Feature

The Truth About the Mackinac Center

The shadowy Mackinac Center for Public Policy is the largest right-wing, state-level policy think-tank in the nation.

One of its primary goals is to dismantle public education in Michigan, replacing traditional public schools with profit-making institutions.  In a leaked email sent to state Rep. Tom McMillin, R-Rochester Hills, the Mackinac Center’s senior legislative analyst admitted, “Our goal is outlaw government collective bargaining in Michigan, which is practical terms means no more MEA.”

Hyper-partisanship leads to House passage of EAA bill

The overly partisan atmosphere in the Michigan Capitol led to the state House narrowly passing legislation yesterday to expand the Education Achievement Authority — without protections for students, teachers and education support staff.

House Bill 4369, which passed by a 57-53 margin, allows the EAA to take over up to 50 public schools across the state that are deemed to be in the state's bottom 5 percent — without so much as conducting an educational audit to determine the specific problems facing the schools in question. The EAA would also be allowed to create new charter schools within two miles of a so-called "failing" school.

In addition, public school employees transferred to EAA schools would lose their collective bargaining rights. An amendment to the bill late Thursday allows current school employees hired by an EAA school to remain members of the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System – but new EAA employees would not be in the system.

House could vote this week on EAA school takeover legislation

The state House may vote this week on House Bill 4369, which would create a statewide "takeover" district called the Education Achievement Authority that would take over local schools, eliminate employees' collective bargaining rights and silence the voices of local citizens.

 
MEA members are urged to contact their state representative and tell them to oppose the EAA legislation. Click here to find contact information for your legislators.
 
The EAA would be allowed to take over up to 50 public schools across the state that are deemed by arbitrary and flawed rankings to be in the state's bottom 5 percent. The bill would also allow the EAA to create new charter schools within two miles of a so-called "failing" school.

UPDATE: House committee passes EAA legislation

 

The state House Education Committee today passed House Bill 4369, which would create a statewide “takeover” district called the Education Achievement Authority. The bill will next come up for a vote before the full House of Representatives, although analysts don’t yet know when.

All of the Republicans on the committee voted in favor of the bill, with the exception of Rep. Bob Genetski, R-Saugatuck, and Rep. Tom Hooker, R-Byron Center, who voted “present.” All Democrats voted no, except Rep. Thomas Stallworth III, D-Detroit, who also voted “present.”

MEA members are urged to contact their lawmakers and urge them to oppose the EAA legislation. Click here to find contact information for your legislators.

Contact your legislators now — House panel could take up EAA legislation today

The state House Education Committee may vote Wednesday on House Bill 4369, which would create a statewide “takeover” district called the Education Achievement Authority.

MEA members are urged to contact their lawmakers and urge them to oppose the EAA legislation. Click here to find contact information for your legislators.

The committee is meeting at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday in Room 519 of the Anderson House Office Building, 124 North Capitol Ave. in Lansing.

Currently a pilot program in Detroit, the EAA would be allowed to take over up to 50 public schools across the state that are deemed by arbitrary and flawed rankings to be in the state’s bottom 5 percent. The bill would also allow the EAA to create new charter schools within two miles of a so-called “failing” school.

Contact your lawmakers and tell them:

  • Rather than addressing specific problems facing local school districts, House Bill 4369 would eliminate the time-honored tradition of neighborhood schools, allowing state government bureaucrats to impose their will over local parents and communities.
  • Proponents tout the Detroit EAA’s alleged effectiveness, even though it has only been in place for a few months and has already demanded a government bailout. Under this legislation, taxpayers could be forced to bail out the statewide EAA at the expense of their own local schools.
  • The Legislature just took steps to stabilize the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System, but House Bill 4369 would destabilize the state’s pension plan by reducing the number of employees paying into the system.
  • The bill strips away basic employment rights of school employees in buildings put under EAA control, taking away their ability to provide meaningful input on issues like curriculum, class sizes and school safety. In addition, school employees transferred to an EAA school would unfairly lose the retirement benefits they’ve already paid for.

EAA school takeover legislation re-introduced

 

Months after similar bills died in the Legislature’s lame duck session, Michigan House Republicans have reintroduced legislation to create a statewide “takeover” district called the Education Achievement Authority, or EAA.

MEA members are urged to contact their lawmakers and urge them to oppose the EAA legislation. Click here to find contact information for your legislators.

House Bill 4369, introduced Tuesday by Rep. Lisa Posthumus Lyons, R-Alto, would allow the EAA to take over up to 50 public schools deemed by arbitrary and flawed rankings to be in the state’s bottom 5 percent. It would also allow the EAA to create new charter schools within two miles of a so-called “failing” school.

HB 4369 would allow Lansing bureaucrats to assume many of the responsibilities currently entrusted to local school board members, parents, teachers and education support staff — all while essentially eliminating the time-honored tradition of “neighborhood schools.”

The bill fails to include an in-depth audit of existing issues in both the school building and district that are causing the lack of performance.  Rather than finding and addressing specific problems through audits, the bill simply assumes that a board and bureaucrats appointed by the governor can simply do a better job than those already doing the work – regardless of the challenges they face.

The bill removes local communities’ ability to establish education policy, direct curriculum and manage community resources, by shifting power to state and federal bureaucrats. It also does not provide any substantive local controls to establish standards, create missions and goals, monitor performance, or audit finances of new schools created by this legislation.

Cat in the Hat makes a ‘purrfect’ Friday for kids at two Michigan schools

 

Children, teachers and education support professionals at two Michigan schools had plenty to meow about Friday, as Dr. Seuss’ “Cat in the Hat” made stops at Green Acres Elementary School in Warren and Pattengill Middle School in Lansing as part of NEA’s Read Across America Day.

Now in its 16th year, the NEA’s Read Across America program continues the NEA’s ongoing commitment to building a nation of readers and mobilizing school employees around an issue they care deeply about: making sure all students have access to books and the skills and support they need to read and learn.

Numerous local and national dignitaries joined about 200 students at Warren’s Green Acres on Friday morning for a special reading of Dr. Seuss’ “Green Eggs and Ham” by NEA Executive Committee Member Christy Levings and former Detroit Pistons forward Earl Cureton.

“I thought it was a wonderful event,” said Warren EA President Jon Fielbrandt, who along with every student and adult donned a towering red-and-white stovepipe hat as part of the festivities (his favorite Seuss books are “Green Eggs and Ham” and “One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish.”) “The students were very excited to have everyone come to Green Acres to be a part of the celebration.”

New survey finds educator satisfaction at an all-time low

Teacher job satisfaction has plummeted to its lowest level in 25 years, according to a new survey released last week.

Only 39 percent of teachers report being satisfied with their jobs, according to the annual Metlife Survey of the American Teacher. This figure has dropped 23 points since 2008, according to the survey.

Teachers reporting low levels of job satisfaction were more likely to be working in schools with shrinking budgets, few professional development opportunities and little time allotted for teacher collaboration.

“This news is disappointing but sadly, there are no surprises in these survey results,” National Education Association President Dennis Van Roekel said. “Teacher job satisfaction will continue to free-fall as long as school budgets are slashed. Educators are doing everything they can to prepare their students to compete in the global economy, but the rug just keeps getting pulled out from under them.”

Pontiac students and educators benefit from generous school supply donations

Pontiac Education Association member and Whitman Elementary School teacher Linda Puas said of the supply drive and Saturday’s event, “This is so sad and yet so heartwarming. You really feel ‘not alone’.”

MEA organized supply drive in response to supply shortages caused by education funding cuts

PONTIAC, Mich., Feb. 16, 2013 — On Saturday, MEA members from across Michigan stepped up to help the students and educators of the Pontiac School District. In response to a critical school supply shortage caused by education funding cuts, MEA coordinated the donation and delivery of more than $12,000 in cash and gift cards, as well as thousands of dollars more in school supplies.

A truckload of these donated supplies was distributed to Pontiac Education Association members on Saturday at UAW Local 653 in Pontiac. Donations came from MEA teachers and support staff from around the state, as well as other allies such as the United Auto Workers and even contributions from other public school students, like the student council of Utica’s Flickinger Elementary.

The massive underfunding of public education by Gov. Snyder and the Michigan Legislature has created an untenable crisis for educators and students in Pontiac.  Last year, MEA members conducted a similar supply drive for teachers and students in the Benton Harbor Area Schools.

Snyder's budget restores fraction of funds raided from schools

Gov. Rick Snyder released his proposed 2014 budget Thursday morning, and while it includes small increases in school funding, it comes nowhere close to providing local schools with the resources they need to give Michigan students they education they deserve.

Snyder's budget proposal includes the following:

Increasing the K-12 budget by 2 percent, which includes bringing the state's minimum foundation allowance to $7,000 per pupil

Doubling state funding for early childhood education

Increasing state support for public universities by 2 percent

Increasing community college funding by 2 percent, which includes more investments in skilled trades programs

Despite the small increases in funding for K-12 schools, community colleges and universities, the amount of state support provided to education is still far less than it was before Snyder took office in January 2011. In his first budget, Snyder cut K-12 funding by more than $1 billion and increased taxes on the middle-class, just to provide a $1.8 billion tax break to corporate special interests.

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