March 19, 2013
Amendments made; SB 359 passes Senate
PDF of the information posted below
SB 359 passed the senate unanimously yesterday. This was after days of discussions had taken place between WVEA, AFT, the leadership of the House and Senate and the governor's staff. Those discussions were targeted at getting our major objections with the bill modified .
The political process is often ugly and seldom makes sense. Both of those were on display with SB 359. The compromise with the Senate was necessary due to what happened in the November election.
The election drastically changed the composition of the House of Delegates. While Democrats retained control of the House it was by a very small margin. A slim 54-46 vote margin is now the difference.
The House was normally where we hope to improve legislation through amendments and we had been able to count on that in the past. With the change in dynamics in the House, their ability to block bad legislation from passing may no longer exist.
More Republicans in the House increased the possibility of the bill being amended to include even more objectionable items – charter schools, merit pay, an increased percentage of student achievement in the evaluation component, etc. Once those proposals were made some would probably draw Democratic support and could have garnered the votes to pass. Those possibilities posed an even greater risk than the governor’s original bill.
The bill does not have all of the amendments we would like to see but it was the best bill we were going to get this session. Much work was done to ensure the hiring would not be subjective, restore components of the school calendar and prevent the reduction of planning time at the secondary level. Further details are listed below.
The House is likely to take the bill and move it very quickly this week with no significant amendments.
Many of you are asking what now? There are still some bills moving through the Legislature and we will continue to monitor them and work to amend them as needed. We will also work to fully educate our members about the details contained in SB 359.
A bigger takeaway is that we have discovered that many of our endorsed candidates in the Senate are not really our friends. After being bombarded with hundreds of phone calls a day from educators many were not willing to listen to our issues and vote with us. Therefore, we focused our efforts on the Senate leadership and governor’s office in order to get amendments added to the bill.
Elections are 18 months away but it is not too soon to look for candidates that are supportive of education employees. Together we can elect pro education lawmakers that will listen to education employees.
The amendments to the bill include:
• Set a 48 week window in which the school calendar must be completed. Restored pay for holidays, 5 Faculty Senate days and 6 OSE days. It also guarantees school will not be held on Saturday.
• Took the first set of hiring criteria and added objectivity by weighting. The set of criteria now includes: appropriate certification; amount of experience related to the position; amount of coursework, degree level or both in the relevant field; academic achievement; National Board Certification; Specialized training as listed in the job posting; seniority; other measures or indicators upon which the applicant can be fairly judged; principal recommendation and Faculty Senate recommendation. All the criteria are equally weighted with the exception of the principal recommendation and Faculty Senate recommendation. Those 2 criteria are double weighted.
• Restored language for Faculty Senate members to participate in interviews, receive training and be paid their daily rate if training or interviews occur outside the 200 day contract or beyond the regular work day.
• Clarified that seniority is county seniority for both RIF and transfers
• Limited the number of times a position could be posted before it must be filled. The original bill let the posting occur indefinitely. The amended bill sets a limit of reposting a classroom teaching position once if the first posing results in less than 3 applicants. Principal postings may be reposted as many times as necessary if less than 3 applicants apply.
• Capped the movement of employees due to an enrollment loss. Employees can be moved up to the end of the second month and the employee retains their due process rights.
• Increased planning time for elementary teachers from 30 minutes to at least 40 minutes while preserving the time secondary teachers are currently allotted for planning.
• Removes the authorization for Teach for America and creates a study of all alternative education paths
• Clarifies the effective date of the bill so it will not affect school calendars in the 2013-14 school year. The effective date is July 1, 2013.
March 6, 2013
Your calls to the Senate are urgently needed!!! The Senate is expected to vote on their committee substitute for SB 359 at their meeting this Thursday. The Chamber of Commerce and other business groups are asking their members to flood the Senate with calls supporting the bill.
Your Senators need to hear from you again. Reaffirm our position on the bill’s key issues:
• HIRING – make sure seniority remains one of the criteria and that all criteria used are weighted equally.
• TEACH FOR AMERICA (TFA) – we are opposed to Teach for America.
• PLANNING – all teachers should have a minimum of 45 minutes for planning. Collaboration also needs to be built into the work day.
• CALENDAR – the calendar must have a timeframe for completion and the Faculty Senate days must be restored.
It is important that you, your friends and colleagues contact your senators and deliver our message on SB 359.
Thanks for all of your hard work so far and keep up the calls and emails coming!
Senators Phone Email
Clark S. Barnes (R) 357-7973 firstname.lastname@example.org
Robert D. Beach (D) 357-7919 email@example.com
Craig Blair (R) 357-7867 firstname.lastname@example.org
Donna J. Boley (R) 357-7905 email@example.com
Sam Cann (D) 357-7904 firstname.lastname@example.org
Mitch Carmichael (R) 357-7855 email@example.com
H. Truman Chafin (D) 357-7808 firstname.lastname@example.org
Bill Cole (R) 357-7843 email@example.com
Donald H. Cookman (D) 357-7980 firstname.lastname@example.org
Larry J. Edgell (D) 357-7827 email@example.com
Douglas E. Facemire (D) 357-7845 firstname.lastname@example.org
Rocky Fitzsimmons (D) 357-7918 email@example.com
Mike Green (D) 357-7831 firstname.lastname@example.org
Daniel J. Hall (D) 357-7807 email@example.com
Mike Hall (R) 357-7901 firstname.lastname@example.org
Evan H. Jenkins (D) 357-7956 email@example.com
Jeffrey V. Kessler (D) 357-7801 firstname.lastname@example.org
Arthur Kirkendoll (D) 357-7857 email@example.com
William R. Laird IV (D) 357-7849 firstname.lastname@example.org
Brooks McCabe (D) 357-7990 email@example.com
Ronald F. Miller (D) 357-7959 firstname.lastname@example.org
David Nohe (R) 357-7970 email@example.com
Corey Palumbo (D) 357-7880 firstname.lastname@example.org
Robert H. Plymale (D) 357-7937 email@example.com
Roman Prezioso (D) 357-7961 firstname.lastname@example.org
Herb Snyder (D) 357-7957 email@example.com
Ron Stollings (D) 357-7939 firstname.lastname@example.org
Dave Sypolt (R) 357-7914 email@example.com
Gregory Tucker (D) 357-7906 firstname.lastname@example.org
John Unger, II (D) 357-7933 email@example.com
Chris Walters (R) 357-7866 firstname.lastname@example.org
Erik Wells (D) 357-7841 email@example.com
Bob Williams (D) 357-7995 firstname.lastname@example.org
Jack Yost (D) 357-7984 email@example.com
IMMEDIATE ACTION NEEDED!
Punitive to employees – little true reform
SB 359 - Governor’s Education Reform Bill
The much anticipated reform agenda of the governor was introduced and will begin moving through the Senate. The only true reform measures in the governor’s bill that have the potential to increase student achievement are full day pre-K and modifications to teacher prep programs and professional development. Unfortunately, the majority of the 179-page bill is directed at teachers and other education employees.
Here are a few of the most egregious parts of his bill:
1) Hiring criteria to become subjective – uses a single set of criteria; no equal weighting of criteria; lumps new hires and veteran teachers into the same hiring pool; uses criteria such as academic achievement; amount of course work in the relevant field and “other indicators upon which the qualifications can be fairly judged”. This opens the hiring process to nepotism, cronyism and the “good ole boy” days of the past.
2) Planning periods may be reduced – changes language to “…planning period shall be the length of the shortest class taught by the teacher and may not be less than 30 minutes.” At a time when more time is needed, he wants to reduce the little planning time teachers have.
3) School calendar undergoes massive changes – requires 180 separate and full days of instruction; no paid holidays; all time missed must be made up including late starts and early dismissals; teachers not paid for days school is not in session due to inclement weather; employees must work until they reach 180 instructional days and 200 days of employment; removal of the 43 week limit to the school calendar; only one Faculty Senate day per year is required; and it eliminates all ISE days.
4) Teach for America – allows Teach for America (TFA) to provide non-certified college grads to teach; 2-year contracts and may be renewed for 1 additional year. Clearly they have no value for the skills or training needed to perform your work.
Other items in the bill include: allowing transfers to occur anytime of the year; relaxing qualifications for county and state superintendents; reposting positions multiple times even if certified applicants apply; new student assessments and much, much more. Senator Eric Wells is also looking to add language to address teacher absenteeism.
The continued attacks against teachers must stop! The items listed above are not things that will improve student achievement. They are simply punitive measures designed to reduce the rights/benefits of employees. Our elected leaders need to hear from you about these anti-employees measures included in the governor’s bill.
Use your Voice! Contact your Senators and Governor Tomblin (304-558-2000 or email) today and let them know the measures listed above and included in the Governor’s Education Bill (SB 359) are not acceptable to employees and they will do nothing to improve student achievement.
Let them know you are tired of the attacks against teachers!