Hello Everyone! Here is the first of many bi-monthly e-mails to keep you informed on the latest political information. The information that we will be sharing with you is solely based on the facts that we have received. They are not inclusive of opinions that we have, only the facts of the topic.  The topics that we will be addressing today are the PAC Fund and SB-7. The PAC Fund is something that our student program participates in, in every gathering we have and SB-7 is a piece of legislature that will affect everyone in the teaching profession.  Without further ado here is the information for this e-mail.

 

The National Education Association’s Political Action Committee (NEA PAC) is a fund that raises money to help support educational friendly legislation. The reason for this fund is because our membership dues can’t go toward political issues. Therefore by having the PAC fund we are able to raise money that can go directly to political issues effecting education. This past year the IEA-SP raised the most money for the PAC fund out of any other student program in the country. We hope that with all the attention that education has been getting in politics lately that you will see the value in the PAC fund and continue to help us support it.

 

SB-7 or Senate Bill 7 is the bill that has been passed that changes teacher evaluation for education. It goes into effect September 1st, 2012.  Firstly, it is broken down into four rating categories. They are: unsatisfactory, needs improvement, proficient, and excellent. Teachers will be rated on their performances and on student growth in their classrooms. This is the first time that teachers will be held accountable (by law) for student growth in their evaluations.  However, under PERA law it requires the teacher’s union and chapter of the district to determine how that will be incorporated. PERA Law gives a voice to teachers and bargaining rights to adjust how this is incorporated in the bylaws of the teacher’s contracts.  On top of this if PERA committee does not come up with a student growth evaluation process in the allotted time (180 days from passing of the bill) it defaults to the state (isbe) measurements to determine this (which also have yet to be written).  Thus, this means that a lot of the evaluation process may be in the hands of those negotiating the contracts of the teachers and that bargaining will be allotted over the years on how such evaluations will be administered.  Thus, the district is responsible for administering the criteria/contract and the union is responsible for enforcing it.  So the unions strength is in the process not the result.  There is nothing in the law yet about misplacement of the criteria so it makes it hard for the evaluated teacher to appeal their results.  A committee that evaluates each teacher will administer these evaluations. However, SB-7 requires this committee to be diverse (equal representation), trained, and qualified before they are allowed to administer any evaluation.  Technically administrators are qualified but because of PERA Law each district chapter has the ability to loop hole into their contracts that everyone must be trained and that the committee cannot consist of any administrators on the evaluation committee.  As part of the evaluation, there is a capability for teachers to jump categories when evaluated. For example, a teacher has the capability from jumping to needs improvement to satisfactory. However, PERA committee requires voting on a consensus to allow the evaluated teacher to jump categories. However, the criterion to jump categories is set in the SB-7 committee and does not necessarily have to follow PERA. So, the decision to jump categories is solely based on a majority vote not a consensus as defined by the SB-7 committee. There is a measurement in the evaluation that is based on relevant experience. However, there is no definition in the law of what that is so an evaluated teacher may argue what that may be; i.e. professional trainings, seniority, and an updated personnel file (positive notes from parents, colleagues, etc.). Save everything that is given to you professionally to help you argue your case.  SB-7 is a huge change that will be occurring in our classrooms.  All of us will be affected by it. This is the information that I have received as of now on it. This is not all of the information and some information has the capability to be changed.  Our job is to stay as informed as possible.  We can do this by asking a lot of questions and checking with more than one source.

 

We hope that the information that we have given you so far is helpful! We know that it is a lot to handle but legislation is a lot to handle and we want to keep you as on top of that information as possible. As always if there are any questions do not be afraid to e-mail either of us! We’d love to talk to you!  You’ll be hearing from us in another two weeks!

 

Enjoy your first couple weeks of school!

 

Best,

 

Aaron Porzelius and Breanna Pustai

Political Activists IEA-SP

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