Michigan lawmakers adjourned last night without taking action to ensure all school employees get paid during this statewide school closure caused by the COVID-19 outbreak, despite bipartisan support and joint appeals from varied education organizations and educators across the state.
Leaders from both the labor and management sides of the education community had worked together to find a legislative solution to ensure all school employees continue to be paid during the crisis.
After Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake) adjourned late last night without acting on a solution, a joint statement was issued by MEA, AFT Michigan, Michigan Association of Superintendents and Administrators (MASA) and Michigan Association of School Boards (MASB).
“We had significant, bipartisan support for our approach developed over days of conversations with lawmakers — something we greatly appreciate,” the joint statement said. “We believe the majority of legislators want to deliver whatever level of certainty they can to students, parents, school employees and district leaders.”
The joint statement called for Shirkey to reconvene as soon as possible to enact a solution. Contact your state legislators to press for the bipartisan solution supported by school leaders. After you’ve sent the letter, follow up with a phone call to your representative and senator.
“Leaving a bipartisan solution to an immediate problem on the table during a time of crisis is not in anyone’s best interests,” the statement said. “We call on Sen. Shirkey to reconvene the Senate and address these issues for school employees and districts. They deserve nothing less, given the immense efforts overtaken since last Friday to continue engaging students in learning where possible and to ensure meals and other critical supports continue to flow to our students with the greatest need.”
The goal of any legislative action would be to provide certainty for school leaders and employees around days and hours requirements for the current statewide closure ordered by the governor and requiring all staff to be paid during the closure. “These issues are interlinked and must be tackled together to address the needs of employees and districts, knowing that we will need to address the long-term needs of students when we know how long this crisis will last,” the statement said.
Nearly 6,000 letters appealing for passage of the bill were sent to lawmakers yesterday through MEA’s Action Network page in the space of a few hours.
Sen. Dayna Polehanki (D-Livonia), an educator elected in 2018, condemned the lack of action on social media, writing:
“EDUCATORS LEFT IN LIMBO BY REPUBLICAN MAJORITY: Despite a marathon MI senate session yesterday, there was no action on providing certainty around pay and days/hours requirements for all school employees due to #COVID19 shutdown. Adjourning without action is not acceptable. #miched #mileg