Toddlers’ screen time linked to slower speech development, study finds

Reblogged from PBS News Hour by Nsikan Akpan

Hand-held screens might delay a child’s ability to form words, based on new research being presented this week at the annual Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting in San Francisco. This preliminary study is the first to show how mobile devices impact speech development in children, raising a question that fills the minds of many parents: How much time should my child spend with a mobile device?

But for parents who see mobile devices as an education tool, don’t immediately lock away your smartphone or tablet. Here’s what you should know about the risk.

Read more>>

Lawmakers ID Money to Pay For Pension Attack – ACT NOW!

Reblogged from

Senate Republicans had a choice to make this week – fixing roads or gutting school employee pensions – and they decided their priority is to eliminate retirement security for the dedicated professionals who staff our public schools.

Remember that the next time you blow out a tire on a two-foot-deep pothole, but meanwhile – Join the fight to stop this latest attack on public education – Contact your lawmakers NOW.

The Senate on Thursday passed a $56.1 billion budget with $542 million left over – money that Sen. Curtis Hertel (D-East Lansing) proposed should be spent on fixing the state’s deteriorated roads. His amendment failed 18-19 – with seven Republicans joining Democrats voting in favor.

Republican leaders in both the House and Senate have said their top priority for those hundreds of millions of dollars is to close the defined benefit retirement system (MPSERS) to all new school employees.

“That has been my absolute top priority since the day I was elected speaker of the House,” Rep. Tom Leonard (R-DeWitt) told reporters last week. “So if that’s an avenue we can go, if that’s something we can get accomplished, I’m ready for it.”

Keep in mind – the $500 million in additional money required this year to close MPSERS to new hires is only the beginning. The extra costs of shifting new school employees to a defined contribution system, such as a 401(k), would continue for decades.

Just this week, two separate studies were released that projected the costs of eliminating pensions for new school employees. Great Lakes Consulting, commissioned by the legislative news service MIRS, estimated the price tag at $20 billion over 30 years.

Anderson Economic Group, hired by the Michigan Association of School Administrators to conduct a study, additionally found dramatically higher costs for school districts of $100 billion over the current amortization schedule through 2048.

The state’s own fiscal experts peg the added financial burden of closing the system at $3.6 billion over the next five years — with costs of up to $26 billion in the next few decades.

“Too much work has gone into stabilizing MPSERS and paying down its unfunded liabilities, while also reducing costs for the state and for school districts,” said Chris Wigent, Executive Director of the Michigan Association of School Administrators. “These proposals will undo all the progress that has been made and kick the can down the road, guaranteeing that a future legislature will have to fix the problems this will create.”

Significant changes were already made in 2012 that eliminated retiree health care and placed new school employees into a “hybrid” system combining elements of both a traditional defined benefit pension and a 401(k)-style defined contribution plan. The hybrid system is fully funded.

Last December, GOP leaders tried but failed to rush a pension-busting bill through the lame duck legislative session – but their own Republican colleagues balked at the costs involved.

We need to drive that message home again – and add in the fact that continuing attacks on teachers and erosion of school employees’ pay and benefits is contributing to teacher shortages that threaten our children’s future.

Act now to stop this pension attack that threatens the future of public education in Michigan – contact your state Senator and Representative TODAY.

Go to the original post>>

MEA’s Representative Assembly has elected new officers

Teacher Evaluation: It’s About Relationships Not Numbers

Reblogged from Russ on Reading

In an article this week in Education Week, Van Schoales, CEO of A+ Colorado, an education reform think tank, declared that Colorado’s model for teacher evaluation was a failure. This was a model that seemed to possess all the “right stuff” of teacher evaluation that corporate education reformers hold dear (VAMs, growth models, standardized tests, removing teachers who were not performing based on these scores). This is the same model that was supposed to make Colorado “ground zero” for education reform. This is the same model that was lauded by Arne Duncan and the Obama administration as a blueprint for the nation. Schoales says the model, rolled out with much fanfare and hoopla, has failed. He blames implementation (you know all those messy things like trying to implement all this when only about a third of teachers actually teach tested subjects and that teachers were never actually included in the planning).

Yes, Schoales says this was a great idea, implemented badly. While I praise Schoales for admitting the scheme doesn’t work, he has learned the wrong lesson. The very idea upon which this evaluation scheme was built was so flawed that there was never any hope of it being successful. Others have recounted in great detail how value added measures (VAMs) are hopelessly flawed. Both the American Education Research Association and the American Statistical Association have declared VAMs misleading and of limited use. Audrey Amrein-Beardsley has written a great book about it.

But the real flaw in all these reformy teacher evaluation plans is in a failure to see what teacher evaluation really is built on. Teacher evaluation is not built on value added scores, or rubrics, or student scores on standardized tests or even primarily on classroom observations. The great flaw in these reformy schemes, including those MET Studies promulgated by Bill Gates, is that for all their “data” they fail to recognize the most basic of drivers behind evaluation – trust. Teacher evaluation is built on relationships. It is built on the trusting relationship between teachers and supervisors.

Reformers can’t see this very simple and most basic fact of teacher evaluation because they are focused on a fool’s errand of seeking objectivity through numbers and a plan designed to weed out low performers, rather than a plan designed to improve performance of all teachers.

Read more>>

How Students Are Hurt By Replacing School Librarians and Libraries with Computers


There are many ways to enlarge your child’s world. Love of books is the best of all.

~Jacqueline Kennedy

Happy School Library Month to school librarians across the country! We have always known librarians and libraries provide vital support to students and teachers in our public schools. But for years school districts have let go of qualified librarians and they have closed school libraries.

This is often attributed to the growing presence of online learning. In Jacksonville, cuts to school libraries have been fierce with the idea that digital is better and schools must “evolve.”

But there is little research to show that competency-based education (digital learning) or more computer use helps students do well in school. A research study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in 2015, indicates that students do better with less screen time not more. The report suggests that when it comes to technology “too many false hopes” have been raised. With so little, if any, research to indicate tech is better, why throw out what we know works?

Read more>>

Sign Senator Knezek’s Petition on 3% Case

Sen. David Knezek (D-Dearborn Heights) introduced a resolution late Wednesday demanding Gov. Rick Snyder return money illegally taken from school employees’ paychecks from 2010-12, the subject of a seven-year court battle led by MEA and AFT Michigan. 

Three separate court rulings have deemed the law unconstitutional which forced the deduction of 3 percent of school employees’ wages to fund future health care in retirement – a benefit they were not even guaranteed to receive.

In addition to Senate Resolution 37, Knezek is promoting an online petition to pressure the repayment of more than $550 million taken from teachers, counselors, bus drivers, secretaries, custodians, paraeducators, and food service workers, among other school employees.