The House Redistricting and Elections Committee reported out HB 5085 and 5086 with substitutes to the House floor on party-line votes. The bills would prohibit school districts from payroll deducting employee’s political action contributions.
For two days, the House Education Committee has heard testimony on SB 619, the legislation to lift the cap on cyber schools. While what most of what the Committee has heard came from parents, teachers, students and providers of cyber schools who fully endorse the legislation, today MEA submitted written testimony from President Cook along with research showing that cyber schools are not the great educational miracles many legislators are claiming and calling for more accountability in their operation.
“Our state leaders should tread very lightly when deciding whether to divert scarce educational resources into virtual schools. And they should tread very lightly before turning our kids into guinea pigs for corporate education experiments,” warned Cook.
While it seems every week has been a crucial legislative week for education, this next to the last week of session before the holiday break may see some major bills move out of committee or out of chamber.
Senate Majority Floor Leader Arlan Meekof (R-West Olive) and Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville (R-Monroe) introduced a constitutional amendment (SJR S) that limits the reasons an elected officer can be recalled.
After a hurried reshuffling of the House Education Committee yesterday to ensure the needed votes, the Committee today reported out SB 618, which would raise the cap on charter schools.
The bill now goes to the full House for consideration. Contact your state representative today -- urge him or her to vote NO on SB 618 that would allow for unlimited charter schools, regardless of the quality of those schools and the resources they draw away from neighborhood schools.
In advance of today's vote, House Speaker Jase Bolger announced late Tuesday that Rep. Holly Hughes (R-White River Township) was being replaced by Rep. Lisa Posthumus Lyons (R-Alto) on the House Education Committee. Hughes continually wavered on the charter school cap issue but Bolger claims his move protected her politically from both the MEA and Republican constituencies. What it really did was assure passage of the bill, despite opposition from within the Republican caucus.
The Senate wasted no time in passing HB 4163, anti-bullying legislation that does not contain any exemptions for religious or moral grounds.
The Senate made it clear before their break that passage of the House’s version would be taken up immediately upon their return. SB 137 caused controversy nationwide because it allowed bullying in certain instances.
Democrats offered amendments to address cyber-bullying, to provide a list of groups included under the bill and to require reporting of bullying instances to the Department of Education. All amendments failed on party-line vote.
The bill now goes to Gov. Snyder for his signature.
After much debate, the Senate narrowly passed SB 618 and the same debate seems to be brewing in the House Education Committee as expressed by the Committee Vice Chair Rep. Tom Hooker (R-Byron Center). A former teacher, Hooker is concerned that the bill to lift the cap on charter schools may harm traditional public schools. While he supports the idea of giving parents choices, he said he has no position on the bill right now.
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.”
The Senate Reforms, Restructuring and Reinventing Committee heard testimony today on HB 4059 which would prohibit a school district from entering into a contract that pays union officials for time spent conducting union business.