Thursday, November 2, 2017

It Has Been A While

Friends-
It has been a while since our last post. Since the summer, Michela Skelton came VERY close to winning the 50th district. While it was difficult to see another strong friend of public education lose their race, we were impressed by Michela's enthusiasm to begin her campaign again. She has vowed to run again!

We must not give up either. In fact, it is so important for us as teachers AND as members to stay engaged. Why? For our students. Without us telling our students' stories, we will not help our legislators, board members and our community understand what is taking place in the classroom, hallways, playgrounds and club meeting rooms. Our students are counting on us to speak up and share THEIR joys and concerns. If we don't, then nothing will change. Remember, our working conditions are our students' learning conditions.

I hope you will join me in our new political season. School Board race will be here before you know it. Midterm elections are just around the corner. So, rest, relax, conduct amazing Parent/Teacher conferences, eat a little turkey, and celebrate your winter holidays with a flourish. After you brush off the confetti from the New Year's celebration, buckle up! 2018 elections are coming and a band of enthusiastic teachers will be knocking on your door, ready to share what our students need the most!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Skelton and Walsh Conduct Radio Forum. Listen!


50th Missouri House candidates Michela Skelton and Sara Walsh participated on a radio forum on Wednesday, July 26th. The special election will take place Tuesday, August 8th. Click on link below picture to listen to the forum.


Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Republicans seek nominee to challenge Sen. McCaskill

Republicans turn to Josh Hawley to challenge Sen. Claire McCaskill

by David M. Drucker | Jul 3, 2017
Josh Hawley, the Missouri attorney general, has emerged as the favorite Republican choice to challenge Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill in 2018.
Republican insiders said Monday that Rep. Ann Wagner's decision not to run for Senate opens the door for the 37-year-old Hawley, who has been telling associates that he wasn't planning a bid. The constitutional conservative with an Ivy League pedigree has sparked the interest of influential Missouri Republicans after winning more votes on the 2016 ballot than any other GOP candidate on the statewide ballot.
"He's a conservative dream candidate. He is young, energetic, attractive, an outsider — a Federalist Society down the line intellectual and to an extent a grassroots conservative. He's a [Utah Sen.] Mike Lee candidate, but better looking," a Missouri GOP insider told the Washington Examiner, on condition of anonymity so as not to publicly favor Hawley over other Republicans who might seek the nomination.
Wagner was recruited by Republican leadership because of her presumed ability to neutralize McCaskill with women and avoid a repeat of 2012, when the senator, vulnerable then as she is now, survived re-election because her GOP opponent, then-Rep. Todd Akin, was so poorly received by women.
But some Republicans say Hawley has gained currency with Republicans in the past few months, quietly replacing Wagner as the preferred recruit of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the NRSC, the party's Senate campaign arm, because he doesn't have a voting record to dissect and might easily unify the GOP base.
In early April, Josh Holmes, McConnell's confidant and former chief of staff, called attention on Twitter to a Kansas City Star story about prominent Republicans urging Hawley to run for Senate.
Wagner is a wealthy St. Louis native who didn't immediately embrace President Trump after he secured the GOP nomination last year, There was concern that McCaskill, a vulnerable but wiley Democrat from Kansas City, might have been able to drive a wedge between Wagner and culturally conservative Trump enthusiasts in exurban and rural Missouri.
"Hawley emerged as the No. 1 draft pick in early spring because he unites the entire Republican base," a Republican strategist in Washington said.
John Hancock, a former chairman of the Missouri Republican Party and longtime political adviser to Wagner, disputed suggestions that the congresswoman was weaker than other potential GOP candidates outside of the suburbs. "She would have been a great candidate. A really good matchup with McCaskill," he said.
Democrats are vowing a spirited challenge regardless of the nominee, charging that Trump is proving to be a drag on the down ticket, although there's no evidence of that in Missouri, where his approval ratings are in good shape — much higher than the national average of around 40 percent.
"Congresswoman Wagner reached the conclusion voters already know: nobody can out-work Sen. McCaskill and no one else would be a more effective champion for the state's working families," David Bergstein, spokesman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said in a statement. "The spotlight will now shift to other potential candidates who have been hiding from the reckless Republican agenda, but for these potential candidates there will be no escape from the GOP's proposals that will hurt Missouri's middle class."
Hawley could have problems of his own if he runs.
Republican candidates that might have deferred to Wagner, active in Missouri politics for 30 years, might jump into the GOP primary. Hawley's young age and short time on the political stage could lead other, more established potential Senate candidates, to take a look at the race. They include Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, who could seed a campaign with a couple of million dollars of his own money; state Treasurer Eric Schmitt, who has an experienced political team around him, and state House Speaker Todd Richardson.
Then there's Hawley's criticism of career politicians, made in his opening and closing television ads for his 2016 attorney general's race.
"Jefferson City is full of career politicians just climbing the ladder, using one office to get another. I'm Josh Hawley; I think you deserve better," Hawley says in the spot, surrounded by men in suits climbing ladders.
Hawley would have to explain why he was having a change of heart and launching a Senate bid less than a year after he won his first term as attorney general. A Republican strategist who has consulted on races in Missouri said Hawley's 2016 campaign wasn't the difficult test that the 2018 Senate race could be, even against a Democrat as vulnerable as McCaskill.
"The case against Hawley is, he's never had to prove himself. He's got this golden-boy glow from afar," the GOP strategist said.

Monday, April 3, 2017

2017 Columbia Public School Board Race

Four members of the Columbia community have decided to run for the Columbia Public School Board. Jonathan Sessions is running for re-election his 4th term on the board. Helen Wade is running for re-election for her 3rd term on the board. Paul Cushing is running for re-election for his 2nd term on the board, and Robin Dianics is the newcomer to the race. Please read about the candidates for the school board. Learn about their positions that are important for CMNEA members, and VOTE on Tuesday, April 4th. CMNEA is providing this information so that individual members may decide on who they wish to see on the school board. CMNEA did not make any recommendations in this year's election.


Robin Dianics Running For Columbia Public School Board

CMNEA School Board Candidate Survey Spring 2017


Image result for Helen Wade school board member




Name:  Robin Dianics  
Occupation: Retired - Insurance Management and Human Resource Management
Employer:    none  
Additional information which may be relevant to your candidacy? 
I am the President/Coordinator of both the Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) Day and After Dark programs, and our MomsNext program for parents of K-12 students. I am a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) of Columbia, the League of Women Voters (LWV), the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), and The Crossing Church of Columbia.  I devote most of my time to volunteer service at The Food Bank of Central Missouri, Coyote Hill Christian Children’s Home, and Samaritan's Purse. I am a mental health advocate and help to educate about maternal mental health to reduce the stigma and misinformation surrounding social, emotional, and behavioral health issues.

 Briefly explain your reason(s) for running for the Columbia Public School Board of Education.

I believe in thinking differently. I believe in our children - our children want to be loved, they want to have fun. I believe in our teachers - our teachers have a passion to give and to make better their student’s future. I believe in our parents - they want to provide for their families, they want their children to be and do better than them. I believe in our community - Columbia is made up of good people who want to help each other. None of this is thinking differently, right? But...I am in the pursuit of these beliefs.

I like people. Technology is wonderful. The Internet is wonderful. We could exchange ideas through email or we could talk on the phone. But real innovation is when people come together and talk, engage in a dialogue. You can hear and see and feel the struggle or passion or excitement that you can’t in the other ways. This is where people advance ideas and it’s where real actions take place.

You cannot replace these human experiences, interactions, coming together and connections and feelings over computers.

We must be in the pursuit of what we believe in.


 If elected to the board, what would be your priority objective?

As a board member, my priority objective will be to increase teacher salary to be more competitive and to fulfill promises that were made and never kept. I also am adamant about adding para/aids to overcrowded classrooms to reduce our teacher:student ratios.

 What do you see as the critical issues currently facing the board?

The next three years of education policies in Washington are unclear. They are making decisions that will impact our schools. But what shouldn’t be unclear is our direction as a community who supports education and families as a #1 priority. And we must make sure, as School Board members, that we hear and see the impact of our decisions. That’s where progress and confidence in our public school system will come from. The less you see and hear the impact that your decisions make, the more damage that can be done to our teachers, students and schools. A disconnection cannot happen.


 What do you see as the role of the Board of Education member in relation to teachers and support staff?

I see our children excelling. I see our teachers empowered in the classroom and happy at home. I see our community rallying to be mentors and volunteers who will work together to make education great for all of our children. Again, it’s because the connections people make with each other. We need to make change for education a human experience.

Isn’t this our future? It must be our future. I am a mother who sees my children’s future and they are excited to go to school. Because of their relationships with their teachers and friends, and because they are curious who will be that week’s letter person. That’s the life I want for them and shouldn’t all kids feel that same way about school? I believe they want to.

I believe in thinking differently. And, by that, I mean I believe in challenging myself and each other to look at all the perspectives of a problem. I want to bring my way of thinking to our School Board.


 In December of 2015, the mandate of high-stakes testing and controlled curriculums of No Child Left Behind ended. In NCLB's place came the "Every Student Succeeds Act." This would allow state and local leaders, along with educational professionals; teachers, to close the opportunity gaps for students by providing a new accountability system that includes an “opportunity dashboard” with—for the first time—indicators of school success and student support. However,  on January 22, 2017 President Trump has placed a halt on President Obama’s ESSA Accountability Regulations. Missouri had hoped to be one of the early states to have its plan in place.  What would an opportunity dashboard look like in Columbia? 

How would you as a board member determine the success of our local schools and students? How would this support look in Columbia? How can CMNEA and the Columbia Public School Board work as a team to help inform our legislation the importance of having our state regulations in place? More about ESSA can be found here: http://www.nea.org/home/65276.htm  and President Trump’s halt here: http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/campaign-k-12/2017/01/essa_trump_white_house_hits_pa.html

An opportunity dashboard here would be the first thing you see when you go to the CPS website. So all community members can see where the district is scoring in various categories. Transparency is key in bettering our communication with faculty and community. Success looks to me as mastery, not test scores. Children and adults both receive information in different ways. Where one child might get the information being communicated instantly another will take various ways of explaining or examples for that child to understand. Adult education is very similar in this aspect. Once the fundamentals are mastered, then we can move on to adding to the levels of mastery. The way it is currently done, if a child misses the information or just doesn’t get it, the teacher must move on with the curriculum, continuing to build on the foundation that wasn’t picked up and the student will now struggle from this point forward. By adding some on-demand programs for teachers to utilize, with real time feedback, we can visually pinpoint exactly where a student is missing the information. We can see how long a student is taking on a question, and offer specific feedback or examples for the child to master the subject before moving on. 


Early childhood educators are hoping that with the implementation of ESSA, age appropriate curriculum and assessments will become a part of Missouri’s and Columbia’s curriculum. How can we help our early childhood educators receive appropriate training to meet the needs of our youngest students?

I believe all families should have access to Parents as Teachers. It is an invaluable resource to better equip parents with the likes of a “walking talking children’s manual”. The educators can use their senses and get a very good picture of the health of a home, the child’s development and give real feedback for not only how to handle behavioral subjects but give valuable feedback and suggestions for teaching as a parent. By having these in-home visits with the same care coordinator a relationship is established and trust is built between parent and educator. In this relationship, the educator can identify emotional issues that may be buried and unidentified in the parent and can offer support and local services for the parent. Spending money in this area of our district, is money will make back in spades. Investing in early childhood education is proven to have a rate of return better than the stock market. These children go on to do better in school and graduate at higher rates than those without that early childhood access to education. 


The employees of this District received a raise for the first time since 1997.  For teachers, it was a 5.25% raise to the base over a total of nine years.  If elected to the board, where will you stand on salary improvements for the sake of attracting and retaining quality educators?

Like I mentioned above, I am frustrated that our best line of defense in empowering and equipping our children is paid in the bottom third of the state’s educators. I believe this is unacceptable and will strive to continually fight for our teachers to get the earnings deserved and the back pay that was promised. If we are going to improve our district with higher quality or established teachers, we are going to need to improve the compensation and benefits packages offered to our teachers and faculty. Parents want teachers who are educationally equipped to handle classrooms with various levels of emotional, social, and behavioral health needs. We want teachers that reflect our community’s celebrated diversity. To do this, we are going to have to start paying better for our teachers to stay in our community. 



Jonathan Sessions- Running for Re-election to the Columbia Public School Board

CMNEA School Board Candidate Survey Spring 2017

Image result for Jonathan Sessions school board member
Name: Jonathan Sessions   
Occupation: Technology Consultant
Employer: Gravity
Additional information which may be relevant to your candidacy?

Briefly explain your reason(s) for running for the Columbia Public School Board of Education.
I was inspired to pursue a degree in education at Mizzou because of my positive experiences in Columbia Public Schools and my family's long-standing involvement as educators. Although I opted to expand my career beyond traditional classroom teaching, my preparation as a teacher informs me daily and my passion to support the educational community of Columbia has not waned. I recognize the importance of a strong public education system to the success of our community. I am now able to give back to the system that was such an integral part of my success.

If elected to the board, what would be your priority objective?
If elected my priority will be to keep the promises made to our community while maintaining a course of continuous improvement. Over my past seven years on the board I have played a key role in such long-term planning decisions, in a rapidly growing community like Columbia, long-term planning is essential and every community deserves to expect that promises made will be promises kept. That will be my objective.

What do you see as the critical issues currently facing the board?
The budget is the largest and most critical issue facing the board. In developing the budget, we need to ensure that Columbia’s public schools will provide the rigorous, well-rounded education our children deserve. It is important to be frugal to maintain fund balances for the accelerated opening of a new middle school, but it is essential that we not lose our focus on the responsibility we have to all children in meeting their educational needs. The current and continued success of Columbia is rooted in a strong, high-quality public education system. 

What do you see as the role of the Board of Education member in relation to teachers and support staff?
The Board's role is to pass the budget, create the policies, and enable the procedures that aid Columbia's dedicated teachers and support staff to educate our children to their individual potential. A board member must seek and value the expertise and knowledge of teachers and support staff when framing his or her understanding of the creation and implication of policy.

In December of 2015, the mandate of high-stakes testing and controlled curriculums of No Child Left Behind ended. In NCLB's place came the "Every Student Succeeds Act." This would allow state and local leaders, along with educational professionals; teachers, to close the opportunity gaps for students by providing a new accountability system that includes an “opportunity dashboard” with—for the first time—indicators of school success and student support. However,  on January 22, 2017 President Trump has placed a halt on President Obama’s ESSA Accountability Regulations. Missouri had hoped to be one of the early states to have its plan in place. 
What would an opportunity dashboard look like in Columbia?
I believe we already have an opportunity dashboard through our Scorecard. It is designed to hold our district accountable from the classroom up to the superintendent.

How would you as a board member determine the success of our local schools and students? How would this support look in Columbia?
Data on the scorecard continues to move in the right direction.

How can CMNEA and the Columbia Public School Board work as a team to help inform our legislation the importance of having our state regulations in place?
Working together alongside our state organizations in our lobbying efforts.

Early childhood educators are hoping that with the implementation of ESSA, age appropriate curriculum and assessments will become a part of Missouri’s and Columbia’s curriculum. How can we help our early childhood educators receive appropriate training to meet the needs of our youngest students?
I would start by determining what we are lacking in early childhood PD. Once we know what we need and what we need to improve I would review our options for support and funding.

The employees of this District received a raise for the first time since 1997.  For teachers, it was a 5.25% raise to the base over a total of nine years.  If elected to the board, where will you stand on salary improvements for the sake of attracting and retaining quality educators?
CPS must regularly evaluate our salary schedule in contrast to our comparison districts and comparable industries. We must keep district keep our salaries competitive so are are able to attract and retain the highest quality educators.


Helen Wade Running for Re-Election to the Columbia Public School Board

CMNEA School Board Candidate Survey Spring 2017

 Image result for Helen Wade school board member

Name: Helen Wade 
Occupation: Attorney Employer: Harper, Evans, Wade & Netemeyer 
Additional information which may be relevant to your candidacy? I specialize in Family Law; this means that I have dedicated my professional career to Columbia’s families and children. I have become accustomed to reaching out to teachers and school administrators to understand a child’s situation as it relates to Family Law issues. I have a personal, vested interest in making CPS the best district and a professional appreciation for the special insight and influence that teachers, schools, and other personnel have on a student’s life. 

Furthermore, I bring a thought process that has been focused on thorough analysis of facts and upon “issue spotting”. My profession requires that a problem or matter be evaluated from many angles and that great care be taken to identify potential issues both at the time the matter presents itself, and later. Often, that process requires the involvement of other people who understand a subject differently or more deeply that I do. Thus, my approach to problem solving and implementation of policy is fairly collaborative and inquisitive. Finally, I have been honored to serve on the Board of Education for the past six years. Over that time, I have learned more and more about the unique issues that face our district. That experience has taught me how to ask the right questions to gain a thorough understanding of each decision that the Board is called upon to make. 

1. Briefly explain your reason(s) for running for the Columbia Public School Board of Education. 

I chose to run for re-election because I continue to believe that a strong and complete public education system is instrumental in improving and preserving our economic growth in Columbia. I believe that education has the power to widen a person’s horizons, and to broaden the scope of choices that they have in life. Finally, I believe that every student can learn and can achieve. In order to see that belief materialize, a school district must have inspirational teachers, dedicated administrators and staff, a creative and considered board, and the interest and participation of the families, caregivers, and communities surrounding the students. As I have considered the issues facing CPS, I feel that continuing to pursue aggressive, fiscally responsible, and creative ways to manage growth, forward thinking approaches to budgeting and delivery of a second-to-none education for all of our students, and preserving transparency and accessibility to our patrons rank high on my priority scale. 


  •  I want to develop and maintain a stronger partnership with the families and caregivers of our at-risk youth. I think that a public school system can offer a stellar, unimpeachable educational program from “bell to bell”, but without significant “wraparound” support (before and after school, and in early childhood programs) from families and caregivers, that system will never reach its potential. Columbia MNEA 
  • In addition, we cannot ignore our gifted and average students. Our district must carefully maintain attention to all students while continuing to be diligent in caring for our most at-risk students. 
  •  Finally, CPS continues to face significant uncertainty with state and federal funding. We are being called upon by our community to address the challenges that have been presented by significant growth in our student population, as well as changes in the needs of that student population. As we move forward to address overcrowding at Gentry Middle School and other schools, it is important to me that we do so while maintaining the promises we made to our community that those funds would be used to continue current operations, open new buildings, provide student support, and recruit and retain high quality employees. 

2. If elected to the board, what would be your priority objective?

It is difficult to identify one single point of pursuit given the issues that CPS continues to face. As I wrote in response to the prior question, our decisions need to be guided by the promises we made to our taxpayers in securing their approval of the bond and levy last year. In doing so, I believe that the transparency with which the district operates and the responsiveness we have been able to provide to our stakeholders was a significant factor in securing those necessary funds. It is important to me that we continue to make our decisions today with an eye to the future with realistic projections of funding available, and to remain conscious and thoughtful stewards of our taxpayers’ funds.

3. What do you see as the critical issues currently facing the board?

Addressing and closing the achievement disparity among our students, managing and utilizing the fiscal resources available to us while maximizing student achievement, keeping the promises we made to our community regarding the use of the bond and levy funds secured last year, and effectively and transparently planning for growth in a manner that ensures students’ access to a comprehensive education in equitable and well-maintained facilities.

4. What do you see as the role of the Board of Education member in relation to teachers and support staff?

As a whole, the Board is a decision-maker from the 20,000 foot view. A Board should be reviewing, implementing, and enforcing its policies after receiving input, information, and education from the public, teachers, staff, and administrators it serves. I do not see the Board’s job as one of micromanagement . Thus, as a member of that Board I believe my job is to seek guidance from those persons who are really interacting daily with our students and our policies – those persons are the teachers and staff members, as well as the parents and caregivers of our students. I must be accessible, willing to listen, and finally decisive. I won’t always be able to make every person in our district happy. But, I will commit to being open to collaborative discussion, willing to admit when I need to be educated, and proactive in identifying areas of improvement. Columbia MNEA In summary, I see my job is to adhere to one standard of decision: student achievement. Thus, my role with teachers and staff will be governed by that standard.

5. In December of 2015, the mandate of high-stakes testing and controlled curriculums of No Child Left Behind ended. In NCLB's place came the "Every Student Succeeds Act." This would allow state and local leaders, along with educational professionals; teachers, to close the opportunity gaps for students by providing a new accountability system that includes an “opportunity dashboard” with—for the first time—indicators of school success and student support. However, on January 22, 2017 President Trump has placed a halt on President Obama’s ESSA Accountability Regulations. Missouri had hoped to be one of the early states to have its plan in place. What would an opportunity dashboard look like in Columbia? 

I think that our dashboard would be similar to our current Scorecard that measures and monitors our financial responsibility, progress in closing the achievement gap, student achievement overall, level of preparation of our students for career/college, student satisfaction, parent satisfaction, safety and organization of our schools, our working environments, the quality of our teachers, and our employee engagement. How would you as a board member determine the success of our local schools and students? I would consult with the data gathered by our district. How would this support look in Columbia? I have to admit that I am not sure what this question is asking insofar as its reference to “this support”. However, if this is referring to the manner in which students would be supported, I would like to see the continuation of our focus on achievement, enrichment, and opportunity.

How can CMNEA and the Columbia Public School Board work as a team to help inform our legislation the importance of having our state regulations in place? By contacting our legislators, and by expressing our support for the implementation of ESSA in Missouri.

6. Early childhood educators are hoping that with the implementation of ESSA, age appropriate curriculum and assessments will become a part of Missouri’s and Columbia’s curriculum. How can we help our early child hood educators receive appropriate training to meet the needs of our youngest students?

ESSA contemplates the use of federal funds for early childhood education. One of these funding opportunities is the Preschool Development Grant for which states may apply to support one year of statewide needs assessment and strategic planning followed by three years of support to expand access and improve quality of early learning programs. This is one example of the way in which early childhood educators may be given access to professional development opportunities to enhance their ability to serve pre-K children.

7. The employees of this District received a raise for the first time since 1997. For teachers, it was a 5.25% raise to the base over a total of nine years. If elected to the board, where will you stand on salary improvements for the sake of attracting and retaining quality educators?

We promised our voters that a portion of the proceeds of the approved levy would be used to attract and retain quality teachers. I intend to keep that promise, at the same time as maintaining our commitment to fiscal responsibility and long-range budget planning.


Paul Cushing Running For Re-election to Columbia Public School Board
CMNEA School Board Candidate Survey Spring 2017

Image result for Paul Cushing school board member 2017


Name:   Paul Cushing
Occupation:  Senior software engineer 
Employer:  White House Custom Color, a professional photography and press printing laboratory, based in Minnesota.  
Additional information which may be relevant to your candidacy?



1.        Briefly explain your reason(s) for running for the Columbia Public School Board of Education.
I am running for re-election for a few reasons. First, I enjoy the work. It's rewarding and I feel I am doing something positive for the community. Second, I want to affect change. I want Columbia Public Schools to continue on the path to being the best school district in the state. In addition to academics, the achievement gap and the work to constantly improve student test scores, I like to focus on prudent financial management, budgeting and frankly questioning anything I don’t understand. Finally, I have finished my first full term. I am familiar with how things work, so a second term makes sense.

2.        If elected to the board, what would be your priority objective?
As a fiscal conservative, I would work to see continued efforts to reduce waste and curb unnecessary spending. Administration has implemented a zero-based budgeting program that is expanding from Aslin to schools. Rather than each school or department receiving a fixed budget, administrators are encouraged to save where they can but are given what they need to run their departments. I would also like to see a positive change in test scores at our struggling schools. We have been making progress but more work needs to be done.
I am a vocational school graduate and life-long learner who has received additional training as I have navigated the workforce. I think that gives me a slightly different perspective and brings a fresh outlook to the board. It is also the reason why I am a champion for vocational education. I would like us to work to find vocational partnerships within our community to better expose kids to potential employment opportunities.

3.        What do you see as the critical issues currently facing the board?

Funding is the biggest ongoing issue we deal with. Next to that it managing growth. Both of those affect how we deal with the achievement gap as well.

4.        What do you see as the role of the Board of Education member in relation to teachers and support staff?
The Board has three main jobs. Hire the Superintendent, Create Policy and Manage the budget. It is my goal to best balance all three of those jobs as best I can. I am always interested in hearing feedback from teachers and support staff and rely on the Superintendent to manage the day to day operations.


5.        In December of 2015, the mandate of high-stakes testing and controlled curriculums of No Child Left Behind ended. In NCLB's place came the "Every Student Succeeds Act." This would allow state and local leaders, along with educational professionals; teachers, to close the opportunity gaps for students by providing a new accountability system that includes an “opportunity dashboard” with—for the first time—indicators of school success and student support. However,  on January 22, 2017 President Trump has placed a halt on President Obama’s ESSA Accountability Regulations. Missouri had hoped to be one of the early states to have its plan in place.  What would an opportunity dashboard look like in Columbia? How would you as a board member determine the success of our local schools and students? How would this support look in Columbia? How can CMNEA and the Columbia Public School Board work as a team to help inform our legislation the importance of having our state regulations in place? 

I think we already have a “dashboard” of sorts with our district report card.

 Early childhood educators are hoping that with the implementation of ESSA, age appropriate curriculum and assessments will become a part of Missouri’s and Columbia’s curriculum. How can we help our early child hood educators receive appropriate training to meet the needs of our youngest students?

I would like to see early childhood education available to any and all students who’s parents would like to take advantage of it. However, our current budget wouldn’t allow it. As federal funds dwindle, we certainly need to keep in place what we have but I am not sure what options will be available to us without those Title funds.


  The employees of this District received a raise for the first time since 1997.  For teachers, it was a 5.25% raise to the base over a total of nine years.  If elected to the board, where will you stand on salary improvements for the sake of attracting and retaining quality educators?

As a board member last year, during our campaign for an additional levy last year, we promised that part of that money would go to “recruit and retain high quality teachers”. That is important to me and I will continue efforts to keep that promise to the voters should I be re-elected.















Sunday, February 26, 2017

Once a Great Idea-Vouchers Fail Schools

Dismal Voucher Results Surprise Researchers as DeVos Era Begins

By Kevin Carey- New York Times

The confirmation of Betsy DeVos as secretary of education was a signal moment for the school choice movement. For the first time, the nation’s highest education official is someone fully committed to making school vouchers and other market-oriented policies the centerpiece of education reform.
But even as school choice is poised to go national, a wave of new research has emerged suggesting that private school vouchers may harm students who receive them. The results are startling — the worst in the history of the field, researchers say.
While many policy ideas have murky origins, vouchers emerged fully formed from a single, brilliant essay published in 1955 by Milton Friedman, the free-market godfather later to be awarded a Nobel Prize in Economics. Because “a stable and democratic society is impossible without widespread acceptance of some common set of values and without a minimum degree of literacy and knowledge on the part of most citizens,” Mr. Friedman wrote, the government should pay for all children to go to school.
But, he argued, that doesn’t mean the government should run all the schools. Instead, it could give parents vouchers to pay for “approved educational services” provided by private schools, with the government’s role limited to “ensuring that the schools met certain minimum standards.”
Continue reading the main story
The voucher idea sat dormant for years before taking root in a few places, most notably Milwaukee. Yet even as many of Mr. Friedman’s other ideas became Republican Party orthodoxy, most national G.O.P. leaders committed themselves to a different theory of educational improvement: standards, testing and accountability. That movement reached an apex when the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 brought a new focus on tests and standards to nearly every public school nationwide. The law left voucher supporters with crumbs: a small demonstration project in Washington, D.C.
But broad political support for No Child Left Behind proved short-lived. Teachers unions opposed the reforms from the left, while libertarians and states-rights conservatives denounced it from the right. When Republicans took control of more governor’s mansions and state legislatures in the 2000s, they expanded vouchers to an unprecedented degree. Three of the largest programs sprang up in Indiana, Louisiana and Ohio, which collectively enroll more than a third of the 178,000 voucher students nationwide.
Most of the new programs heeded Mr. Friedman’s original call for the government to enforce “minimum standards” by requiring private schools that accept vouchers to administer standardized state tests. Researchers have used this data to compare voucher students with similar children who took the same tests in public school. Many of the results were released over the last 18 months, while Donald J. Trump was advocating school choice on the campaign trail.
The first results came in late 2015. Researchers examined an Indiana voucher program that had quickly grown to serve tens of thousands of students under Mike Pence, then the state’s governor. “In mathematics,” they found, “voucher students who transfer to private schools experienced significant losses in achievement.” They also saw no improvement in reading.
The next results came a few months later, in February, when researchers published a major study of Louisiana’s voucher program. Students in the program were predominantly black and from low-income families, and they came from public schools that had received poor ratings from the state department of education, based on test scores. For private schools receiving more applicants than they could enroll, the law required that they admit students via lottery, which allowed the researchers to compare lottery winners with those who stayed in public school.
They found large negative results in both reading and math. Public elementary school students who started at the 50th percentile in math and then used a voucher to transfer to a private school dropped to the 26th percentile in a single year. Results were somewhat better in the second year, but were still well below the starting point.
This is very unusual. When people try to improve education, sometimes they succeed and sometimes they fail. The successes usually register as modest improvements, while the failures generally have no effect at all. It’s rare to see efforts to improve test scores having the opposite result. Martin West, a professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, calls the negative effects in Louisiana “as large as any I’ve seen in the literature” — not just compared with other voucher studies, but in the history of American education research.
There’s always the chance that a single study, no matter how well designed, is an outlier. Studies of older voucher programs in Milwaukee and elsewhere have generally produced mixed results, sometimes finding modest improvements in test scores, but only for some subjects and student groups. Until about a year ago, however, few if any studies had shown vouchers causing test scores to decline drastically.
In June, a third voucher study was released by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a conservative think tank and proponent of school choice. The study, which was financed by the pro-voucher Walton Family Foundation, focused on a large voucher program in Ohio. “Students who use vouchers to attend private schools have fared worse academically compared to their closely matched peers attending public schools,” the researchers found. Once again, results were worse in math.
Three consecutive reports, each studying one of the largest new state voucher programs, found that vouchers hurt student learning. Researchers and advocates began a spirited debate about what, exactly, was going on.
Mark Dynarski of the Brookings Institution noted that the performance gap between private and public school students had narrowed significantly over time. He argued that the standards, testing and accountability movement, for all its political shortcomings, was effective. The assumed superiority of private schools may no longer hold.
Some voucher supporters observed that many private schools in Louisiana chose not to accept voucher students, and those that did had recently experienced declining enrollment. Perhaps the participating schools were unusually bad and eager for revenue. But this is another way of saying that exposing young children to the vagaries of private-sector competition is inherently risky. The free market often does a terrible job of providing basic services to the poor — see, for instance, the lack of grocery stores and banks in many low-income neighborhoods. This may also hold for education.
Others have argued that standardized test scores are the wrong measure of school success. It’s true that voucher programs in Washington and some others elsewhere, which produced no improvements in test scores, increased the likelihood of students’ advancement and graduation from high school. One study of a privately financed voucher program in New York found positive results for college attendance among African-Americans.
But research has also linked higher test scores to a host of positive outcomes later in life. And voucher advocates often cite poor test scores in public schools to justify creating private school vouchers in the first place.
The new voucher studies stand in marked contrast to research findings that well-regulated charter schools in Massachusetts and elsewhere have a strong, positive impact on test scores. But while vouchers and charters are often grouped under the umbrella of “school choice,” the best charters tend to be nonprofit public schools, open to all and accountable to public authorities. The less “private” that school choice programs are, the better they seem to work.
The new evidence on vouchers does not seem to have deterred the Trump administration, which has proposed a new $20 billion voucher program. Secretary DeVos’s enthusiasm for vouchers, which have been the primary focus of her philanthropic spending and advocacy, appears to be undiminished.

Trump to Roll Out Voucher Program for ALL School Districts

When I post for CMNEA - I look for news articles that tell what is happening politically in the educational world. I normally don't post blog entries, but this one is not only well written and researched, but very timely for our state. Please take notice! By the way, the highlight in green is taken directly from NEA's belief on having great public schools for ALL students!


Price Tag for Trump Voucher Program Publicized March 13th?

February 26, 2017
When Donald Trump announced that his $20 billion “plan to provide school choice to every disadvantaged student in America” on September 08, 2016, at an Ohio charter school itself having low grades by the state’s standards, he did not offer details regarding where, exactly, the $20 billion would come from or even how he arrived at that figure.
However, according to the February, 22, 2017, Associated Press (AP), the Trump administration is planning to submit its budget plan to Congress on March 13, 2017.
The degree of detail in that plan remains to be seen, including how Trump’s voucher plan will be financed; whether the dollar amount will be $20 billion, and the number of years associated with such an amount.
As AP reports, Congress already expects Trump budget details to be sketchy:
GOP aides say the plan is due on March 14. They’re expecting Trump’s blueprint to contain fewer details than is typical since it’s a new administration and Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney was only confirmed last week.
Even so, it seems that the DC voucher program– the only federally funded voucher program– is offering a definite “yes” regarding expansion of the program, as Washington Post reporter Emma Brown reports on February 24, 2017:
Kevin Mills, manager of family and community affairs for Serving Our Children, said in a telephone interview that the organization is expecting to expand because of new federal resources. He declined to say how much additional money the organization is expecting to receive, saying that they won’t have a firm number for another week or two.
Meanwhile, US ed sec Betsy DeVos has made it clear that she plans to continue to pitch voucher superiority as she continued campaigning for vouchers in her February 23, 2017, speech at the Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) convention using the worn-out reformer call to defy both “zip code” and “status quo.” An excerpt:
Let me ask you: Do you believe parents should be able to choose the best school for their child regardless of their ZIP code or family income?
(YES!) Me too. And so does President Trump.
We have a unique window of opportunity to make school choice a reality for millions of families. Both the President and I believe that providing an equal opportunity for a quality education is an imperative that all students deserve. …
As Secretary, I don’t think the Department of Education in Washington should have more power over your decisions than you do. I took this job because I want to return power in education back to where it belongs: with parents, communities, and states.
We can do this, but only with your help.
Defenders of the status quo will stop at nothing to protect their special interests and their gig. So we need you to engage, to be loud and to never stop fighting for what we believe. We need you to call, write, email, Tweet and Snap every politician who thinks the status quo is ok and that they know better than you when it comes to your education.
DeVos wants those who agree with her to be vocal. However, she is selling her own status quo, an ideology that touts choice as best because it just is, despite the fact that the very day DeVos gave the above speech, the New York Times carried a powerful piece entitled, “Dismal Voucher Results Surprise Researchers as DeVos Era Begins.”
Researcher Kevin Carey highlights how voucher programs in three states– Indiana, Louisiana, and Ohio– have indeed produced profoundly poor results.
In short, based on research of voucher programs in these three states, the public schools fared much better.
What this means in the world of Trump-DeVos education is that the voucher is being pushed regardless of the evidence that state-level voucher programs are faring embarrassingly poorly.
School voucher superiority is an ideology that Trump says he will finance and DeVos is devoted to proliferating.
By mid-March, America might know just how much the Trump-DeVos voucher non-solution will cost, at least in the short term.
The long-term costs for the thousands of students subjected to dismal “choice” remains to be seen.
trump-devos Donald Trump & Betsy DeVos
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Want to read more about the history of charter schools and vouchers?

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of two other books: A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?.

both books