Friday, February 24, 2012

staying informed

I remember in my first year of teaching, a very accomplished teacher on my grade-level team told me I needed to stay informed about what was happening in the state legislature around education issues. I thought she was crazy. How could I possibly find the time to keep updated on what was happening at the Capitol?!? But then the No Child Left Behind legislation was passed, altering teaching and learning in major ways from then on. I decided that maybe that teacher was right.

If you've been following the news lately, there is a lot of talk about legislation changing what tenure means for teachers. The same bill would also call for a ranking of schools based on student proficiency and growth. And the pass rate for the MTLE is being discussed. These bills would have a major impact on your contracts, job, and the future for teachers in MN. There are some good things going on too that you should know about. The recent Reading Well by 3rd Grade statute has districts working on plans designed to narrow the dramatic achievement gap we have in MN.

So how can you find out about these bills and statutes? Your districts probably have someone who stays informed on this stuff too, maybe through your union leadership. But there are some things you can do individually to keep updated. There are two daily email blasts you can sign up for to keep updated. The Session Daily for the MN House of Representatives is news from the House on bills. You get a daily email with news from the House, and I just scan the email for anything related to email and then click the link to read those specific stories. For the Senate email subscription, you can choose from the drop-down to receive news on education related bills making their way through the Senate.

You should also know who represents you, so you can send an email to them about your support for or opposition of particular legislation - especially if they happen to be on the education committees on either the House Education Finance, House Education Reform, or the Senate Education committee.

You might not be quite ready to add to your list of things to worry about. And that's perfectly understandable. It can be a goal, something to work on - staying informed. But as you'll find in your teaching career, your jobs, and the way you do business in your classroom has a lot to do with what legislators decide. Staying informed can help you be able to advocate for your profession, your students, and your communities.


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