Posted on 02/23/15 at 3:31pm

More Michigan children are living in poverty according to the annualKids Count report by the Michigan League for Public Policy and  funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The number of children in poverty increased by 35 percent with one in four children living in poverty and one in three qualifying for food assistance because their families’ incomes are $23,600 or less a year.

Posted on 02/23/15 at 3:32pm

The U.S. House is expected to pass a rewrite of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) this Friday. Unfortunately, this rewrite does nothing to help students learn or teachers teach. The focus has shifted to more testing, labeling of schools and then punishing them for their “failure,” while doing nothing to close achievement gaps.

Posted on 02/25/15 at 9:21am

If you believe our schools and safer roads are important to the quality of life in Michigan, circle May 5 on your calendar. On that day, voters will be asked to vote on a proposal that would raise over $1 billion to repair Michigan’s dangerous roads and bridges, while raising $300 million in new revenue for Michigan public schools, funded by a 1-cent increase in the state sales tax.

Posted on 02/18/15 at 3:01pm

MEA members Marcia Hudson and Linda Maniago of Avondale were awarded a $5,000 Learning and Leadership Grant from NEA for their Teacher Lab project. In this latest round, NEA awarded 16 Learning and Leadership Grants. 

Posted on 02/18/15 at 3:02pm

Michigan State University scholars have created a financial health-indicator system for school districts that could be facing financial stress. The proactive system uses research and information from other states to analyze the fiscal health of school districts and is outlined in a white paper, “Knowledgeable Navigation to Avoid the Iceberg.”

Posted on 02/18/15 at 3:06pm

When you find yourself in a hole, the first step to getting out is to stop digging.

The hole I am referring to is the $1 billion taxpayers spend each year on Michigan’s experiment with charter schools. A recent report by a pro charter school group ranks Michigan’s charter school accountability law last among similar states. 

Bill to prohibit payroll dues deduction on a fast track

HB 4929, which prohibits the deduction of union dues by public school employers, is on a fast track since it was moved from the House Oversight, Ethics and Reform Committee yesterday. It has been referred to second reading on the House Floor and may move to third reading today with final passage on Thursday.

 Sen. Arlan Meekhof (R-West Olive) introduced a similar bill--SB 636--on Sept. 8.

Introduced by Rep. John Haveman (R-Holland), HB 4929 was approved on a 4-2 party-line vote. In support of his own bill, Haveman testified that schools shouldn’t be in the business of collecting dues. The bill specifically says the dues deduction is a “prohibited contribution to the administration of a labor organization.” The Michigan Chamber of Commerce endorsed the bill but did not testify.

The anti-union attacks continue -- bills attacking dues deduction, retirement introduced

In addition to Senate Bills 618-624, which would increase the number of charter schools, privatize teachers and allow for back-door school vouchers, both chambers have introduced legislation that would prohibit school districts from automatically deducting union dues from members' paychecks.

MEA response to Richardville political attack on public education, middle class

 The following statement in response to Sen. Randy Richardville’s appearance on “Off the Record” can be attributed to MEA President Steven Cook.

Richardville singles out public school employees for Right to Work FOR LESS bill

In what is probably one of the most blatant examples of anti-union, anti- school employee legislation yet, Sen. Majority Leader Randy Richardville (R-Monroe) says he supports right-to-work legislation that only affects public school employees and will have legislation ready soon.

In support of what looks like political payback for MEA’s recall efforts, Richardville said on PBS’s Off the Record, “The teachers union—specifically the Michigan Education Association—have lost their way and public school employees should no longer be forced to join them.”

Richardville singled out teachers unions because he claimed they haven’t recognized the state’s tough economic times like other unions have.

MEA President Steve Cook responded in a press statement this morning, “Republican leaders have slashed school funding, increased taxes, stripped collective bargaining rights from school employees, forced them to pay more out-of-pocket for retirement and health insurance. They’ve completely undermined and demoralized the educators of this state.”

President’s jobs plan to repair schools and keep educators in classrooms

 In last night's speech to a Joint Session of Congress, President Obama unveiled his American Jobs Act and further underscored his belief that investing in the American middle class is the surest path to economic recovery.  Read press release.

More of the same -- Senate introduces anti-public education bills

With the Legislature back in session, they are wasting no time pushing their so-called “education reform” agenda.

Today, Senate Republicans introduced a package of seven bills focusing on the expansion of charter schools, school choice, dual enrollment, and cyber schools; privatization of instructional staff; and siphoning of school aid funds to nonpublic school students.

Michelle Rhee hires Melton

Rep. Tim Melton (D-Auburn Hills) is resigning as a Michigan lawmaker to lead the national lobbying efforts of StudentsFirst, the supposed education reform group set up by Michelle Rhee, the controversial former Washington, D.C. chancellor.

State employees’ retiree health care deduction unconstitutional

The 3 percent deduction—or pay cut—state  employees pay for their retiree health care is unconstitutional according to the state Court of Appeals. Affirming a lower court decision, the court ruled that the deduction bypassed the state Civil Service Commission which has jurisdiction over state employees.

New reform legislation pushes schools of choice, outsourcing teachers

The Legislature is back in session Wed., Sept. 7 and expect them to quickly take up more of Gov. Snyder’s “education reform” plan.  Sen. Phil Pavlov (R-St. Clair), chair of the Senate Education Committee, is pushing a package of bills that would require all public schools districts to participate in the schools of choice program and would allow Michigan public schools to hire teachers from private firms.

Pavlov said, “We have to expand choice to empower parents to make sure they get the very best education for their kids.”

1 percent health claims tax approved by Legislature

On the same day legislators approved SB 7, which capped public employers' health insurance contributions and shifted thousands of dollars in benefit costs to public employees, it also rammed through two bills increasing the cost of health insurance for all Michigan citizens, including those same public employees.

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