Thursday, March 26, 2009

Perils of Social Networking

Many school employees, the MEA, and even the KCEA are active with on-line social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter. If you have an online presence or are considering one, beware your job may be in danger.

Here's a link to a recent NEA article about school employees that faced termination or discipline for something online and unrelated to their jobs (or so they thought).

You may think that this doesn't or won't affect anyone in your local, but many employees, especially younger ones, have had an on-line presence for years. It has only been recently that the perils of this are occurring.

In the wake of these reports, the Ohio Education Association urged all OEA members to remove any personal profiles they may have posted on MySpace or Facebook. The Association also warned members that such profiles "can be used as evidence in disciplinary proceedings," which could "affect not only a teacher's current job but his/her teaching license" as well.

An Ottawa County EA's Executive Board adopted and sent out a similiar warning to all of it's members regarding appropriate use of the internet.

Be proactive. Educate your members today. If you would like a copy of the Ottawa County EA's warning please contact Jon Toppen at

Monday, March 16, 2009

Lobby Effort Under Way on Retirement Stimulus

Please tell your state senator to support SB 255

KCEA members are urged to contact their state senator immediately to support Senate Bill 255, a bill that would save money and create jobs.

Today, in the Senate Education Committee, substitute language was introduced for the School Employee Retirement Stimulus, which creates a one-year window from April 1, 2009, through March 31, 2010, in which school employees under MPSERS who are eligible for retirement could do so with a 1.75 percent multiplier for their pensions.

The multiplier is up from the current 1.5 percent, but down from a 2 percent multiplier proposed earlier. Sen. Wayne Kuipers, R-Holland, is the primary sponsor of SB 255.

MEA members should tell their senator to take up SB 255 immediately and to vote yes. The savings that could be generated next year -- almost $500 million -- could help many school districts avoid mass layoffs.

If enacted, the legislation would encourage veteran school employees at the top of the salary schedule to retire. It would also open up jobs for recent and future college graduates who want to work in public education.

It is unknown exactly how many school employees would retire with the stimulus. While there would be a limit on the number who could retire, the exact figure will vary depending on how many of the most senior employees with actual service in Michigan public schools opt to do so. The liability for Michigan schools would be capped at $1.5 billion.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Poverty and Potential:Out-of-School Factors and School Success

A study by Dr. David Berliner, released today by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice, provides powerful evidence for a fact that school employees have known all along—if you don’t solve the problems outside the classroom, you cannot expect all students to be able to achieve inside the classroom. The Michigan Education Association and the KCEA applaud Dr. Berliner in his call for leaders to address children’s physical and mental health as well as safety and not hold public schools accountable for factors beyond their control.

Here in Kent County, where many families are now faced with a severe economic crisis, more and more students are losing their homes to foreclosure and job loss, which often also results in loss of medical care, lack of nutritious food, and enormous emotional stress. To expect these children to be able to fully concentrate and succeed in school is absurd.

Solving the problems of poverty and homelessness will take involvement from the entire community. MEA and its members are currently engaged in outreach projects across the state to help make a difference. We urge every other Michigander to join us and work toward making sure our students have the safety and security they need to achieve their full potential and be prepared for the jobs Michigan needs.

Berliner study available at

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

New Reading Requirement for Teachers Effective July 1, 2009

Beginning July 1, 2009, in order to advance from the Provisional teaching certificate to the Professional Education teaching certificate, a teacher must provide evidence of the completion of an additional 3 semester credit course in reading focused on the diagnosis and remediation of reading difficulties which includes a field experience. This reading course is in addition to any reading courses required for initial certification. The course may be taken at the undergraduate or graduate level but must be completed before or during the first 6 years of classroom teaching to be eligible to advance in certification.
The Michigan Department of Education has posted a list of reading courses at various state colleges and universities that may be taken to satisfy the requirement. The list is available at the following web site: under the heading Specialty Programs.

Questions about the requirement may be addressed to Dr. Bonnie Rockafellow at

Teachers who meet the requirements to advance to the Professional Education teaching certificate before July 1, 2009 are advised to give serious consideration to doing so prior to the expiration date on the certificate to avoid this requirement. To advance the teacher must provide evidence that an additional 18 semester credits have been earned in a planned program since the issuance of the Provisional teaching certificate, a master’s degree or higher earned at any time satisfies this requirement, and have at least 3 years of successful teaching in the validity of the teaching certificate. Teachers having completed a planned program through a Michigan university or college should contact the Certification Office of the institution and request to be recommended for the Professional Education certificate to the MDE.

Individuals who completed a planned program through an institution outside of Michigan must apply directly to the MDE for a Professional Education certificate.

Contact Frank Ciloski, MEA Consultant at 517-332-6551 extension 6213 for further information.