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. 

Emergency Manager repeal likely headed to court

In a split 2-2 decision, the Board of State Canvassers failed to approve the Public Act 4 referendum that would have put the repeal of the controversial Emergency Manager law on the November ballot.  That tie likely means the proponents of the repeal –which MEA supports –will be taking their case to court for a final ruling.

House passes cyber school bill, other “ed reforms”

Update: Rep. Kate Segal (D-Battle Creek) lost her request to reconsider the vote on SB 619 to expand charter schools, but she was successful in her request for a roll call vote on the immediate effect of the bill. The 57-52 vote failed to get the necessary two-thirds majority, so SB 619 will not go into effect until next spring.

April 26, 2012—House Republicans managed to strong-arm enough votes to barely pass SB 619—legislation to expand cyber schools—on a 56-54 vote. Thanks to intense lobbying efforts from MEA members and many other groups, the bill was vastly improved from the original passed by the Senate.

Fifteen amendments were offered, but only six Republican ones were adopted. There was no debate or explanation of any of the amendments. 

With the amendments, the bill now reads:

  • Through Dec. 31, 2013, there can only be five statewide authorizing bodies for cyber schools. The number can double the following year, but there can be no more than 15 after Dec. 31, 2014.
  • Cyber school enrollment can’t exceed 2,500 in the first year; not more than 5,000 in the second year; and no more than 10,000 in the third year and beyond.
  • The Department of Education can stop the authorization of any new cyber schools if the number of students enrolled is more than 1 percent of the total student enrollment in public schools for the 2012-13 school year. In 2014, the limit is 2 percent.

Teacher Day/School Family Day is May 8

Each year schools and communities observe Teacher Day/School Family Day with local celebrations that pay tribute to the contributions school employees make to our communities and to society in general.

Constitutional amendment would require full disclosure from universities

What looks suspiciously like more retribution for universities, Rep. Tom McMillin (R-Rochester Hills), Chair of the House Oversight, Ethics and Reform Committee, is proposing a constitutional amendment (HJR PP)requiring state public universities to annually report every expenditure they make. Universities would then have to create an online report showing what was bought from whom and professors’ salaries.

Still no full replacement guarantee for personal property repeal

While reforming the personal property tax (SB 1065-1072) is taking a back seat to budget debates, the Senate Tax Policy Committee continues to take testimony.

Legislature can’t agree on how schools can spend limited new monies

Budget season is in full bloom in the Legislature, with votes being held on budget bills moved by various appropriations committees. In most cases, those committees were stingier in their proposals than Gov. Snyder’s $48.2 billion proposed budget.

A budget must be in place by Sept. 30, but legislators plan on beating that deadline by having one in place by June 1.

While both the House and the Senate want to give more money to K-12 districts than the Governor does, they don't agree on how the money should be spent. Under the Senate proposal, richer districts would get $100 more per pupil and low-funded districts would get $200 more.

CSR defends middle class in SB 1040 opposition

Prior to the Senate Appropriations Retirement Subcommittee’s day-long hearing on SB 1040, the Coalition for Secure Retirement-Michigan (CSR) held a news conference denouncing the legislation for “undermining the retirement security of current and future school retirees and dramatically increasing employee contributions.” MEA is a member of CSR, which represents active and retired school employees, corrections employees and nurses—the middle class.

No guaranteed replacement for funding lost with PPT elimination

This week, the Senate Finance Committee began hearing testimony on SB 1065-1072, a package of bills that would eliminate the personal property tax (PPT) on industrial equipment collected by local governments.

Muskegon Heights schools gets emergency manager

Governor Snyder has appointed Donald Weatherspoon as Muskegon Heights School District emergency manager effective April 23.

Changes coming to proposed retirement legislation

If you’ve wondered whether contacting legislators or providing testimony or attending legislative sessions was important—then yesterday’s Senate Appropriations Retirement Subcommittee decision to work on a substitute for SB 1040 is proof that your actions make a difference.

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