The Legislature has only nine work days left in 2011 after it returns from break Nov. 29 to get key issues to the Governor for signature.
When it comes to education, the list of issues left to tackle include the collection of school employee union dues, so-called "education reform," and bullying.
While denying it is payback for the recall of Paul Scott, the Republican-led Legislature has SB 636 and HB 4588 on their agenda. Both bills prohibit public employers from collecting union dues via payroll deduction. MEA opposes the legislation. Contact your legislators and let them know that there must be an end to such partisan politics--especially when it doesn’t help kids or education and doesn’t create any new jobs.
Gov. Snyder led the Republican Party message on the recall saying that his administration will “forge ahead with our efforts,” and “This was not about Rick Snyder or the Republican agenda.”
When it came to the Ohio vote, he said, “The country needs a mellower, less confrontational approach to fiscal problems on the state and federal level.” He went on to claim that his new Republican administration has been able to avoid the rancor rocking other Republican governors “by steering clear of challenges to collective bargaining agreements with state employees. “I counseled dialogue and negotiations with union leaders,” he said.
On a 26-11 vote, the Senate passed SB 137 that requires schools districts to have an anti-bullying policy. The bill sparked heated debate, with Democrats criticizing the bill for the loopholes that allow bullying to still happen. Sen. Rick Jones (R-Grand Ledge) is sponsor of the bill.
As passed, the bill provides no real protection against bullying. It allows bullying comments which stem from religious beliefs; it lists no protections for homosexual or disabled students; and it excludes cyber-bullying.
Sen. Gretchen Whitmer (D-East Lansing) blasted the bill for having holes big enough “to drive a Mack truck through and was “worse than doing nothing.” In passionate support of her “no” vote on the bill, Whitmer called the legislation a “Republican license to bully.”
Today, the Senate passed SB 619, 621-623, 709, and 710—all part of the so-called education reform package. The bills passed on party-line votes with SB 619 barely squeaking by. The bills have been referred to the House Education Committee. Only SB 624—mandating schools of choice—is left after tie bars to the bill were broken.
Despite testimony and research showing cyber schools are not an effective alternative to traditionalschools, SB 619 removes all limitations on cyber schools. Democrats offered five amendments—one to limit the amount of state aid a cyber school student would receive to 50 percent; another to require a cyber school website that included management and third-party vendor contracts; and another to make the student/teacher ratio be equivalent to that of public schools—but all of them failed. Sen. Hoon-Young Hopgood (D-Taylor) chastised the Senate for “putting on the blinders” about the effectiveness of cyber schools.
Since the launch of www.KidsNotCEOs.com, more than 35,000 people have viewed the satirical web video on YouTube! Please, keep sharing it with your friends who may not have seen it yet.
More important than just the video, however, are the stories being shared on the site. Parents and school employees have been visiting and telling their stories about the devastating effects of education cuts on their schools and communities. Here are just a few of their stories:
“I’ve been a teacher for 16 years. I have never been so frustrated and frightened for my future, not to mention the future of our children in the state of Michigan…The government, both on a state and national level, talks about how we need to compete with the rest of the world, yet instead of investing more in education our country and our state continue to chip away at education.” - Matthias Krenzer, Teacher, Sterling Heights
Statement from MEA President Steven Cook on introduction of Senate Bill 729
The following statement can be attributed to MEA President Steven Cook in response to today’s introduction of a bill that would apply so-called “Right to Work” laws only to school employees represented by the Michigan Education Association:
“So-called ‘Right to Work’ efforts – whether they apply only to school employees or to all workers in this state – are the wrong approach to helping Michigan’s economy. This is an incredibly divisive issue that will do nothing to create jobs or help students.
SB 618was reported out of the Senate Education Committee this afternoon and now moves to the full Senate. SB 618 allows the outsourcing/privatization of teachers and removes the cap on charter schools.
Committee members voted 3-2 on the bill and on a substitute amendment that broke the tie-bar between SB 618 and SB 624which mandates schools of choice.
An EPIC-MRA news releasetoday reports that 68 percent of Michigan voters are clearly opposed to the outsourcing of teachers to private companies, part of a Senate package of education reforms (SB 618-624). And with other reforms getting mixed reactions, it sets the stage for a divisive public conversation on proposals generated by the Republican-controlled Legislature.
In testimony before the Senate Education Committee on SB 618-624, State Superintendent Mike Flanagan said that while our education system was outdated and needed an overhaul, most teachers aren’t the problem. They’re just the scapegoats who—surprisingly—are feeling “bashed.”
“Teachers can be allies in reinventing education in Michigan, but when I’ve talked about the need for reforms, sometimes it’s taken as an indictment of teachers. People will resist change if they think we’re bashing them,” said Flanagan.