Michigan Education Association

Previous Next Dear Gov. Snyder: Our ideas to help Michigan

 

Dear Governor Snyder,

You have no idea how many teachers would like to reinvent Michigan education.  Why don't the elected officials ask us?  Is it because the solution to the myriad problems cannot be solved by short-sighted bills, attacks on teachers' benefits and salaries, or political posturing?  Is it because those of us who work with Michigan students do, in fact, really know more than most of our administrators, school board members, senators and representatives?  Is it because we really do know more about what is necessary than the Mackinac Center,  elected school boards, administrators,  the Chamber of Commerce, or even the governor? Is it because the task is monumental, but we teachers truly do believe it is possible?  Are you all afraid of what you might hear?

I have spent over 30 years in education, teaching in private programs, with students from relatively well-to-do families, parochial school, federal government-sponsored preschool programs, and public school.  I have worked in inner city communities, suburbs and rural schools.  In those 30 plus years, I have come to the inescapable conclusion that the largest factor affecting what goes on in the classroom is the environment from which the students come.  I refuse to accept that most parents don't care, or that failing neighborhoods are an excuse for failing schools.  But I will tell you that meeting the needs of children from comfortable, safe and healthy homes is infinitely easier than meeting the needs of children who walk past drug dealers and prostitutes, or who were unable to sleep the night before because of the fighting and noise in their neighborhoods.  Teaching has changed dramatically for me over the years since I began.  It is harder, requires more of my time, requires a higher level of ongoing training, more out-of-pocket expenses (I am talking thousands of dollars here), and more stamina than ever before.  I am convinced that the majority of parents and communities do, in fact, care deeply .  The problem is that so many of them are dealing with myriad problems caused by their economic situations-problems you cannot imagine-that they turn more and more of what was traditionally family obligation over to the schools.  School boards and administrators impose necessary cuts on school budgets, and teachers make up the difference. Students come to school with fewer and fewer resources, and teachers dip into their own pockets to make up the difference. 

I love what I do, and I dare say you would be hard-pressed to find a teacher who does not.   What makes my job hardest is not the increasing financial costs of the job, but the increased demands that I give more of what I earn, the increased criticism and resentment leveled at teachers for what they do earn,  and  the decreasing reliance on teachers to solve the educational problems in the districts in which they serve.    It would be a lie to say that salary and good health care benefits don't matter--they do.  But it would also be a lie to say that I don't resent having my hard work overlooked when Michigan faces funding problems.  I am admittedly angry when I read yet another article quoting teacher salaries, without explaining that many of those so-called inflated salaries include coaching, extra duty and extra-curricular jobs that supplement the basic teaching salary, or that the figures include people with seven years of college, and 25+ years of experience.  When I know that our local unions have made concessions at the table, in order to keep districts solvent, it is hard to hear that elected officials want us to give even more--not of our knowledge and expertise, but of what we earn for the work we do. 

If you are serious about reinventing Michigan education, why not ask your average classroom teachers in Michigan?  Why not use your influence to stop the continued attacks, and look at what ordinary good teachers do every day?  Why not visit some of our  Michigan schools and classrooms, have lunch in our teachers' lounges, share in after-school chats with parents and teachers, talk to our students, custodians, bus drivers, and support personnel?  We want this reform more than you do.

Kathleen Dillon-Dowd
Elementary Teacher
Montrose Community Schools

 

Dear Gov. Snyder,

My name is James C. Chapman, a retire Marine Corps Major, working as a Workforce Investment Act (WIA) Facilitator with St. Clair County Regional Service Agency within the Port Huron Area School District. I work with and support low-income and at-risk students to assist them in reaching their goals of graduating high school on time and moving on to college or the work place.  My proposal to you, sir, is to look at establishing a Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (JROTC) program in many of our low performing schools to establish a leadership and discipline quality trait that is deeply missing in our younger generation/society today. If you look at data of high schools that have JROTC programs you will find that those schools perform higher than most schools without a JROTC Program.  The JROTC Program mentors brings out the leadership qualities in students in the program. In the best interest of our students and in the shaping of Michigan's Education and future. Thanks you for your time.

R/, James C. Chapman
WIA Facilitator
Port Huron, MI

 

Gov. Snyder

My hopes for Michigan are that we become the leader in alternative energy development AND lead the world in vehicle research and development.
 
My fear is that we will continue to lose jobs in the state, that THIS will force people to move out of the state, and we will slip into another recession.
 
Help education by investing in it.  Investing in the teachers who impact our children every day. Invest in technology to further the learning environment in every classroom.
 
Gov. Snyder, you should know that teachers are significantly underpaid for the amount of education they are required to complete.  I invite you to shadow a teacher for a day, or a week to see what it takes to be a teacher.
 
Scott Cox
Science Teacher
Lake Orion Community Schools

 

Dear Governor Snyder:
  
I know that you inherited this situation, but my question to you is how are you planning on fixing this situation?

Listed below are just a few of the concerns that I have:

You keep cutting funding for education, and this is causing Michigan schools to have to continue to make cuts to the bare minimum.

You offered incentives for all school employees to retire, and for the ones that are left we are being penalized by 3 percent being taken out for retirement.

Budget cuts are not helping our school.  It’s a proven fact that smaller class sizes improve test scores.

With budget cuts teachers have to experience larger and larger class sizes.

Teachers and staff even have to buy items needed for students out of their pockets.  And not knowing  if you will receive a paycheck for time already worked.

I am receiving 203 more students at my building, because of closing schools, etc., with no extra help and added duties.

Sincerely,
  
Silvia Henry-Walton
Benton Harbor Michigan

 

Dear Gov. Snyder,
 
My name is Jacqueline Morris and I am a twelfth year English teacher in the Troy School District.    I want to express my 100% commitment to public education and my sincere dedication to teaching all students and making them flourish and grow.  I became a teacher because of wonderful teachers who taught and guided me through the public school system and every day I strive to be the best teacher for my students.  I love my students and they are my inspiration and drive for staying in this profession that has been beaten down by so many. 
 
I have fears with all of the changes in education and all of the new ideas that are going to effect teachers.  The past few years, lack of school funding has been an issue in all Michigan public schools.  As teachers, we have stepped up and worked even harder to educate our students with fewer resources. We pay out of our pockets for things our classrooms need because of budget cuts in education.   I am wholeheartedly invested in my job and paid for this because it enhances my lessons and is meaningful. 
 
This past year 3 percent of salary is now taken out of our paychecks and it has effected my family.  We also have bigger deductibles to meet before our health insurance kicks in.  We are feeling it in my household.   I am worried about losing the benefits we have and also for the thought that my pay could go down even further.  I fear also that my salary will decrease and with this, I am scared to death.  My family depends on me to provide for them and I work hard for my salary. 
 
Along with teaching full time, doing extra duties at work and having my own family to care for in the evening, I also take mandatory college courses which I pay for with my own money to keep my certification.  I work hard and am happy to continue learning so I can bring new ideas into my classes.  My colleagues in the Troy School District are so inspiring to me.  We are a family and we work together.  We work with the parents and students and community to teach our future.  I feel in these ways, I am already giving and now the state is hinting that they want to take more away from teachers.    
 
I do not understand why teachers are so often put in such a negative light.  We dedicate our lives to our students and our job does not end at the school day.  We all have degrees, many of us Masters and beyond.  We are often compared with that of assembly line workers when it comes to salary and how some teachers make more.  Please compare me with people who have degrees and beyond and who continue to educate themselves with several college courses and inservices to keep us informed and up to date.  We are teaching the future of Michigan.  Isn't there value in that?  I know you will agree that there is.   
 
I am hopeful that you will understand my concerns and visit public schools in Michigan and meet with MEA members.  We need a governor who is SUPPORTIVE of public education.   The future of the state of Michigan is in your hands.  These students are our future and as teachers, it is our job to get them where they need to be. 
 
With high hopes,
 
Mrs. Jacqueline Morris 
English Teacher
Troy, Michigan

 

Hi, I think the only way the US can compete with countries like China is if we bring preschool education into the public school system. Every other industrial country has children in school from age 2 to 18 but we don't start educating the children in the US until age 5. That puts us behind from the start and we are never able to catch up to the rest of the world.

Thanks,

Mary Fields
Educator
Shelby Township, MI

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Updated: February 10, 2011