It’s going to be a busy week at the Capitol!

This week represents that last legislative days for 2011 and there are issues which could see action this week.

  • SB 618 may be up for a vote in the House, but so far there don't seem to be enough votes to support it. The idea of removing the cap on charter schools is meeting resistance from legislators who are concerned about the impact that throwing open the doors to charters will have on traditional public schools. President Cook has sent a letter to state representatives urging them to vote "no" on SB 618 and reaffirming our opposition to the bill. That letter, along with messages to your representatives seems to be having an effect, but we can't stop the efforts. Contact your representatives. Find out where they stand on SB 618. If they oppose it, thank them for their vote and ask what kind of support they need. If they agree with taking the cap off charter schools, tell them true education reform is based on sound research that says small class sizes, more and better teacher training, greater parental involvement and adequate resources for student earning yield the greatest results for our students.
     
  • The other so-called "education reform" legislation which may see action this week in the House Education Committee is SB 619, which removes the cap on cyber schools. The Committee has heard two days of testimony on the bill and may report it out this week. This legislation is just as bad--if not worse--than SB 618 and needs the same legislative action from you as SB 618 does. Cyber schools have absolutely no track record of improving student achievement--but they are proven cash-cows for private companies that run online-only virtual schools.  Contact your representatives today.

  • Now to the Senate side where HB 4929 / SB 636 may surface. HB 4929, introduced by Rep. Joseph Haveman (R-Holland), prohibits the payroll deduction of union dues by public school employers. The bill was fast-tracked through the House in September and passed on a close 55-53 vote. The bill may be on the Senate agenda this week for the Reforms, Restructuring and Reinventing Committee. SB 636, a comparable bill introduced by Sen. Arlan Meekhof (R-West Olive), still sits in that committee as well. Both bills are a blatant attack on school employees and their union. While supporters of the bill claim that it allows public employees "to have more money in their pockets," those same legislators seem to have forgotten that they took money away from those same employees with a 3 percent tax on their pensions and a 20 percent health care contribution. Contact your Senators. Tell them this type of legislation does nothing to improve education, produce any savings, create jobs or put more money in workers' pockets--supposedly all elements of the Republican agenda. This kind of legislation is a blatant example of political payback for our involvement in recall elections.