Monday, May 16, 2011

Local Poll Supports Teachers, Bad Policy in Ed Bill

Local Poll Results Support Teachers:  Our district regularly polls local residents using an independent pollster to help them make budget and levy decisions.  Our most recent poll yielded high marks for teachers.  A-H teachers were rated as what local residents liked most about our district and 84% rated staff job performance as positive (that’s an 11% increase over 2007’s poll).  That is particularly impressive as districts that close schools and make budget cuts generally see a drop in ratings.  One take away from this poll is that A-H educators are doing great work, and our public knows it.

Education Bill Loaded with Bad Policy:  The conference committee has completed the combination of the House and Senate Omnibus Education Finance bills.  It will up for a legislative vote within days and then on to the Governor.  To see the full conference report, visit .

The conference report contains less funding than the original bills and retains many policy provisions that are problematic.  They include:
  • Elimination of teachers’ right to strike
  • A Florida-style accountability system that rates schools A-F, based entirely on test results
  • Elimination of the 2 percent district budget set-aside for educator professional development
  • Elimination of the set-aside funding requirement for guidance counselors and other student support staff
  • Severe limits on teacher pay increases (school boards would be allowed to impose caps on negotiated salary increases)
  • Elimination of the Jan. 15 contract settlement deadline
  • Elimination of integration aid
  • Private school vouchers
  • Teacher “effectiveness” determined by state-mandated teacher evaluation system tied at least 50 percent to student test scores, the rest on measures including annual principal evaluations and parent surveys
  • The order of teacher layoffs determined by test-based “effectiveness” ratings
  • Elimination of teacher tenure, replaced by five-year contracts based on the above teacher “effectiveness” ratings

Grab your cell phone and let our legislators know how you think they should vote on this bill (to find your legislative district, visit ):

District 32            Sen. Warren Limmer (R)                               651-296-2159
District 46            Sen. Linda Scheid (DFL)                                651-296-8869
District 47            Sen. Benjamin Kruse (R)                               651-296-4154
District 48            Sen. Mike Jungbauer (R)                              651-296-3733
District 49            Sen. Michelle Benson (R)                             651-296-3219
District 50            Sen. Barbara Goodwin (DFL)                       651-296-4334
District 51            Sen. Pam Wolf (R)                                       651-296-2556
District 32A         Rep. Joyce Peppin (R)                                    651-296-7806
District 46B          Rep. Debra Hilstrom (DFL)                            651-296-3709
District 47A         Rep. Denise Dittrich (DFL)                            651-296-5513
District 47B          Rep. Melissa Hortman (DFL)                        651-296-4280
District 48A         Rep. Tom Hackbarth (R)                                651-296-2439
District 48B          Rep. Jim Abeler (R)                                      651-296-1729
District 49A         Rep. Peggy Scott (R)                                     651-296-4231
District 49B          Rep. Branden Petersen (R)                          651-296-5369
District 50A         Rep. Carolyn Laine (DFL)                               651-296-4331
District 51A         Rep. Tim Sanders (R)                                    651-296-4226
District 51B          Rep. Tom Tillberry (DFL)                               651-296-5510

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Teacher Appreciation Week, Raise Your Hand, Social Studies Standards, Settlement Action

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!  First off, let me thank you for all the work you do for your students and schools.  One of the best parts of my job is that I get to see what Anoka-Hennepin educators do first hand. The more I see, the prouder I am of each one of you.  I also get to hear what local residents really feel about their schools.  When I tell people I work for you, they inevitably share a story of an educator who made a difference in their life.  Know that they do appreciate you and understand the incredible contributions you make to our entire community.  So on behalf of everyone at AHEM, thank you for choosing to improve the world by being an educator.

Raise Your Hand:  Education Minnesota has designated Tuesday May 3rd, National Teacher Day, as “Raise Your Hand for Education Day.” Our goal is to have every Minnesota educator, parent and community member pledge to support our schools.  Your quick, online pledge can be as simple as “I raise my hand to helping each one of my students succeed” – which is exactly what you are already doing every day.  Please take a moment to help us show a strong, unified voice in support of our students by visiting .

Social Studies Standards:  The Minnesota Department of Education has the latest revision of the Minnesota Social Studies standards available for review at .  If you are someone who will be teaching these standards, the MDE could use your feedback.  You can submit your comments to the MDE by May 8th at .

Settlement Action Committee:  As we prepare to go to the table with district negotiators, we are also making plans for our actions away from the table.  Our Settlement Action Committee puts together activities for the entire membership to help us come to a fair, timely settlement.  If you are interested in helping organize your colleagues around bargaining, join us this Thursday May 5th, 4:45 pm, at the AHEM office.  Email us at to let us know you’ll be there.