REFORM ALERT

From a recent correspondence from CEA President Phil Apruzzese and Executive Director Mary Loftus Levine:

This has been a historic week in our positive efforts to have lawmakers enact school reform that is meaningful to our students and our profession. The Education Committee’s adoption of an alternative to the Governor’s Education Bill #24—Substitute Bill #24—is a dramatic, positive reflection of your dedication to your students and your commitment to political advocacy. However, our work is not over. Please understand that Substitute Bill #24 is a work in progress, and your communications with your legislators must continue. Below are 1) an outline of critical elements in Substitute Bill #24, and 2) an overview of what you need to do next.

Positive elements in Substitute SB 24

Please tell your legislators that you support parts of Substitute SB #24, specifically elements that do the following:

  • Create 1,000 new pre-K slots.
  • Provide funding for needy districts for wrap around services (social-emotional supports, family support, and physical health and wellness) and family resource centers.
  • Restore collective bargaining to enhance teaching and learning conditions.
  • Decouple evaluation, certification, and salary schedules.
  • Improve the teacher evaluation system by ensuring that evaluation plans will include collaboration, professional development supports to continually improve teaching, and the validation of a new rating system.
  • Enhance teacher standards by recognizing and requiring a master’s degree for the professional certificate.
  • Create a new distinguished educator designation.

Further improvements
Recognizing that this “Year of Education” reform may be the most important period in a generation, please remind legislators that they can improve upon Substitute Bill 24 with the following actions:

  • Encourage more parental and community involvement in schools.
  • Elevate the teaching profession by instituting in teacher dismissal proceedings a “just cause” hearing—one afforded other employees in the public sector.
  • Eliminate any reference to “money follows the child” funding since cash-starved schools cannot afford to lose resources.
  • Require accountability and certification for superintendents.
  • Ensure that charter schools serve the same academically diverse student populations as public schools.

Next steps

  • Substitute Bill #24 is before the Appropriations Committee; therefore, if your state senator or state representative is on the Appropriations Committee, please tell him/her to “listen to our teachers, and working together, we can get reform right.” Click here to contact him/her.
  • During this uncertain time, regardless of their committee assignments, we need you to maintain ongoing communications with your legislators telling them to please get reform right. Click here to contact them.
  • Please be aware that after a number of committees have reviewed Substitute Bill 24, it will then go to the State Senate FIRST for consideration. Therefore, please be especially attentive to the urgency of your communications with your state senator, since he/she will confront education reform BEFORE your state representative.

Closing note

The legislature is often called a maze, and for good reason. There are numerous committees where bills can be sent to be changed and modified. There are legislative maneuvers to stall bills. And there are myriad amendments that can be made as an education reform bill is ultimately brought to the Senate, first, then to the House of Representatives. Finally, thank you for all you do and our best wishes for a great weekend.

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