Northwest Education Association

Northwest Education Association The Northwest Education Association is a professional educators union which is affiliated with the NEA, MEA, and the Jackson County Education Association.
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Operating as usual

Music and the brain: Why schools should really fund music education more
02/07/2021
Music and the brain: Why schools should really fund music education more

Music and the brain: Why schools should really fund music education more

Back in high school, if there was one thing I could rely on every year, it was the annual threat that the music program would be cut. Usually, by the time the budget passed in April, these threats became meaningless and the program was saved. However, it was frustrating to hear that every year, the....

Happy holidays NWEA! Thank you for your membership. See you all in January.
12/19/2020

Happy holidays NWEA! Thank you for your membership. See you all in January.

10/19/2020
Maryland State Education Association

Maryland State Education Association

"Thank you. We love you. We're proud of you."

It may get a little dusty wherever you are when you watch this video of students sharing messages with Maryland educators.

10/03/2020
Michigan Education Association

Michigan Education Association

Betsy DeVos isn’t looking out for us, our families, or our students. Take a moment to see the candidates at the federal, state, and local level that are! Find your MEA Recommended Candidates today.

09/17/2020
Devin Siebold - Comedian

Devin Siebold - Comedian

Here are some of my thoughts on how Teachers have been viewed lately with the return to school.

09/14/2020
Lansing Schools Education Association: Teaching Empowered
09/14/2020

Lansing Schools Education Association: Teaching Empowered

Devin Siebold - Comedian
09/12/2020

Devin Siebold - Comedian

Trust me kids, I'm doing you a favor.

Judge Rejects Betsy DeVos Plan To Send Federal Funds To Private Schools
08/22/2020
Judge Rejects Betsy DeVos Plan To Send Federal Funds To Private Schools

Judge Rejects Betsy DeVos Plan To Send Federal Funds To Private Schools

Betsy DeVos had come up with an interpretation of CARES Act aid that directed extra money to private schools. Friday, a Washington state judge issued a stern injunction to stop the DeVos rule from being implemented.

Senate Passes Return to Learn Bills | Michigan Association of Secondary School Principals
08/15/2020
Senate Passes Return to Learn Bills | Michigan Association of Secondary School Principals

Senate Passes Return to Learn Bills | Michigan Association of Secondary School Principals

The Michigan Senate has passed a package of three bills that will largely define a new set of pupil accounting rules and other requirements that districts will have to live under during the 2020-21 school year. HB 5911-13 moved through the Senate on a 23-15 vote and will be taken up by the House thi...

Schools struggling to stay open due to increases in COVID-19
08/14/2020
Schools struggling to stay open due to increases in COVID-19

Schools struggling to stay open due to increases in COVID-19

Across the country, new reports show that more than 167,000 Americans have now died from COVID-19. And as more schools prepare to re-open, some have already had to shut back down due to outbreaks a…

08/14/2020
Michigan State Police

Michigan State Police

The live stream will start at 10:55 a.m. and the press conference will begin at 11:00 a.m.

08/01/2020
Save Michigan's Public Schools

Save Michigan's Public Schools

A letter to the school board from the Farmington Education Association...

Greetings President Green and School Board members,

We hope this message finds you well amongst tremendous pressures and distractions. As important decisions are being made regarding the start of the 2020-21 school year, the Farmington Education Association is interested in a remote start this fall. While other districts are publishing their plans for the start of school, anxiety is at a new level.

In the recent week, we conducted a survey of various FPS teachers. The survey was specific and included the follow items:

Do you understand the hybrid model set forth by FPS?

How safe do you feel returning to the proposed hybrid plan this fall (A/B days)?

Do you understand the safety plan that FPS has put forth?

Are you satisfied with the safety plan that FPS has put forth.

Do you feel that your health considerations have been adequately considered by those individuals making the decisions about schools reopening?

With over 400 teachers responding, the data is clear.

Only 12.7% of the teachers feel safe returning to the proposed hybrid model.

Only 15.4% of teachers are satisfied with the safety plan that FPS has put forth.

Only 14.5% of teachers feel that their personal health concerns have been adequately considered.

We are in extraordinary times, and together we will be most productive for our entire school community, but we need to maintain the focus of safety for our students and staff.

Thank you for your consideration and again, we urge you to support a remote start in FPS for this fall. If possible, we are interested in this letter being read during the next school board meeting.

Sincerely,

Your Farmington Education Association

07/28/2020
Michigan State Police

Michigan State Police

The live stream will start at 1:55 p.m. and the press conference at 2 p.m.

07/27/2020
NEA Today

NEA Today

Join us for a virtual town hall to discuss how parents, educators, students, and communities can advocate for the safe reopening of public schools, facilities, and campuses.

Whether students return to school in person, online, or a hybrid, we need to come together and make our voices heard.

NW Community Comment for Board of Education
07/25/2020
NW Community Comment for Board of Education

NW Community Comment for Board of Education

To provide the public its right to address the Board during meetings and to ensure the orderly conduct of meetings. This form must be submitted by July 27, 2020, at 4:45 pm. In addition, you must be present at the virtual board meeting on July 27, 2020, at 5 PM to present your community comment to t...

MEA Locals Keep Safety at Forefront in Return to School Discussions - Michigan Education Association
07/23/2020
MEA Locals Keep Safety at Forefront in Return to School Discussions - Michigan Education Association

MEA Locals Keep Safety at Forefront in Return to School Discussions - Michigan Education Association

By Brenda Ortega MEA Voice Editor As president of the Grandville Education Association, Blake Mazurek knows that in normal times many members of his local union don’t notice what he and the leadership team do to bargain contracts, advocate for members, and navigate challenges. But everyone is payi...

07/23/2020

DEMAND TO BARGAIN
Re: Roadmap to

The Northwest Education Association hereby demands to bargain with the Northwest Community School District, as provided for under the Public Employment Relations Act, (PERA) as follows:

The Association is demanding to bargain the working conditions issues that directly and indirectly impact the Association regarding the COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plan required by Governor Whitmer's Executive Order 2020-142, in order to open schools safely for students and staff.

The Association is ready to meet and begin negotiations as soon as possible, and will meet its obligation under the Act to work with the Employer in good faith to resolve these issues.

This Demand to Bargain is issued on July 23, 2020 on behalf of the Association by:

Jill A. Laurin-Maxwell
Northwest Education Association President

07/23/2020
07/23/2020
Waverly Community Schools

Waverly Community Schools

Dear Waverly Families,
The Waverly Board of Education has agreed that we should move forward to plan for a full remote/online learning model to begin the 2020-21 school year. We all want to get our students back to the school buildings, but we know that we need to prioritize the safety of our students and staff first. While COVID-19 has changed our lives, we can and will make the best of it!
• We will start the school year with a comprehensive online learning experience with our students from August 31 to September 30. Unlike the spring online experience, this fall is not optional for your students.
• As the September 30th date approaches, we will closely follow and evaluate public health data surrounding COVID-19 to determine the direction the school district will take after September 30. It is possible that online learning will remain an option throughout the 20-21 school year.
• Why September 30th? Governor Whitmer’s current Executive Order is in effect until then. If this Executive Order is not extended, we will apply for the appropriate waivers (if necessary) to continue online learning.
• It is possible that by September 30, our region will be in phase 5 of re-opening. During phase 5, we will re-open for face-to-face instruction. Our hope is to offer an online option for families who are still not comfortable sending their children back to a school building during phase 5 of re-opening.
• After September 30th, we will begin to pull in small groups of students to receive appropriate supports. These small groups will follow all safety protocols recommended by the MI Safe Schools: Michigan’s 2020-21 Return to School Roadmap. As this plan develops, we will share more information.
• All students will be issued an electronic device to use for the 20-21 school year. We would like all of our students using the same device, so we can ensure they can use all of the programs that teachers will be utilizing.
• We are currently looking into expanding our child-care options for students in grades K-6.
We know that you will probably have many questions, some that we don’t have answers to yet. Thank you for your patience, flexibility, and partnership. Please stay well and relaxed during these final weeks of summer. Stay tuned for additional communication.
Yours in education and partnership,
Kelly Blake, Superintendent
Evan Nuffer, Director of Finance and Operations
Tiffany Wright, Director of Student Services
Lara Slee, Director of Teaching and Learning
Matt Corliss, Director of Human Resources

07/22/2020
Michigan Education Association

Thank you to our union! Thank you MEA!

MEA President Paula Herbart: “If medical experts say it’s not safe for us to return to buildings to teach students face-to-face, then we can’t and we won’t.”

Michigan teachers not invited to legislative hearing on reopening schools ⋆ Michigan Advance
07/16/2020
Michigan teachers not invited to legislative hearing on reopening schools ⋆ Michigan Advance

Michigan teachers not invited to legislative hearing on reopening schools ⋆ Michigan Advance

The state House and Senate Education committees met Wednesday to discuss reopening plans for schools this fall amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but an important perspective was left out of the conversation — teachers. Conversations on safe reopening plans, and if in-person learning is a possibility at ...

07/15/2020
Ann Arbor Education Association

Ann Arbor Education Association

July 14, 2020

To the Ann Arbor Public Schools community,

Since school ended on June 12, the discussion around how to safely open up our school buildings has taken on a number of new and important dimensions: the APA, CDC, and the recommendations of Governor Whitmer’s office have been important touchstones as teachers talk about what it takes to return to the classroom. Simultaneously, the community spread of COVID-19 has increased in Washtenaw County, the state of Michigan, and most alarmingly, in states in the South and the Sunbelt. As the U.S. sets records for positive COVID tests and new daily infections, the discussion around school needs to emphasize what it takes to return safely to the classroom.

As educators, we are worried about our students’ academic and social development should school buildings remain closed or school weeks be shortened due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but we are extremely concerned about our students, colleagues, and the community’s health should school buildings open. We love what we do and the vast majority of us would choose in-person instruction over online school any day, but only when it is clearly safe to do so and we are not being asked to risk our lives or the lives of our students and their families to return to AAPS buildings. We ask that AAPS stand on the side of saving lives by continuing with remote schooling in the fall and informing all school personnel and the community as soon as possible so as to allow people time to plan.

While educators generally have a great capacity to model and shape student behavior in constructive and profound ways, we also do not believe that mask-wearing and social distancing alone will work to prevent outbreaks in schools so long as COVID is spreading in a school community and the state and federal government have neglected to provide adequate emergency funding to support local school districts in educating students during the COVID pandemic: on added funding for PPE and improved custodial services, on cleaning and improving HVAC systems, and, perhaps most critically, funding for the added technology and personnel it will take to manage the learning spaces and students we have. We know our superintendent and local legislators are advocating for these very things, and we hope that these resources will be made available to districts sometime in the fall, but hope alone is not enough to risk our children’s well being. We do not simply hope that they are safe when they pedal off on their bicycles or ride in our car: they wear helmets and buckle up.

With the remaining time of summer and whatever time we have in the fall until community spread of COVID in Washtenaw County has halted, we ask that the administration address each of the concerns listed below. Without addressing these concerns, teachers cannot return to the classroom:

I. CONCERNS AROUND PHYSICAL SAFETY OF STAFF / STUDENTS WITH IMPLEMENTATION OF THE STATE GUIDELINES:
The current moment demands that would add a new level of responsibility to our jobs by maintaining specific, nuanced sanitation and hygiene standards on campuses in addition to our other imperative mandate to provide high-quality instruction. Please consider the following concerns and questions that accompany these new health and safety expectations.
· Opening In-Person Too Early: We already know that multiple schools/districts that have opened without proper systems, plans, and resources in place to offer comprehensive health protections have faced major repercussions, including community outbreaks, civil disobedience, and subsequent shutdowns.
· COVID Contraction / Exposure: How will all students and staff be screened for symptoms each day? There is growing evidence that screening methods don’t mitigate transmission risk from asymptomatic or presymptomatic carriers. Given this, how will we keep students who are asymptomatic or presymptomatic carriers from attending school? And what is the protocol when a member of the school community tests positive?
· High-Risk Students and Staff: How do we plan for and support those students and staff whose pre-existing conditions and health risks require that they continue to self-isolate for the foreseeable future?
· HVAC and Air Safety Concerns: We ask that the AAPS bond money allocated for buildings be refocused on immediate upgrades to HVAC systems to support adequate air circulation. We know that the virus spreads primarily through air droplets from speaking, sneezing, and coughing and that infection is created by exposure to the virus over time, so people in enclosed spaces for long periods of time are at high risk of contracting COVID-19. The lack of adequate ventilation in our buildings paired with these two factors creates even higher risks of exposure and spread in our classrooms.
· Lunch, Snacktime, and Recess: Where will students and staff members eat lunch? How will space be created to afford appropriate social distance? How will the pick-up of free and reduced-price lunch and purchased lunches be organized to comply with social distancing requirements? How will students and staff members with food allergies be accommodated? How will recess be monitored or re-imagined, especially when we know that being outdoors is the safest place to be?
· Classroom Cleaning: How, when, by whom, and with what frequency will classrooms be cleaned? Educators have routinely sanitized and cleaned their classrooms on their own time. How will our custodial services be expanded and improved? Who will pay for the thousands of wipes, hand sanitizer bottles, and other resources needed to ensure proper hygiene and sanitation?
· Mask Compliance: What will happen if a student or staff member does not or cannot comply with mask wearing requirements?
· Access to Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Schools are unable to open without proper PPE. This would include masks, gloves, and protective clothing -- all of which are already in short supply and high demand in medical facilities. How will AAPS guarantee provision of PPE for staff to wear at all times when working with students? What PPE will be provided for students, particularly if they cannot afford their own?
· Handwashing: We ask that the AAPS bond money allocated for buildings be refocused on immediate upgrades to temporary handwashing systems in hallways and ensure that all sinks are functional with no-touch soap and hand drying to support recommended practice. How will we ensure students have access to handwashing stations and are actually washing their hands in accordance with expected health standards? When will students wash their hands without crowding one another in the restrooms available to students?
· Restrooms: How will staff and student bathrooms be sanitized so the virus doesn’t spread (given bathrooms can be a hotspot for COVID)? Sometimes 50+ staff share the same single-room bathroom that lacks hot running water. For multi-stall bathrooms, who will monitor them to enforce social distancing?
· Contact Tracing: Who is responsible for contact tracing? Ann Arbor Public Schools? Washtenaw county? Health authorities in so-called Region 1? The state of Michigan? How will contact tracing be provided for students and staff? Will there be a point person at each site to track that information?
· Substitute Teachers and Teacher Absences: Given that there has been a shortage of available substitute teachers, how will we ensure that there is coverage for teachers who either become infected or require 14-day isolation/quarantine? Will there be additional “sick days” allotted for COVID isolation/quarantine protocols? Where does Worker’s Compensation fit into the discussion for teachers who contract COVID?
· Possessions and Shared Objects: How will teachers be expected to enforce backpack and other personal possession distancing for students? Who will be responsible for disinfecting shared objects such as writing utensils, notebooks, school laptops, and iPads, or will students each be expected to bring a personal computer to school? This is a potential equity concern.
· Enforcement of Social Distancing Rules:
· Inside Classrooms: How are teachers expected to enforce student social distancing in classrooms in age-appropriate ways? What happens when a student is not able to appropriately social distance from others?
· Outside Classrooms: Who will be expected to enforce social distancing before and after school, during passing periods, breaks, and meals? How will social distancing be enforced when students remove masks in order to eat?

II. CONCERNS FOR QUALITY OF IN-PERSON INSTRUCTION UNDER THESE GUIDELINES:
Returning to face to face instruction will look and feel radically different. Face-to-face instruction is not a single thing: face-to-face at its best can mean students dialoguing with one another and collaborating on meaningful applications of what they are learning, with a teacher serving as a facilitator and coach; at its worst, the call to face-to-face instruction can move us backwards as a school community--to a period in time when the quality of education was measured only by test scores, where teachers were situated as the only relevant voice in a classroom, and where student experiences were marginalized for the sake of a one-size-fits-all curriculum. This provides an opportunity to reimagine more equitable methods of student assessment and teacher evaluation, but the opportunity can only become a reality if we take our time to continue working with teacher leaders in the AAEA and by including more student voices in the reimagining discussions.

III. ADMINISTRATIVE NEEDS:
In order for staff and students to safely return to school, we would like to see the following:
·14 days with no new cases in the county before we consider going back to face-to-face instruction.
·A Legal Risk Assessment Document, including how to address safety concerns listed above and the number of people who can be in one space at one time and a Human Resources chart or document that supports AAPS employees with decision making based on an individual’s personal and family risk factors.

In summary, we are saying we do not feel safe and that there need to be more concrete protections, comprehensive protocols, and more thorough planning in place for students and for staff. Really, the distinction between the two is irrelevant: the nature of the virus is such that infection to either a student or a staff member means exposure for both, and subsequently, exposure to every single person with whom that infected person comes in contact with, regardless of age or infirmity. That web of exposure in schools with hundreds, or in the case of Ann Arbor’s largest high school, Pioneer, with over 2000 people present on a daily basis, is what keeps us up at night. Those families who are asking “what am I supposed to do with my children while I work?” and “How will my child receive services they are legally entitled to?” are asking honest, critical questions. But those questions need to be answered by policymakers at the state and national level, only some of whom, namely Governor Whitmer, have begun to acknowledge the scope of our current crisis: it is a public health, economic, educational, and social crisis all in one. While summer break may have allowed us to emerge from the emergency school closure that we all suffered through this spring, the pandemic itself continues unabated.

But crises can have silver linings, too: the pandemic has demonstrated that schools serve a suite of important functions in our society above and beyond teaching academic content: schools provide meals, social and emotional supports to our students: schools are the place where children feel most connected to their communities and peers; it is at school where friendships are built, at school where adults mentor children in social, communication, and leadership skills, it is at school where children evolve as people, where the seed for a future that is more diverse, humane, creative, and joyful is planted and nurtured. That future, these school communities, and these children are under threat. But the answer is not to re-open schools before the virus is under control; the answer must be to control the virus and simultaneously address the social inequities and short-sighted motivations of a society, state, and nation that would dare consider risking people’s lives all for political and economic reasons.

As we see it, our state legislature and Congress must refuse the devil’s bargain that they have been faced with: instead, the legislatures must guarantee that funding to schools increases in the coming academic year due to the increased demand for services that schools are faced with; it must repeal corporate tax credits and exemptions that threaten our revenue streams during an economic crisis; it must address the real problem of child care for working parents; it must increase fines and criminal penalties for those who would threaten the safety of others by not wearing masks and disregarding public safety measures; it must suspend standardized tests, which would only verify that students are falling behind because our government cannot control this virus due to political infighting; it must guarantee workplace protections for so-called essential workers.

Some may read this list of legislative demands as impractical; we see them as a baseline for avoiding the utter destruction of our social fabric. We love this district, we love our students, we are thoughtful and take pride in what we do, so it is our fervent hope that it won't take unnecessary illness, exposure, or death to convince you to collectively make decisions that will keep our community safe and engaged in meaningful learning together.

Sincerely,

The Ann Arbor Education Association

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950 W Monroe St
Jackson, MI
49202

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