If you’re a new or non-tenured MEA member, please join us. It’s a guaranteed good time!
The election results for next year’s slate of MEA officers are in. Here’s who was voted into office for the 2016-17 school year:
President – Michael Ginsburg
Vice-president – Mary Ellen Babik
Treasurer – Steve Isleib
Secretary – Erin Smith
At yesterday’s meeting, members in attendance also voted unanimously to approve next year’s operating budget.
In addition, the Executive Board also used a new process for the first time yesterday whereby Memorandums of Understanding (MOU) between the BOE and the MEA are voted on by our rank and file members. The two MOU’s on the table were unanimously ratified by those in attendance.
One MOU allows for the flexible scheduling of workday start and end times at Polson Middle School. This MOU was developed in response to some teacher and parent child care/supervision concerns related to the later start time at Polson next year.
The other MOU concerned the temporary teaching of an extra class by members of the Spanish Department at Polson. It also was ratified unanimously.
Thanks to all who came out to vote!
This year’s MEA Elections for the 2016 – 2017 school year will be held on Wednesday, May 18, 2016 at 3:45 p.m. at Jeffery School – Room 23. The following individuals have accepted a nomination:
President: Michael Ginsburg, Joan Fidler
Vice President: Jennifer Aguzzi, Mary-Ellen Babik, Dawn Perrotti
Secretary: Erin Smith, Crystal Procaccini, Leslie Lopez
Treasurer: Steven Isleib
If you are unable to attend the meeting and would like to vote, you can do so at your building with an absentee ballot on Wednesday, May 11, 2016. Your building representative will send out the time and location of the Absentee Ballot vote.
You only need to vote for President, Vice President, and Secretary as the other officer is running unopposed.
January 25, 2016
Teacher Evaluation Guidelines Detrimental to Student Learning
CEA calls for new, improved guidelines; releases plan that focuses on student achievement and success
Connecticut’s current teacher evaluation guidelines result in too much bureaucracy for teachers andadministrators and lost student learning time. The Connecticut Education Association is calling for changes to improve and simplify evaluation and professional development for Connecticut’s teachers.
The CEA plan breaks new ground by 1) emphasizing the progress of student work in the classroom instead of relying on an unreliable standardized test score, 2) reducing the complexity of the evaluation system, and 3) returning precious time to teachers and administrators who want more collaboration and student-educator interaction. CEA notes that its plan leaves key elements of the current teacher evaluation system intact, such as administrator observations of teacher practice, goal setting and achieving, and preserving a role for the state Department of Education.
CEA President Sheila Cohen said, “We cannot ignore the need for teacher evaluation that is based on authentic classroom learning instead of unreliable standardized tests that are not fair for students. That is why we have collaborated with teachers and administrators across the state to propose essential improvements to our evaluation system.”
“We have concluded the current system wastes too much time and resources,” said Dr. Anne Jellison, chair of the Connecticut Association of School Administrators (CASA) and principal of the Israel Putnam Elementary School in Meriden. “Most importantly, it yields too little for too many children and teachers. It is a one-size fits all system that is a poor substitute for a robust system that improves teacher practice so educators can improve student achievement. And it is too focused on counterproductive goals tied to an unreliable, standardized test score.”
Jellison added, “This plan provides more ways for teachers and administrators to work together toward innovative goals that help all students.”
CEA’s proposal is supported by a growing body of research:
- “Many researchers offered cautions about basing individual teacher evaluations on annual student test scores. Chief among these are the difficulties in attributing student gains to specific teachers, and challenges in disentangling teacher effects from those of school and home conditions, as well as from other student factors. Among these influences on learning are multiple teachers, parents, tutors and out-of-school learning supports, home conditions, and a variety of school conditions, such as curriculum quality, materials, class sizes, and administrative supports.” Linda Darling-Hammond, professor of education at Stanford University, Getting Teacher Evaluation Right.
- “It is the ultimate irony that despite our hand-wringing about U.S. rankings in international assessments and our apparent desire to learn from high-performing nations, we ignore any lesson that the latter might offer. Finland has stated clearly that it would never—and has never—used test scores to rate or evaluate teachers. The same is true of other top performers such as Singapore and China. What is even more ironic is that these same competitors have been heavily influenced by U.S. educators, from John Dewey to Linda Darling-Hammond. It seems they learned critical lessons about curriculum and teaching from us, lessons that have helped them focus on learning versus testing, professionalize and support teachers, and demonstrate excellence in more ways than test scores. Wouldn’t we be wise to learn from them/ourselves?” Lin Goodwin, vice dean and professor of education at Columbia University Teachers College; author of Diversities in Early Childhood Education: Rethinking and Doing.
- “One of the most dangerous effects of teacher ratings based on test scores is that they will deter the aspiring teacher who wants to make a difference in schools with low resources and underserved populations from wanting to work there. The risk of public humiliation for working in the most challenging schools will result in an exodus of teachers from already hard to staff schools. Just as we will have an issue with teacher recruitment, there will be another issue of an exodus of good teachers from schools where they are most needed.” Christopher Emdin, director of science education at the Center for Health Equity and Urban Science Education; associate director of the Institute for Urban and Minority Education at Teachers College, Columbia University.
The CEA plan measures student growth and development in multiple ways that include but are not limited to: portfolios of student work aligned to the curriculum; student performance assessments or tasks assessed using a mutually agreed to scoring system (such as constructed projects, student oral work, and other written work); teacher developed tests aligned to the curriculum; and periodic assessments that document student growth over time.
“Policymakers must look to the research that shows us what works best in raising student achievement—not more and more testing, but authentic activities that promote critical thinking, creative problem-solving, collaboration, and communication,” Cohen said.
Problems with the current evaluation system:
- As the curriculum is narrowed to focus on increasing scores on high-stakes, standardized tests, students are denied other learning opportunities that lead to better long-term learning gains and a love of learning.
- Teacher and administrator time to focus on student learning needs is jeopardized by the complexity and time demands of the current evaluation system.
- Schools have become pressure cookers where education is driven and distorted by performance on unreliable standardized tests, instead of classroom work and achievement.
- The current teacher evaluation system promotes a punitive approach that treats students as data points and hinders teacher innovation and creativity.
“To let these problems fester is indefensible. It is time for students, parents, and teachers to have a simplified, coherent, and effective strategy in teacher evaluation that is 1) based on reliable and valid measures, 2) sensitive to the many skills and vast knowledge that our students must acquire, and 3) recognizes teachers’ desire for continuous improvement of their teaching practice,” said Cohen.
CEA is calling on the state Performance Evaluation Advisory Council (PEAC)—as well as the state legislature—to revise the guidelines as soon as possible. To assist these policymakers, CEA leaders today shared a comprehensive plan that will broaden the student curriculum, enrich children’s academic experiences, and promote a culture of professional learning among the state’s teaching force.
Mark Waxenberg, CEA executive director, said, “Portfolios that collect and evaluate student growth over time are valuable measures of student growth. Assessments that ask students to engage in complex activities, like designing and conducting a science experiment, researching a social science problem and writing a persuasive essay, or developing a green engineering design are far more engaging for students and are more valid at showing what a student knows and can do than an isolated test score.”
Waxenberg added, “The present system does not allow for critical time for innovation. Our plan opens the classroom doors and lets the sunlight of creativity in for students to shine.”
Cohen concluded, “We must return autonomy to the local teachers and administrators who understand the strengths and challenges of their communities and the best interests of their students.”
Friedrichs vs. the California Teachers Association is an important case moving before the U.S. Supreme Court that could would be a major blow to all unions if the court rules against the teachers’ union. It is a direct attack unions’ abilities to organize and bargain fair contracts for their members, which centers around the future of what are known as agency fees. To read more about this case and CEA’s take on it, click here. Better yet, attend one of this week’s county forums, where CEA leaders will discuss and how it can impact you as a teacher and us as a union. See the flyer at the bottom of this post.
The following is an editorial from the Opinion Pages section of The New York Times.
A longstanding precedent of labor law is at risk in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association. For decades, public-sector unions have been allowed to charge non-members for the costs of collective bargaining on their behalf, but not fees for the unions’ political and lobbying activity, which are paid only by members.
This arrangement, upheld by the court in 1977, strikes a reasonable balance — allowing workers to opt out of paying for political activities they may disagree with while avoiding the “free rider” problem, where non-members benefit from the higher wages and better working conditions achieved through collective bargaining without paying their fair share.
The anti-union movement, which is spreading around the country, wants to weaken and destroy public unions by shrinking their coffers. But the current law is sensible and has been repeatedly upheld by the court. There is no reason to overturn this principle in the California case.
Read this important message from CEA regarding the elimination of misguided federal testing mandates, which includes the video below, featuring our own MEA Vice-president Paul Coppola and many others speaking out about teacher concerns…
On December 1, 2015, a quorum of over 100 MEA members voted to ratify a negotiated settlement agreement for a new three-year contract that will go into effect July 1, 2016. On Tuesday, December 1, the Madison Board of Education also voted to approve this negotiated settlement. The contract reflects a 3.25 percent increase in the total salary budget in the contract’s first year with step movement and a new step inserted between our current steps 14 and 15. In the second year of the agreement, there is a total wage increase of 3.25 percent with no step movement. In the third year of the agreement, there is a total wage increase of 3.25 percent with step movement. For members on the top step of the salary schedule, there will be wage increases of 2.14 percent in year 1, 3.25 percent in year 2, and 1.5 percent in year 3. At the time of this settlement, the average salary settlements in the State of Connecticut were 3.28% in 2016-17, 3.3% in 2017-18, and 3.21% in 2018-19.
For details on this contract, including changes to insurance benefits, please see your building rep.
On November 12/13 after hours of mediated negotiations that lasted until close to 1AM, the MEA’s and the Board of Education’s negotiations teams reached a tentative settlement on our next collective bargaining agreement. We will be holding a district-wide meeting next Tuesday, December 1 in the Brown Middle School auditorium at 4:00 to go over the details of the new contract and to vote on its ratification.
Some of our members have questioned why they can’t see any of the details of the new contract prior to the ratification meeting. It is in our best interest to have the BOE and the MEA share the information and vote on the same day. It is not meant to keep the information a secret, but rather as a means to protect the political integrity of our contract. Please note: the BOE negotiating team follows the same protocol for the same reasons.
The ratification vote is to either vote yes–the MEA negotiating team was able to secure a deal that best protects our interests, or to vote no–the union would be better off going to arbitration. It is important to be aware of the history of arbitration. BOE’s win 51% of the items brought to the table. We could win on salary (which doesn’t mean it would be more than the current agreement) but lose on insurance. Even if we won on salary, it does not mean we would win for all three years of our upcoming contract. Going to arbitration also means the BOE will likely bring back their proposals that we fought off during negotiations which negatively impact teacher working conditions. We will discuss these proposals in detail at the ratification meeting and share recent decisions made through arbitration so you can make an informed decision at the meeting.
We look forward to sharing the mediated agreement with you on December 1st at 4:00 in the Brown School auditorium. Please make every effort to attend. Your voice and vote are critical elements in this process.