Monday, April 30, 2007

Charter Schools

Charter schools do not adhere to public education rules and regulations.

The charter school legislation is still alive and gaining momentum in the Oklahoma Legislature. The bills would allow large cities, the State Department of Education and certain higher education entities to sponsor a charter school. OEA is against SB 661 and HB 1589 for the following reasons:

Ø Charter schools do not allow teachers to negotiate a contract

Ø Charter schools are not required to pay teachers on the state minimum salary schedule

Ø Charter schools can fire a teacher for any reason, making every teacher an “at-will” employee.

Ø There is no proven research that shows charter schools sponsored by cities or state government entities are successful in the United States.

The Legislature is constantly adding rules and regulations to common education standards, but this legislation will open the door to many entities to open schools without being regulated.

Tax Cuts-Fact 7

Fact 7-Tax cuts do not expand opportunities to increase investments.

Additional revenues are expected in years of strong economic growth. The bountiful years give the state an opportunity to invest in Oklahomans' common prosperity and prepare for the inevitable lean years by further stoking the economic coals with proven fiscal tools: investment in public education, health, technology and infrastructure.

For the entire fact sheet check the web address at http://www.okbudgetalliance.org/pdf/budget/factsheet_TaxCutTRUTH.pdf. For more information about the Alliance, go to http://www.okbudgetalliance.org/.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Tax Cuts-Fact 6

Fact 6-Tax cuts do not encourage new spending.

Since Oklahoma cannot run a deficit, tax cuts do not create new dollars to be spent. In fact, tax cuts may actually lower in-state expenditures since there is no guarantee that taxpayers will invest or spend the tax cut in Oklahoma.

For the entire fact sheet check the web address at http://www.okbudgetalliance.org/pdf/budget/factsheet_TaxCutTRUTH.pdf. For more information about the Alliance, go to http://www.okbudgetalliance.org/.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Virginia Tech Teacher Edcuation Scholarhip Fund

In the wake of the horrific events that occurred on the campus of Virginia Tech, you can make a donation to The Virginia Tech teacher education scholarship. The Janet M. and James F. Johnson Teacher Education Endowment Scholarship supports students who are studying to be teachers.

Making a donation is easy and can be done in 3 simple steps:

1. Write a check payable to Virginia Tech Foundation.
2. In the memo line (bottom right hand corner of the check), write Fund #885814 (NEA)
3. Mail checks to the Virginia Tech University Development, (0336) Blacksburg, VA 24061.

Thank you for your support.

Tax Cuts-Fact 5

Fact 5-Tax cuts do not encourage migration to the state.

In his numerous studies on labor migration, Harvard economist Edward Glaeser finds that the primary factors affecting migration are those that directly affect quality of life: health, safety, education and life amenities.

For the entire fact sheet check the web address at http://www.okbudgetalliance.org/pdf/budget/factsheet_TaxCutTRUTH.pdf. For more information about the Alliance, go to http://www.okbudgetalliance.org/.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Bethany Bargaining Victory

I would like to congratulate the members of the Bethany ACT. Our local retained the bargaining rights when the results of the election were announced. They did an outstanding job of getting factual and positive information to the voters about the success of the ACT as the bargaining agent.

Great work everyone.

True Heroes

Liviu Librescu was more than a hero at Virginia Tech, he was a teacher, a respected professor of engineering. For more on Liviu and his colleagues at Virginia Tech who perished while they were teaching go to http://blogs.usatoday.com/oped/2007/04/the_door_to_roo.html?csp=34.

Tax Cuts-Fact 4

Fact 4-Tax Cuts do not keep Oklahoma competitive.

Oklahoma is already a low tax state. The Tax Foundation ranks Oklahoma as having the fourth lowest combined taxation in the nation. Quality public services and a skilled workforce are what will keep Oklahoma competitive.

For the entire fact sheet check the web address at http://www.okbudgetalliance.org/pdf/budget/factsheet_TaxCutTRUTH.pdf. For more information about the Alliance, go to http://www.okbudgetalliance.org/.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Tax Cuts-Fact 3

Fact 3-Tax cuts do not increase tax revenue.

No economist--conservative or liberal--believes that tax cuts increase revenues. President Bush's former chief economic advisor and Harvard economics professor, Gregory Mankiw, called any economist that said tax cuts pay for themselves a "snake oil salesman trying to sell a miracle cure.

For the entire fact sheet check the web address at http://www.okbudgetalliance.org/pdf/budget/factsheet_TaxCutTRUTH.pdf. For more information about the Alliance, go to http://www.okbudgetalliance.org/.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Tax Cuts Fact 2

Fact 2-Tax cuts do not encourage Oklahoma businesses to invest further or out-of-state firms to locate here.

Investment decisions are based on maximizing profits. Since state taxes don't contribute much to the cost of doing business, they don't factor heavily in investment decisions. In numerous studies on business site selection, the Cooperation for Enterprise Development (CFED) has consistently found that level of taxation is of little significance.

For the entire fact sheet check the web address at http://www.okbudgetalliance.org/pdf/budget/factsheet_TaxCutTRUTH.pdf. For more information about the Alliance, go to http://www.okbudgetalliance.org/.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Fact One about Tax Cuts

The Alliance for Oklahoma's Future released a fact sheet about tax cuts. Over the next few days, I will share all of them with you.

Fact 1-Recent tax cuts have Not significantly contributed to Oklahoma's economic growth.

Oklahoma--like the nation, including states that did not cut their taxes--has been in an economic expansion that began well before state tax cuts took effect. After reviewing hundreds of economic studies, economist Robert Lynch found that state tax cuts have only a minor impact on growth and may have a negative impact if they are accompanied by a decline in public services.

For the entire fact sheet check the web address at http://www.okbudgetalliance.org/pdf/budget/factsheet_TaxCutTRUTH.pdf. For more information about the Alliance, go to http://www.okbudgetalliance.org/.

OEA Honored

On Friday, April 20th, I attended the 2007 Spring Conference of the Oklahoma School Psychological Association. Former Representative Barbara Staggs and I were honored with their Friends of OSPA Awards for our work in getting the bonus for nationally certified school psychologists last session.

I accepted the award on behalf of Candis Hogan and Sandra Reese-Keck and all of our members and staff who made the legislation possible. Both Candis and Sandra were active members in both the OEA and OSPA when the work to pass this legislation began about 5 years ago.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Interesting Perspective

Let me see if I've got this right. You want me to go into that room with all those kids, and fill their every waking moment with a love for learning.

Not only that, I'm to instill a sense of pride in their ethnicity, behaviorally modify disruptive behavior, and observe them for signs of abuse.

I am to fight racism, patriotism, the war on drugs and sexually transmitted diseases, check their backpacks for guns and raise their self-esteem.

I'm to teach them good citizenship, sportsmanship and fair play, how and where to register to vote, how to balance a checkbook and how to apply for a job, but I am never to ask if they are in this country illegally.

I am to check their heads occasionally for lice, maintain a safe environment, recognize signs of potential antisocial behavior, offer advice, write letters of recommendation for student employment and scholarships, encourage a respect for the cultural diversity of others, and, oh yeah, teach, always making sure that I give the girls in my class fifty percent of my attention.

I'm required by my contract to be working on my own time (summers and evenings) and at my own expense towards additional certification, advanced certification and a master's degree, to sponsor the cheerleaders or the sophomore class (my choice) and after school.

I am to attend committee and faculty meetings and participate in staff development training to maintain my current certification and employment status.

I am to be a paragon of virtue larger than life, such that my very presence will awe my students into being obedient and respectful of authority.

I am to purchase supplies, room decorations, bulletin board supplies, supplies for children who can't afford them, and luxury items such as scissors, glue, scotch tape, paper clips, note book paper, red pens, and markers with my own money as there is no money in the budget for these items.

I'm to do all of this with just a piece of chalk, a few books and a bulletin board, and on a starting salary that qualifies my family for food stamps in many states.

Is that all?
Author Unknown

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Remembering OKC


On the 12th anniversary of the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building, let us remember the 168 men, women and children who lost their lives.

May today be the beginning of the end of violence in our world.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Virginia Tech University

My thoughts and prayers are with all those impacted by this tragedy.

Honoring Jackie Robinson

In honor of the 60th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the color line in baseball, many players and some teams wore his jersey number, 42, during Sunday's games. You can get a recap of the activities at http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20070415&content_id=1901218&vkey=news_mlb&fext=.jsp&c_id=mlb.

Ironically, I just finished a historical-fiction novel by Kevin King called "All the Stars Came Out that Night." The book is set in 1934 after the Cardinals' victory over the Tigers in the World Series. A game between major league players and members of the old Negro Leagues is secretly set up and played. While it's both interesting and entertaining, the book is for adults and fans of baseball.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Say NO to ABCTE Again

EMERGENCY ACTION NEEDED!

VOTE NO ON ABCTE AMENDMENT

On Tuesday an ABCTE amendment will be added to SB 481. This action will take place on the House Floor. Please contact your House member today or tomorrow morning and ask them to vote no on the ABCTE amendment.

ABCTE, the AnyBody Can Teach Everything program, allows unqualified people into our classrooms. The program has no GPA requirement, no formal recommendation required, no field observation or experience required, no student teaching experience required, no professional education coursework component, no portfolio requirement, and finally no residency year requirement.

This is an attack on teacher quality. Email your representatives today at
http://capwiz.com/nea/ok/state/main/?zip=73132&action=setaddr&view=myofficials&state=OK&submit=GO.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

A $893 Raise is Not Equal to a $1200 Raise

Our members worked very hard to ensure they got the raise they were promised based on what happened in 2005.

In 2005, the Oklahoma Legislature passed a $1200 average salary increase for all teachers with
intent language that stated:

It is the intent of the Legislature that Fifty-seven Million Seven Hundred Seventy-four Thousand Four Hundred Forty-three Dollars ($57,774,443.00) of the new funds appropriated to school districts through the State Aid formula for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2006, be utilized by the districts for teacher salary increases in the interests of attaining the regional average.

RESULT: OKLAHOMA AVERAGE TEACHER PAY INCREASED $893

The 2006 Legislature passed a $3,000 + step salary increase for all teachers with
guarantee language:

The salary level of each state-paid teacher who was employed in a public school district during the 2005-06 school year shall be increased by at least Three Thousand Dollars ($3,000.00) for the 2006-07 school year,. The salary increase provided for in this section shall be in addition to, and not as a re­placement for, the step increase indicated for the certified employee pursuant to the State Minimum Salary Schedule Oklahoma Statutes.

This year teachers received a $3325 raise compared to an average of $893 that was suppose to be $1200--when people tell you it was the OEA that got the raise for teachers, they are right.

Catoosa continued...

On March 30th, Catoosa teachers Michelle Means and Terry Newton won their board hearings and their jobs were not eliminated. While the victory is important to our teachers, the students of Michelle and Terry are the real winners.

For more information about the hearing, check the Tulsa World web page at http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/article.aspx?articleID=070330_238_A11_spanc25553&breadcrumb=Article%20Search.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Grassroots Lobbying Program

OEA's grassroots lobbying program was held in both Tulsa and Oklahoma City in an effort to meet the needs of the number of people interested in participating in the program. The program is designed to find people who are interested in becoming more actively involved in the legislative process when it comes to legislation that impacts education.

A variety of issues were presented to the groups on Saturday morning including OEA's current legislative agenda. Our members looked at research showing the impact of taxation, economic development and school funding all play in the success of our schools and state. They also discussed a number of issues and concerns with the reauthorization of the "No Child Left Behind Law" and NEA's positive agenda for change to be considered in the reauthoriztion talks.

It was another great meeting of our members coming together on a Saturday to learn about how they can make a difference in the legislative arena.

100 Ideas for Oklahoma

Despite severe weather in the Oklahoma City metro area, including a tornado, many concerned citizens attend the 100 Ideas Initiative for Oklahoma last Thursday evening. The meeting was held in Edmond at Westfield Elementary School where Speaker of the House Lance Cargill talked about the initiative and asked the attendees to be creative. The participants brainstormed in small groups and then presented their ideas, to the larger group, for a better Oklahoma through education. The Executive Director of the program, Thad Balkman, said the goal is to have the best 100 ideas put into book form and presented to the legislature.

The 100 Ideas Initiative is a nonpartisan project to solicit the best ideas for Oklahoma's second century. To learn more about the initiative, you can log onto the web page at
http://100ideasok.org/.