Friday, February 27, 2009

Amendments to SB 834:Still a Bad Bill

After passing the Senate Education Committee, there are new amendments for this bill that would not allow a school district to deregulate the minimum salary schedule, paying into the teacher's retirement system and continuing to participate in the state health insurance program.

These changes mean that Senator Ford and others are listening to your calls and emails. While the amendments change the original bill, Senate Bill 834 is still a bad bill for kids, teachers and schools.

Elimination of the class size rules makes it extremely difficult for all kids to have the attention they deserve. Class size is one of the most important issues for parents and teachers.

The use of non-certified teachers (not the same thing as highly qualified) and the elimination of professional learning opportunities are serious teacher quality issues impacting children. The single best determinant of a child's success in the classroom is the quality of the teacher.

The lifting of caps on a variety of costs measures, including restriction's on a districts carryover balance will ensure money won't go where it's needed most--to kids and their classrooms.

A bad bill is a bad bill. Please continue to contact your elected officials and voice your opposition to SB 834.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Sapulpa Rep Meeting:SB 834



Last week, I visited Sapulpa where we spent a good deal of time discussing SB834 and its impact to our schools. The Building Reps were united in their opposition to this piece of legislation and are making their voices heard to their respective representatives.

Sapulpa President Carla Cale is doing a great job representing her members. Carla ran a very informative meeting while her BR's did a good job of representing their schools. After the meeting Carla, on my right, posed with me and OEA Communications Specialist Marty Bull (l) and Pat Smith (r) OEA Legislative and Political Organizer.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

RAA:Butner


OEA's Read Across America program made today's stop at Butner Elementary School in Cromwell. No matter what the size of the school, kids need to understand the importance of reading. And the kids were excited about the Cat sharing the stories about Dr. Seuss and following with the reading of "Green Eggs and Ham" that beat out "The Butter Battle Book" in a close vote.

Kids are great wherever we go and I see great things for Oklahoma. There are so many awesome teachers all across the state and they are providing our kids with the best possible education. Some of our districts have better access to resources compared to the larger districts, but our smaller schools find ways to get things done.

The kids, teachers, administrators and parents all take great pride in their school and community and Butner patrons were awesome today.

Monday, February 23, 2009

RAA:Meeker



On Friday, the Cat and I presented the OEA program to students and teachers in Meeker. The kids were excited and we had a great time with them. When it came time for the students to select a book to read, for the first time in memory, the kids at Meeker selected Dr. Seuss' "The Butter Battle Book". Usually kids select "Green Eggs and Ham".

A special thanks to Ms. Duncan, Meeker's Elementary School Principal and teacher Joyce Flowers for putting the program together and to all the teachers and support professionals who viewed our shows.

Pictured with the Cat are Debbie Flowers, Jennifer Colvin , and Joyce Flowers.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

2009 Western Region Leadership Conference

videoSome of you may be wondering what took place at the Western Region Leadership Conference held in Albuquerque, New Mexico in the middle of January. Sadly, all I have is this 6 second video from the Minority Leadership Dinner before I became very ill and bed-ridden.

The OEA had 50 participants and many of our members and staff presented at the conference. All of the attendees had a great time with workshops and they also did a tremendous job in raising funds for the NEA Fund for Children and Public Education.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Oklahomans Against SB 834

Sign up on the "Oklahomans Against SB 834" Facebook page.

2009 RAA:Putnam City



On Monday and Wednesday, OEA's Read Across America Program teamed up with new partner Feed the Children, to drop off thousands of books to metro-area students. Each student received their own book.

In the photos, the Cat in the Hat (OEA staffer Bruce Treadaway) greets students as he arrives at each school. The Cat comes via a Feed the Children truck loaded with books and is usually greeted by a number of students, pictured are from Mrs. Sloan's class at Overholser.

At Lake Park, Principal John Lunn poses with Donna McMullen's class and representatives from Feed the Children Erin Carlstrom, Gary Sloan, James Hart, me and the Cat.

In the final picture, Mrs. Slavin's class thanks us for their books

The program will continue throughout the rest of February and March and is the largest Read Across America Program in the Country.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

SB-834:Deregulation

If you like the situation America is in now because of banking and investment deregulation, imagine the price our schools will pay if Senate Bill 834 is passed. The school deregulation bill is headed to the Senate floor after it passed through the Senate Education Committee by a 7-6 party line vote. (R-D).

The Senators will vote on SB 834 in the coming weeks. The bill is this year’s end-all deregulation bill. It threatens your local association’s right to negotiate a contract and would eventually deregulate all Oklahoma Public Schools.

This bill eliminates the teacher voice and adversely impacts kids with no limits on class size, while doing away with certified teachers and teacher quality through up-to-date professional development.

By eliminating the teacher's voice and school employee's voice, we won't be able to bargain contracts and working conditions including salary, and health benefits. The bill also eliminates due process rights.

Supporters are telling us that "teachers will be taken care of" with this legislation, but it will destroy years of working relationships between superintendents, school boards and our local associations.

Tell your local senator that this is not good for our public schools and they need to vote no on deregulation.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

2009 NFIE Banquet



The first week in February was a busy one. As OEA members were contacting our congressional team from back home, Lori Burris and Becky Felts made stops at the offices of Senators Coburn and Inhofe and Representatives Boren, Cole and Fallin to discuss the Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

During the week, the NEA Fund for Children and Education meeting and the NEA Board Meeting were held as well. And on Friday, February 6th, we attended the 2009 National Foundation for the Improvement of Education Banquet (NFIE).
The NEA Foundation presented its inaugural Award for Philanthropy in Public Education to Verizon Communications and its 2009 Award for Outstanding Service to Public Education to Sesame Workshop at its annual Salute to Excellence in Education awards gala held at the National Museum Building in Washington, DC. Known as the Academy Awards for public education, the Foundation’s gala attracted more than 900 leaders from public education, business, philanthropy and the government.

From Oklahoma and sitting in this photo are Don Linsenmeyer, Patrica and Shiela Tredway from American Fidelity, and standing are my wife Katherine, me, NEA Executive Committee member Carolyn Crowder, Lori Burris-NEA Director, Becky Felts-OEA VP, Gary Tredway (AF), and Greg Johnson-NEA Director.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Legislative Update-SB834

School Deregulation bill hearing next week

Please tell the Senate members you are opposed to Senate Bill 834. The bill is this year’s end-all deregulation bill. It threatens your local association’s right to negotiate a contract and would eventually deregulate all Oklahoma Public Schools. In addition, you will lose the following rights:

*Due process

*No class size limitations

*No teacher quality

*Bargaining a contract

*Minimum salary schedule

*No guaranteed salary

*Health benefits

*Personal leave days

*Payroll deduction of dues.

This is part of the most recent OEA Legislative Update that went to our members on February 11th. We need you to be actively involved in the decisions made at the Capital and you do that by contacting your Senator and Representative and let them know how you feel about legislation that affects your students, your classroom and you.

Please make sure you address SB834. Under Oklahoma law, school districts already have the right to deregulate. This is unnecessary and is more of the same "so-called reform" that is bandied about when legislators don't want to address investing in our kids. Tell your Senators to vote no on SB834.

Don't forget about our OEA Lobby Day on March 25th. For more information and to register go here.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Investing in Education:Economic Recovery

In a quote from the "Oklahoman" Scott Meacham said, "The governor had hoped avoid cutting education, health care, transportation and public safety, but because those agencies make up about 80 percent of the budget that no longer is an option. "

Supporting the economic recovery bill will save jobs and provide funding for all of our districts. Take action and let your voice be heard.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Be Heard: Economic Recovery Bill Moves to “Conference Committee”

Your efforts paved the way for the Economic Recovery Bill to pass the Senate. At one point, education was going to be completely taken out of the bill. Your emails and phone calls replaced the majority of funding.

The House and Senate bills now move to a “conference committee,” which will work out differences between the two bills and bring a final agreement back to the House and Senate for a vote.

Contact your Members of Congress Today! Tell Members of the House and Senate to support as much money as possible for education in the final economic recovery package.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Economic Recovery--Contact Coburn and Inhofe

Senator Coburn and Senator Inhofe need to hear from you-TELL THEM TO PASS THE ECONOMIC RECOVERY BILL.

Thanks to your e-mails from last week, the threatened cuts to education in the Senate economic recovery proposal were largely averted. A compromise reached this weekend leaves much of the education funding that flows directly to local school districts untouched.

This economic recovery package is very important. It will help save jobs and put more money immediately into struggling local economies. It will also reduce pressure on state budgets so more cuts to important programs can be avoided.

The package includes funding flexible funding for local school districts, increased funding for Title I and special education, and tax credits to help school districts finance school modernization and repair.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Encourage Senators to Pass the Economic Stimulus Package

Take action! Tell Members of the Senate to pass the American Recovery and Reinvestment Bill. Senators Coburn and Inhofe need to hear from you. Let them know our schools need their support.