Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Teacher's Contract Lawsuit Filed Today

IDOE’s Teacher Contract Forms Not Contracts At All

INDIANAPOLIS –Dr. Tony Bennett and the Indiana Department of Education late last week issued the new teacher contract forms for the 2011-2012 school year. Upon reviewing the documents, particularly the regular teacher’s contract, the Indiana State Teachers Association believes that certain proposed terms violate both Indiana law and existing collectively-bargained contracts.

ISTA filed a lawsuit today requesting injunctive relief to prevent these documents from being forced upon Indiana’s dedicated and hard working public school teachers. ISTA also plans to request that these teacher contracts be modified to comply with Indiana law.

One major violation of the law found in the regular teacher’s contract form released by IDOE is a provision that allows school corporations to shorten or lengthen a teacher’s work day or the number of days a teacher works each year at will at any time during the school year.

Indiana’s new law clearly states that the individual teacher’s contract must contain “the number of hours per day the teacher is expected to work, as discussed pursuant to IC 20-29-6-7 (which is the teacher collective bargaining law). SEA 575-2011

The new DOE “contract” as stated below and in pertinent part, is in direct violation of that Indiana law:

“In exchange for the Teacher’s services described below, the Corporation and the Teacher agree that:

3. The Teacher’s expected work day shall consist of a minimum of _________hours daily, exclusive of any extracurricular or co-curricular assignments.

4. The number of days and hours may be modified by the Corporation during and after the term of the Contract.” (emphasis added)

“Once again, the Department (of Education) is proceeding under their theory of “proceed until apprehended,” said ISTA President Nate Schnellenberger. “The General Assembly enacted a series of laws this year that, frankly, have a multitude of ambiguities, gaps, and internal conflicts that ISTA is trying to now work through as the new school year approaches. However, the issues of a teacher’s expected hours, the discussion rights attributable to those hours, the bargainability of salary and wage-related benefits, and the content of the teacher contract itself as it relates to the number of hours (and not “minimum” hours) were not unclear and ISTA expects that the IDOE should be made to comply with the laws it promoted.”

ISTA is appalled by the contents of these contracts and especially incensed that they were issued just as teachers begin returning to school for the start of the 2011-2012 school year with little or no information from the Department of Education about the content or their consequences.
“Again, without collaboration, IDOE has taken it upon itself to “re-legislate” public education policy to suit its own agenda after the General Assembly adjourned,” concluded Schnellenberger.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

FWCS Makes AYP for Two Years Straight !

Fort Wayne Community Schools has made Adequate Yearly Progress under the federal No Child Left
Behind guidelines for the second consecutive year, taking the district out of correction action for
the first time in six years. Academic gains made over the last two years also earned FWCS Exemplary
status under the Indiana's accountability law, Public Law 221. Exemplary is the highest status
awarded and can only be achieved by making AYP.

"While we have never allowed labels to define who we are and what we do, we are proud of the
work being done in each of our buildings to reach these milestones," Superintendent Dr. Wendy
Robinson said. "The reforms we started several years ago, including adding full-day kindergarten
in all schools, making sure our teachers are well-trained and tailoring instruction for each
student's needs, are truly making a difference in academic achievement. These results show that
we are following our moral purpose: Educating all children to high standards."

Preliminary results, based on data from the 2010-11 school year and results from the spring 2011
ISTEP+ exams, show that FWCS met either the identified targets or safe harbor for the district as a
whole as well as for individual subgroups. The preliminary results also show that 22 schools made
AYP with others being examined to determine if appeals will be made.

Because FWCS made AYP in 2010 and 2011 and posted significant gains on the spring 2011 ISTEP+ exams,
it reached Exemplary status in the state's rankings.

"Our staff members, students, parents, the Board of School Trustees and the community all played
a role in getting us to this point," Dr. Robinson said. "We will continue to push on,
working just as hard as we have in recent years to ensure that all of our students are
successful."

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

FWCS Teachers Do It Again with Latest ISTEP Results !!

FWCS Teachers Do It Again with Latest ISTEP Results !
July 12, 2011

FWCS Posts gains, outpaces state in ISTEP growth

Fort Wayne Community Schools posted gains and outpaced the state in terms of growth in nearly every
category and grade level on the 2011 ISTEP+. FWCS saw gains in all four subjects (language arts,
math, science and social studies). Growth at each level ranged from 2 to 7 percentage points. The
only exception for these gains occurred in eighth-grade language arts where passing rates dropped by
just 1 percentage point.

"We know this was a challenging year for our students, staff and parents," Superintendent
Dr. Wendy Robinson said. "But the hard work and dedication shown by everyone is paying off. This
is evident in the scores that we are releasing today. We are not where we want to be yet, but this
continues the positive trend we have seen in the past few years. We will continue to live our Moral
Purpose of Educating all Students to High Standards by being precise in our work, personalizing the
education of each student, while providing a professional learning environment for adults focused on
continuous improvement."

Students passing both the math and language arts portion of the ISTEP+ increased at 32 of the 42
schools tested and stayed even at three. In the district's eight LEAD schools that took ISTEP+
exams, six saw an increase in the percent of students passing both of the major portions of the exam
increase.

"We believe strategies we implemented, including making sure our teachers had on-going
professional development, placing coaches and interventionists in each of our buildings, and using
data to drive decisions, have been key to the success we're seeing. With the deliberate infusion
of the Balanced Scorecard and School Improvement Plan process, we are able to focus on continuous
improvement." Dr. Robinson said. "We will continue those strategies as well as lessons we
have learned through our LEAD Schools process, including making sure principals spends more time in
classrooms and are supporting teachers."

Friday, July 8, 2011

FWEA's NEA-RA Team

(Click on the picture for a larger version)

Friday, July 1, 2011

ISTA Files Lawsuit Against Voucher Law

From the ISTA Blog

INDIANAPOLIS – Today, a lawsuit was filed in Marion County Superior Court requesting a preliminary injunction against the implementation of Indiana’s recently enacted school voucher law.

The voucher law violates provisions of the Indiana Constitution that safeguard Indiana taxpayers by ensuring that they are not compelled, through the taxes they pay, to support religious institutions, ministries and places of worship.

It also prohibits the State from diverting public education funds from the “uniform system of Common Schools” that are “equally open to all,” and instead uses this public money to send some children to private schools that are free to exercise student admissions preferences based on religion and other factors.

Signed into law by Gov. Mitch Daniels on May 5, the new law could cut funds to public schools by up to $65.8 million to finance voucher entitlements for private, religious and for-profit schools, a move that is clearly an unconstitutional use of public, taxpayer funds.

“There is no question that this law violates the provisions of the Indiana Constitution that protect taxpayer dollars from being funneled to private, religious and for-profit organizations,” said Teresa Meredith, a teacher in the Shelbyville Central Schools and one of the plaintiffs in the case. “The CSP also violates laws that seek to safeguard Hoosier students. This voucher program will provide public funds to private schools that can give individual preference to students based on test scores, disabilities, wealth and personal faith. Such preferences should not be publicly funded.”

If allowed to stand, this program will drain additional resources away from schools that are already suffering from deep budget cuts. “This law is also bad educational policy. How can lawmakers justify draining additional millions in resources from local public schools—on top of the $300 million in cuts made last year?” added Meredith. “The implementation of this law will most certainly result in larger class sizes, more teacher layoffs and fewer instructional programs for Hoosier public school students.”