Northeast Wisconsin Technical College ESS Local wins recertification election, second time around

A new recertification election has proven successful for the Northeast Wisconsin Technical College Educational Support Specialists Local. The initial recertification election in April failed by 2 votes. However, the unit experienced voting difficulties in the first 24 hours of the voting period April 5-6. All of the Social Security numbers were incorrectly entered into the AAA database, but were corrected on the second day of voting. However, some people who reported having difficulty subsequently did not log in to vote. The union challenged the outcome and a new voting period was approved. The new election for the Northeast Wisconsin Technical College Educational Support Specialists Local was held May 18 – June 7, and this time certification was easily approved, with 125 yes votes of 187 eligible voters. Congratulations, NWTC Educational Support Specialists! This means 18 of the 19 WTCS recertification elections this spring were successful! Read more.

Democrats propose $100 billion for schools and to boost educator salaries while safeguarding bargaining rights

In the wake of teacher unrest throughout the nation, Democratic lawmakers on Tuesday proposed a plan to direct $100 billion toward public schools and educators’ salaries while safeguarding their right to bargain collectively through their unions on salaries, benefits and working conditions.

Democrats said their plan would be paid for by revisiting the Trump tax cuts for the top 1%. “Instead of allowing millionaires, billionaires and massive corporations to keep their tax breaks and special-interest loopholes, Democrats would invest in teachers and students,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said in a statement.

“That teacher pay has fallen so far behind matters a great deal, and not just to teachers themselves but to all of us,” they said. NEA President Lily Eskelsen García participated in a news conference to announce the plan.

 

 

Read more:

Dems want to scrap tax cut for rich to fund teachers’ raises

WASHINGTON – Congressional Democrats want to give a big salary bump to teachers and pay for it by canceling the tax cut for the nation’s top 1 percent of earners. Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday are expected to propose giving states and school districts $50 billion over a decade for teacher raises and recruitment.

Democrats Just Rolled Out A School Funding Plan To Address Teacher Walkouts

As more and more teachers protest their states’ funding cuts, Democrats in Congress say they have a plan to restore school spending and boost teacher pay. On Capitol Hill on Tuesday, party leaders joined teachers’ union officials to promote a slate of policies aimed at addressing the growing number of teacher walkouts that have shaken up statehouses across the country.

Democrats have a better deal for teachers and our kids, too: Chuck Schumer & Nancy Pelosi

CLOSE Democrats would invest in teacher pay, modern classrooms, special ed and low-income schools, and pay for it all. We’d also protect collective bargaining. For the better part of the 20th century, being a teacher in America meant being a part of the middle class.

WTCS recertification elections overwhelmingly successful

Seventeen of this year’s 19 recertification elections in Wisconsin Technical College System locals were successful, according to results from the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission (WERC). Recertification votes were successful for:

Blackhawk Technical College Education Support Professionals, Blackhawk Technical College Faculty Federation, Fox Valley Technical College Education Support Personnel Association, Fox Valley Technical College Faculty Association, Gateway Educational Support Personnel, Gateway Technical Education Association, Lakeshore Technical College Education Association, Madison Area Technical College Full-Time Teachers Union, Madison Area Technical College Paraprofessional and School-Related Personnel, Milwaukee Area Technical College Full-Time Faculty, Milwaukee Area Technical College Paraprofessionals, Milwaukee Area Technical College Part-Time Faculty, Waukesha County Technical College Educational Support Professionals, Western Technical College Paraprofessionals and School-Related Employees, Western Technical College Faculty and Non-Teaching Professionals, Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College Support Staff, and Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College Teachers.

The two other recertification elections failed by the narrowest of margins. Northcentral Technical College Faculty Association received 50.3% of the vote, and Northeast Wisconsin Technical College Educational Support Specialists received 50% of the vote. The law requires 52% of all eligible unit members (not just those voting) to vote yes for the recertification to pass. The WTCS locals are a mixture of WEAC and WFT affiliated locals.

Agreement ends West Virginia strike, gives teachers 5% raise

National Education Association President Lily Eskelsen García issued the following statement, in reaction to Tuesday’s agreement that will allow West Virginia to attract and retain the best educators for West Virginia students.

“I am so proud of West Virginia educators and the West Virginia Education Association, without whom the West Virginia Senate would not have honored the agreement to give educators, school support staff and all public employees a 5 percent raise. They have stood in solidarity and made their voices heard to demand recognition of their professionalism and dignity because they know attracting and retaining the most caring and competent educators for West Virginia students is essential to their state’s success.

“While this is a good first step, West Virginia will need to make additional changes to ensure they can recruit the best educators in the future. Even with this raise they remain 43rd in the country for teacher pay, and unless the task force charged with addressing the health care system is successful, the victory will be short lived. It is important that the task force confront the serious challenges facing the state’s Public Employee Insurance Agency (PEIA) and generate solutions that are fair, equitable, and do not balance shortfalls on the backs of public service workers like educators, librarians, or state employees. I have complete faith in the educators of West Virginia to continue making their voices heard and ensure the task force is successful.

“Students, parents, administrators, school superintendents, community and faith leaders, and a bipartisan effort from lawmakers were also essential to reaching this agreement, and we can’t thank them enough for the outpouring of support they provided our educators over the past two weeks.

“This is a great day for West Virginia’s students and its future.”

Read more:

West Virginia leaders reach deal to end teachers strike

West Virginia’s striking teachers cheered and applauded Tuesday as lawmakers acted to end a nine-day classroom walkout, agreeing to grant them 5 percent pay hikes that are also being extended to all state workers. A huge crowd of teachers packing the Capitol chanted jubilantly, sang John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads” and some even wept for joy at the settlement.

West Virginia lawmakers reach deal to give striking teachers pay raise

West Virginia lawmakers said Tuesday morning that a deal has been reached to deliver a 5% pay raise to teachers, according to the governor and the committee meeting on the matter. Teachers have been on strike since February 22. At a committee meeting Tuesday, state Sen.

Family’s experiences in Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin illustrate impact of political climate on education, unions

In an Education Minnesota article, Sparta, Wisconsin, teacher Lauren Cody says her mother’s involvement in the union as a Minnesota Education Support Professional has instilled in her a deep appreciation of the importance of the union for educators and students.

Lauren, a fourth-grade teacher in her second year of teaching, says she joined the union because she saw the benefits the union has provided to her mom, Deb Cody, as a paraprofessional in Caledonia, Minnesota.

“My mom is active in the union, and that is what motivated me to also get involved,” Lauren said. “I have learned a lot from her experiences. I have seen her work through numerous injustices, and it has really opened my eyes to how imperative it is to be part of the union.”

The article emphasizes the negative impact of Act 10 on educators and education in Wisconsin and also the impact of similar legislation in Iowa, where Deb Cody’s son, Kalyn, teaches. Deb says the experiences of her children in Wisconsin and Iowa illustrate how critical it is that educators in Minnesota work to maintain their much friendlier environment for unions and public education.

“I feel strongly and talk often to others about the benefits of being a union member,” she said.

Read the entire article:

Education Minnesota – Minnesota Educator

As a mom, Deb Cody is of course proud of her children. As a paraprofessional, she is even prouder that two of her children became teachers. As a leader in her local union in Caledonia, Deb is nervous about losing collective bargaining rights because she sees the effect it can have on the education profession with her daughter teaching in Wisconsin and her son in Iowa.

Wisconsin Supreme Court bars access to public records created during union recertification elections

From Madison Teachers Inc.

Madison Teachers Inc. filed an action in Dane County Circuit Court in 2015 challenging the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission’s (WERC) refusal to release voter lists during annual Union certification elections. Dane County Judge Peter Anderson ruled in favor of MTI and held that the WERC was required to produce the certification voter lists requested by the Union under the Public Records Law during the election period. The Wisconsin Supreme Court overturned the ruling in a decision released this morning, essentially adopting a new court-made exemption to the state’s broad Open Records law.

In a blistering dissent. Justice Ann Walsh Bradley stated:

“Despite Wisconsin’s longstanding public policy favoring transparency, for the third time in three years this court continues to undermine our public records law. Yet again, this court overturns a lower court decision favoring transparency of records to which the public is rightfully entitled. Once more we must ask, ‘[w]hat has the majority achieved with its opinion grounded in speculative, abstract, and unsubstantiated fears?”’”

The decision blocks the union’s access to a public record of the employees who have voted as of the mid-point of the 20-day election period. MTI was not seeking a record of “how” employees voted (that is rightfully kept confidential), but only a list of voters who had cast a ballot.

Since Act 10 was enacted, which requires public employee unions to stand for recertification elections every year, the WERC has provided the union with the information on who has voted only after the election was over. The decision will uphold the secrecy of WERC’s recertification elections, which it conducts entirely by electronic balloting.

Historically, and under WERC’s election rules, unions have a right to observe and monitor certification elections. As a result of the Court’s decision, unions will as a practical matter have no effective way to monitor the WERC’s administration of the elections or to track voting, as they would if WERC conducted elections at a physical polling place.

The Court’s decision will have far-reaching consequences for the Open Records law and is a blow to transparency and open government.

Teachers say they are overwhelmed by constant policy changes

Nearly all respondents to an Education Week survey — 86 percent — said they had experienced new changes or reforms in the past two school years, and 58 percent said the changes are “way too much” or “too much.”

The teachers surveyed were most likely to say they’d had changes to their teacher-evaluation systems. Other common areas for reform were curriculum, professional development, and state testing.

About one-third of respondents said the amount of reform was “just about right,” but most teachers (84 percent) agreed that as soon as they get a handle on a new reform, it changes.

Read entire report in Education Week:

Majority of Teachers Say Reforms Have Been ‘Too Much’

Change is hard-particularly for teachers, who are generally taking dozens of students along for the ride. Yet the majority of teachers say they’ve faced major changes-related to what and how they teach, as well as how they’re evaluated-over the last couple of years in their schools and districts, according to a recent survey by the Education Week Research Center.

Legislative Update – December 11

Preempting local government from determining local rules. A GOP bill, SB634 would preempt local governments from enacting or enforcing ordinances related to various employment matters. Under current constitutional and statutory home rule provisions, a city or village may determine its own local affairs subject only to the Wisconsin Constitution and to any enactment of the Legislature that is of statewide concern and that affects every city or village with uniformity. This bill states that all of the following matters are matters of statewide concern requiring uniform enforcement at the state, county, and municipal levels:

  • Requiring any person to accept certain collective bargaining provisions or waive its rights under the National Labor Relations Act or state labor law.
  • Local regulation of employee hours and overtime, employment benefits, wage claims and collections, an employer’s right to solicit salary information of prospective employees, employment discrimination, and professions regulated by the state.

The bill was referred to Committee on Labor and Regulatory Reform. There is no companion bill at this time.

Revenue limit adjustment for workforce development improvements. This bill, AB 729 / SB 613, would create a school district revenue limit adjustment for workforce development improvements to support vocational or technical education. Any school board that receives a petition and adopts a resolution to initiate workforce development improvements may increase its revenue limit by the amount the school district spends on the improvements in a school year, including amounts spent for debt service on a bond, note, or state trust fund loan used to finance the improvements. The term of the bond, note, or trust fund loan may not exceed 20 years. The petition must be filed jointly by the president of a local chamber of commerce or a chamber of commerce that serves the geographic area encompassing any portion of the school district and the executive director of a regional workforce development board. The Assembly version was sent to the Committee on Local Government, while the Senate version is in the Education Committee.

AUDIT ON ETF RELEASED. The Legislative Audit Bureau has released on report on the Department of Employee Trust Funds.  Briefing Sheet and Full Report. According to the report:

  • The WRS fiduciary net position increased from $88.5 billion on December 31, 2015, to $92.6 billion on December 31, 2016. A 4.6% increase.
  • The net position of the State Income Continuation Insurance (ICI) program declined from a negative $25.6 million on December 31, 2015, to negative $28.4 million on December 31, 2016.
  • ETF increased 2017 premiums for the State ICI program.
  • ETF is seeking statutory changes for the State ICI program.

Prohibiting aiding and abetting sexual abuse of students by school personnelAct 130 implements in state statutes provisions already included in the federal Every Student Succeeds Act to prohibit aiding and abetting sexual abuse of children/students by school personnel. State law now states that it is immoral conduct for a DPI licensee (e.g., a teacher, administrator or HR director, etc.), or a school board, private school governance or privately run charter operator to assist a school employee, contractor or agent to obtain a new job in a school or school district if the licensee knows or has reason to believe that the person committed a sex offense against a student or a minor.  A violation could subject the licensee to potential loss or his or her DPI license.

Closing gaps in teacher quality depends on fixing the root causes

A report claiming gaps in access to high-quality teachers is due to a labor shortage misses the point, a review shows. Instead, the root causes of the gaps must be addressed, like rigorous but alternative pathways to teaching and incentives for attracting and keeping educators in hard-to-staff schools.

Read the Review

The issue of gaps between the experience and quality of teachers in different areas of Wisconsin and the nation is on the minds of state leaders, policymakers, school leaders and communities. Research shows many schools face challenges in retaining high-quality teachers, especially urban school districts and small, rural school districts. Studies have also shown when schools don’t have access to high-quality teachers on a consistent basis these gaps can negatively impact students.

The Education Trust published recommendations for state leaders to close gaps created when experienced, highly qualified teachers shy away from working in urban and rural schools. The review of the Ed Trust recommendations showed the report missed an opportunity to address the root causes of the nation’s teacher retention problem and failed to explain the impact of previous federal and state policies on teacher recruitment and retention.

The review also found the report contained significant omissions and relied heavily on think tank reports to support its recommendations, including five of its own.

Furthermore, the report provided little or no guidance as to how to define, identify or access high-quality teachers. It did not provide tools or insights that help state leaders attract and retain high-quality teachers, nor did it identify ways for leaders to understand how to develop incentives and cultures that attract and retain high-quality teachers in high-needs schools.

The review was commissioned by National Education Policy Center with funding from the Great Lakes CenterWEAC partners with the Great Lakes Center to provide reviews of education-related studies. WEAC President Ron Martin sits on the Great Lakes Board of Directors and shares this academic review of a study about tackling gaps in access to strong teachers.

96 percent of WEAC local recertifications pass

Ninety-six percent of 2017 fall recertification elections for WEAC locals passed, results released Tuesday by the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission show.

The overwhelming support for local unions mirrors similar results in recertification elections since 2011.

“In the local associations that chose recertification elections, educators continue to show tremendous support for the union,” said WEAC President Ron Martin, a middle school social studies teacher. “Unions continue to play a very strong role in their local school districts and partner with parents and their communities to ensure the best public schools for students.”

Recertification is a hoop created by the Legislature to limit employee rights. It requires that an association interested in being named the district “bargaining agent” pay for an annual election and the threshold for victory is half of the eligible voters voting yes, plus one. That’s a bar even the American president doesn’t have to reach to be elected. All educators, union members and non-members, vote in recertification elections and, if an educator does not vote, the state counts it as a vote in opposition.

Local associations across Wisconsin determine whether they will seek recertification based on their own unique circumstances. Whether or not a local chose to participate in recertification, and whatever the outcome of the vote, it’s important to stress that the union still exists. The union exists anywhere educators unite collectively to improve their schools for their students, expand their professional skills, and advocate for shared interests like school safety and opportunities for all children. No legislation can take away that right.