Sunday, February 27, 2011

How Can You Help our Wisconsin Colleagues and Prepare for Attacks in Iowa? The 51 Fund--50 States, ONE VOICE

Many of you have been wondering what else you can do to support our members and our friends and allies working so hard for collective bargaining and for keeping our voice heard. Today, the NEA is announcing The 51 Fund to help in those efforts.

What’s happening now in Wisconsin is historic. As you have probably seen on the nightly news or on the front pages of your local newspaper, tens of thousands of citizens are gathering in Wisconsin and across the country to protest proposed legislation that would strip public sector employees—which includes public school educators—of their collective bargaining rights.

Legislators: Hanusa, Gronstal, Forristall and Brandenberg on Public Unions and House Bill 117

Footage is from the February 26, 2011 Legislative Forum at the Council Bluffs Public Library.

Senate Majority Leader Gronstal and House Education Committee Chair on House Bill 117, Public Unions part II

Footage is from the February 26, 2011 Legislative Forum at the Council Bluffs Public Library.

Gronstal & Forristall on Quality Pre-School

Footage is from the February 26, 2011 Legislative Forum at the Council Bluffs Public Library.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Senator Mike Gronstal on Allowable Growth

Footage is from the February 26, 2011 Legislative Forum at the Council Bluffs Public Library.

House Education Committee Chair Greg Forristall on Charter Schools and Pre-School

Footage is from the February 26, 2011 Legislative Forum at the Council Bluffs Public Library.

Senator Gronstal & Representative Forristall on Pre-School, Part II

Footage is from the February 26, 2011 Legislative Forum at the Council Bluffs Public Library.

House Education Committee Chair Greg Forristall on Cuts to Iowa's AEAs

Footage is from the February 26, 2011 Legislative Forum at the Council Bluffs Public Library.

Senator Gronstal and Representative Forristall on Earned Income Tax Credit and Living Wages for our ESP Members

Footage is from the February 26, 2011 Legislative Forum at the Council Bluffs Public Library.

Thousands converge on Wisconsin for more protests

by James Kelleher and David Bailey Reuters

MADISON, Wisconsin — Tens of thousands of demonstrators converged on Wisconsin's state Capitol on Saturday in frigid weather to protest a Republican plan to curb the power of public sector unions.

The rotunda of the Capitol was choked with protesters hours before a planned union-backed rally scheduled to start at 3 p.m. local time, and a lengthy line snaked around outside a single open building entrance.

Saturday's rally had a festival or concert feel with a stage set up and some popular musicians expected to perform later in the day. Madison police said they expected a "sizable crowd" but did not give an estimate.

Senate Majority Leader Gronstal and House Education Committee Iowa's Pre-School Program, part II

Dems push labor-bill debate all night long on HB 117

24 Feb 2011 07:27 PM PST

House Democrats hectored their Republican counterparts all night Thursday and until nearly dawn this morning over proposed limits on public-employee unions’ bargaining power.

The Democrats spent a total of 15 hours objecting to House Study Bill 117, which would block public unions’ ability to negotiate over health insurance issues and layoff procedures.

Democrats offered 48 amendments during the meeting of the House Labor Committee, which started work on the bill Thursday afternoon. None of the amendments had a shot at passing, but the discussions lasted nearly until dawn.

Thursday, February 24, 2011


Thousands of activists support allowable growth at 2 percent

Activists are speaking out by the thousands - educators, parents, AEAs, and school administrators--in support of setting allowable growth at 2 percent. Supporters signed an open letter urging legislators to support SF166 and SF167 ahead of the February 26 deadline. The bills set allowable growth at 2 percent so schools and Area Education Agencies (AEAs) have the resources needed to deliver the 21st century education our children need to thrive and prosper in our global economy.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


"As a science teacher with a degree in physics, I could go into the private sector and easily earn double what I do now, but I know how important it is to have good teachers in our Iowa classrooms. That's why I'm fighting to maintain our collective bargaining rights - so we can continue to recruit and retain great teachers and in turn ensure a great public education for every Iowa child," said Melissa Spencer, president of the Des Moines Education Association who spoke at the rally at the Capitol yesterday with over 800 people present in support of public employees. The ISEA participated in this event.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

ISEA & LCEA HOTLINE Special Edition--Who's Next? US! 2/22/2011

THANKS TO ALL WHO ARE WEARING RED TODAY. Thanks to all who have signed the online petitions. We come to you with some breaking news. There will be a committee meeting today for House Bill 117 that was introduced Friday. The bill may be moving quickly and warrants all of our attention so that we can work with "pro-public education" allies.

from SWUU, ISEA and the Des Moines Register’s website--

On Friday, House Study Bill 117 (don't let the word "study" fool you; this means that it can move more quickly) was introduced. It HAS NOT passed. Public hearings are likely to occur next week. OUR voices--including YOURS--will be needed.

Public Employees vs. Private Sector Employees: Some Facts

Public employees in Iowa in general are paid less than their private-sector peers in comparable jobs, according to a new study by the nonpartisan Iowa Policy Project.

Even if benefit packages are accounted for, Iowa’s public workers still are compensated less than those who work for private businesses, said Andrew Cannon, author of a new report.

For state government workers, male employees earned wages or salaries that were 9 percent less than comparable workers in private industry when taking into account education, experience and hours worked.

The Lost Generation: A Matter of Thinking.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

From NEA President VanRoekel on the Ground in Wisconsin

The NEA family has come out in force to support our members and colleagues in Wisconsin, as well as those in Idaho, Indiana, New Jersey, Ohio and Tennessee. Other states are facing unprecedented threats as well. Although we have made inroads in making the media aware of these battles across the country, all eyes and cameras continue to be on Wisconsin. Please remember as you are asked to talk about our battles across the country and the fight in Wisconsin that we are fighting for members to be heard and for their rights. Message discipline around Wisconsin's fight will help us in all our battles.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Workers are Under Attack: Stand with Educators Fighting for Their Rights!

Workers across the nation are under attack as governors and state legislatures seek to decimate collective bargaining rights and slash pensions and health care benefits. Wisconsin Governor Walker wants to silence educator voices. He has refused to negotiate with educators, who have repeatedly, publicly stated their willingness to sacrifice for the good of the state and the future of their students. For educators, this fight is not about pay and benefits – it is about the right to be heard.

At the statehouse and online, public school supporters are sending a message that cannot be ignored. As tens of thousands march in solidarity in Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, and Idaho, countless others prepare to fight in other states.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Dennis VanRoekel on the Frontlines


 As I stand at the Capitol in Madison and watch this powerful display of solidarity, please allow me to say that all eyes are now on Wisconsin, but I know all too well that there are battles raging across the country. And I know that we will stay united through all of them. I remain entirely confident that with the decisive leadership in all of our affiliates and NEA'S continued commitment to all of you that we will organize and mobilize and face down these legislative crises wherever they occur.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Unions fighting back against Walker proposal -

Unions fighting back against Walker proposal -

Wisconsin Teachers Send a Message to Governor Scott Walker

Madison schools will be closed Wednesday as teachers planned a district-wide absence to attend protests against Gov. Scott Walker's proposal to limit union bargaining.

District Superintendent Dan Nerad made the announcement at 11 p.m. Tuesday after 40 percent of the 2,600 members of the teachers union had called in sick and more were expected to do so through Wednesday morning.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Message for Policymakers: Listen to the Experts – Educators – on ESEA Reauthorization

Congress is expected to take up reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act this year. Tell Congress to end the obsession with high-stakes, poor-quality tests and insist upon rich, 21st Century skills and better assessments. Tell them that the federal government should be a partner to states, not a micro-manager. And, tell them that students need reliable support from educators, parents, communities, and their policy makers. Struggling students and schools that need help shouldn’t be forced to compete for it—help should be a guarantee.

Take Action Today: Tell Congress that every child deserves a great public school, and that legislators need listen to educators if they want to learn how to make that happen.

Keep up the Drumbeat: Education Cuts Hurt Students and the Country!

Cyberlobbyists – you have been doing an amazing job reminding Congress about the importance of investing in education. You have sent thousands of e-mails to Members of Congress in the past few weeks, but we still need your help.

The week of February 14 will be critical. President Obama will release his budget proposal for the next fiscal year (FY 2012). At the same time, the House of Representatives will consider funding levels for the current fiscal year (FY 2011). This is necessary as the last Congress never completed action on a funding bill for this fiscal year and the current “continuing resolution” – which temporarily continued program funding – is set to expire on March 4.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Ravitch: Turnaround is a national failure | Philadelphia Public School Notebook

A former member of George W. Bush's Department of Education, Diane Ravitch continues to share wisdom and insight as a leader who knows the direction we must move to make our schools successful. Those who use education as a political bargaining chip would do well to listen to listen to her thoughtful analysis.

Ravitch: Turnaround is a national failure Philadelphia Public School Notebook

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Works for Me: Tips by Teachers for Teachers 1/9/2011


Popcorn Reading

From Sally Hundley, a teacher at Waynesville Middle School in Waynesville, NC, and Sandra M. Sroka, a teacher at Apex House/Christopher Columbus Middle School in Clifton, NJ:

“I use a game called Popcorn Reading to help teach oral reading. When I have students read a passage, they only read as much as they can handle, and then say 'popcorn' and the name of another student, who reads next. Most end up reading longer passages than I would normally assign, and they all have to stay on their toes. If students are not on track, they must read until I tell them to stop. As you would expect, students stop in the middle of sentences, paragraphs, etc. I culminate this activity with a popcorn treat if all students have been on track.”


Friday, February 4, 2011

Tell Congress: Education Cuts are Bad for Students, Communities, and our Nation

This week, the House Appropriations Committee announced the funding allocations for its subcommittees. Subcommittees will use these allocations to draft funding bills for the rest of this fiscal year (FY 2011). The Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee – which has jurisdiction over education programs, health programs, and many programs serving vulnerable children and families – will receive $6.5 billion less than last year. As bad as that cut would be, the actual loss could as much as double, since the allocation level does not address a deep shortfall in Pell Grant funding.


Legislators continue the process of setting allowable growth for 2011-2012 and 2012-2013

The Iowa House Education Committee has set allowable growth at 0 percent; the Iowa Senate Education Committee is on track to set allowable growth at 2 percent. The ISEA believes allowable growth should be set at 4 percent for 2011-2012 and 2012-2013.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The President's Speech - Bridging Differences

by Diana Ravich, EDUCATION WEEK, February 1, 2011
Dear Deborah,

I watched President Barack Obama's State of the Union speech and liked his appeal to the nation to encourage innovation, creativity, and imagination. But I was disappointed by his misleading description of Race to the Top. He said it is not a "top-down" program and is not prescriptive. He thinks that it somehow emerged as a result of the good ideas of teachers, principals, local school boards, and communities. But nothing could be further from the truth. It was designed and written within the confines of the U.S. Department of Education by Secretary Arne Duncan and a flock of advisers from the Gates Foundation and the Broad Foundation.

Who's a Good Teacher?

Walt Gardner's EDUCATION WEEK'S Reality Check

With pressure mounting to assure that all students have a highly qualified teacher, attention is increasingly focusing on the use of the value added model. Its supporters maintain that since it measures the progress that students make on standardized tests, rather than the proficiency they reach, there is no incentive to teach in affluent suburban schools. In fact, the likelihood of receiving the designation of effective is greater in poor inner-city schools because it is easier for teachers to demonstrate gains for those at the very bottom than for those already at the very top.

Teacher Tenure Targeted by G.O.P.

Published in the NEW YORK TIMES: January 31, 2011

GovernorsSeizing on a national anxiety over poor student performance, many governors are taking aim at a bedrock tradition of public schools: teacher tenure.

The momentum began over a year ago with President Obama’s call to measure and reward effective teaching, a challenge he repeated in last week’s State of the Union address.