The Senate Education Committee heard testimony yesterday—both pro and con—on its so-called education reform package,SB 618-624. MEA’s opposition to the legislation was supported with testimony from Gary Miron, Western Michigan University education professor and national charter school expert, and Barbara Bonsignore, the Public Policy Director of Michigan AAUW.
Michigan may have to reapply for a waiver to get relief from the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) mandate that all students be proficient on state tests by 2014. New waiver request forms are due Nov. 14; approval can be expected as early as January 2012. A second round of waivers is due February 2012.
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.
Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer (D-East Lansing) criticized the Republican’s fall agenda as a “divisive and ill-conceived social agenda that again will do nothing to help get people back to work.”
Last week, Rep. Paul Scott (R-Grand Blanc) accused Citizens Against Government Overreach of racist attacks when they kicked off the next phase of Scott’s recall with a cake bearing Scott’s likeness. He also questioned whether MEA was involved in the incident.
With a 4-2 vote, the House Oversight, Reform and Ethics Committee adopted HB 4052 today and moved one step closer to restricting our rights to freedom of speech and association. The bill now goes to the full House.
During a live call-in program on Michigan Public Radio, it was apparent there were marked differences of opinion between House Speaker Jase Bolger (R-Marshall), Minority Leader Richard Hammel (D-Mount Morris Township) and Gov. Snyder.
In a new report released by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), ‘Right to work’: The wrong answer for Michigan’s economy, Gordon Lafer, a labor economist with the University of Oregon, says such legislation does nothing to encourage job growth and ends up lowering wages by an average of $1,500 per year. This is the case for union and non-union workers in right-to-work-states.
MEA President Steve Cook appeared on Michigan Public Television’s “Off the Record” last week and called out Republicans for their harmful decisions regarding public education in Michigan and set the record straight on MEA’s involvement in recall elections.
“It’s actions by Republicans that are driving the recalls; it’s not the MEA. The MEA is not their only problem. Their problem is constituents upset about a business tax cut that gutted public education by $1 billion,” said President Cook.
Last week Sen. Randy Richardville, Senate Majority Leader (R-Monroe), announced his push for “Right to Work FOR LESS” legislation for teachers. He singled out the MEA for failing to represent its membership and failing to make financial sacrifices in these tough economic times.
Political insiders say this is all retribution for the recall of Scott who voted to cut education funding, played a key role in changing tenure policies and supported slashing collective bargaining rights.