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JCTA was first established in 1968. Over thirty-five years later we are the recognized bargaining agent for over 6,000 certified personnel employed by Jefferson County Public Schools. We represent teachers, librarians, speech clinicians, physical therapists and occupational therapists in every one of the public schools in Jefferson County. 

Our mission is to serve as the active voice of our members; promote quality and equity in public schools; expand and protect the rights and interests of our members; and advocate human, civil and economic rights for all.

» Teacher Leadership Opportunity: The HSG KY State Teacher Fellowship

Teacher Leadership Opportunity: The HSG KY State Teacher Fellowship

To Current and Future Teacher Leaders,

At Hope Street Group, our goal is to give educators the opportunity to work together in developing recommendations for policymakers that will be used to improve teaching and learning by leveraging teacher leaders. As we move forward in these collaboration efforts, we are pleased to share with you a special opportunity for current classroom teachers—the Hope Street Group Kentucky State Teacher Fellows program.

Teacher fellows stay in their classrooms full time and work with HSG 10-15 hours each month. They receive a $3,500 stipend for the twelve-month fellowship.

Read more details about the program by clicking on the link above.

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» White Privilege Conference


Chris Harmer
local WPC organizing committee

Dear educators for equality and justice,

I am part of the planning team for the 16th annual White Privilege Conference (www.whiteprivilegeconference.com). As another person working to improve schools in Jefferson County for all students, I'd like to urge you and your colleagues, students, and staff to join us in Louisville in March 2015 for this national gathering.


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» Call To Action: Please Comment by February 2, 2015!

ATTENTION NEA AFFILIATES: New policy brief identifies weaknesses of proposed federal regulations for teacher preparation programs ahead of February 2 public comment deadline

The U.S. Department of Education has drafted proposed new teacher preparation regulations that will affect how teaching programs in states nationwide prepare prospective teachers for K-12 classrooms and even determine state and federal funding well beyond 2020.

The proposal would require states to assess and rate every teacher preparation program every year with four Performance Assessment Levels (exceptional, effective, at-risk, and low-performing), and states would be required to provide technical assistance to "low-performing" programs. Additionally, programs that do not show improvement could lose state approval, state funding, and federal student financial aid.

The proposals are subject to public comments, which face a February 2, 2015, deadline - making the first few weeks of 2015 critical for teachers, educators, higher education personnel, and others to weigh in and make their voices heard.

A new Think Twice review of the Proposed 2015 Federal Teacher Preparation Regulations identifies several significant shortcomings and flaws in the proposed regulations. Kevin K. Kumashiro, Dean and Professor of the School of Education at the University of San Francisco, reviewed the proposed regulations for the Think Twice think tank review project of the National Education Policy Center (NEPC). The project is funded by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice. Dr. Kumashiro is a leading expert on educational policy, school reform, teacher preparation, and educational equity.

The official link to submit comments is https://federalregister.gov/a/2014-28218

Dr. Kumashiro's review studies the evidence and data to provide a critique of the proposed regulations of teacher preparation programs and finds critical deficiencies, ranging from lack of research, to inadequate stakeholder inclusion and feedback, to federal overreach into state-level affairs that could have serious fiscal implications on state-level entities already struggling to balance tight budgets.

The following are central messages from Dr. Kumashiro's review for use in communicating concerns about the proposed regulations:
• The U.S. Department of Education's proposed regulations of teacher training programs are scientifically inadequate and shaped by discredited processes, not by sound research or substantive input from educational experts.
• The regulations will likely burden institutions with costs and labor greater than what the Department of Education estimates, creating a costly unfunded mandate.
• By pegging the quality of teacher preparation programs to K-12 student outcomes such as standardized tests, the regulations unfairly and inaccurately link low student performance to an overall preparation program without accounting for wider environmental factors affecting children, including poverty, family situations, healthcare access and crime.
     o The regulations unfairly attach failure or success of a preparation program to whether young inexperienced recently graduated teachers can perform as well as teachers with years of experience.
• The proposed regulations also disincentivize teachers to work in high-needs schools; limit financial aid to students in need; and discourage under-represented groups from becoming teachers.
• Kumashiro suggests the Department "should lead the country in imagining and building a public school system, a teaching profession, and the teacher preparation programs that serve them, in ways that truly improve education and society."

  Read Article »

» UniServ Director/Political Liaison Vacancy Notice

UniServ Director/Political Liaison Vacancy Notice

External Posting

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» JCTA/WHAS11 Classroom Grants Available

WHAS11 and the Jefferson County Teachers Association have partnered in 2015 to provide grants to JCPS classrooms. Nominations are now being taken through the end of October 2015, and parents, teachers, professors, and members of the PTA can click this link and fill out the nomination form. Two classes will be awarded $550 grants each month during the school year, through 12/31/15.

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» Obama Student Debt Relief

Are you currently working full-time in a public service job? You may qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness.

William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan (Direct Loan) Program Loans  are eligible for Public Service Loan Forgiveness. Loans you received under the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program, the Federal Perkins Loan (Perkins Loan) Program, or any other student loan program are not eligible for PSLF.

If you have FFEL Program or Perkins Loan Program loans, you may consolidate them into a Direct Consolidation Loan to take advantage of PSLF.

Call (888) 364-5287 to qualify your situation now.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness | Federal Student Aid
Under public service loan forgiveness, borrowers may qualify for forgiveness of the remaining balance due on their eligible federal student loans.

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» Prominent business people pour money into Jefferson County School Board races

WDRB article: Prominent business people pour money into Jefferson County School Board races.

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» Halloween Lessons, Activities & Resources

Happy Halloween from JCTA!

Halloween Lessons, Activities & Resources from the NEA.

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» Rides to the Polls - A. Philip Randolph Institute

The Louisville Chapter of the A. Philip Randolph Institute will be giving rides to the polls on Election Day - Tuesday, November 4, 2014 - and they need volunteers. If you are able to donate some of your time on Election Day, please contact Cylister Williams at 558-4009, or leave a message at 774-4834. They will start at 7:00 a.m. and work until 6:00 p.m. Their office address is 1801 Northwestern Parkway, rear office. They will be providing lunch for all drivers.

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» 15 Years - No School Funding Fix

A critical point that advocates for a KTRS funding lawsuit have not acknowledged is the fact that, even in the unlikely event that the plaintiffs of such a lawsuit were to succeed, it would still be up to the legislature to pass legislation to fix the problem. Consider school funding in Ohio. As you can see from this article, the Ohio State Supreme Court has ruled the state’s system of funding K-12 schools unconstitutional four consecutive times, but the Ohio legislature still has not chosen to fix the problem.

Ultimately, KTRS funding is a political/legislative problem that requires a political/legislative solution.

15 Years - No School Funding Fix

  Read Article »

» The National Council on Teacher Retirement Supporting Retirement Security for America's Teachers


Fighting Back: How One State Legislator Is Dealing with the
Arnold Foundation’s Public Pension “Reform” Efforts

A number of national research organizations are actively engaging in the public pension reform debate in several states. In many cases, their work is being supported, directly or indirectly, by grants from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, with assets of more than a billion dollars supporting an anti-DB agenda. But a key Pennsylvania state legislator is pushing back.

By way of background, examples of such “reform” efforts include the Pew Charitable Trusts’ “Public Sector Retirement Systems Project,” being conducted in partnership with―and supported by a grant of $4.85 million from―the Arnold Foundation; and the Urban Institute’s “Public Pension Project,” a joint effort by Urban’s Program on Retirement Policy and State and Local Finance Initiative. The Urban Institute has also accepted a grant of $484,079 from the Arnold Foundation to “expand access to information about public sector retirement systems.”

The Arnold Foundation’s grants are given “not just [to] study or illuminate problems,” in their own words, but rather to “seek transformational change.” The Arnold Foundation believes that the defined benefit (DB) model is “just a bad system,” and that the “way to create a sound, sustainable and fair retirement savings program is to stop promising a benefit and instead promise an accrual or savings rate,” namely by means of either a defined contribution (DC) or cash balance plan.

Recently, as part of its “Public Pensions Project,” the Urban Institute released a report entitled, “Assessing Pension Benefits Paid under Pennsylvania’s State Employees’ Retirement System,” for which the Pew Charitable Trusts provided financial support. Pew has also been meeting recently with Pennsylvania state legislators, and has provided them with recommendations for pension policy and budget discussions.

The Urban Institute’s Pennsylvania report argues that “employees who join the state payroll at relatively young ages and stay for less than 30 years get little, if anything” from Pennsylvania’s existing state pension plan. The report concludes that pension reforms “could distribute benefits more equitably across the workforce,” and points to either hybrid plans that “combine a relatively small traditional defined benefit plan with a 401(k)-type defined contribution plan,” or cash balance plans as alternative plan designs. These reforms “could put more Pennsylvania state employees on a path to a financially secure retirement” than is currently the case under Pennsylvania’s existing DB model, the Urban Institute asserts.

However, the Urban Institute claims are not going unchallenged. On September 29, 2014, Pennsylvania State Representative Joseph Markosek, Chairman of the Pennsylvania House Appropriations Committee, sent a memo to “House Democratic Members and Interested Parties” concerning the Urban Institute’s pension report. He begins by pointing out that the report “attempts to project the retirement benefits that will be provided to short and long-term employees based on age, when they were hired and how long they work.” Urban then recommends a transition from a defined benefit plan to a hybrid or cash balance plan “in order to increase benefits for employees who separate from state service early,” he notes.

However, Representative Markosek says that the “assumptions applied in the report are not fully vetted and do not provide enough context to draw valid conclusions about the positive or negative aspects of either defined contribution or defined benefit plans.” Furthermore, Mr. Markosek notes that the Urban Institute report was funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts, and that both organizations “receive funding from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation.”

“[T]herefore, we were not surprised the authors recommended for Pennsylvania to abandon its defined benefit plan,” Markosek states, specifically noting the Arnold Foundation’s grant to the Urban Institute. He also notes that the Arnold Foundation’s involvement in the public pension debate across the country has been questioned in several news articles, and his memo provides links to some of these stories. Included is one from Pensions & Investments that discusses NCTR’s letter to Pew asking them to end their partnership with the Arnold Foundation and return its multi-million dollar grant.

Markosek concludes his memo by stating that given the “ongoing debate about the Arnold Foundation’s public pension agenda, we are very cautious about using information as sources from organizations that accept funding from the foundation.”

Meredith Williams, NCTR’s Executive Director, commended Representative Markosek for his efforts to make policymakers and others aware of the Arnold Foundation’s involvement. “The Arnold’s have woven an impressive funding web,” Williams said. “Through shrewd grants to well-respected organizations, the Arnold Foundation has, in effect, ‘laundered’ its biased money,” he went on. “In doing so, they have created a false image of many independent, expert voices advancing pension reform along the lines that the Arnold Foundation supports, when there is really nothing there but an echo chamber,” Williams explained.

“I am delighted that Chairman Markosek has called them out on this,” Williams continued. “The Urban Institute may insist that its funders do not determine research findings or influence their scholars’ conclusions,” Williams said. “However, accepting funding from an organization with such a clearly stated, aggressively pursued political agenda―the goal of which is to reject the public sector DB model―could suggest, at least to me, while perhaps not an endorsement by Urban, at least a tacit acknowledgement by them of the legitimacy of the Arnold Foundation’s agenda,” he concluded.

“I think that’s a problem when you are claiming to be unbiased in your analyses and recommendations,” Williams underscored.

“Whether it be a public pension plan refusing to cooperate with ‘research’ funded by the Arnolds, as CalSTRS has done, or a State legislator cautioning his colleagues about using information from organizations that accept funding from the Arnold Foundation, we are slowly fighting back,” Williams said. “It may be a slow process,” he observed, “but that is how you win the race: one step at a time!”

? Markosek Memo on Urban Institute Pension Report

NIRS Describes Importance of Defined Benefit Plans in Congressional Testimony
NIRS’ Executive Director Diane Oakley testified at a U.S. House Ways and Means Subcommittee hearing on September 17, 2014, describing the critical role of defined benefit (DB) pensions in ensuring retirement income security. Focusing on a key issue―predictability for both employees and employers―Oakley told the Subcommittee on Select Revenue Measures that the disappearance of secure retirement income from DB pensions and the trend since 2000 in declining workplace retirement plan coverage overall meant that Americans “face a retirement savings burden that is heavier than ever.”

Congressman Pat Tiberi (R-OH), the Subcommittee Chair, shared NIRS’ concerns. In his opening statement at the hearing on private employer defined benefit pension plans, Tiberi said that the challenges facing employers, employees, and retirees who rely on both single and multi-employer defined benefit pension plans to help provide retirement security “pose serious threats to American workers and employers.”

Tiberi believes that increasing private sector pension costs have hampered both the job growth and capital investment needed to grow the economy and have threatened retirement security for American workers. “The cost of doing nothing is too high a price to pay,” he said, and his hearing was intended to provide “the opportunity to examine challenges facing, and opportunities to strengthen, the defined benefit pension system.”

For example, one area that Tiberi identified as needing attention deals with employees whose employer is transitioning new employees into a defined contribution plan. Tiberi says that they face the prospect of their employer being forced to freeze the defined benefit plan for all employees to avoid violating the Federal tax code’s non-discrimination rules. The Ohio Republican has introduced legislation (H.R. 5381) designed to protect longer-service participants in DB plans that are closed to new entrants by allowing cross-testing between defined benefit and defined contribution plans.

In her testimony, Oakley focused on four key points:

1. DB Plans Provide Predictable Retirement Security to Middle Income Older Americans. NIRS calculates that rates of poverty among older households without DB pension income were approximately nine times greater than the rates among older households with DB pension income in 2010. In addition, DB pension recipient households were less reliant on means-tested cash and non-cash public assistance. For 2010, in what she called “terms important to governments,” that translates into spending “about $7.9 billion dollars less on public assistance to older households because of DB pension income,” Oakley underscored.

2. Role of DB Plans in Retirement Readiness of Near Retirees and Other Workers. Oakley told Subcommittee members that in 2012, only 52 percent of private sector employees age 25-64 had access to a retirement plan on the job—the lowest rate since 1979. She also pointed out a similar trend on a household level, with the share of working families in which neither the head of household nor the spouse participated in a retirement plan through their job increasing from 42.7 percent in 2001 up to 48.7 percent in 2013. Finally, the NIRS chief stressed that the typical household—even one near retirement—has only a few thousand dollars in retirement account assets, nowhere near the $100,000-plus median account for those who actually have such retirement savings.

3. Income Certainty Helping Older Americans Also Helps Steady the Economy. Oakley explained how DB plans play a stabilizing role in the economy similar to Social Security, providing not only a secure source of income for many retired Americans, but also contributing substantially to the national economy. For example, she testified that NIRS found that, in 2012, over $175 billion was paid out in pension benefits from private sector DB pension plans to 12.7 million retired Americans who were beneficiaries of these plans. She said that every dollar that private sector DB plans paid to a retired American in 2012 generated $1.98 of total output in the national economy. “Pension benefits play an important role in providing a stable, reliable source of income regardless of economic climate—not just for retired Americans, but also for the local economies in which their retirement checks are spent,” Oakley said.

4. Greater Uncertainty Pushes a Transition in Private Employer-Provided Pensions. Finally, Oakley discussed the trend in the private sector away from DB plans, noting that only 10 percent of all private employers offered DB pensions in 2011, covering 18 percent of the workforce. She said that this shift has been fueled in part by accounting and government regulations that created more volatility and less predictable balance sheet representations of financial risk and funding cost. Oakley also noted that some researchers say the switch to DC plans becoming the primary retirement vehicle carries other risk for employers, including counter-cyclical workforce trends that may require increased severance pay, raise benefit costs, and result in less job mobility within an organization. She said that recent studies also find employers with DC plans and other accumulation type plans are now finding that older employees are not retiring, causing “choke points” in talent pipelines that lead to increased turnover among younger workers.

“As always, Diane did a great job,” said Meredith Williams, NCTR’s Executive Director. “Not only did she help rebut Andrew Biggs with the American Enterprise Institute, who told a Senate hearing earlier in the week that there was no retirement crisis, but she also helped to point out some very important consequences for American businesses when their older employees cannot afford to retire,” he said.

“I think that this particular impact of retirement insecurity is often overlooked,” Williams continued. “The retirement crisis is not just about retirees and the potential for future increased governmental costs associated with social services for those in need,” he said. “America’s retirement crisis is imposing a real cost on American businesses and the American economy today,” Williams continued. “I agree with Congressman Tiberi: we cannot afford to continue to do nothing, and strengthening DB plans in the private sector is an important step in the right direction.”

“It sure makes a lot more sense to me than trying to destroy DB plans in the public sector,” Williams concluded.

? Oakley House Testimony
? House Hearing Witness List and Testimony

2014 NCTR Annual Conference Spotlight
Pew, Arnold Foundation Panel Offers Chance for Excitement
“Monday afternoon’s panel on the ‘Evolution of Investment Management’ should be pretty exciting stuff,” according to NCTR’s Executive Director Meredith Williams. The discussion, set for 3:00 PM on October 13th, will be moderated by NCTR President Tom Lee, Executive Director/Chief Investment Officer for the New York State Teachers’ Retirement System.

Panelists include:

? Josh McGee, VP of Public Accountability for the Laura and John Arnold Foundation
? Greg Mennis, Director, Pew Public Sector Retirement Systems Project
? Stephen Cummings, CFA, CEO, Hewitt EnnisKnupp, Inc.
? Drew Guff, Managing Director, Siguler Guff
? Gregory W. Smith, Executive Director, Colorado PERA

In June, 2014, the Pew Charitable Trusts and their partner, the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, released a new report entitled “State Public Pension Investments Shift Over Past 30 Years.” This report found that State and local public pension funds have significantly changed their asset-investment strategies, shifting what they refer to as “a large percentage of fund assets” away from fixed-income securities toward equities and alternative investments, including hedge funds and private equity funds.

The report states that “Public pension plans are relying more heavily on risky assets to deliver higher long-term returns in order to keep funding costs low, just as they are simultaneously betting on a much larger risk premium than in the past.” The report concludes that these trends “underscore the need for additional public information on plan performance, insight on best practices in fund governance, and attention to the effect of investment fees on plan health.”

“As prudent investors, public pension plans have indeed made adjustments to their portfolios over the last three decades that reflect both the changes in investment opportunities that have occurred as well as the investment strategies for addressing risk that have evolved,” Williams notes. “Such changes have resulted in substantially greater investment returns than had plan portfolios not undergone such an evolution,” he pointed out.

“In addition, this on-going re-examination of investment policies has been conducted in a very deliberate, thoughtful, and transparent manner, with the extensive input of outside experts as well as in-house staff, trustees, and other government officials,” Williams continued. “The results are well-organized and documented investment policies that clearly state investment objectives and strategies designed to protect plan assets and to achieve the best possible investment yields, consistent with the standards of prudence imposed upon our fiduciaries,” he concluded.

“Therefore, I am not sure exactly why Pew and the Arnold Foundation appear to believe that public pension plans’ investment practices are problematic,” Williams said, “so we decided to ask Mr. Mennis as well as Mr. and Mrs. Arnold to come and discuss this and whatever other concerns they have with public pension plans with us.” While the Arnolds declined, they are sending Josh McGee instead, and Williams said that he commended both organizations for their willingness to engage NCTR members.

“I think it will be a fascinating discussion,” Williams said. “I am also delighted that Steve Cummings and Drew Guff have agreed to join us to help explain public pension investing, how it has indeed changed, and why alternative investments and their fee structures look a little different from other types of investing,” he continued. “Of course, there are perhaps no better public pension pros than Tom Lee and Greg Smith to help run interference,” Williams said.

“I think this panel will just be dynamite,” Williams concluded. “It is truly a ‘must-see’ event, so be sure not to miss it!”

It is not too late to register for NCTR’s 92nd Annual Conference, October 11 through the 15, at the JW Marriott in Indianapolis, Indiana. Will you be there? Representatives of more than 50 public pension systems will. Can you afford not to be?

? NCTR 92nd Annual Conference Agenda
? Conference Registration Information
? Pew/Arnold Report: “State Public Pension Investments Shift Over Past 30 Years”

Leigh Snell
Director of Federal Relations
National Council on Teacher Retirement
lsnell@nctr.org • (540) 333-1015

9370 Studio Court Suite 100 E | Elk Grove , CA 95758 | (916) 897-9139


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» March 30

Transfer Workshop

» April 13

Transfer Workshop

» April 15

Transfer Workshop

» April 16

JCTA Board of Directors Meeting

» April 18

Classroom Management Training - Middle & High

» April 18

Classroom Management Training - Elementary

» April 20

Rep Council Meeting

» April 22

Classroom Management Training - Middle & High Part 1

» April 22

Classroom Management Training - Elementary Part 1

» April 23

Classroom Management Training - Middle & High Part 2

» April 23

Classroom Management Training - Elementary Part 2

» May 9

All-Committee Meeting Day

» May 14

JCTA Board of Directors Meeting

» May 18

Rep Council Meeting

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