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. 

Senate passes SB 1040

On a 20-18 vote, the Senate passed SB 1040 today stripping new hires of a retirement and forcing them into a defined contribution plan. The bill also puts merit pay back into final average compensation calculations. Other changes previously reported remain in the bill.

Join the Protect Our Jobs Blitz on Saturday

The Protect Our Jobs (POJ) coalition will be out in full force Saturday, May 19 gathering signatures in various locations across the state from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Volunteers will be doing door-to-door canvassing, petition-gathering in public locations, and hosting a drive-thru signature gathering. Contact Debby Buckland at 810-599-2128 to volunteer.

Pontiac Education Association, school district reach tentative contract agreement

After 18 months of extremely contentious negotiations, bargaining teams for the Pontiac Education Association (PEA) and the Pontiac School District reached a tentative agreement on a new contract late Friday evening.

New CSR study says MPSERS problems fixable

The Coalition for Secure Retirement (CSR) released a study today examining the current state of the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System (MPSERS) and analyzing the reasons why the system is experiencing financial problems. MEA is a partner in the coalition.

Senate takes no action on SB 1040 -- keep lobbying!

Contrary to speculation, SB 1040--legislation that attacks school employee retirement benefits--saw no action on the Senate floor today.

Amended SB 1040 moves to Senate floor

Today, the Senate Appropriations Committee discharged a substitute version of SB 1040 on a 10-5 vote, but the changes do little to help out current and future school employees or retirees. Contrary to earlier reports from lawmakers and the media, many positive changes were left out of the bill.

Senate committee considers ending full-time release practice

HB 4059 hasn’t seen much action since it was first introduced by Rep. Knollenberg (R-Troy) in January 2011 and passed by the House in April, but the bill to prohibit public employers from paying for full-time release union officials will again see the light of day at tomorrow’s Senate Reforms, Restructuring and Reinventing Committee meeting.

HB 4059 Talking Points

  • HB 4059 is another attack on unions. There are only 12 large school districts that allow for a full-time release president to take care of union business. And in most cases, the union reimburses the district for any costs.
  • This is a local control issue. If the school district and the union determine that it’s helpful for the district to pay union officials to conduct union business, the issue can be negotiated at the bargaining table.
  • Many times, union business is school business. When problems arise, they can be resolved quickly during the day.

Schools still losers in PPT elimination

A major sticking point in SB 1072—eliminating the Personal Property Tax (PPT)—has been no plan for replacing the lost revenue for local governments and school districts. Last week the Senate approved Republican amendments that would remedy the situation—at least in part. 

Kindergarten start date pushed back

Under SB 315-316 unanimously passed by the Senate this week, some 4-year olds will have to wait to start kindergarten, unless their parents file a request with a school district.

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