Michigan teachers announce support of common-sense tenure reform

EAST LANSING, Mich., Tuesday, June 28, 2011 — Public school teachers from across Michigan today announced their support of a state Senate proposal that would reform teacher tenure while protecting school employees’ basic due process and collective bargaining rights.

Senate Bill 503, introduced by state Sen. Roger Kahn (R-Saginaw), is a more common-sense and thoughtful approach to tenure reform than radical legislation passed recently by the state House.

The extreme House plan, House Bills 4625-4628, would eliminate “reasonable and just cause” protections for teachers and make it illegal to bargain about important working conditions that impact student learning. It could lead to school administrators firing good teachers for reasons other than their job performance — even for personal reasons.

“The status quo isn’t working — teachers who aren’t doing their jobs should be held accountable. At the same time, the thousands of good teachers in our state should have the protection and resources they need to give our kids the education they deserve,” said Monica Burke, a teacher at Smith Elementary School in Fowlerville.

Rather than the House package that attacks teachers and other school employees, SB 503 would:

  • Reform the tenure process without undermining the basic rights of tens of thousands of good teachers working in Michigan public schools.
  • Streamline the tenure process by shifting it from the current lengthy process through the Tenure Commission to a locally-initiated, shorter arbitration process.
  • Save school districts money by limiting the time involved in making decisions about dismissing tenured teachers.

“Senator Kahn’s proposal reforms teacher tenure through common-sense solutions that ensure accountability for everyone in public education, including teachers, administrators, support staff and parents,” said Gunesha Frederick, a kindergarten teacher at Savage Elementary School in Belleville. “We’re asking our lawmakers to support SB 503, instead of HBs 4625-4628, because it will help get rid of the few bad apples while protecting good teachers’ right to due process and collective bargaining.”

Stacy LaPlante, a ninth-grade history teacher at Chippewa Valley High School in Clinton Township, said: “Teachers throughout Michigan are urging state lawmakers to tune out those who want to exploit Michigan’s fiscal crisis to settle political scores. School employees are partners, not punching bags. Instead of eliminating due process and collective bargaining rights for teachers, we should all work together to provide Michigan students with the education and skills they need to succeed in college and the workplace.”

“The mission of the MEA is to ensure that the education of our students and the working environments of our members are of the highest quality.”

Contact: Doug Pratt, MEA Director of Public Affairs, 517-337-5566