On a 26-11 vote, the Senate passed SB 137 that requires schools districts to have an anti-bullying policy. The bill sparked heated debate, with Democrats criticizing the bill for the loopholes that allow bullying to still happen. Sen. Rick Jones (R-Grand Ledge) is sponsor of the bill.
As passed, the bill provides no real protection against bullying. It allows bullying comments which stem from religious beliefs; it lists no protections for homosexual or disabled students; and it excludes cyber-bullying.
Sen. Gretchen Whitmer (D-East Lansing) blasted the bill for having holes big enough “to drive a Mack truck through and was “worse than doing nothing.” In passionate support of her “no” vote on the bill, Whitmer called the legislation a “Republican license to bully.”
Today, the Senate passed SB 619, 621-623, 709, and 710—all part of the so-called education reform package. The bills passed on party-line votes with SB 619 barely squeaking by. The bills have been referred to the House Education Committee. Only SB 624—mandating schools of choice—is left after tie bars to the bill were broken.
Despite testimony and research showing cyber schools are not an effective alternative to traditionalschools, SB 619 removes all limitations on cyber schools. Democrats offered five amendments—one to limit the amount of state aid a cyber school student would receive to 50 percent; another to require a cyber school website that included management and third-party vendor contracts; and another to make the student/teacher ratio be equivalent to that of public schools—but all of them failed. Sen. Hoon-Young Hopgood (D-Taylor) chastised the Senate for “putting on the blinders” about the effectiveness of cyber schools.
Since the launch of www.KidsNotCEOs.com, more than 35,000 people have viewed the satirical web video on YouTube! Please, keep sharing it with your friends who may not have seen it yet.
More important than just the video, however, are the stories being shared on the site. Parents and school employees have been visiting and telling their stories about the devastating effects of education cuts on their schools and communities. Here are just a few of their stories:
“I’ve been a teacher for 16 years. I have never been so frustrated and frightened for my future, not to mention the future of our children in the state of Michigan…The government, both on a state and national level, talks about how we need to compete with the rest of the world, yet instead of investing more in education our country and our state continue to chip away at education.” - Matthias Krenzer, Teacher, Sterling Heights
Statement from MEA President Steven Cook on introduction of Senate Bill 729
The following statement can be attributed to MEA President Steven Cook in response to today’s introduction of a bill that would apply so-called “Right to Work” laws only to school employees represented by the Michigan Education Association:
“So-called ‘Right to Work’ efforts – whether they apply only to school employees or to all workers in this state – are the wrong approach to helping Michigan’s economy. This is an incredibly divisive issue that will do nothing to create jobs or help students.
SB 618was reported out of the Senate Education Committee this afternoon and now moves to the full Senate. SB 618 allows the outsourcing/privatization of teachers and removes the cap on charter schools.
Committee members voted 3-2 on the bill and on a substitute amendment that broke the tie-bar between SB 618 and SB 624which mandates schools of choice.
An EPIC-MRA news releasetoday reports that 68 percent of Michigan voters are clearly opposed to the outsourcing of teachers to private companies, part of a Senate package of education reforms (SB 618-624). And with other reforms getting mixed reactions, it sets the stage for a divisive public conversation on proposals generated by the Republican-controlled Legislature.
In testimony before the Senate Education Committee on SB 618-624, State Superintendent Mike Flanagan said that while our education system was outdated and needed an overhaul, most teachers aren’t the problem. They’re just the scapegoats who—surprisingly—are feeling “bashed.”
“Teachers can be allies in reinventing education in Michigan, but when I’ve talked about the need for reforms, sometimes it’s taken as an indictment of teachers. People will resist change if they think we’re bashing them,” said Flanagan.
MEA President Steve Cook appeared on Michigan Public Television’s “Off the Record” last week and called out Republicans for their harmful decisions regarding public education in Michigan and set the record straight on MEA’s involvement in recall elections.
“It’s actions by Republicans that are driving the recalls; it’s not the MEA. The MEA is not their only problem. Their problem is constituents upset about a business tax cut that gutted public education by $1 billion,” said President Cook.
Last week Sen. Randy Richardville, Senate Majority Leader (R-Monroe), announced his push for “Right to Work FOR LESS” legislation for teachers. He singled out the MEA for failing to represent its membership and failing to make financial sacrifices in these tough economic times.
Political insiders say this is all retribution for the recall of Scott who voted to cut education funding, played a key role in changing tenure policies and supported slashing collective bargaining rights.
On a close 55-53 vote today, the House passed HB 4929 which prohibits the deduction of union dues by public school employers. The bill was fast-tracked through the House after being introduced Tuesday. The bill now goes to the Senate where SB 636, a comparable bill introduced by Sen. Meekhof (R-West Olive) on Sept. 8 sits.
Rep. Haveman (R-Holland), sponsor of the bill, said the legislation isn’t an attack on teachers. “It allows them to have more money in their pockets and that’s a good thing.”