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FEA VP answering questions about the tax credit voucher lawsuit.FEA, other education stakeholder groups, and individuals file suit to declare Florida tax credit voucher program unconstitutional: The Florida Education Association (FEA), joined by other public education stakeholders and individuals, filed a lawsuit today in Tallahassee challenging the constitutionality of the state’s tax credit voucher program.FEA is joined in the lawsuit by several individuals -- FEA Vice President Joanne McCall; state Sen. Geraldine Thompson; Bob Jones, a public school principal and immediate past president of the Florida Association of School Administrators; Rabbi Merrill Shapiro, Reverend Harry Parrott, Jr., and Reverend Harold Brockus, who are all affiliated with Americans United for Separation of Church and State. Besides those individuals, other public education stakeholders involved in this lawsuit are the Florida School Boards Association, the Florida PTA, the Florida Association of School Administrators, the Florida NAACP and the League of Women Voters of Florida. The suit names Gov. Rick Scott, the members of the Florida Cabinet, the state education commissioner and the state departments of Revenue and Education as defendants. Read more.

Scott’s record on school spending is clear: FEA President Andy Ford made these comments on Gov. Rick Scott’s proposal to raise per-student spending in Florida’s public schools: “The governor has a four-year record on spending for public education and it isn’t pretty. In his first year in office, the Legislature slashed spending for public education by $1.3 billion, though the governor proposed a much bigger cut. That resulted in a per-student spending cut of more than $600 per student. As his bid for re-election has drawn nearer, he has begun to seek restoration of some of those cuts, though per-student spending in Florida is still lower than it was seven years ago. This proposal, which would have to be approved by the Legislature long after November’s election, seems very much like a desperate attempt to win votes to cover his record of neglect of public school students.”

New NEA Leadership TeamNEA Elects Landmark Leadership Team: The nation’s largest union made history at the National Education Association’s annual 2014 Representative Assembly by electing three women of color to their top leadership positions. Unprecedented in U.S. labor history, the NEA became the first major union to boast an all-female, all-minority leadership team. Meet the new team.

Stand strong for unions and working familiesU. S. Supreme Court Chips Away at Worker Rights: “In a narrow 5-4 decision, justices on the Supreme Court once again sided with the rights of corporations over the rights of workers,” said Florida Education Association (FEA) President Andy Ford. “The court continues to chip away the rights workers fought hard to win so that they could even the playing field and create a more fair society. With a wobbly economy, less job security, stagnating wages and attacks on retirement, Americans should expect a Supreme Court that fights for its rights, not a court that defends wealthy corporate interests.” Response to the Harris decision. Read more.

What Will Election 2014 Mean for Education Employees? There’s a funny thing about elections. Voters Vote by mailhave short memories! Most Floridians don't remember how Governor Rick Scott snatched more than $1 billion from public schools, gave it away in the form of new corporate tax breaks and proudly signed the punitive teacher evaluation legislation, SB 736, as his very first bill. This past session, he signed SB-850 which ultimately creates a statewide school voucher system. The 2014 election is our chance to build a strong voter base. Find out how you can help us win in November for our students.

How Does Florida's Expanded Tax Credit Scholarship Law Compare Nationally? Political leaders and school blackboardeducation reformers firmly support diverting tax dollars from public education to religious and private schools. In fact, Florida is among 14 states that have tax-credit scholarship programs, and several have set much higher income caps than Florida's. Read about this alarming trend.

Another Expansion of Unaccountable Corporate Voucher Program is Unwarranted: FEA is exploring its options following Gov. Rick Scott's decision to sign SB-850 into law. The wide-ranging legislation makes major changes to the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Voucher program which provides tax breaks to companies that donate money to nonprofit entities, which in turn gives vouchers to parents to cover the cost of private and religious school tuition. The measure also makes eligibility changes, expanding it from low income to middle class families. “Instead of investing to make every public school as good as it can be, the Legislature and the governor divert a rapidly growing chunk of taxpayer dollars into these voucher schools and the groups that run them,” said Vice president Joanne McCall. Read her comments.

Instructional Alignment and Teacher Evaluation: More evidence that cautions against the use of VAM in American Educational Research Associationassessing teacher quality. Using data from the Gates Foundation MET Project, researchers found little evidence to support a substantial association between instructional alignment and student outcomes as measured by VAMs. The findings also indicate little support for the link between instructional alignment and teacher effectiveness as gauged by the MET composite measure. The authors note that the most plausible explanation for their findings is that “the tests used for calculating VAMs are not particularly able to detect differences in the content or quality of classroom instruction.” Explore the AERA study

FEA Recommends Crist for Governor: The Florida Education Association (FEA) has recommended former Former Governor Charlie Crist governor Charlie Crist (D-St. Petersburg) in his bid to return to the governor's mansion. “As teachers, education staff professionals and supporters of public education, we must make a commitment to change,” said FEA President Andy Ford. “We believe that change is Charlie Crist. We need a governor who truly believes in the promise of quality public education, is experienced enough to envision an agenda that builds on that promise and is equipped with the political courage to insist that partisan politics yield to the needs of our public schools and our public school students.” Read more.

Are We Heading in the Wrong Direction?

 x What does research tell us about the education policies and practices of high-performing countries? Every three-years, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) releases the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) report. Education reformers often use the PISA ranking to support their claim that public education is failing and to push their corporate education reform agendas. But researchers say there is valuable data that's being overlooked. Watch this short video to learn more.

 

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Get Involved: Reclaim the Promise: Parents Overwhelmingly Choose Strong Neighborhood Public Schools over Charters, Choice, Vouchers: "When teachers and parents join together, we can be an unstoppable force to fulfill the promise of education as a pathway to opportunity for all children," says AFT President Randi Weingarten. View the Nationwide Poll.

Global Exploration for Educators Organization GEEO helps teachers explore the world and inspire students to gain a better understanding of different cultures. Spend this summer exploring with (GEEO) Global Exploration for Educators Organization, an organization providing affordable travel opportunities for teachers and ESPs. GEEO offers more than a tour by including  educational aspects to your trip. It's time to pack your bags and check out GEEO.
First Book: We read without thinking about the millions of youngsters who have never owned or read a book. Placing that first book in their hands can transform their lives. Reading can improve academic success. That's why we are asking you to participate in First Book. Register here: http://booksforkids.firstbook.org/register/?rgst=aft

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