Posted on 06/29/15 at 12:26pm

This Wednesday, Brian Whiston takes over as the new State Superintendent. In an interview with the Detroit Free Press, he talks about standardized testing, school funding, charter and cyber schools, deficit schools and teacher evaluations.

Posted on 06/29/15 at 12:27pm

Michigan delegates to NEA's Representative Assembly will join more than 7,000 educators on their way to Orlando to help set education policy and talk about what's best for students. The annual meeting starts July 3 and runs through July 6.

Posted on 06/22/15 at 5:38pm

SaveOnEnergy.com is looking for the best lesson plans for teaching students about energy. By submitting your plan, you have a chance to win a $500 Teacher Grant for your classroom. Save On Energy.com will be awarding six $500 grants in the form of Visa Reward Cards to be used toward classroom materials and activities. SaveOnEnergy.com is a resource for consumers on all aspects of energy and sustainability.

Posted on 06/22/15 at 5:25pm

Lt. Gov. Brian Calley is holding meetings around the state with parents of special education students to gather input on their experiences with the state’s special education system. To reach even more parents, Calley also launched an online survey which will be available through August. 

Posted on 06/22/15 at 5:31pm

The U.S. Supreme Court has unanimously ruled that teachers and educators should not be put in law enforcement roles when they carry out their duty of reporting suspected child abuse or neglect. The National Education Association (NEA) filed an amicus brief in the case, Ohio v. Clark, stating that “educators’ valuable role as mandatory reporters and caregivers should not be compromised.”

Posted on 06/30/15 at 9:19am

With the passage of Michigan’s Public Employment Relations Act in 1965, teachers finally went from begging to bargaining. Thanks to PERA, all public school employees have the right to negotiate for fair wages, quality health care benefits and decent working conditions.

Will school employees see retirement contribution refunds?

Last week’s combination of the passage of SB 1040 and the Court of Appeals ruling that the existing 3 percent employee contribution for retirement health care is unconstitutional is raising questions about whether or not school employees will be seeing a refund of those funds, like state employees already have.

Let the voters decide!

Gov. Snyder and Attorney Bill Schuette launched a formal attack on voter rights yesterday when they filed court papers to block the constitutional amendment to protect collective bargaining and the middle class from the November ballot. The two claim that the amendment changes too many laws to be listed in the 100-word statement of purpose for the ballot and should therefore be denied a place on the ballot.

At the request of the Governor, Schuette issued an opinion stating that “the Governor and lawmakers have enacted reforms that have led to economic growth and budget stability.” The concern is that the ballot proposal could undo all of that.

Andrew Nickelhoff, attorney for the Protect Our Jobs campaign, discounted Schuette’s opinion since it’s based on faulty legal reasoning and the proposal has already met all legal requirements.

IMPACT OF SB 1040 H-3

IMPACT OF SB 1040 H-3, as Finalized by the Legislature 8/15/12

For current retirees under age 65 and those who retire January 1, 2013 or later:

  • Will pay 20% of MPSERS health premium. Retirees currently pay roughly 10% for self and any dependents, except that retirees on Medicare pay only the Medicare premium on themselves and 10% of the MPSERS premium for any dependents.

For retirees who are 65 or older, who are Medicare-eligible and have retired by January 1, 2013

Analysis of impacts—SB 1040

Unfortunately the House voted 57-48 in favor the (MPSERS) overhaul, a compromise that includes a study to fully transition from a defined benefit (DB) to a defined contribution (DC) system. Earlier in the day the Senate passed the bill, SB 1040, by a vote of 21-16, sending it to the House. The bill moved to the Governor's office for his signature.
 
The changes made in this version  include the following:

Collective bargaining off the ballot--for now

As expected, the Board of Canvassers split 2-2 on whether to put the constitutional amendment to protect collective bargaining on the November ballot. For now, the proposal is off the ballot. The Protect Our Jobs campaign will now take the fight for working families to the Michigan Supreme Court for a decision, bypassing the state Court of Appeals.

SB 1040 finally passes House, Senate; employees, retirees stuck with the cost

There's little good news in the Senate and House finally voting out SB 1040 today. On a 21-6 Senate vote and a 57-48 House vote, they increased current employee contributions to their pensions, increased retirees' share of their health insurance, and ended retiree health insurance for new hires.

"This bill is not fair. It just shifts costs around and solves nothing," said Rep. Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor) who spoke in opposition to the bill.

Under SB 1040, new hires will not be moved to a defined contribution retirement benefit. They will stay in the current hybrid system which combines a defined benefit and defined contribution mix. New to the bill, is the call for a study of the financial impact moving new hires to the defined contribution would cause. The study will be done by Nov. 15.

One more time for SB 1040?

The Senate will try again tomorrow to take care of SB 1040, legislation dismantling the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System. (MPSERS). They tried last month but were short the votes (16-22) to pass the House version.

Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville and Senate Appropriations Chair Roger Kahn--author of the original bill--claim "there is a deal in principle" and they have the 20 votes needed to pass the bill. Gov. Snyder has been in favor of cost-cutting changes to the system--so much so that they were included in the 2013 budget.

All along a key issue has been switching members from a defined benefit plan to a defined contribution one and eliminating the current hybrid system. While some Republican legislators favored the switch, Kahn has been opposed to it because of the $300 million per year cost to do it. Just switching new hires over would cost school districts an additional $8 to $10 billion over the next 30 years.

Will 700,000 voters be denied their voice?

There is more at stake tomorrow in addition to SB 1040. The Board of Canvassers will meet tomorrow to determine if the constitutional amendment to protect collective bargaining and working families should be on the November ballot or not.

AG uses 'faulty legal arguments' to stop collective bargaining amendment

Supporters of the collective bargaining ballot proposal fired back today against Attorney General Bill Schuette's attempt to deny voters the chance to decide the issue in November.

In a news release, legal expert Andrew Nickelhoff said, "The Attorney General's opinion, which is not binding, is a political document on behalf of opponents of working families. This is not a substantive legal argument."

Primary victories draw battle lines for November

Yesterday’s Democratic primary gave victory to 56 MEA recommended candidates and hope for the general election in November. See election results.

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