President’s Point

It is absolutely critical that we have someone step up to the plate for President.  We have a major decision to make on whether to stay in Local Option or go back into the UniServ program. I consider our budget as only a minor part of that choice.  The most important part is who will be our next LRC (Labor Relations Consultant.) This is a person who our next President will rely on immensely. Our LRC is who we look to for advice on all the serious issues.  Not to mention bargaining! Now that we have mentioned bargaining, we will be doing that again next year. We need new vision and leadership at the top of CEA!

Did you know as the new President you can appoint new committee members and the Public Relations Chair?  Additionally, there will most likely be a vacancy in the position of VP that you will need to fill.  My point is that the team our new President has to work with is largely up to the new President.  There are many positions in which a member could build support around themselves as the new leader of our UNION.
P.S. If you thought this was short, wait ’til we have no President to write the President’s Point.  It will be really short and will take a really long time to get!


FCPE Update

We need 1 more member to contribute to FCPE to defend our title as the local within all of OEA with the highest percent participation.  Another CEA (Cardinal EA) currently has the lead at 84.1% participation and we are at 83.5%.  If we have 1 more person contribute we will be at 84.4% and the top local in the state. If 7 more people contribute we will be at an awesome 90%! If we hit 90% before our General Membership Dinner on Cinco de Mayo, Joel Gleason will raffle off $100 cash at the dinner.The raffle will be open to all FCPE contributors who attend the dinner if we meet our goal*.

FCPE funds go to support candidates for public office that support public education and the children we serve.  It is crucial that we start to build the fund for the 2016 election cycle.  With people like the Koch brothers who are projected to spend $900 million in 2016, we have to have money in the game to defend our profession. Every dollar we contribute helps so donate today!

From NEA’s President

Lily Eskelsen García is the president of the National Education Association, the largest teachers union in the United States. (It is in fact the largest union of any kind in the country.)  In this post, she looks at current education reform efforts and calls for education companies to be transparent about what they are doing and how it is affecting young people.

By Lily Eskelsen García

There’s a line in one of my favorite movies that reminds me of why it’s important to say what we mean. In the “The Princess Bride,” after misusing the word “inconceivable” several times, Vizzini, one of three outlaws who capture the princess, is challenged by his fellow kidnapper, Inigo, who tells him, “…you keep saying that word, I do not think that means what you think it means.”

We know that when someone says “education reform,” it can mean any variety of things.  If you look at the sprawling edu-business sector, the meaning can be summed up by two ideas: over-reliance and misuse of standardized testing, and the notion that for-profit corporations should run our school systems.

I’ve seen figures ranging from $2 billion to $60 billion in terms of the worth of the U.S. testing market; the global market for edu-business and for-profit schooling is in the ball-park of $4 trillion. The real profit margins may be shifting, but they are certainly growing and the opportunity costs—the trade-offs made in service to expanding these profit margins are beyond measure.

I’m generally not a pessimist. Really, I’m not. But there seems to be a growing correlation between the brightening profit forecasts for the testing industry and the growing alarm over the misuse and overreliance on standardized tests among parents, educators and advocates; the dollars invested in U.S. testing companies are fueling efforts that are hurting students here in the United States and throughout the developing world. I’ll give you two examples of what I mean.

Here in the United States, Pearson was recently called out for concerns with how it was monitoring students’ social media activity, relative to certain school exams. I am very concerned that, according to news reports, Pearson is mining information posted on social media, and matching it with students’ private information that Pearson collects as a test provider.  Is student privacy being sacrificed for the sake of profits?  We don’t know, but Pearson needs to come clean about everything it is doing with student information. All education companies do; Pearson is not the only company that does such monitoring.

Concerned parents, students, teachers, and school administrators need to know that this information is being used only for legitimate educational purposes, and not for commercial gain.  At a minimum, Pearson, and all other standardized test producers should agree to the Student Data Principles for using and safeguarding students’ personal information. These principles were developed and put forward by dozens of education organizations, including NEA.

The potential misuse of data is one of Pearson’s most recent offenses in the United States, but the company’s conduct abroad is raising other serious concerns.  Have you ever heard the term “pay-as-you-learn?” It is a business model that provides a student with access to school, only if the student has paid a daily fee to enter the doors on a given day. The model has been launched in Ghana in the Omega Schools, funded by the Pearson Affordable Learning Fund. Touted as a “low-fee” and “low-cost” way to provide children in the developing world with an education, the PERI Initiative, a respected global research and networking initiative, has looked into the new initiative by Pearson and found that it is far from an opportunity for poor children. In developing countries this ‘pay-as-you-learn’ model can mean that small children themselves may have to work to afford to attend school and it can also mean that families may spend the bulk of their meager incomes to send just one child to school.  It is a disturbing and growing trend and the potential profit for the testing industry is enormous.  Let me be very clear that while I’m describing things that are happening in the developing world, American educators may well recognize some of these same conditions and ideas taking seed here in the United States.

These are just two examples of acts in the name of education reform.  How did we get here and what are the seeds and conditions that make this possible? Well, there are several, including powerful corporations; a devalued teaching profession; a uniform school-in-a box approach, complete with a standardized script for teaching and learning; and an insatiable appetite for profits.  Pasi Sahlberg, the Finnish scholar who is an expert on international education,  once appropriately described this phenomenon as the Global Education Reform Movement (GERM) and America is not the only nation stricken by this growing trend; we’re witnessing the spread of new mutations across the globe.

Once when we said public education, we meant the greatest American ideal of all—universal and free quality education for each and every student.  Public education has been the engine of our economy, the cradle of our democracy, and a model for the world.  It is still the greatest education idea we’ve ever had, but we’re seeing the twisting of its meaning and we must rededicate ourselves to restoring the ideals that focused first and foremost on people—not on profits.

NEOEA Mega Conference

Five teachers from Clearview attended the NEOEA MegaConference in Warrensville Heights on March 14: Joel Gleason, Holly Miller, Molly Streator, Sarah Sexstella, and Jimmy Calhoun.

Seminars ranged from RESA Tips for those just beginning in the profession to extensive retirement seminars for those nearing retirement. The conference has three main areas: leadership development, professional development, and personal development. Each year teachers take away information to use in a wide range of applications from collaboration with colleagues to classroom practice to personal improvement.

Here are Miller’s highlight’s from Mega Conference:
*Socrative, an app that aggregates student responses from wifi-enabled devices to assist in polls, formative assessment, testing, and class discussions.
*RESA Tips – a representative from OEA explained how to decode the RESA handbook

STRS Ohio ranks as the 19th largest U.S. Fund

STRS Ohio takes part in an annual survey by Pensions & Investments magazine that ranks retirement funds by size. The rankings cover public and private funds and were reported in February. Results are based on asset allocations and market values as of Sept. 30, 2014. Highlights from the findings include:

  • STRS Ohio ranked as the 19th largest U.S. fund overall.
  • STRS Ohio ranked as the eighth largest U.S. fund based on the amount of internally managed assets.

The Ohio Education Association Says Changes to Current Testing Mandates Are Urgently Needed

COLUMBUS – March 10, 2015 – Ohio Education Association (OEA) President Becky Higgins today urged members of the Ohio Senate Education Committee to reduce the amount of time being spent preparing for and taking tests, and to extend to 3 years a moratorium on high-stakes decisions based on student test scores. Read her complete testimony on OEA’s website.

Higgins said current testing measures are flawed. “Teachers are beyond frustrated with the increasing amount of time spent on testing and the way it has crowded out time needed to teach and engage students in dynamic ways. They tell me about the anxiety felt by their students and the growing number of parents who are considering having their children ‘opt out’ of tests. There is a fundamental imbalance that needs to be corrected.”
In her testimony, Higgins proposed four steps that policymakers could take to bring about much-needed change:

“First, reduce the amount of time spent on testing,” said Higgins. “There is too much time devoted to testing. It’s crowding out time for teaching and learning, limiting student engagement and narrowing our curriculum. The disproportionate time spent on testing is being felt by students, parents and educators. It’s time to focus more clearly on our students and their needs.”

“Second, address problems with the tests. The transition to the new tests, including PARCC, is producing mixed results at best,” said Higgins. “A myriad of issues have been raised including technology, lack of timely guidance, tests not properly aligned to standards, age appropriateness of tests, insufficient accommodations for special education students and a lack of timely results from the assessment. These problems must be fixed.”

“Third, use the data appropriately to focus on helping students. Timely data from testing should be used to inform instruction, advance student learning and promote the growth of educators in their practice. It is not appropriate to tie high-stakes decisions to testing results,” testified Higgins.

“And finally, allow time to get implementation right. As Ohio makes the transition to new standards and assessments, there needs to be sufficient time to make adjustments. OEA renews its call for policy makers to hit the pause button and extend to 3 years a moratorium on the use of student test scores in measuring student growth, evaluating teacher performance and any adverse consequence on local schools,” said Higgins.

“OEA believes it is important to limit both the time spent on testing and the use of test results to make high-stakes decisions. The current fixation with testing is sucking the oxygen out of our education system. Students, parents and educators are saying enough is enough,” said Higgins.