News & Event
National Education Association Rhode Island (NEARI) President Lawrence Purtill on Wednesday praised Portsmouth High School teacher Risha Pellegrino for her bravery and encouraged districts to review safety policies:
“Our students, faculty and staff deserve a safe place to learn and teach. I am pleased that the Portsmouth administration is reviewing their policies to ensure a safer environment after the teacher assault at Portsmouth High last week.
“The Portsmouth assault is a sober reminder that violence can happen in any community – unfortunately, we have far too many examples nationwide proving that true. This incident does allow an opportunity for all districts across the state to re-examine their policies and explore best practices from across the country in consultation with education and law enforcement professionals. Portsmouth and other Rhode Island districts must keep the review process ongoing and incorporate staff input to be truly effective.
“Most importantly, we are happy the Portsmouth High students are safe and grateful that our member colleague did not sustain serious injuries when her assailant forced his way into the school building. She is to be commended for her heroic efforts in protecting her students from harm.”
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!
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."
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.
WASHINGTON - On November 23, 2016, the Trump administration announced its plan to nominate Betsy DeVos, best known for her anti-public education campaigns, for the position of Secretary of Education. The following statement can be attributed to NEA President Lily Eskelsen García:
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).
WASHINGTON - February 22, 2017 - The Trump administration is planning to release a new plan to rescind federal guidance to protect transgender students from discrimination. The National Education Association, the nation’s largest labor union, reiterated its pledge to double-down on protecting the civil rights of our LGBTQ students and members.
Withdrawing the guidance does not change the law. As most courts have held, Title IX protects transgender students, and only courts, and ultimately the Supreme Court, can change that. Schools have a legal and a moral duty to support all students, including transgender students. In fact, states, school districts, and schools nationwide are supporting and affirming transgender students, and we believe they will continue to do so with or without guidance from the Trump administration.
The following statement can be attributed to NEA President Lily Eskelsen García:
“Every student matters, and every student has the right to feel safe, welcomed, and valued in our public schools. This is our legal, ethical and moral obligation. The Trump administration’s plans to reverse protections for transgender students by rescinding the Title IX guidance, is dangerous, ill-advised, and unnecessary.
“We reject this discriminatory plan because it is a drastic departure from our core values. We don’t teach hate, we do not tell people how to pray, and we do not discriminate against people based on their religion, gender, or identity. Period.
“As the Trump administration threatens our students and our values, we will double-down on our efforts to protect our most vulnerable citizens, including our LGBTQ students and members. We urge more states, school districts, and schools to adopt protections for transgender students. We owe to our students because they need to see us take a bold stand against discrimination whatever form it takes.”
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