UPDATE 7/22 – On largely party line votes, HBs 5910-5913 passed the House Education and Ways & Means Committees before being passed on the House floor Wednesday evening. Deviations from party lines included Rep. Scott VanSingel (R-Grant), who was the sole GOP vote against HB 5910 but voted in favor of the other three bills in the package; Reps. Steve Johnson (R-Wayland) and John Reilly (R-Oakland Twp.) who voted against HB 5913 but in favor of the rest of the package; and Rep. Karen Whitsett (D-Detroit) who voted for all four bills. Stay tuned to www.mea.org for more updates as this legislation proceeds to the State Senate.
At a committee meeting Tuesday morning, the House is expected to start taking action on a series of Republican-introduced “Return to Learn” bills that contain a variety of concerning measures, including allowing the outsourcing of educators for online learning.
HF 5910-5193 are scheduled to be taken up by the House Education Committee at 10 a.m. Tuesday. HB 5910, sponsored by Rep. Pamela Hornberger (R-Chesterfield Township), would allow schools to contract out for teachers for any virtual classes. Not only does this bill run counter to collective bargaining law regarding outsourcing of instructional staff, it could allow unqualified individuals and for-profit companies to supplant the dedicated expertise of Michigan’s front-line educators.
Testimony scheduled during a joint House-Senate education committee meeting last week was only in favor of these bills – and notably did not include any testimony from current public school teachers or support staff.
The package of bills also include concerning language that requires benchmark student assessments and financially penalizes districts that underperform – rather than investing in students who need additional support. It would also create a cafeteria-style voucher program with students taking different classes from different providers throughout the day, and would allow up to 7 snow days to automatically switch to virtual class days – ignoring that Michigan weather can change overnight and create educational chaos.
There are good elements to this legislation, particularly increased flexibility around student attendance and days & hours requirements. But those positives are outweighed by the negative language outlined above. Contact your state representative today and urge them to reject this legislation.
If the House follows normal procedures, the bills would proceed from the Education Committee to the Ways & Means Committee before heading to the floor for action.