Saturday, July 30, 2011

Council of Local Presidents

There was an emergency Council of Local Presidents meeting today.  We heard about the history and current situation in Ogden.  We also discussed the items Senator Howard Stephenson and Representative Bill Wright brought before the Education Interim Committee:  no more collective bargaining, no more payroll deduction for dues collection, and tuition tax credits or vouchers.  These are study items for now, but study items often lead to bills put before the legislature.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Arts for Teaching Grants

Educators can apply for grants up to $1,000. The grants are to support teachers who will use the arts as an effective learning tool in teaching children who learn differently. Application deadline is September 30, 2011 for the 2011-2012 school year.

See Moss Foundation for more information and an application.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Save Our Schools Rally

Save Our Schools is a national call for action. We want equitable funding for all public schools, assessment that informs instruction and doesn't close schools, curriculum that is responsive to the needs of the community, and policy that is informed by teachers and parents. We are also very concerned on a local level at the attacks on collective bargaining by the Ogden School District and the State Legislation.  We want to create a forum for educators to respond to these kind of attacks and form policy that will enable us to do our jobs effectively.

On Thursday, July 28th, 3-5 pm in the City Main Library Auditorium, we will be screening The Inconvenient Truth Behind Waiting for Superman and holding a public debate on charter schools.

On Friday, July 29th, beginning at 9:30 in the morning in City Main Library Conference Room Level 4, Keynote Speaker Representative Carol Spackman Moss will speak on policy informed by teaching experience. Carol taught for many years at Olympus High School before joining the Utah legislature.  We will also have workshops on teaching and activism and preventing corporate takeover of public schools.

1-3 pm, we will hold a rally in the outdoor amphitheater, followed by a brief march over to the Utah State Office of Education.

I am unable to attend on Friday, so if you attend, take some pictures and let me know how the day goes.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The National Fight Has Come to Utah!

The following is an e-mail I just received from UEA President Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh.  I will be attending a meeting on July 30 to learn more about this situation and what we plan to do to combat these attacks.

"As I write this, local media have been calling to get my response to a letter that surfaced today at the Utah Legislature. The letter, to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House, and from Senator Howard Stephenson and Rep. Bill Wright, calls on the Education Interim Committee to study the following:
  • Whether to prohibit a public entity, or a public education entity, from engaging in collective bargaining;
  • Whether to prohibit a public entity’s payroll system, or a public education entity’s payroll system, from collecting union dues; and
  • Whether to allow a tax credit for private school tuition of certain students, including students from low income families or failing schools.
"Regardless of when these items are studied or introduced as legislation, it is clear the gauntlet has been thrown and we will be in the battle of our lives.

"We will communicate with you as more information becomes available.

"Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh, M.A., NBCT
President, Utah Education Association"

Monday, July 18, 2011

Year-Round New Teacher Induction

A BIG thank you to all the JEA Executive Board Members and AR's who helped this morning at Year-Round New Teacher Induction.  Of the 78 new teachers attending, 10 became JEA members today!  We are excited to have these great new teachers as part of our professional association.

Friday, July 15, 2011

More Ogden Rally Coverage

Ogden teachers have received a great deal of media attention over the past week or so. UEA President Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh asked that I invite you to watch two local news programs that have been taped to air this Sunday, July 17, both focusing on the Ogden situation:
- Sunday Edition with Bruce Lindsay, KSL Channel 5, 9 a.m.
- Take Two, KTVX Channel 2, 10 a.m.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Ogden Rally

Today was the rally in Ogden, where about 1,000 people were in attendance!  Several JEA members were there to support the Ogden District teachers in their fight for collective bargaining and negotiating in good faith.
Speakers included Greg Johnson from the NEA Executive Committee, Dr. Donald Thompson who started shared governance in Salt Lake District, a mom of Ogden District students, UEA President Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh, and OEA President Doug Stephens.  Following the rally, we walked two blocks to the Ogden District office so the Ogden teachers could ask questions they have about the letter they received and the over 100 changes to their contract.  No one from the Ogden District Office came out to talk.

We hope the Ogden District will see the support the Ogden teachers have and will return to negotiating with OEA in good faith.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Performance Pay

The following is from Dixie Allen, Vice Chair of the Utah State Board of Education followed by UEA President Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh's response.

To my friends who serve education,

I wanted to share with you a deep concern I have, which I hope collectively we might solve.

The newspaper bylines noting the concerns of Utah teachers about the precedent that is being set by the Ogden School District only underlines the extra concern that should be felt by not only educators, but all who have a vested interest in a quality education for our state and nation.  Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh, UEA President, has stated, "this move is a symptom of a national controversy" which I believe effectively takes teachers/educators completely out of the process to insure quality education. 

During the past decades, under a Federal reform effort proclaiming "No Child Left Behind", teachers have become the "heavy" in a race to insure that every child can read and do math at the state standard grade level, while throwing out that which has made America the leader in innovation and leadership for well over a century.  That being the process of providing opportunities for everyone to find their talent and build upon that talent for the individual, community and national success.

Teacher/Educators, before Socrates, have provided the mentor-ship to enhance and build on the talents, prior knowledge, and dedication of students as they strive to increase their ability to become life long learners.  Teachers come from many different roles in a child's life, but when as a community we entrust that role to those who choose to be the teacher/mentor of many as a vocation, one would believe that we should entrust them with the latitude and respect to determine not only the methods for educating each individual child, but also the outcomes as defined by the partnership they develop with the student and the parents. 

As we continue to move even farther away from entrusting teachers to control the educational environment and entrust the determination for quality education to the political process, I fear we chance to loose all we have gained and what other nations are now finding so important as they try to compete with this nation.  Look at the common denominators of the quality education programs around the world and you will find that first and foremost is the respect and honor of teachers.  They are rewarded with equitable salaries, esteem befitting the highest careers of their nation and support not only in the classroom, but continued support from parents and the community, as they collectively work to educate their most valued treasure -- their children.

Where have we lost this very valuable understanding and belief in a time honored profession?  I hope we soon refocus on the quality education by supporting quality educators with respect, salaries and trust.

Dixie Allen, Vice Chair
State Board of Education

My Dear Dixie,

Thank you on behalf of all of the teachers in Utah and this nation. Your advocacy and support goes beyond any other leader I have known. You exemplify the courageous leadership needed so desperately in public education.

I suppose the piece that is most concerning for us is that the Ogden Board of Education never mentioned performance pay to the teachers-not in 2009, 2010 or 2011. It is difficult to be against something when you have no knowledge that it is even “on the table.” Now, OEA and the teachers are being vilified as the obstacle to this idea. How can we collectively allow this to go unchallenged? UEA and its locals have collaborated on many alternative compensation models in our state. We have never taken a position of opposition but rather advocated for being partners in the design of any type of alternative compensation model. The Ogden Board notified teachers of their intent to implement “performance pay” in the letter sent to them on July 4th.  Even the Board has no idea as to its parameters!

In addition, Utah Supreme Court Judge Zimmerman was the fact finder in this case. The Board ignored his findings of fact. What happened to good faith negotiating? What happened to collaboration? When did teachers become the enemy?

As we have seen this past legislative session, when we collaborate on issues affecting us all, we can win. UEA stood behind the School Boards when the legislature wanted to eliminate state and local boards and give control to the Governor. We stood by our USOE and our local school boards when they were being maligned by those in our legislature. UEA needs you all now. Your dedicated teacher need you now. We must stand together in our belief that collaboration is the only way to improve our schools for our precious children.

Dixie, the words “thank you” are simply not enough. I hope through your example others will be courageous and stand up together for what is right!

With deepest admiration and respect,


Friday, July 8, 2011

Ogden Rally - July 14 at 10:00 a.m.

The following is from UEA President Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh.

"I am writing today with utmost urgency. Our Ogden colleagues have been given an ultimatum: sign a contract in which they had no input and that they do not understand, or their position will be open for hire.

"The Ogden Board of Education drafted an employee contract without any negotiations or input from teachers. The teachers recently received a letter that concluded with the statement: 'Please note that should we not receive your signed contract by 4:00 p.m. on July 20, 2011, we will declare your current position open for hire.'


"The Ogden Education Association entered into 2010-11 negotiations with their Board in good faith. They have been working without a contract for a year. OEA and the Board went to fact finding on the 2010-11 contract and the Ogden Board rejected the conclusion by the fact finder.

"The 2011-12 contract unilaterally proposed by the Ogden Board takes away basic rights, freezes steps and removes other previously negotiated items. There were no attempts to negotiate any of the contract terms and educators are being asked to sign a contract without full knowledge of its implications.

"Meanwhile, the Ogden Board of Education is continuing negotiations with classified employees and administrators. Why? Is OEA being targeted?

"OEA will be asking to return to the table in a spirit of collaboration to benefit the students of Ogden School District. Indeed, collaboration is essential to student success. We have seen successful collaboration at the USOE level, in Salt Lake District with the School Improve Grants, in Granite and Jordan with designing and implementing teacher evaluations, in Alpine with teacher performance pay and countless others.

"Setting a Precedent

"If you think this only affects Ogden teachers, think again. These actions are precedent setting. If we do not stand up and protest this attack on OEA, others across the state will be encouraged to do the same.

"The actions being taken by the Ogden Board of Education are exactly what those who would like to dismantle public education, in favor of private schools, are hoping will happen. If this precedent is set in Ogden, it will move across our state like a wildfire. To disenfranchise the teachers who are on the front lines every day in their classrooms will result in a mass exodus of educators from the profession. Ogden teachers serve some of the neediest students in Utah. It will be difficult, at best, to attract the best and brightest educators to a district where teachers are not valued as essential partners in education.


"We now need the help of parents, schools boards, superintendents, activists—anyone who supports our teachers and public schools—in an effort to collaborate and recognize our teachers need to be included if we want to make a positive difference for our children.

"Everyone who supports public education is encouraged to attend a rally on behalf of Ogden teachers:
      Date: Thursday, July 14
      Time: 10 a.m.
      Location: Ogden Liberty Park, 21st and Monroe Blvd., Ogden

"Participants are asked to wear red in support of public education.

"We Need Your Help

"Please get as many people as you can to attend! We need your support.

"We also need letters to the editor (Standard Examiner, Salt Lake Tribune, Deseret News) and to the Ogden Board of Education encouraging collaboration.

"Yes, I know its summer and this is asking a lot, but, if we do not stand together, as educators, parents, administrators and communities in supporting one another, we will become a private system designed for those who 'have' to the detriment of those who 'have not.'

"The Ogden School Board has a choice to make…they can intimidate and alienate teachers, or they can work with them. In the best interest of our students, we will continue to fight for the latter.

"Now is the time for us to stand strong for our students, our public schools and our profession!

"Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh, M.A., NBCT
President, Utah Education Association"

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Jordan Education Foundation Meeting

This morning I attended the bi-monthly Board meeting of the Jordan Education Foundation.  If you like to golf, the JEF fundraising golf tournament is on August 11 at Riverbend Golf Course.  See Foundation Website for more information to come.

Superintendent Johnson spoke about her meetings with mayors and what they see businesses looking for in students who are graduating from high school and looking for work.  She believes that Jordan District should be providing skills for all students to be successful when they leave high school, whether they are going to college, military service, trade school, or straight into the workforce.

These are the skills mayors said they are looking for:
  • Science, technology, and math
  • Comfortable with technology
  • Noncurricular skills like professional dress and trade skills
  • Social skills including appropriate behavior, respect for authority, teamwork, problem solving, setting and accomplishing goals, self discipline, personal responsibility, and leadership
  • Financial management around credit and interest
  • Job search skills
  • Citizenship
  • Foreign language
  • Service

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

NEA RA Day 5

Carrie, my state contact from Tennessee

Today was the last day of NEA business. We had a lot of items to address. We started with legislative amendments. NEA supports eliminating discrimination in immigration laws regarding unmarried partners passed. NEA supports a goal of Medicare for all residents 22 years old and younger passed. Modifying a current legislative priority about harassment to add the word "mobbing" failed.  Another legislative amendment that NEA support legislation that protects children's rights regardless of legal status failed, because it is already covered elsewhere. NEA opposes legislation overriding collective bargaining agreements about seniority failed, because this is already covered elsewhere. NEA supports technology to control wireless devices in the classroom failed.  NEA supports a U.S. Constitutional amendment to state that corporations are not natural persons under the law (as ruled by the Supreme Court) failed. The NEA Legislative Program has been adopted with the amendments.

We heard a speech from Michelle Shearer, high school chemistry teacher from Maryland, who was honored as the National Teacher of the Year. She said to give pep talks, invite people to your classroom, ask higher order questions, and be proud to be a teacher.

New business items. Item about creating a training on NEA history failed. Item on researching elementary truancy and behavior impacting high school drop out rates failed. Item about the words "reform" and "status quo" as related to education failed. Item about having articles in NEA Today about NBCT passed.  Item to publish information on successful media campaigns in NEA Today passed. Item on International Summit of the Teaching Profession" failed. Item on urging Obama campaign to support global education passed. Item on providing data on website about combating attacks on public education passed.  Item to collaborate with teachers in unions around the world passed.

We discussed and debated amendments to resolutions, which have passed as amended.

Susan McFarland, Salt Lake Teachers Association President with SLTA VP and Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh, UEA President

Here is a link to the policy statement on teacher evaluation and accountability as approved yesterday at the NEA RA.

NEA Executive Director John Wilson of North Carolina is retiring. He is being replaced by John Stocks of Wisconsin.

More new business items. Item to educate members on problems with limited health plans passed. Item to denounce the loss of seniority passed. Item to fight against fees for essential items failed, due to arguments about tax-cap states. Item about advocating for healthy and adequate school lunch referred to committee.  Item to include world languages in K-12 curriculum passed. Item to encourage participation in "Rebuild the Dream" and referred to committee. Item to oppose "Teach for America" contracts when there is no teacher shortage passed. Item to develop a plan to help alleviate budget pressures from unfunded mandates, especially IDEA passed. Item to fund minority community outreach throughout NEA passed.

There were 8,231 delegates with over 4,000 guests. The total cost of new business items was just over $85,700.  We listened to some summary committe reports and speeches from the newly elected officers. Over $1,000,000 was raised for PAC this week. 18,500 messages about education issues were sent to Congress over the last week. Total PAC for the 2010-2011 year is $4,744,000. Official end time 7:07 local time.

Since this was the first time I have attended the RA, I was focused on following the business at hand.  There were lots of special interest caucus meetings I did not attend. It is amazing that nearly 9,000 delegates who represent their local associations can come together, have civil dialogue about issues some feel passionately about, and actually make decisions to guide the organization for the next year.  The democratic process works!

Monday, July 4, 2011

NEA RA Day 4

Lots of new business items today. Item to require NEA candidates for office to make a video for distribution failed. Item to identify and recruit retired members passed. Item to require NEA to inform members about the "I'll-informed intrusion of billionaires on education" passed. Item to share information on retirees between states for organizing purposes passed. Item to share information on retirees between states for organizing purposes passed. Item directing NEA to develop an Arts Advocacy Toolkit failed due to high cost. Item to share information on retirees between states for organizing purposes passed.  Item to have a report compiled about the unfunded costs of special education submitted to Congress to remind them about their promise to fund IDEA passed. Item to spend $25,000 on training about issues surrounding healthy schools (mold, mildew, etc.) failed.

I sang in the choir. It was an awesome experience!

The NEA delegates voted 72% to endorse President Barak Obama for re-election.
The Policy Statement on Teacher Evaluation and Accountability passed with some amendments. As soon as this is available electronically, I will post it. Most of what is called for in this policy statement is already incorporated in the JPAS process.
The constitutional amendment to change the percent of teachers on NEA committees failed. The bylaw amendment that NEA will not lobby for or against legislation regarding abortion failed. The bylaw amendment establishing broad statements of purpose failed. The bylaw amendment to increase dues by $10 for the next 5 years to go to the crisis fund passed.
Legislative amendments. NEA supports regulation of political contributions by corporations passed. NEA supports legislation addressing violent acts to minority communities failed. NEA supports that the federal government tax all earned income for Social Security, not just the first $106,800, passed.  Legislative amendment that NEA opposes misuse of federal funds passed. Amendment changes "school campuses" to "educational institutions" to be tobacco free passed. Amendment adds "expansion" to federally guaranteed parental and medical leave passed.  Legislative amendment NEA supports federal laws that honor state certification requirements passed. Amendment to add "juvenile offenders" to "incarcerated juveniles" passed. NEA supports funding for healthy environments with proper custodial services passed. NEA supports ending discrimination of school employees passed.  NEA opposes sentencing juveniles to life in prison without parole failed, because it is out of the purview of the association.
Earnest Jameel Williams, bus driver from North Carolina, was honored as ESP of the Year.
More new business items were addressed in the afternoon. There are 97 total.  Item to educate members about the public school privatization movement failed. Item to have NEA give information to members about financial helps to avoid foreclosure failed. Several items were referred to committee.  Item to work on the Parent Teacher Home Visit Project passed. Item that NEA provide more communication on how members can be involved in crises passed. Item to form local/state Media Response Committee to report efforts to NEA failed. Item to have NEA contract with union employees for the RA failed, because this is already in practice.  Item that NEA support non-classroom certified teachers passed. Item to endorse the Campaign for New Priorities referred to Executive Committee. Item directs NEA to look at school reconstitutions failed.
Since this year is the 10th anniversary of 9-11, we watched a moving video in remembrance.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

NEA RA Day 3

This morning was the high security day due to Vice President Joe Biden coming to speak.  It took about 90 minutes to get through the security line.

 From the back of the line looking forward
From the front of the line looking toward the back

We had some time to just talk and wait until everyone came through security so VP Biden could enter and speak. Vice President Joe Biden gave an excellent speech about the "new republican party" and how their underlying philosophy has changed. What he said made a lot of sense.

 Debate happened on a constitutional amendment that would change the percentage of teacher representatives on NEA committees. This is because some committees, depending on their duties, need more representation by student, retired, or ESP members.
Discussion on by-law amendment about NEA not lobbying for or against legislation regarding abortion. NEA does not have a position on abortion. There have been 4 cases where NEA has defended the right of teachers who became pregnant through rape to carry their babies to place for adoption and keep their job.
By-law amendment about broad, overarching statements of purpose did not have much discussion. This is more of a clarifying change.
 The last by-law amendment is about increasing dues $10 for the next 5 years (2016-2017 dues would go down $10) to replenish the NEA Crisis Fund, which has been depleted over the last few years. UEA benefitted from this fund in our fight against vouchers. Many states have used the money recently. This would be $0.84 a month.  We will vote on the constitution and by-law amendments will be done by secret ballot tomorrow.
New business items.  Item to have NEA negotiate free Internet at hotels so delegates can "go green" failed. Item to have NEA create a report of employment data so students know that there are other options in addition to college passed.  Item about NEA's anti-bullying campaign including students and teachers passed. Item directing NEA to publish information from AARP on social security passed.  Item about the outsourcing and privatization of some non-teaching school services (nurses, SLP, OT, PT, psychologists, etc.) passed.  Item about student privacy and parental consent on ASVAB failed.  Item is about the possible endorsement of President Obama for re-election, that should we choose to endorse, that NEA leadership meet with President Obama and express our need for him to listen to teachers on educational matters failed.  Item about boycotting Koch industries referred to Executive Committee.  Item about educating members about corporate America's hostile takeover of the middle class passed.  Item directing NEA to call for the removal of Arne Duncan as Secretary of Education failed.
The student members just did a flashmob dance to a pepped up version of "I had the time of my life."
Governor Beshear of Kentucky was honored as the Education Governor of the Year.
More new business items.  Another item against privatization passed.  Item establishing a common reimbursement program for NEA committees referred to Executive Committee.  Item about Scotopic Sensitivity failed.  Item about 25 teacher salaries being paid for with the cost of one bomb. This turned into a debate about the war in Iraq and Afghanistan failed.  Item requesting that NEA celebrate GLBT teachers in the June NEA Today passed.  Item about parents being able to opt students out of high-stakes testing failed.  NEA will establish a position against public school privatization passed.
Now we are going to be discussing the proposed policy statement on teacher accountability and evaluation. Key parts of the policy statement include that teachers should be regularly evaluated by a trained evaluator, have multiple indicators of teacher practice, teacher contribution and growth, and contribution to student learning and growth.
The Evaluations must provide meaningful feedback. JPAS meets all of these criteria. We are fortunate to have a valid and reliable evaluation tool. So many states do not have a formal system, let alone one that is valid and reliable
In addition, Evaluations should be kept confidential, teachers should continually enhance their practice, teachers should have an opportunity to improve if their practice does not meet standards, and if the teacher does not improve, s/he may be counseled to leave teaching or be terminated through a fair dismissal process.
Again, JPAS has all of these items as part of the whole system. We are going to debate this tomorrow. The meeting is adjourned.
I am going to NEA choir practice for sound check. We sing tomorrow on Independence Day.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

NEA RA Day 2

The NEA RA is began today. 
It started with a party-like atmosphere to get people energized.  This short video shows the atmosphere on the first day of the NEA RA.
Illinois Governor Quinn spoke. He thanked all school emploees for what they do. Illinois has had teachers at the table every step of the way in working on reform. Good education is most important part of government. 

Illinois Education Association president spoke. The state raised income tax to help fund education. The state was a safe haven for legislators from Wisconsin and Indiana. Introduced committee who organized RA.

We listened to debate about amendments to the standing rules. These must be changed before addressing other business, because they govern how the work of the RA will be done.  We finally adopted the standing rules, with 2 of the 6 amendments passing.
An inspiring speech was given by NEA President Dennis Van Roekel.
Nominations for NEA elections are were made.  Dennis Van Roekel is running for president again. He is opposed by Mark Airgood. Lily Eskelsen is running for re-election as vice president and her opponent is Ceretsa Smith.  There are 5 candidates running for 2 executive board positions. Earl Wiman, Tania Kappner, Len Paolilo, Ed Guzman, and Princess Moss.
In the afternoon, the "Wisconsin 14" were honored for leaving the state to block a vote on anti-union bills. There is a recall election in Wisconsin for 9 or the 33 state senators. An NEA Board Member is running for one of those seats.
Then came the new business items. The first about the reauthorization of ESEA passed.
Next item was about a Save Our Schools Rally that has been organized for July 30 in Washington DC and it passed.
One about Arne Duncan and how his actions that have alienated teachers passed.
An item to have NEA file a lawsuit over the unconstitutionality of the sanctions against failing schools failed.
An item to professionalize substitute teaching passed.
A charge to NEA to investigate electronic voting options failed.
An item about tracking the amount of money new business items cost and keeping a running total was referred to RA Committee.
A request to have a countdown clock for speakers to see so they can best manage their speaking time failed.
Analyzing public desire for "value added" teacher evaluation and accountability passed.
To change the definition of "high-performing" which does not include the use of test results passed.
Wait to endorse President Obama for re-election until January 2012 failed.
The last item today was to accept the financial and audit reports.  These are some of the highlights.  NEA current asset to liability ratio is 3.44:1. This is excellent! Unrestricted net assets are at $159 million up from $143 million last year. NEA membership is down 30,000 people. Student and retired membership numbers are up.  NEA is fiscally sound. Expect to experience membership growth again.  Budget modifcations of $17 million are needed to balance budget. There will be reductions in staff and staff benefits, travel and conference expenses, and less paper by going digital. The budget is 1/3 staff, 1/3 state and local projects, and 1/3 NEA programs.  Adoption of financial reports passed.
These are long days, but I am learning a lot!