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.
- House Bill 4369 simply assumes that state government bureaucrats can do a better job than those already doing the work -- regardless of the challenges they face. Instead, audits should be conducted in struggling school buildings and districts to address specific problems facing local schools -- and then efforts should be focused on fixing those problems.
- House Bill 4369 strips away basic employment and collective bargaining rights of school employees in buildings put under EAA control, taking away their ability to provide meaningful input on issues like curriculum, class sizes and school safety. Rather than viewing collective bargaining as an impediment, the EAA should be required to use it as a tool to solve issues.
- EAA employees would be subject to mass transfer or even firing, regardless of their skills and qualifications. Additionally, employees transferred to the EAA would lose their seniority rights once the EAA school converted back to a traditional school -- wiping away their entire career's work. The EAA should take into account the individual strengths of employees and treat them as a respected partner in turning around schools.
- Teachers and education support staff would lose their retirement benefits once transferred to the EAA. The Legislature just took steps to stabilize the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System, but House Bill 4369 would destabilize the state's pension plan by continuing to reduce the number of employees in the system. This provision must be removed from the bill -- attacking the retirement of employees isn't a way to improve a school's performance.