News & Event
Teachers play a critical role in educating and inspiring our children and National Teacher Appreciation Week is an opportunity to thank educators for continuing to provide a safe and compassionate classroom learning experience each and every day.
NEARI encourages Rhode Islanders this week to say “Thank You” by sharing one of the following on social media during Teacher Appreciation Week, May 8-12:
Be sure to use the hashtag #ThankATeacher when sharing!
An equally divided U.S. Supreme Court delivered its decision in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, affirming that public employers have a compelling interest in having strong and effective collective bargaining. The 4-4 decision leaves intact the sound law of Abood v. Detroit Board of Education that has been working for nearly four decades.
At issue in Friedrichs was whether non-union members could share the wages, benefits and protections negotiated in a collectively bargained contract without needing to pay their fair share (agency fee) for the cost of those negotiations. The case was brought by the Center for Individual Rights, an organization funded by corporate special interests that are pushing their own agenda. The National Education Association, the nation’s largest union with more than 3 million members, and the California Teachers Association, are two of the union respondents in the case in addition to the state of California.
“The U.S. Supreme Court today rejected a political ploy to silence public employees like teachers, school bus drivers, cafeteria workers, higher education faculty and other educators to work together to shape their profession,” said NEA President Lily Eskelsen García. “In Friedrichs, the court saw through the political attacks on the workplace rights of teachers, educators and other public employees. This decision recognizes that stripping public employees of their voices in the workplace is not what our country needs.”
The case was thinly veiled attempt to weaken collective bargaining and silence educators’ voices. In response, hundreds of amici curiae or “friends of the court” briefs weighed in to support the union respondents. Twenty-one states, dozens of cities, nearly 50 Republican lawmakers, school districts and public hospitals rose in support of the value fair share fees provide in terms of the effective management of public services. During oral arguments, lawyers for the respondents argued that the current fair share system is a good compromise and common sense solution. Rhode Island is an agency fee state. The court’s decision today left that system in place nationwide.
The Friedrichs case provided a vivid illustration of what’s at stake when it comes to the highest court in the land. It also was an example of how corporations are using the Supreme Court for political agendas rather than what the court was intended: interpreting and upholding the Constitution.
February 23, 2017 - National Education Association Rhode Island (NEARI) President Larry Purtill today released the following statement with regard to President Trump’s revocation of guidance for public schools allowing transgender students to use the bathroom corresponding to their gender identity put in place by former President Obama:
“We’ve been told since the election that the LGBTQ community had nothing to worry about with a President Trump. Yet at his first opportunity he chooses to attack LGBTQ youth. It’s offensive and disgraceful.
It is important to note that Rhode Island state law bans discrimination with regard to public accommodations – including public schools – based on gender identity or expression. Transgender students are today and should always be protected and NEARI will aggressively fight any efforts to roll back policies that keep all children safe from intimidation and harm.
Rescinding federal guidance does not undo legal protections for transgender students. Transgender students are protected by the Constitution and Title IX’s prohibition on discrimination on the basis of sex. This includes when using restrooms and other school facilities.
We will do everything possible to protect, welcome and embrace our transgender students. Every, and I mean every, student deserves that and I will be asking RIDE to take this opportunity to recommit to the existing state law and guidance already in place.
We will not turn our backs on these students. In fact, we’ve got their backs! Politics among adults is one thing, but not protecting every student is outrageous and will not be tolerated.
All students yearn to feel comfortable in their skin and find their place in this world. This holds especially true for LGBTQ youth. It’s easy sometimes when using acronyms to really remember their meaning. The “T” stands for transgender and today and every day we will stand with our transgender students.”
If educators, administrators, parents and students see any act of discrimination or witness bullying or threatening behavior, please report it immediately to your local officials, NEARI (401-463-9630) or GLBTQ Advocates and Defenders (GLAD: 617-426-1350).
Thanks to members' unprecedented, year-long advocacy on behalf of students, the era of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) finally ended when President Obama signed the Every Child Succeeds Act (ESSA) December 10. Students and educators lived with the unintended consequences of the failed NCLB for more than 14 years, including an over-emphasis on standardized testing.
Continuing to advocate for an effective law, more than 9,000 NEA members submitted comments this summer on the U.S. Department of Education’s proposed regulations on accountability under ESSA, far more than any other single group. Now it’s time to submit comments on the proposed regulations on another provision of ESSA: “supplement not supplant,” which requires federal dollars to add to, not replace, state and local dollars. Comparing expenditures among schools tells us little about the resource needs of the students in those schools—what matters is sufficient funding, equitably distributed, to ensure that every student has access to meaningful opportunities to learn. The comment period on “supplement not supplant” ends November 7. Check out the proposed regulations, and then submit your comments.
ESSA furthers all three of NEA's core goals:
"This new law is a well-deserved victory for our nation because the Every Student Succeeds Act will create greater opportunity for every student regardless of ZIP Code.
"Now our work begins in earnest as we shift our attention toward implementation. We look forward to working closely with state and local policymakers, as well as other key stakeholders, to raise our voice to deliver on the promise of ESSA and to provide opportunity for all students."
"ESSA returns decision-making for our nation's education back where it belongs - in the hands of local educators, parents and communities - while keeping the focus on students most in need.
"Educators will have a seat at the table when it comes to making decisions that affect their students and classrooms. This legislation begins to close the opportunity gaps for students by providing a new system that includes an 'opportunity dashboard' with indicators of school success and student support. It reduces the amount of standardized testing in schools so students have more time to develop critical thinking while educators do what they love — teach.
"Senators Reed and Whitehouse, and Congressmen Langevin and Ciccilline have always advocated for educators and students. We thank them for their support in passing this important bill."
January 27, 2017 - Today Senator Jack Reed released a statement in opposition to the nomination of Betsy DeVos for secretary of education. Senator Whitehouse yesterday announced his opposition to DeVos. Reed's statement follows:
“Ms. DeVos flunked her confirmation hearing and is not the right person for the job.
“Our Secretary of Education should be a champion for all children – not someone like Ms. DeVos who suggested that a landmark civil rights law should be left up to states.
“As a lobbyist, Ms. DeVos helped reduce school oversight and accountability in Michigan and promoted the diversion of taxpayer dollars toward private schools.
“Given her ties to for-profit education companies that will be directly impacted by Department of Education decisions, it is hard to fathom how she could fully untangle herself from a thick web of conflicts.
“Neither her background, nor her testimony before the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee inspire confidence that she has the experience or vision necessary to oversee national education policy, including higher education and the management of a $1 trillion student loan portfolio.
“When our students have access to good schools, quality teachers, and high quality college and career education opportunities, there is no limit to what they can achieve.
“But if Ms. DeVos is confirmed, I fear she will take resources away from public school students and direct them to for-profit schools and institutions that share her views. I don’t think that is fair to students and I don’t think Ms. DeVos should be confirmed to lead the U.S. Department of Education. I will vote no.”
NCLB - No Child Left Behind - is the federal education law that has imposed unrealistic mandates on states for the last 14 years. Specifically, its "test, blame, and punish" approach tied federal education aid into standardized test performance. Now, thanks to members' activism, both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives are poised to make significant improvements.
There stands an excellent chance that by the new year, President Obama will have signed a new, vastly improved national education law – the seventh reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Ending NCLB and replacing it with a law that focuses on opportunity for all students is a goal that NEA has been focused on throughout the process.
In July, both the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives passed ESEA reauthorizations – the Every Child Achieves Act (ECAA) and the Student Success Act (SSA), respectively. The two bills are similar in some ways and different in others. It is these differences that Senate and House education committee staff and leaders are ironing out to produce a joint, bipartisan ESEA bill that President Obama can sign into law.
Specifically, NEA believes that the final bill should:
The Senate, in particular, addressed all these key issues. Unfortunately, the current House version includes so-called "Title I Portability," which permits federal funding for disadvantaged children to "follow" students to a public school of their choice (essentially a backdoor to vouchers), which NEA strongly opposes. Read more about the voucher expansion.
Nothing is certain with Congress – bills can be easily derailed – but the finish line for ESEA reauthorization is in sight, and educators and parents have been urging lawmakers to stay focused and deliver a new law. In early November, a coalition of ten leading education and parent organizations, including the NEA, launched a digital campaign urging Congress to "get ESEA done."
Our Rhode Island Congressional delegation - Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse and Jack Reed, and Rep. Jim Langevin and David Cicciline - has been 100 percent in agreement with NEA's position, and has been working to achieve a new ESEA. Thank them for their efforts on behalf of all students.
Members have reached out to needy students through the Children's Fund since 1985. During the holidays, their generosity is overwhelming.
This December, the NEARI Children’s Fund celebrated 26 years of its anonymous gift-giving program, the Gingerbread Express. Nearly 1500 needy students were connected with generous NEARI members and friends, who shopped for holiday presents according to the students' needs and desires.
The Gingerbread Express helped students in South Kingstown, Cumberland, East Providence, Chariho, Providence, Westerly, Burrillville, North Kingstown, Narragansett, and Newport. Some gifts are filtered through the NEARI office, while other local NEARI unions collect their own names and find their own donors. In addition, many classrooms across the state adopt names as a group project. Parents preserve the pride of their children by discreetly picking up their gifts in their respective school offices.
In one case, however, the Gingerbread Express arrives with a flourish. On December 16, Providence’s D’Abate School received a tractor-trailer delivery, courtesy of Teamsters Local 251, which transported the huge gift packages donors purchased for every one of its 400-plus children. NEARI has adopted D’Abate every year since the program began, due to the economic level of its students.
Helping with gift donations this year were companies that adopted large groups of children.
Thanks go to:
The NEARI Children’s Fund was established in 1985 to answer the needs of students coming to school without the basic necessities, such as proper clothing, eyeglasses, school supplies, and more. Any member of the organization may nominate a student for assistance, which is generally provided within 24 hours.
The Children's Fund is fueled by donations and fundraisers. Learn how you can support the Children's Fund all year long!
Find out how
Call the NEARI Children's Fund directly if you see a student in need. The coordinator is Val Staples, and she can be reached at 401-463-9630 ext. 304, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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