The Michigan Education Association lobbyists are busy this lame duck session working to preserve collective bargaining rights and protect public education. As union members and public school employees we must support their efforts by communicating with our lawmakers on our issues. The MEA is setting up several ways for members and their families to stay informed through the 2018 Michigan lame duck session.
What is lame duck?
When the legislature reconvenes in an even-numbered year following the November general elections to consider various items of business. Some lawmakers who return for this session will not be in the next legislature. Hence, they are informally called “lame duck” members participating in a “lame duck” session.
Why is lame duck so important?
Lawmakers and leadership who are not returning next session are less likely to be concerned with votes on bills that may negatively impact citizens. Some legislators use lame duck session to pass any legislation they want, especially if they are the party in power in each chamber. One of the most impactful laws that passed in Michigan lame duck session was right-to-work in 2012.
When is lame duck?
Lame duck session starts on Tuesday, November 26, and will run Tuesday thru Thursday through the first three weeks of December. It’s important to note that these days and times are subject to change at the discretion of the leadership. You can find changes to session schedule here:
House of Representatives
What can I do to help?
The MEA Public Affairs team is starting lame duck calls to action now.
- Sign up for Capitol Comments, our premiere newsletter for legislative updates from the capitol: http://pub.meaaction.org/sign-up
- Get text message updates from our lobbyist, Dr. David Michelson: Text Follow @DrMichelson to 40404.
- Find your lawmakers at https://mea.org/mylegislators/.
- Interact with your lawmakers on Twitter, Facebook and other social media
What are some of the issues that could be considered in lame duck?
There is continuous communication between MEA Lobbyists, other labor unions and partnerships to stay on top of what could be coming through the legislature during these next few weeks. Here are a few bills we believe are on the table these next few weeks:
Cyber Schools, HB 5907
Sponsored by Rep. Ben Frederick (R-Owosso). The bill when it left the house, would amend the Revised School Code to require the board of a school district or public school academy (PSA) to notify pupils with certain information related to college level equivalent courses and college level equivalent credit examinations.
During the last week of September, the Senate Education Committee they added language that a cyber school will make services available to pupils for a minimum of at least 1,098 hours during a school year and removes any language that requires that each pupil participates in the educational program for at least 1,098 hours during the school year. This would allow cyber schools to enroll students with no accountability as to if that student participates in any of the education program, basically just a “cash cow” for cyber schools.
Innovative Schools, HB 6314/6315
Sponsored by Rep. Tim Kelly (R-Saginaw). HB 6314 would amend the Revised School Code to allow the board of a school district to apply to the superintendent of public instruction for permission to operate as a public innovative district (PID). The bill outlines the application process, the responsibilities of the superintendent, and what requirements must be met by programs offered by a school district operating as a PID. Additionally, the bill would create the Education Accountability Policy Commission, charged with selecting a statewide auditor to perform audits of all qualifying districts. This bill would also allow credits to be granted for extended learning activities, including, but not limited to, independent study, private instruction, team sports, performing groups, internships, community service, and work study. This will set up a type of “parochiaid” and “cafeteria style” voucher program.
House Bill 6315 would exempt PIDs from the general rules for determining the hours of pupil instruction or calculating the full-time equivalency of students (a term used to describe the school’s membership, or student count) in the State School Aid Act.
Twenty-five Percent Evaluation, HB 5707
Sponsored by Rep. Aaron Miller (R-Sturgis). This bill would keep the percent of the annual year-end evaluation based on student growth and assessment data at 25 percent. Right now, student growth and assessment is scheduled to be raised to 40 percent for the 2018-19 school year. This bill is currently in the House Education Reform Committee, where testimony was heard on it the last week of September, we expect this legislation to be passed out of committee in October. MEA supports this legislation.
Evaluation by Family Member, HB 5688
Sponsored by Rep. Steven Johnson (R-Wayland). This bill would bar an evaluator from conducting a teacher evaluation on a family member. This bill is currently in the House Education Reform Committee. MEA supports this legislation.
No Limit on Highly Effective Teachers, HB 5689
Sponsored by Rep. Scott VanSingel (R-Grant). This bill would remove any existing limits on the number of teachers that may be rated as highly effective in a school district. This bill is currently in the House Education Reform Committee. MEA supports this legislation.
Release Time MPSERS Credit, HB 5368
Sponsored by Rep. Pamela Hornberger (R-Chesterfield Twp.). This bill would prevent anyone from getting MPSERS retirement credit when they are on union release time. This would be true even when the district is reimbursed by the union. The bill is currently in the Financial Liability Reform Committee.
Release Time SB, SB 795 and SB 796
Sponsored by Sen. Marty Knollenberg (R-Troy). SB 795 would prevent anyone from getting MPSERS retirement credit when they are on union release time. This would be true even when the district is reimbursed by the union. SB 796 would prohibit a public employer from entering into a bargaining agreement that required or allowed paid release time for a bargaining representative to conduct union business, if the public employer paid for the release time. This legislation has passed the Senate Education Committee and is on the floor of the Senate.
A thru F School Rating, HB 5526
Sponsored by Rep. Tim Kelly (R-Saginaw). This bill would create an Education Accountability Policy Commission, which would develop a school grading system that assigns each public school in Michigan a letter grade between A and F based on its achievement in six specified indicators. The Michigan Department of Education (MDE) would administer the system and begin assigning school grades based on achievement by September 1, 2019 and yearly thereafter. The bill is currently on the House floor.
Teacher Preparation Package-Teacher Certificating Institutions, HB 5598-5605
Taken together, the bill package would add six sections related to teacher preparation to the Revised School Code. HBs 5598-5601 and 5604 and 5605 would provide that, if an approved teacher preparation institution did not meet the new requirements, beginning July 1, 2019 the Superintendent of Public Instruction (SPI) must revoke that approval. The institution could then reapply for approval. All bills in this package passed out of the House Education Reform Committee and are currently on the House floor.
Continuing Education for Higher Education Teacher Preparation Faculty, HB 5598
Sponsored by Rep. Daniela Garcia (R-Holland). The bill would prohibit the SPI from approving a teacher preparation institution unless it requires all full-time faculty members teaching in a teacher preparation program to complete at least 30 hours of continuing education per school year. The continuing education must be specific to the subject area or areas in which the faculty member teaches. It must include at least all of the following:
- Observation of academic instruction in a school grades K-12.
- Teaching experiences in both urban and rural settings.
- Experiences with social and emotional learning practices.
- Teaching experiences with students who are English language learners.
- Teaching experiences in a school with a high population of students living in poverty.
- Teaching experiences with students with a disability.
- Experiences with the teacher evaluation tools used by school districts, ISDs and PSAs.
- The use of data and statistics to inform instruction and to aggregate local and state assessment data.
- Experiences with the development of classroom management skills.