Sunday, August 28, 2011

Jamie Vollmer - He spent two days as a teacher's aide and that has changed his mind!!!

I saw an interesting article in the Livingston County Press last week.

It was about a speaker who is coming to Brighton on Wednesday and Thursday of this week. His name is Jamie Vollmer. Perhaps you have heard of him. He is a former attorney and business man who ONCE believed public schools should be run like businesses. He felt that teachers’ unions were killing public education. But he told the Livingston Daily Press and Argus, “….once I saw how hard the vast majority of teachers work, I realized it isn’t the teachers failing the students, it’s the system.” He now says that the community must join together to make schools succeed.

Vollmer has written a book called, “Schools Cannot Do It Alone”. He has entitled his public speech, “The Great Conversation”. It is free and open to the public on Aug. 31st, 7 PM at the Brighton Center for Performing Arts. His Sept. 1st date is at 1 PM at the Howell High School Auditorium on Grand River. (I know you’re busy!)
Vollmer does believe that education needs to be revamped. He believes that the system is designed for an industrial society than no longer exists. Here’s what I really liked about what he said!

He changed his mind about public educators and began to back them after spending two days as a teacher’s aide in Iowa. “My assumptions were bad,” Vollmer said. “I learned they could work 100 hours a week and that still wouldn’t be enough.”

He continued, “Teachers today are dealing with the most diverse, distracted group they’ve ever seen, and most of them are dancing as fast as they can. Each year, the Michigan Legislature asks them to do more. Now they’re asking them to do more with less and to do better at meeting obligations.”

He also explained that his reasoning comes partly from business ideals that include choosing how to produce their products. He notes that public schools do not have that opportunity.
As teachers continue to be bombarded by Federal and State mandates, diminishing dollars, and laws connecting student performance to teacher pay, I find this shift in public discourse encouraging. How often have we looked at one another and said, “I wish Bill R. or Gov. Snyder would come to my classroom. How long would they last?”. This is exactly what Mr. Vollmer did. Perhaps we will continue to see people who take the time to actually observe the people they dictate to…..the teachers and public schools.

I know that many of you have already spent 100 hours preparing for the new school year. Or, you are planning another 100 hours this coming week. I would like to commend you and say that I know WHO truly makes a difference in the lives of public school students…….the teachers! We are all making a masterful difference in the life of the students we see every day. No one can take that away from us or our students.

I truly hope the messages in the media are beginning to favor teachers, but even if they don’t, we need to have conversations that support one another! I am always tremendously proud to be able to represent the fine educators in Walled Lake! Thank you for your hard work and dedication to the lives of Walled Lake students! As we make our way through this new school year, I know that the students in our schools will have the best there is to have!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Legislature to ACT on Wednesday!

The Michigan legislature is poised to vote on Wednesday morning, August 24, on a proposal regarding public employee health care. The conference committee will be reporting out SB 7 for an up or down vote, meaning there will be no amendments. We need you to send a letter to your State Representative and State Senator today asking them to oppose this bill.

Senate Bill 7 has combined two health care proposals - the 80/20% plan and the "hard cap" plan. The 80/20% plan means employers could cover no more than 80% of the health care premium being charged for health insurance. The "hard cap" proposal would mean employers could pay only an amount set by the legislature for health care; it looks like the limits are $5,5oo for single person, $11,000 for 2 person and $15,000 for family. It is unclear whether these caps would ever change.

If school districts did not implement this change, they could be fined 10% of their school aid payment or their economic vitality payment.

This combined proposal shifts costs to employees but does nothing to contain health care costs. It limits our ability to customize health care benefits for our specific local groups, and it further limits our collective bargaining rights.

To add insult to injury, public employers other than school districts, could vote to opt out of this set of rules....BUT NOT SCHOOL DISTRICTS. Send an email today asking your legislator to vote NO on SB7!

This also conflicts with DASHBOARD requirements of 10% payment on employees' part. The state is totally upending local control!

I will post this to my blog, as well as email addresses that can be used to contact senators.

State Senator Mike Kowall R-White Lake Twp

Sen. Joe Hune - R - Hamburg Township (Livingston County)

CALL and email today and tomorrow morning!!!!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

From Tuesday’s “MEA VOICE Online” – August 16, 2011

New school data ‘dashboard’ one of five financial best practices

MI School Data, a new education information website, was launched this week to provide information on K-12 schools and school districts across the state. The Center for Educational Performance and Information (CEPI), along with the Michigan Department of Education and intermediate school districts, created

By typing in any school district or school building name, staff and parents can view state assessments, the Annual Education Report reflecting Adequate Yearly Progress, student counts, School Report Cards and other school and district level measurements—such as “value for money” and school district deficits. MI School Data will be updated in Sept. with information on graduation rates, college enrollment, ACT results, and principal effectiveness measures.

The new education information website is also one of the five “financial best practices” Gov. Snyder established as an incentive for districts to earn an additional $100 per pupil in state aid. Local school districts and public school academies must meet four out of the five practices in order to qualify.
The other best practices are:
• Charge employees at least 10 percent of their health care premium.
• Become policyholder of medical benefits plans.
• Develop and implement a Service Consolidation Plan.
• Bid out non-instructional services.
(I do not currently know if Walled Lake was able to meet 4 of the five practices. It would appear they may be very close! – Terese)

From Terese: While the new website provides better access to test data and AYP status information on schools, you should note that there is a tab for “teacher quality” in each school’s report. At this time that “teacher quality” tab reports the total number of degrees held by teachers in a district, and whether anyone is teaching a class they are not highly qualified to teach. However it is the state’s intention to increase the amount of information reported for each teacher, which could include the performance of students in each teacher’s class.

Click on: