it on the ballot. Brown told cheering parents and union teachers that he was their ally in the battle to protect education funding regardless of the cost.
Virginia- Virginia's Board of Education has approved a set of guidelines that schools can use to evaluate teacher performance, including teacher performance-pay plans. The board on Thursday adopted uniform performance standards and evaluation criteria that emphasize student academic performance as a large component of teachers' overall evaluations.
Under the new guidelines at least 40 percent of a teacher's evaluation will be tied to student academic performance based on achievement, including test scores. Other areas that will be evaluated include professional knowledge, instructional planning and delivery, and classroom learning environment as evaluated by administrators. The plan will officially take effect July 1, 2012.
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