We know it’s a busy time of year, but be alert during the upcoming “lame duck” session of the Legislature for Calls to Action from MEA. Our lobbyists are monitoring education-related bills that could be taken up without notice in the next three to four weeks.
MEA member activism matters! In the past two years, your hundreds of phone calls and emails in response to our calls to action have stopped numerous bad policies from advancing – including in the 2016 lame duck session. Go to www.mea.org/lameduck to follow the latest news on the end of this legislative term before a new state House and Senate are seated in January.
Three issues MEA has been monitoring could come up for votes this week:
Evaluation and standardized testing:
HB 5707 would keep the percentage of an educator’s evaluation that is tied to student growth at 25 percent, instead of the 40 percent it jumped to this year. MEA has been working on building bipartisan support for the measure over several months.
Release time for union business:
Many school employees and administrators have written and testified against SB 795 and 796, which would eliminate paid release time for union officials, arguing the practice allows for more efficient, cost-effective cooperation between union and management.
Union release time allows important labor-management work to be conducted during business hours, benefiting both sides by allowing for regular contact between labor and management representatives to process day-to-day employee issues.
These agreements also allow for more robust cooperation in the form of work groups and committees that improve performance, efficiency, and safety in the workplace. Without release time, these conversations must happen after work hours, which could mean increased expense and less timely and efficient problem-solving.
Contact your lawmakers today and urge them not to further restrict the rights of employees and districts to enter into these agreements that benefit their local district.
A-F grading system for schools:
Another bill being pushed for a vote would attach A-F letter grades to schools, a move that would only serve to worsen the current over-emphasis on standardized test scores and slap stigmatizing labels on schools in high-need communities.
House Bill 5526 would abandon the “school transparency dashboard” developed by the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) to include more than 20 factors in a measure of school quality. The MDE’s dashboard was developed with public input as part of the state’s compliance with the federal education law known as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).