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Snyder signs SB 618 into law

On Tuesday, Gov. Snyder signed SB 618 into law lifting a 150-cap on university-sponsored charter schools.  The bill is now Public Act 277.

The original bill was modified so that the cap is gradually lifted until 2015 when there will be no limit. Next year, the limit is 300 new charter schools and grows to 500 in 2014.

MEA opposed the bill on the grounds that lifting the cap robs traditional public schools of needed resources. The bill also lacked strict accountability standards for newly-created charter schools.

Legislature goes home for the holidays

Legislature goes home for the holidays

After lifting the cap on charter schools, the Legislature finished its business for the year today without doing any more harm to public education, students and public education employees and their unions.

The Senate did not take up HB 4929, legislation to end payroll deduction for union dues, or any of the litany of other anti-union bills under consideration.  And the House took no action on SB 619 (unlimited expansion of cyber schools).  But rest assured the debate over further attacks on public education, unions and the middle class will restart in the New Year.

The Legislature will be back in session January 11, 2012. For now, there is peace in Michigan.

Call your state rep NOW to oppose SB 618

The pressure is building in the state House to pass SB 618, the bill allowing for unlimited expansion of charter schools.  There are still several Republican representatives who are opposed to the bill's provisions that remove the cap on charters without increasing accountability measures.  But they are under intense pressure to vote in favor of SB 618.

Call your state representative right away -- contact information can be found at http://bit.ly/sBEt9 . Urge them to vote no on SB 618.  Tell them that unchecked expansion of charter schools will hurt your district and your students, siphoning even more resources away from our neighborhood schools.

Take action now!

It’s going to be a busy week at the Capitol!

This week represents that last legislative days for 2011 and there are issues which could see action this week.

  • SB 618 may be up for a vote in the House, but so far there don't seem to be enough votes to support it. The idea of removing the cap on charter schools is meeting resistance from legislators who are concerned about the impact that throwing open the doors to charters will have on traditional public schools. President Cook has sent a letter to state representatives urging them to vote "no" on SB 618 and reaffirming our opposition to the bill. That letter, along with messages to your representatives seems to be having an effect, but we can't stop the efforts. Contact your representatives. Find out where they stand on SB 618. If they oppose it, thank them for their vote and ask what kind of support they need. If they agree with taking the cap off charter schools, tell them true education reform is based on sound research that says small class sizes, more and better teacher training, greater parental involvement and adequate resources for student earning yield the greatest results for our students.
     

Cook cautions legislators to 'tread lightly' on cyber school movement

 

For two days, the House Education Committee has heard testimony on SB 619, the legislation to lift the cap on cyber schools. While what most of what the Committee has heard came from parents, teachers, students and providers of cyber schools who fully endorse the legislation, today MEA submitted written testimony from President Cook along with research showing that cyber schools are not the great educational miracles many legislators are claiming and calling for more accountability in their operation.

“Our state leaders should tread very lightly when deciding whether to divert scarce educational resources into virtual schools. And they should tread very lightly before turning our kids into guinea pigs for corporate education experiments,” warned Cook.

After heated debate, committee reshuffling--House Education Committee lifts charter school cap

After a hurried reshuffling of the House Education Committee yesterday to ensure the needed votes, the Committee today reported out SB 618, which would raise the cap on charter schools.

The bill now goes to the full House for consideration.  Contact your state representative today -- urge him or her to vote NO on SB 618 that would allow for unlimited charter schools, regardless of the quality of those schools and the resources they draw away from neighborhood schools.

In advance of today's vote, House Speaker Jase Bolger announced late Tuesday that Rep. Holly Hughes (R-White River Township) was being replaced by Rep. Lisa Posthumus Lyons (R-Alto) on the House Education Committee. Hughes continually wavered on the charter school cap issue but Bolger claims his move protected her politically from both the MEA and Republican constituencies. What it really did was assure passage of the bill, despite opposition from within the Republican caucus.

Michigan finally has anti-bullying legislation

The Senate wasted no time in passing HB 4163, anti-bullying legislation that does not contain any exemptions for religious or moral grounds.

The Senate made it clear before their break that passage of the House’s version would be taken up immediately upon their return. SB 137 caused controversy nationwide because it allowed bullying in certain instances.

Democrats offered amendments to address cyber-bullying, to provide a list of groups included under the bill and to require reporting of bullying instances to the Department of Education. All amendments failed on party-line vote.

The bill now goes to Gov. Snyder for his signature. 

Keep an eye on education bills and keep in contact with legislators

The Legislature has only nine work days left in 2011 after it returns from break Nov. 29 to get key issues to the Governor for signature.

When it comes to education, the list of issues left to tackle include the collection of school employee union dues, so-called "education reform," and bullying.

While denying it is payback for the recall of Paul Scott, the Republican-led Legislature has SB 636 and HB 4588 on their agenda. Both bills prohibit public employers from collecting union dues via payroll deduction. MEA opposes the legislation. Contact your legislators and let them know that there must be an end to such partisan politics--especially when it doesn’t help kids or education and doesn’t create any new jobs.

After the victories--what's next?

MEA President Steve Cook weighed in on election victories last week.. So it’s no surprise that the opposition has an opinion on Rep. Paul Scott’s recall and the defeat of Ohio’s collective bargaining law.

Gov. Snyder led the Republican Party message on the recall saying that his administration will “forge ahead with our efforts,” and “This was not about Rick Snyder or the Republican agenda.”

When it came to the Ohio vote, he said, “The country needs a mellower, less confrontational approach to fiscal problems on the state and federal level.” He went on to claim that his new Republican administration has been able to avoid the rancor rocking other Republican governors “by steering clear of challenges to collective bargaining agreements with state employees. “I counseled dialogue and negotiations with union leaders,” he said.

Senate passes SB 137; Dems call it “Republican license to bully”

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.”

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