|AAE State Policy Update May 10, 2011|
|posted by: Alix | May 10, 2011, 04:11 PM|
As the 2011 legislative session draws closer to its end, tough-talking governors and state legislatures across the country are proceeding with legislation that seeks to implement sweeping education and labor reforms. While each state is experiencing reform on different levels, it is impossible to ignore the ground-breaking changes that will undoubtedly change the face of education in this country in the coming years.
California: This week marks the start of the California Teachers Association "State of Emergency Week" as thousands of union teachers from around that state have converged in Sacramento to protest cuts to the education budget.
Teachers and union leaders marched to the Capitol in hopes of meeting with lawmakers and even staging sit-ins in the building to propose tax hikes to close budget shortfalls. Chanting "Tax the rich, we can solve the deficit," hundreds of teachers carried banners and signs into the Capitol building, where California Highway Patrol officers blocked the main rotunda areas. By late afternoon Monday more than 150 protesters rallied in the rotunda and about 65 of them were arrested for refusing to leave.
AAE Executive Director Gary Beckner has penned an opinion editorial on the situation, which was featured in the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin.
Ohio: Last week the Ohio Education Association voted to incur a one-time dues increase of $54 to pay for the fight against Ohio's new law that curbs union power. This fee is an additional cost on top of mandatory union dues paid by all Ohio teachers. The union collected $63 million in dues in 2008 alone.
A spokeswoman for the Ohio Education Association says 111,000 active union members would pay the extra amount under a proposal approved last Friday. The dues change could mean an additional $5.5 million for the union.
Spokeswoman Michele Prater says the money could be spent on advertisements and to help gather the signatures needed to ask voters to overturn the measure this fall.
When the new mandatory fee proposal was first introduced, AAE Executive Director Gary Beckner penned an opinion editorial on the impact of additional union contributions have on teachers and their families, featured in the Toledo Blade.
Oklahoma: Yesterday Oklahoma Governor Mary Falin signed into law legislation that prohibits union leaders from participating in the Oklahoma Teacher's Retirement System, or pension system.
Critics of the once normal practice say the retirement system was created to provide benefits to public school teachers, administrators and support personnel. They say it is not ethical for union leaders to accrue benefits after they are employed by a private union that offer their own benefits.
Pennsylvania: Governor Tom Corbett made national headlines today for a speech that linked unions to poor performing schools in the state. Pennsylvania's public schools have focused too much on teacher contracts and not enough on curriculum, Governor Corbett argued Monday, in a speech to school choice advocates. The Governor told supporters of public-school alternatives that competition with private, religious and or charter schools will improve the quality of education in Pennsylvania and the country.
Corbett linked teachers' unions to poorly performing schools and said giving students school choice options would open up countless opportunities for students to learn.
Nevada: Union leaders in Nevada are pushing for a watered down version of two bills that would make it easier to fire poor performing teachers, saying the bills don't do enough to protect employees from firings.
The bills, AB225 and AB229, have already passed the Assembly and must pass the Senate no later than May 20. Democratic Assembly leaders are sponsoring the current bills, which are based on recommendations from the Education Reform Blue Ribbon Task Force that submitted Nevada's application for federal Race to the Top education funds.
Wisconsin: While the state is still in the midst of a legal battle about the implementation of Governor Scott Walker's budget repair bill, the Governor was in Washington yesterday to advocate for school choice. States need educational options such as school choice to guarantee an educated workforce and a resulting economic boost, Wisconsin Governor Walker said Monday night at a national meeting of choice supporters.
"We know if we're going to have sustained economic growth we've got to have an educated workforce," Governor Walker stressed. The Walker administration is proposing expanding a Wisconsin school voucher program that currently is available only to low-income students in Milwaukee. He wants to expand the program to the whole county and phase out the low-income qualifying limits, expanding the program to more students.
Don't see your state listed? Visit the database compiled by the National Conference of State Legislatures for the latest updated information on labor legislation in your state.