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Green Tour: Join the Environmental Concerns Committee on Saturday, April 11, on a tour of Cleveland’s environmentally-friendly sites and the RTA community bus! We’ll meet at the Great Lakes Science Center with a wind energy presentation by LeedCo. We’ll go up to the deck to see the site on the lake as well. Next we’ll see the Cleveland Botanical Gardens urban farm for a tour and a lesson on urban farming. Then we’ll head on over to the Case Western Reserve Solar Array.
   Optional is lunch at pHuel downtown at noon until 1:00 p.m. They’re providing a sampling of their menu for us—still a full lunch—for $13.
   Cost: Registration of $10 per person is due by Friday, April 3. Limited to 30 participants.

NEA Annual Meeting: Recently, locals have been electing their NEA Representative Assembly delegates. Need a little introduction to the NEA Annual Meeting and Representative Assembly? You can find one on the NEOEA Blog at https://neoea.wordpress.com/2015/03/30/annualmeetingoverview2015/.

NEOEA Scholarships to the OEA Summer Conference: You and your local association can obtain valuable training and save money! OEA will offer its Summer Academy, August 3-5 at the Columbus Hilton Downtown. The theme is "Professionally Speaking: Discover Your Voice. Deliver Your Message." For more information, see the April issue of Ohio Schools or go to http://oeasummeracademy.ohea.org. (This year’s information should be online by May 1; until then, that website will show last year’s lineup.) The deadline for entries is Monday, April 27.

Leadership Summit: Join us at the NEOEA Leadership Summit on Thursday, April 30. Our topic is Developing Local Capacity for Community Organizing and Political Action. OEA staff will cover new ways to connect community outreach and organizing with political action so that local associations, parents, and community allies can come together and create a better learning environment for all students in our schools. We'll begin at 5:00 with a buffet dinner; the program will begin at 6:00 and end at 7:30. Each local president should attend. Admission is free but registration is required.

Community Involvement Grant: Strengthening the relationship between a local school employee union and its community is a key element in building a strong and successful local association. Nothing cements these relationships like working together to benefit others in the community. Participation in community events also offers affiliates the opportunity to enhance their visibility as vital, contributing members of their communities. Find out more about our Community Involvement Grants.

Ready to do those taxes? Find out how much your dues are tax-deductible at http://www.neoea.org/Dues2014.pdf.

NEOEA Day: Our next NEOEA Day is Friday, October 16, 2015. NEOEA Day represents your dues dollars at work. Attending NEOEA Day programs, most of which provide growth opportunities at lower-than-usual prices, is an excellent way to get some of your NEOEA dues dollars back! For more information, go to: http://neoea.org/NewsDetail.aspx?a=755.

Communications Contest: The NEOEA Public Relations Committee is sponsoring a communications contest--honoring printed and/or electronic newsletters. The award recognizes communications distributed directly to members on a regular basis from local affiliates of all types, including Education Support Professionals, DDs, Career Centers, and Higher Education. Winners are recognized at the fall Representative Assembly and in News and Views. The top entries from small, medium, and large associations will receive a monetary award honoring them for their work. An outstanding printed or electronic newsletter shows a BALANCE IN COVERAGE of news from NEA, OEA, and NEOEA, with special emphasis on local association news.

Our Retirees Rock! See the video created for Read Across America at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IJIAjn6ivFk.

Retired Spring Conference: Come join our retirees for our annual Spring Conference on Tuesday, May 12. You'll have your choice of sessions:

  • Health Care Utilization,
  • What I Want My Loved Ones to Know,
  • Legislative Update, or
  • Travel Tips for Retirees

  • Breakfast and lunch will be provided; dessert is an ice cream social. After lunch, you'll have the option of visiting the newly-renovated, interactive Canal Exploration Center at the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Learn how the canal and lock system influenced Ohio’s growth and see Ohio’s only working lock in action.

    Emerging Leaders Cookout: Join us on Friday, June 12, for lunch at the NEOEA Conference Center. We’ll offer you a one-stop shop for information on how to jump-start your local association and make life better for your members. We’ll have prizes, food, and giveaways, but most of all, we’ll have contact with people who can help you make a difference at your workplace. We’re bringing together resources from all over Northeastern Ohio, as well as guests from Columbus, who can show you how to make the association work for your members. Spend an hour networking with them, and join us for lunch.

    New York, New York! Come join us in New York City on NEOEA Day. Tourmeister Dave Baker has a wonderful line-up of events, including a Broadway show!

    Philadephia and Gettysburg Come join us in Philadelphia and Gettysburg. Tour some of America's most famous historic sites including Dobbin House Tavern, the Gettysburg battlefield, Independence National Historic Park, Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, America’s First Post Office, Betsy Ross House, Battleship New Jersey, a ghost tour of Philadelphia, a tour of the Eastern State Penitentiary (home to some of the most notorious criminals such as Al Capone and Willie Sutton), and a guided mural art tour of Philadelphia (world’s largest collection of outdoor public art!

    PlayhouseSquare: Purchase tickets for a discounted rate with a flat $7 handling fee! Go to playhousesquare.org/ceo; enter the promotional code "FAMTIX" and then select "NEOEA". Enjoy!

    I-X Center Indoor Amusement Park: Rides and shows -- all indoors!

    Educational Redlining School Ratings: Join a free continuing series on diversity awareness sponsored by the Heights Community Congress on Friday, April 24, at 7:00 at the Heights Library, 2345 Lee Road, Cleveland Hts.

    President Kim Richards: Things We Can Do to Be Involved — In the last News and Views, I urged NEOEA members to become more involved and to stay more involved in issues important not only to our association and our members but also to the state of education in our schools. I’d like to pick up that theme again this month.
       Our involvement in public policy issues that involve education is vital for many reasons. Did you realize that there are more K-12 teachers in the United States (3.7 million) than there are doctors, lawyers, engineers—other professions requiring a college degree—combined? Teaching is a job, a career, a vocation, a calling—and yet it is a profession more closely critiqued, inspected, and legislated than any other.
       The best educators are those who use a variety of strategies to facilitate learning. In the best sense of what teaching is all about it is our responsibility to use our experience and expertise to help inform policy-making decisions on a variety of issues that affect not only the educators in the profession but the millions of students in our schools as well.
       Let’s take the implementation of standardized testing that is beginning in our schools. Assessments are, of course, an important and necessary aspect of measuring student mastery. But the exponential increase of the amount of time preparing for standardized tests and administering them cuts deeply into time devoted to...teaching and learning in the classroom. In a real sense, to a degree the more we assess, the less opportunity students have to actually learn and master. Moreover, as currently structured, much of the testing won’t actually be used to measure student mastery at all—their purpose is to measure educator performance rather than student knowledge. That is, educators will be evaluated based in part on the results of tests that don’t "count" for the students who take them! And, as recent research has shown, standardized test scores are not the most reliable means of evaluation of educators in any case.
       As Ohio gets ready to implement the new Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) test, it is vital for educators to express to policy makers what we know to be true: the importance of addressing the problems associated with the ongoing implementation of PARCC points up the need to do something about the overall excessive use of testing in our schools. Policy makers allow more instructional time, and less testing, to drive student achievement.
       The issue of standardized testing is not the only one that is of grave concern to education and to educators, but it is the only one that can be explored in any depth in this space at the moment. However, there is much, much more that invites—demands—the active input from educators.
       Congress is currently rewriting the No Child Left Behind law, and the House version [House Resolution 5] would shift some funding from poor districts to richer districts. Committee chair Republican John Kline of Minnesota says it will give parents more school choice and eliminates unnecessary federal programs. The one Ohioan on the House Education Committee is ranking Democrat Marcia Fudge who voted against it. "It is tragic that students in Cleveland and in poor school districts throughout the nation will suffer as a result of H.R. 5.....this legislation weakens public education and siphons resources from poor school districts and reallocates them to wealthier school districts. We are failing a generation of young people. Those who voted for it should be ashamed." The cash-strapped Cleveland City School District alone could lose more than 25% ($14.1 million) of its federal funding. What can we do to be involved? We can make a telephone call today. The number: 866-331-7233; you will be prompted to enter your zip code and will then be informed who your house representative is and how to contact them. Please consider doing so: this issue is now coming to the floor. It is important that we make our voice heard now.
       We have just received Governor John Kasich’s proposed state budget. In it are proposals that "would continue the cannibalization of Ohio’s public schools," in the words of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
       Late last year, the State Board of Education voted to wipe out the 5 of 8 rule under the guise of permitting districts to have "local control" over such staffing decisions. As detailed in the last News and Views, however, this vote is not the absolute final word on the matter—a final vote will be held in March. Now, more than ever, the voices of educators need to be raised to inform the debate.
       These examples are listed here as further evidence that now more than ever educators' voices must be heard. This type of activity is more than political action: it is the necessity of educators taking positive steps—as we do every day in the classroom—to improve educational outcomes for our students.

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