OCCEA Overnight Workshop
Join us on April 8, 2016 for our annual OCCEA Overnight Workshop. We will once again go to: Stockton Seaview Hotel and Golf Club in Galloway, NJ. Horacio Sanchez will be our guess speaker on Friday night and he will be holding a morning breakout session entitled Promoting Academic Success. Please see your local president for all of the details for the many, many workshops that are being offered.
OCCEA PD – Guidance For The Professional Responsibilities
Domains Leap Into Domain 4
Each of the teacher evaluation models includes criteria related to Professional Responsibilities (Standard 1 in McRel, Domain 4 in Danielson, Domains 3 and 4 in Marzano, Standard 6 in Stronge, Domains E and F in Marshall). This can be a challenge during evaluation discussions; the criteria are primarily “Behind the scenes” work and therefore not applicable to data gathered during instructional observations. This workshop will focus on exploring the criteria and developing strategies for teachers to reflect and document this critical aspect of their practice.
This workshop will be held at: Manchester High School, Manchester from 4:30 – 6:30 P.M. At 4:00 P.M. a boxed lunch will be served. Please register by fax (732-657-3205) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org) ONLY! Please include your name and district.
We look forward to seeing you at this workshop.
President Wendell Steinhauer List Accomplishments Over The Past Two Years at DA Meeting
At the DA meeting, September 19, President Steinhauer began the meeting with a fabulous speech outlining the accomplishments for the past two years. Below is a copy of his speech. I’m sure you will find his speech to be uplifting and a feeling of deep pride for our leaders in the treacherous past two years.
Two years ago this weekend… my first DA as president. We hit the ground running then, and haven’t slowed down. The beginning of this school year is also beginning of second term for entire LT. Worth taking a minute to look back today on the successes, challenges and lessons learned in the last two years.
Where were we in Sept. 2013?
- Buono campaign in full swing
- Fighting to keep the Legislature in more friendly hands.
But at least we weren’t stuck in traffic on the GWB. If that fiasco had come out sooner, the Buono election might have turned out differently. As it was then, though, the headwind was just too strong.
But look at what we accomplished in the 2013 election:
- Despite a Republican governor who won by nearly 20(!) points,
- Democrats actually increased their Legislative majorities. That was an impressive accomplishment in that environment, and it came in past because of our effective support for our endorsed candidates. And that work paid off.
Believe it or not, we’ve had some legislative accomplishments, even with this governor. Example: Expanded collective bargaining rights with bill allowing 5-year contracts. And on testing and evaluation, we had him so scared he signed an executive order slowing down some part of the implementation. Today, we are 10% for SGP, rather than 30%!
Of course, we’ve had other good bills get though the legislature, only to be vetoed. Some of that will only get resolved when we finally get a new governor. But as much as he can stop good education bills, he also can’t bring many of his bad ideas to life because we’ve build a legislative firewall.
Think for a minute about what we haven’t seen in the last 2 years:
- Voucher bills moving anywhere.
- Right to work or other anti-union legislation
- Bad ed reform ideas like Parent Trigger
Because of our work with legislators, those bills – and a lot of other bad ideas – don’t have any traction in New Jersey. And we’ve had successes outside of the legislature as well.
- 50,000+ refusals
- DOE on the defensive
- Shorter testing window (not windows) next spring.
- Must keep pushing
- Still a major threat, but organizing to stop it and succeeding in many places
- Mike Mignone
- A particularly proud moment for our union.
- Not only defended our member and leader and restored his position
- Also turned over the board and supt. that tried to bully him!
- We are a union!
- And even a glimmer of good news on Ch. 78.
- Still one of the most devastating blows our members have taken when that was pushed through in 2011.
- Cannot minimize the damage done.
- But though we got pushed back, we are finally back on offense
- The sunset is arriving, and we are back fighting at the bargaining table! And that is where we win in the end.
So, we’ve come a long way in the last 2 years. We’ve had frustrations – on issues like pension funding, which I’ll talk about more in a moment. We’ve had some high points, like PARCC. And through it all, we’ve learned a lot about organizing, and about using the power of our membership to move NJEA forward. And that’s the most important thing. Because even though there’s value in looking at what happened in the past, we have to keep our focus on the present and the future.
So let’s look at the current status of some of the key issues:
Even though the legislature has not been meeting regularly, legislative leaders have still been working on the pension issue. In July, Assembly Speaker Prieto convened a meeting of union leaders to discuss his proposal to stretch out pension payments over a 10 year period. A couple of weeks later, Senator Sweeney proposed a federal loan program, wherein states with huge pension liabilities can borrow low interest loans from the federal government to payoff their pension liabilities. NJEA has not signed off on either of these proposals. We continue to work with both leaders and express our questions and concerns with these proposals.
Meanwhile, the Governor waited until the last possible day in August to veto S-3100, which mandated quarterly pension payments and S-3107, which required the state to make a $300 million prepayment into the pension system. We are now asking NJEA members to contact their legislators to urge them to support an override of both of these bills.
Lastly, you may have read that NJEA has now officially joined with other unions in filing a lawsuit in the U.S. Supreme Court to challenge the New Jersey Supreme Court’s ruling on C. 78. We are also awaiting the New Jersey Supreme Court to hear oral arguments and issue a decision on our COLA lawsuit. We expect a decision this fall.
Of course, we aren’t just relying on the courts or the politicians to do the right thing and make sure our pensions get funded.
We are also carefully exploring constitutional solutions, that would be designed to take the funding issue out of the hands of the Legislature and Governor and make it a constitutional requirement.
We still have a lot of details to work out, because if we are going to pursue that route, we have to do it right.
We will keep you posted on the progress of that, and you will definitely have to be part of the organizing work when it’s time to get a constitutional solution passed.
Legislative action and court cases are one way we have been fighting for a full pension payment—but it is now time to concentrate our efforts on the ballot box.
In November the entire NJ State Assembly is up for re-election. NJEA PAC has endorsed 54 candidates. No incumbent member of the Assembly who voted against the full pension funding received an endorsement. Not one. And we have endorsed some challengers in hopes of expanding the number of legislators who understand that pension payments are a promise— not an option.
Let me be clear… election organizing IS pension organizing. It is that simple.
- If you emailed, called or visited your legislators last spring and asked them to fund your pension…
- If you attended one of our lobby days in Trenton last June…
- If you Facebooked or tweeted out the number of pension payments you made to raise awareness of the issue…
Then thank you…. But your job is not done.
Our pensions will not be secure until we have lawmakers in office that are willing to do anything necessary to make the payment— even if that “anything” means overriding the Governor.
Here is what you can do:
- Vote for your PAC endorsed candidates and get your friends and family to do the same
- Participate in member to member election activities in one of our county associations
- Volunteer directly in the campaign of an endorsed candidate.
- Attend one of our Statewide Training Sessions on October 3. There is one in Bergen County and another in Atlantic County. You can register online at njea.org
- Increase your PAC contribution to help us support candidates who support our pension
If you live in a district where there is no endorsed candidate—skip over the Assembly race and vote in other local races. And volunteer in another district where NJEA PAC has made an endorsement.
Success at the ballot box is an important way we can improve the future of our pension system. We need all members to step up to the plate.
Our fight with PARCC continues…currently we have two bills sitting on the Governor’s desk:
- Legislation prohibiting standardized assessments in kindergarten through second grade and…
- Legislation that prohibits withholding State school aid because of low student participation rates on State assessments.
Other PARCC-related bills are still pending consideration like:
- Legislation requiring school districts to post on their websites information about student participation in PARCC;
- Legislation requiring notification to parents regarding the upcoming administration of State assessments; and
- A bill requiring DOE to post on its website a list of all third party individuals or vendors employed or retained by the DOE for work associated with State assessments.
It is frustrating that, although the Assembly overwhelmingly passed legislation explicitly allowing parents to opt their children out of mandated statewide assessments, the Senate has only taken up a watered down resolution urging the Commissioner of Education to develop guidelines on how students not participating in statewide assessment will be supervised and what alternate arrangements may be provided.
PARCC as High School Graduation Requirement:
In addition to the legislation I just mentioned…
The Department of Education also released guidance on the use of PARCC as a high school graduation requirement. In fact, Commissioner Hespe conceded that because PARCC testing is new to the state and the scores still not decided, it was sensible to wait for at least another year before making the tests a major graduation requirement. Sounds like the very same message NJEA has been stating for the last year.
So for the incoming freshman, Class of 2019, the state will continue (for this year anyway) its current policy of using PARCC as only one possible opportunity to meet the graduation requirement. Students can also meet the requirement by achieving minimum scores on the SAT or ACT college entrance exams or other alternative measures, as well as a one-to-one appeals process.
Although they are not changing their message about all students being required to take the PARRC, the DOE has issued some guidelines to school districts with regard to those parents who choose to opt their child from the PARCC:
- Districts are to encourage and ensure that all students take the PARCC, however, local school districts are being advised to adopt policies and procedures that will deal with the appropriate supervision and engagement of these students during administration of the PARCC – that best fit their school’s environment and available staffing and resources.
- Districts should avoid a sit and stare policy.
- As long as the testing environment is not disrupted, policy should include alternative options, such as allowing students to read while test is in progress as long as the student is not logged into the testing site and the material they are reading is not relevant to the test itself.
Standards Review Listening Tour
At the September State Board of Education meeting, the DOE announced its listening tour dates and a standards review online survey. While the North listening tour was Thursday evening, the Southern one is September 28 and the Central one is on September 29.
If you want to give your input without traveling, you can complete an online survey until October 9. For more details, to participate or register, go the NJDOE website and click on the link that says Standards Review Process.
Once the DOE has collected all its feedback, the review process will continue and is expected to be completed by the end of January. The DOE hasn’t really explained how we will use PARCC if our standards have changed.
Reprinted with permission
The OCCEA/NJEA Legislative Dinner
May 6, 2015