Feature

Judge rules lawsuit challenging right-to-work law can go forward

Attorney General Bill Schuette claims that state police shut down access to the Capitol on Dec. 6 to protect public safety as the Legislature was deliberating on right-to-work legislation. Here is a shot from inside the "overcrowded" Capitol on Dec. 6, as citizens were left outside in the cold.

A lawsuit challenging Michigan’s so-called “right-to-work” law because it was passed in violation of state and federal open government laws can go on as scheduled, an Ingham County Circuit judge ruled Wednesday.

Judge William Collette ruled against Attorney General Bill Schuette’s motion to dismiss the case, which was filed by the Michigan Education Association, the ACLU of Michigan, and a coalition of other labor unions and citizen watchdogs.

MEA and others contend that Michigan lawmakers violated the Michigan Open Meetings Act, the state Constitution and the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution when citizens were refused entrance to the Capitol as the Legislature took up right-to-work legislation in December.

“By allowing state police to block citizens from entering the Capitol, Lansing politicians not only violated the basic American principles of open and transparent government, they also violated specific state and federal laws designed to protect the rights of citizens,” MEA President Steven Cook said when the lawsuit was filed. “We’re confident the courts will agree that the Legislature’s actions on the afternoon of Dec. 6 constituted a clear violation of the Open Meetings Act and should be invalidated."

Citizens across Michigan rally as so-called ‘right-to-work’ takes effect

Michiganders held a silent protest at the state Capitol on Thursday to highlight how Gov. Rick Snyder and corporate special interests are trying to silence the voices of middle-class families.

As Michigan’s so-called “right-to-work” law took effect Thursday, hundreds of people across Michigan participated in local rallies to send a clear message: Right-to-work is temporary, but solidarity is forever.

Citizens used numerous tactics Thursday to stand up to Gov. Rick Snyder and the rich CEOs who pushed the law, which is designed to slash wages and benefits for middle-class families — regardless of if they’re in a union.

At the Capitol Building in Lansing, citizens held a silent protest to highlight right-to-work’s aim of silencing the voices of working families. In Hamtramck, teachers, students and community supporters held a march in support of collective bargaining rights. Candlelight vigils in multiple locations celebrated the history and resilience of Michigan’s labor movement. Events also took place in Ann Arbor, Battle Creek, Detroit, East Lansing, Grand Rapids, Mount Pleasant, Pontiac, Taylor and Utica.

The Truth About the Mackinac Center

The shadowy Mackinac Center for Public Policy is the largest right-wing, state-level policy think-tank in the nation.

One of its primary goals is to dismantle public education in Michigan, replacing traditional public schools with profit-making institutions.  In a leaked email sent to state Rep. Tom McMillin, R-Rochester Hills, the Mackinac Center’s senior legislative analyst admitted, “Our goal is outlaw government collective bargaining in Michigan, which is practical terms means no more MEA.”

Hyper-partisanship leads to House passage of EAA bill

The overly partisan atmosphere in the Michigan Capitol led to the state House narrowly passing legislation yesterday to expand the Education Achievement Authority — without protections for students, teachers and education support staff.

House Bill 4369, which passed by a 57-53 margin, allows the EAA to take over up to 50 public schools across the state that are deemed to be in the state's bottom 5 percent — without so much as conducting an educational audit to determine the specific problems facing the schools in question. The EAA would also be allowed to create new charter schools within two miles of a so-called "failing" school.

In addition, public school employees transferred to EAA schools would lose their collective bargaining rights. An amendment to the bill late Thursday allows current school employees hired by an EAA school to remain members of the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System – but new EAA employees would not be in the system.

House could vote this week on EAA school takeover legislation

The state House may vote this week on House Bill 4369, which would create a statewide "takeover" district called the Education Achievement Authority that would take over local schools, eliminate employees' collective bargaining rights and silence the voices of local citizens.

 
MEA members are urged to contact their state representative and tell them to oppose the EAA legislation. Click here to find contact information for your legislators.
 
The EAA would be allowed to take over up to 50 public schools across the state that are deemed by arbitrary and flawed rankings to be in the state's bottom 5 percent. The bill would also allow the EAA to create new charter schools within two miles of a so-called "failing" school.

UPDATE: House committee passes EAA legislation

 

The state House Education Committee today passed House Bill 4369, which would create a statewide “takeover” district called the Education Achievement Authority. The bill will next come up for a vote before the full House of Representatives, although analysts don’t yet know when.

All of the Republicans on the committee voted in favor of the bill, with the exception of Rep. Bob Genetski, R-Saugatuck, and Rep. Tom Hooker, R-Byron Center, who voted “present.” All Democrats voted no, except Rep. Thomas Stallworth III, D-Detroit, who also voted “present.”

MEA members are urged to contact their lawmakers and urge them to oppose the EAA legislation. Click here to find contact information for your legislators.

Contact your legislators now — House panel could take up EAA legislation today

The state House Education Committee may vote Wednesday on House Bill 4369, which would create a statewide “takeover” district called the Education Achievement Authority.

MEA members are urged to contact their lawmakers and urge them to oppose the EAA legislation. Click here to find contact information for your legislators.

The committee is meeting at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday in Room 519 of the Anderson House Office Building, 124 North Capitol Ave. in Lansing.

Currently a pilot program in Detroit, the EAA would be allowed to take over up to 50 public schools across the state that are deemed by arbitrary and flawed rankings to be in the state’s bottom 5 percent. The bill would also allow the EAA to create new charter schools within two miles of a so-called “failing” school.

Contact your lawmakers and tell them:

  • Rather than addressing specific problems facing local school districts, House Bill 4369 would eliminate the time-honored tradition of neighborhood schools, allowing state government bureaucrats to impose their will over local parents and communities.
  • Proponents tout the Detroit EAA’s alleged effectiveness, even though it has only been in place for a few months and has already demanded a government bailout. Under this legislation, taxpayers could be forced to bail out the statewide EAA at the expense of their own local schools.
  • The Legislature just took steps to stabilize the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System, but House Bill 4369 would destabilize the state’s pension plan by reducing the number of employees paying into the system.
  • The bill strips away basic employment rights of school employees in buildings put under EAA control, taking away their ability to provide meaningful input on issues like curriculum, class sizes and school safety. In addition, school employees transferred to an EAA school would unfairly lose the retirement benefits they’ve already paid for.

EAA school takeover legislation re-introduced

 

Months after similar bills died in the Legislature’s lame duck session, Michigan House Republicans have reintroduced legislation to create a statewide “takeover” district called the Education Achievement Authority, or EAA.

MEA members are urged to contact their lawmakers and urge them to oppose the EAA legislation. Click here to find contact information for your legislators.

House Bill 4369, introduced Tuesday by Rep. Lisa Posthumus Lyons, R-Alto, would allow the EAA to take over up to 50 public schools deemed by arbitrary and flawed rankings to be in the state’s bottom 5 percent. It would also allow the EAA to create new charter schools within two miles of a so-called “failing” school.

HB 4369 would allow Lansing bureaucrats to assume many of the responsibilities currently entrusted to local school board members, parents, teachers and education support staff — all while essentially eliminating the time-honored tradition of “neighborhood schools.”

The bill fails to include an in-depth audit of existing issues in both the school building and district that are causing the lack of performance.  Rather than finding and addressing specific problems through audits, the bill simply assumes that a board and bureaucrats appointed by the governor can simply do a better job than those already doing the work – regardless of the challenges they face.

The bill removes local communities’ ability to establish education policy, direct curriculum and manage community resources, by shifting power to state and federal bureaucrats. It also does not provide any substantive local controls to establish standards, create missions and goals, monitor performance, or audit finances of new schools created by this legislation.

Cat in the Hat makes a ‘purrfect’ Friday for kids at two Michigan schools

 

Children, teachers and education support professionals at two Michigan schools had plenty to meow about Friday, as Dr. Seuss’ “Cat in the Hat” made stops at Green Acres Elementary School in Warren and Pattengill Middle School in Lansing as part of NEA’s Read Across America Day.

Now in its 16th year, the NEA’s Read Across America program continues the NEA’s ongoing commitment to building a nation of readers and mobilizing school employees around an issue they care deeply about: making sure all students have access to books and the skills and support they need to read and learn.

Numerous local and national dignitaries joined about 200 students at Warren’s Green Acres on Friday morning for a special reading of Dr. Seuss’ “Green Eggs and Ham” by NEA Executive Committee Member Christy Levings and former Detroit Pistons forward Earl Cureton.

“I thought it was a wonderful event,” said Warren EA President Jon Fielbrandt, who along with every student and adult donned a towering red-and-white stovepipe hat as part of the festivities (his favorite Seuss books are “Green Eggs and Ham” and “One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish.”) “The students were very excited to have everyone come to Green Acres to be a part of the celebration.”

New survey finds educator satisfaction at an all-time low

Teacher job satisfaction has plummeted to its lowest level in 25 years, according to a new survey released last week.

Only 39 percent of teachers report being satisfied with their jobs, according to the annual Metlife Survey of the American Teacher. This figure has dropped 23 points since 2008, according to the survey.

Teachers reporting low levels of job satisfaction were more likely to be working in schools with shrinking budgets, few professional development opportunities and little time allotted for teacher collaboration.

“This news is disappointing but sadly, there are no surprises in these survey results,” National Education Association President Dennis Van Roekel said. “Teacher job satisfaction will continue to free-fall as long as school budgets are slashed. Educators are doing everything they can to prepare their students to compete in the global economy, but the rug just keeps getting pulled out from under them.”

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