Issues and legislation

Information on the current legislation and legislative news.

Bill Tracker

Education Reform 


Urge reps to support flexibility and local control for high school graduation requirements

MEA President Steve Cook sent a letter Tuesday to all state representatives expressing MEA’s support for House Bills 4465 and 4466, which seek to provide more flexibility and local control for districts in establishing graduation requirements for students.

In the current legislative environment, bills worthy of MEA support can be rare, but sponsors Ed McBroom, R-Vulcan, and Joel Johnson, R-Clare, were inclusive of a variety of education stakeholders, including MEA, in developing these bills.

“Aside from our support, I offer our thanks and appreciation for the efforts of Representatives McBroom and Johnson as they ushered this legislation through an exhaustive and transparent process that engaged many different stakeholders in the education community,” Cook wrote in his letter. “Those discussions led to better bills and our ability to support them. MEA continues to stand ready to similarly engage on other education issues with representatives from both sides of the aisle.”

The bills maintain the high graduation standards adopted by Michigan, including Algebra II, but provide districts, educators and parents the flexibility through “personal curriculum committees” to customize the standards to meet individual students’ needs.  This addresses problems with programs like fine arts, career and technical education and agricultural sciences, which were inadvertently harmed by the establishment of the Michigan Merit Curriculum.

Republican bill would ignore education, experience in salary decisions for future educators

Steve Norton, executive director of Michigan Parents for Schools, testifying Wednesday before the House Education Committee in opposition to House Bill 4625, which would ban school districts from considering teachers’ experience and much of their educational attainment when setting their wages.

It would be illegal to pay future educators based on their experience and education except for few exceptions, under legislation introduced by state Rep. Pete Lund, R-Romeo.

GOP’s merit pay bill ignores factors outside the classroom


Legislation introduced by Rep. Pete Lund, R-Romeo, would make it illegal to pay future educators based on their experience and advanced degrees, except for few exceptions.

Republican lawmakers are ignoring external factors that affect student learning by introducing a bill that would make teacher “performance” the primary factor in determining educators’ pay, education advocates told the Associated Press in an article published over the weekend.

House Bill 4625, introduced May 7 by Rep. Pete Lund, R-Romeo, would make it illegal to pay future educators based on their experience and advanced degrees, except for few exceptions.

Instead, the bill would make teacher performance the “primary” factor in determining pay, as opposed to its current status of being a “significant” factor. Performance would be primarily measured by student growth on standardized tests.

The AP reported Sunday that “such a policy could lead to competition in schools where cooperation and idea-sharing is essential, and punish teachers working in low-income areas where factors beyond the teacher’s control can hinder student growth.”

Basing teachers’ pay on high-stakes testing can force educators “to engage in a competitive, sort of cutthroat nature with one another,” said state Rep. David Knezek, D-Dearborn Heights. “I don’t think that cultivates the type of environment we want in the classroom.”

In addition, doling out pay to teachers based on their students’ test scores could unfairly punish teachers who serve academically- or economically-challenged students, state Rep. Winnie Brinks, D-Grand Rapids, said.

Senate passes bill giving districts a waiver for going over snow day allotment

The state Senate passed a bill Thursday that would spare school districts from losing funding this year for missing too many days due to last winter’s unusually inclement weather.

Under current law, school districts must provide at least 1,098 hours of instruction over the course of at least 170 days. If districts don't meet both the days and hours requirements, they are ineligible for state aid.

Senate Republicans reject right-to-work penalties

Sen. John Pappageorge, R-Troy, told the Detroit Free Press, “I’m not going to punish anybody for something they did legally.”

Penalizing school districts and higher education institutions that negotiated “fair share” agreements with employees prior to the implementation of Michigan’s so-called “right-to-work” law is not on the agenda of Republicans in the Michigan Senate, who this week passed education appropriations bills out of committee without the penalties.

That’s in sharp contrast to the state House, where Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee voted recently to eliminate grants for K-12 districts, penalize universities by 15 percent and not increase funds for community colleges — all because they followed the law and negotiated in good faith with school employees.

Between last December’s passage of right-to-work and its March 28 effective date, many school districts, colleges and universities negotiated fair share agreements with their employee associations. The agreements require that employees who benefit from union representation pay their fair share toward the cost of representation. Michigan’s new right-to-work law bans fair share agreements, but only for contracts not in place by March 28.

Extremist politicians have relentlessly attacked employers for negotiating fair share agreements, insisting they should have followed a law that wasn’t yet in place. Those attacks have included being called before McCarthy-style committee hearings in Lansing about the agreements, as well as threats of funding cuts for schools or universities that entered into contracts with employees prior to the implementation date.

While Republicans in the House are attempting to follow through on their threats and take away much-needed resources from students and school employees, Republicans in the Senate seem to be taking a more measured and responsible approach to the issue.

House Dems’ budget would restore $574 million to Pre-K-12, higher education

Michigan House Democrats have proposed major increases in public education funding.

The Michigan House Democrats’ budget, released this week, proposes to increase pre-K-12 funding by $537 million and higher education funding by $37.5 million, while providing three-quarters of a billion dollars in tax relief for middle-class families.

Hyper-partisanship leads to House passage of EAA bill

The overly partisan atmosphere in the Michigan Capitol led to the state House narrowly passing legislation yesterday to expand the Education Achievement Authority — without protections for students, teachers and education support staff.

House Bill 4369, which passed by a 57-53 margin, allows the EAA to take over up to 50 public schools across the state that are deemed to be in the state's bottom 5 percent — without so much as conducting an educational audit to determine the specific problems facing the schools in question. The EAA would also be allowed to create new charter schools within two miles of a so-called "failing" school.

In addition, public school employees transferred to EAA schools would lose their collective bargaining rights. An amendment to the bill late Thursday allows current school employees hired by an EAA school to remain members of the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System – but new EAA employees would not be in the system.

House could vote this week on EAA school takeover legislation

The state House may vote this week on House Bill 4369, which would create a statewide "takeover" district called the Education Achievement Authority that would take over local schools, eliminate employees' collective bargaining rights and silence the voices of local citizens.

MEA members are urged to contact their state representative and tell them to oppose the EAA legislation. Click here to find contact information for your legislators.
The EAA would be allowed to take over up to 50 public schools across the state that are deemed by arbitrary and flawed rankings to be in the state's bottom 5 percent. The bill would also allow the EAA to create new charter schools within two miles of a so-called "failing" school.

MEA supports Schor bill closing dangerous loophole in Michigan’s gun law

MEA President Steve Cook (right) addresses media at the state Capitol on March 14 about the MEA’s support for House Bill 4104, which would close a dangerous loophole that allows concealed pistol license holders to openly carry firearms in Michigan schools. With Cook is the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Andy Schor, D-Lansing.

The Michigan Education Association endorsed legislation Thursday that would close a dangerous loophole in Michigan’s gun law that allows a concealed weapons license holder to openly carry a gun in gun-free zones such as schools.

UPDATE: House committee passes EAA legislation


The state House Education Committee today passed House Bill 4369, which would create a statewide “takeover” district called the Education Achievement Authority. The bill will next come up for a vote before the full House of Representatives, although analysts don’t yet know when.

All of the Republicans on the committee voted in favor of the bill, with the exception of Rep. Bob Genetski, R-Saugatuck, and Rep. Tom Hooker, R-Byron Center, who voted “present.” All Democrats voted no, except Rep. Thomas Stallworth III, D-Detroit, who also voted “present.”

MEA members are urged to contact their lawmakers and urge them to oppose the EAA legislation. Click here to find contact information for your legislators.