Business Getting Involved in Education Policy Debate

Chaaron Pearson on Wednesday, July 13, 2011 at 5:13:15 pm 

Colorado’s governor, John Hickenlooper, is pushing forward with an aggressive educational policy agenda despite that school districts are being handed cuts of $400 per student.

One reason that Governor Hickenlooper can move ahead with his aggressive education agenda is because of local business buy-in. Corporations in Colorado have been increasingly interested in education policy.

Last year, Colorado passed a statewide “teacher effectiveness” law that ties pay to performance and makes it easier to fire poorly performing teachers. The Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry played a significant role in pushing it through the legislature. Loren Furman, vice president of governmental relations for the association says that business wants to help shape the structure and substance of education in ways that create a skilled workforce in the years ahead and they are content to leave education professions to negotiate proper funding levels.

The Florida Chamber has been ramping up their involvement with education policy due to response from the business community survey citing “a talented workforce” as its top policy priority ahead of taxes and regulations. This led to chamber support of bills aimed at increasing access to charter schools and online learning and also teacher pay for performance – which passed this session.

At the same time chambers and the business community have increased their education policy involvement, state chambers, such as the Florida Chamber and the Pennsylvania Chamber of Commerce, found themselves supporting a state budget with steep cuts to education.

Read more: Business moves to center of school debate
Florida Chamber: Education and Talent Development
Pennsylvania Chamber: Education Policy
US Chamber: Education and Workforce Training Issues

Past PCH blogs on education:
States looking closely at for-profit colleges
State aid shrinks for community colleges as demand rises
Chamber supports Pre-K initiative
Private school vouchers making a comeback
Oklahoma Governor Opposes 744
Race to the Top and Common Curriculum
Race to the Top Winners Announced
Rhode Island School Cleans House
Oklahoma Education Funding
Kentucky Chambers Post-Secondary Education Affordability
Community Colleges See Swelling Ranks
Prepaid College in Texas
Pittsburg Tuition Tax Proposal
Texas Biz Partners to Address Dropouts

Tags: education

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Maryland Unions to Collect Fees from Nonmembers

Chaaron Pearson on Thursday, July 7, 2011 at 1:46:01 pm 

Maryland’s largest state employee union is set to begin collecting fees from nonmembers this month. Maryland joins the District of Columbia and at least 22 other states, including Pennsylvania and Delaware, in allowing state employee unions to collect such fees.

The theory behind the law is that the union furnishes services that impact all employees, such as negotiating health benefits and work conditions, or representing workers in disputes with managers, though fewer than half pay dues. Union officials say the extra money will allow them to improve services.

Beginning in July, Maryland public employees will see union service fees deducted from their biweekly paychecks.

The fees – which will also be collected by smaller unions – are allowed under The Fair Share Act, which the state legislature passed in 2009 largely on a party-line vote supported by Governor Martin O’Malley.

Hundreds of state workers have objected to the new fees. Smaller unions argue these new fees could force smaller unions out of existence.

Read more:
Baltimore Sun: Maryland unions: Thousands of state workers compelled to pay union fees Non-union state workers must pay bargaining units in newly negotiated contracts

Tags: employer-employee relations

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A Vital Biz Relocation Program for Times of Need

Tania Kohut on Wednesday, July 6, 2011 at 10:27:00 pm 

A business relocation program, headed by the Cullman Area (AL) Chamber of Commerce, is proving to be key in the rebuilding efforts of local businesses hit by tornadoes that swept through in late April this year. In the days following the tornadoes, city and county industrial development boards partnered with the Chamber to get a relocation effort under way. According to the Chamber's president, Kirk Mancer, "We first had to compile a list of what was available in the area. Then we developed the form that would describe such assets as the available utilities, number of offices and parking and other information. Once we knew what businesses were looking for we could turn to the specifications for them to review." Today, more than two months after tornadoes destroyed a wide range of houses and businesses, the program has provided information for nearly 20 businesses and professional offices, and it continues to deliver its value. To learn more about the program and find out what the number one lesson learned was, click here.

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The Personal Value
of Chamber Networks

Brad Holt on Tuesday, July 5, 2011 at 2:33:36 pm 

Laura Cook Kroeger has been a long-time member of the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce. As vice president of resource development and external affairs for Gateway Community and Technical College, she’s often experienced many benefits of membership, including, she said, “advocacy, networking with key leaders, legislative assistance and so much more.”

Laura Cook Kroeger and son, Tristan, reunited in Kentucky following his hasty departure from India.

Kroeger’s 23-year-old son, Tristan, had recently completed three months of teaching in India. “He had planned to tour the country for his final three weeks when he received an urgent notification from the embassy discouraging him from any travel,” she wrote.

A team of U.S. Navy SEALs had just killed Osama Bin Laden, and anti-American sentiment was growing in some regions of India. To make matters worse, the previous day a local Indian newspaper had published a front page feature about Tristan, including a photo of the young American living alone in a hostel.

“We had to get Tristan out of there,” Kroeger said.

“Just one mention of my situation to a group following a chamber meeting sparked extraordinary overtures of concern that spread like fire,” she wrote. One colleague immediately emailed clients who had relatives living near Tristan. Another had contacts in the military. Another had a friend who just moved there. “An airport official contacted Delta Airlines which quickly and graciously changed Tristan’s ticket, at no charge, for this emergency.”

For Kroeger, “the years of networking and chamber involvement on behalf of Gateway paid off in a gratifying, unexpected way. There is indeed value in chamber membership both professionally and, on rare occasions, personally. Thank you members of the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce. Your quick actions and amazing individual networks of contacts quickly brought Tristan home to a deeply grateful mother.”

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New Domain Names:
Consider Carefully

Brad Holt on Friday, July 1, 2011 at 2:05:58 pm 

In a move that may enhance internet marketing for national brands as well as cities and regions, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has approved an increase in the number of Internet domain name endings known as top-level domains (TLDs), which would be in addition to the familiar .com, .org and .net.

Under ICANN’s plan, new Internet addresses may end with almost any word in any language, offering more branding opportunities than are available with the current 22 TLDs, which include .jobs, .museum and .travel.

The cost of acquiring a new TLD is steep, and there are risks and added expenses involved in administering your own domain registry business, but chambers of commerce should stay current with this issue and be wary of competitors who might seek a marketing advantage by registering an iconic regional name.  ICANN will publish all TLD applications on its website and allow a period of time to hear objections and resolve disputes. 

In the wake of ICANN’s announcement, several internet publications questioned ICANN’s motives and the actual need for the new TLD naming plan.

  • PCWorld warned that the $185,000 application fee would be kept by ICANN whether the domain was granted or not, and that there was an annual fee of $25,000.
  • Few people have bothered to use existing alternate TLDs such as .travel, .jobs or .museum, raising the question of how much need exists for new TLDs. Most Internet users rely on search engines to locate destinations on the web.
  • Buying your own TLD means you will set up a domain name registration system. ICANN says that an applicant for a new TLD “is, in fact, applying to create and operate a registry business supporting the Internet's domain name system. This involves a number of significant responsibilities, as the operator of a new TLD is running a piece of visible Internet infrastructure.
  • All of the past work done to optimize current web pages for best rankings on search engines could be erased when you switch to a new TLD. On the other hand, some internet experts say domain names are virtually irrelevant because of the efficiency of search

Read More:  Infoworld   PCWorld   Mashable   Evan Williams’ Blog

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All Time High Participation
in Salary Survey

Brad Holt on Friday, July 1, 2011 at 2:05:23 pm 

The most accurate and reliable compensation resource for the chamber industry is now more accurate and more reliable.

Since 2010, nearly 500 individuals have either participated in ACCE’s Salary Survey for the first time or have updated their data, reports
Lisa Sohn, ACCE’s director of research and technology. “It’s a record high,” she said, “and it makes our salary data the most thorough and comprehensive in

Participating CEO members seeking to benchmark compensation numbers may view (at no charge) survey results online using dynamically updated
data on more than 2,500 chamber employees. The salary survey covers 25 different position descriptions, and includes information on benefits. A hard
copy summary is updated every two years and is available to all members to purchase. The 2011 edition will be available later this summer.

To participate in the survey:

  • Go to the "Member Login" page and log in.
  • Then select Resources, and then Access ACCE Salary Survey.
    • To update your information in the salary survey database, click on the link that says
      "Update (or Add) Salary and Benefit Information"
    • To access the results database, click on View Salary and Benefit Information.

This pdf provides instructions on how to add or update information to the salary survey from the "coordinator" website.

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Illinois Governor Signs Workers’ Compensation Reform

Chaaron Pearson on Friday, July 1, 2011 at 10:17:19 am 

The Chicagoland Chamber, along with other business organizations, had been working over the past several months to negotiate the workers’ compensation reform that Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed on Tuesday, June 28.

Quinn signed the bill at a Navistar plant where he said that the bill will “help the employers of Illinois, the workers of Illinois, all of those who are committed to economic growth by designing a law that will help our employers of Illinois reduce their premiums for workers’ compensation insurance by a high amount.”

Gerald Roper, Chicagoland Chamber president and CEO, said “Workers’ compensation reform has been a chamber priority for some time, because it believes in policies that put people back to work now and prepare our state for future prosperity.” He added that “Meaningful reforms covered under this law provide another step toward improving business investment in Illinois and getting people back to work. We are thrilled and greatly appreciative of the support of all who saw the benefits of reforming workers’ compensation.”

Read more: The Chamber Applauds Gov. Quinn for Signing Workers Compensation Reform
The Beacon-News: Gov. Pat Quinn signs workers’ compensation reform
Chicago Tribune: Quinn to sign workers’ compensation reform Tuesday

Tags: Employer-Employee Relations

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