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MEA Voice Online
 
 
      In This Issue / Jan. 7, 2014
  • Michigan awarded grant for early childhood education
  • Join the NEA Great Public Schools Network as an online leader
  • National Teachers Hall of Fame (NTHF) award recognizes outstanding teachers
  • Good news for the new year
  • The MEA Advantage for your wallet

Michigan awarded grant for early childhood education

Michigan will receive $51.7 million in a federal grant in the third round of the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge. Five other states—Georgia, Kentucky, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Vermont—are also benefitting from the $280 million total being awarded.  So far, 20 states have received grants.

This is the first time Michigan has been awarded any money from Race to the Top.  The grant, jointly operated by the U.S. Department of Education and the Department of Health and Human Services, supports the education of children from birth to five years old. 

In October 2013, the state submitted its grant application which set goals for the money: providing scholarships to early childhood education programs for families eligible for child care subsidies; promoting health and nutrition standards in child care facilities; and increasing participation in the state’s preschool ratings system.  It’s expected that more than 182,000 children from ages three to kindergarten from low-income families will benefit from the money.

In 2013, Gov. Rick Snyder pushed for $65 million in additional preschool funding, with another $65 million increase expected this year.  

In a related issue, the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) recently announced revisions in early childhood standards that affect infant and toddler programs, pre-kindergarten, and out-of-school time standards. They are available at www.michigan.gov/greatstart


Join the NEA Great Public Schools Network as an online leader

What’s your area of expertise? Classroom management? Bilingual education?  Teacher evaluation?

If you’re knowledgeable on these topics and others of interest to educators, then you may be the online leader that the NEA Great Public Schools Network is looking for.

NEA established the Network in 2013 as a place where people can come together to share ideas and resources to improve student success. It’s free and open to everyone.  Now, they’re looking for online community facilitators to promote online discussions around particular educational issues.

You need to have experience in education, online community engagement and a knowledge base in an area like class size, literacy or bullying in order to be considered as a facilitator.  NEA will provide training on how to be a good facilitator, but they want individuals who are already active in online communities.  

NEA will pay a yearly $2,500 stipend if the community you facilitate is active. According to their benchmark, a great community usually takes two to five hours a week to maintain, and seven to nine months to build.

If you’re interested, go to www.gpsnetwork.org to get the process started.


National Teachers Hall of Fame (NTHF) award recognizes outstanding teachers

The National Teachers Hall of Fame 2014 Teacher Induction Program is encouraging members of the profession to nominate deserving colleagues for induction into their Hall of Fame.

Individuals chosen serve as ambassadors both for the NTHF and the teaching profession itself. Nominations are judged by representatives from educational organizations, former NTHF inductees, and government and corporate America representatives. Nominations must be postmarked by Jan. 15, 2013. Go to www.nthf.org for a nomination form or call 1-800-96-TEACH. 

NTHF is located in Emporia, Kansas and each year recognizes teachers and the profession by honoring five of the nation’s most outstanding teachers. The first awards were presented in 1992. The 2014 formal ceremony will be held in June.


Good news for the new year

A recent arbitrator decision regarding the payroll deduction of dues and a Michigan Employment Relations Commission (MERC) ruling on ULP charges against Taylor Public Schools and AFT-Michigan both clarify issues that arose over the December 2012 passage of right-to-work legislation. The two decisions are significant developments.

Arbitrator George Roumell has ordered Chippewa Valley, Warren Consolidated and Warren Woods school districts, and Macomb ISD to honor their contractual agreement to payroll deduct union dues for the life of the contract. 

Roumell cited the fact that labor agreements with the school districts were valid and in effect prior to the March 28, 2013 effective date of PA 53 which ended the payroll deduction of dues by school districts. This case helps to validate contract language relating to membership, service fees, assessments and payroll deduction.

The Mackinac Center filed unfair labor practice charges (ULP) on behalf of some Taylor Federation of Teachers members, claiming that a union security agreement which requires members to pay either dues or a service fee to the union is invalid. That agreement expires on July 1, 2023. 

The Mackinac Center referred to the passage of PA 349 in its charges. The right-to-work legislation changed a union’s ability to charge a service fee for bargaining unit services. It said the union failed to adhere to its duty of fair representation by circumventing PA 349 and forcing members to pay dues or a service fee when they did not want to. 

The union and the district had also ratified a separate contract which expires on Oct. 1, 2017.  The Mackinac Center claimed that the two parties had entered into such a long agreement only to avoid the consequences of PA 349. Both agreements had been ratified before the March 28, 2013 effective date of the legislation.

Administrative Law Judge Julia Stern ruled that the union security agreement is not unlawful and doesn’t violate its duty of fair representation by agreeing to the contract. As a result, she dismissed the ULP charges against the district and the union.


The MEA Advantage for Your Wallet

Did you make a 2014 New Year’s resolution to be more healthy? To lose weight? To join a fitness club? If you did, then being an MEA member has its advantages for your health and your wallet.

With your MEA-Michigan Education Association/Access member discounts right now you can enjoy a free 7-day membership at 24 Hour Fitness. Or you can take 15% off at GNC online for vitamins, supplements and sports nutrition. And there are plenty more discounts on health and weight-loss related items waiting for you. Go to www.mea.org and click on Member Benefits to see how being an MEA member can help you keep those New Year’s resolutions.

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