MEA testifies on tenure bills

Michigan senate

Art Przybylowicz, MEA General Counsel, and Mary Aldecoa, Fowlerville teacher and EA president, testified before the Senate Education Committee on the four-bill tenure proposal passed by the House last week.

He pointed out that we can have tenure reform that is fair, less time consuming and expensive and still provide due process for the dismissal of ineffective teachers.

Przybylowicz spoke in opposition to House Bills 4625-4628 which amend tenure and dismantle collective bargaining calling them “poorly conceived, apparently hastily drafted, and based upon a faulty premise—the infallibility of building principals.”

He particularly stressed the unfairness of changing the standard for discharging or demoting tenured teachers from “reasonable and just cause” to “arbitrary and capricious’’ in HB 4626. Calling it an “extremely low standard of review,” he warned the Committee that teachers will turn to the courts to fight a discharge.

“This will result in even lengthier, more expensive litigation for school boards and teachers than the current tenure process.”

Przybylowicz also noted the “incredible power of the principal over a classroom teacher” with the prohibition of collective bargaining over subjects such as evaluations, and layoff and recall in HB 4628. The situation is even more dire when coupled with taking tenure away from long-term, deserving teachers. And if a building principal does not do a proper job of evaluating, it is the teacher who pays the price for the principal’s failure.

In her testimony, Mary Aldecoa presented the teacher perspective when she spoke of instances where some of her school district principals didn’t evaluate ineffective teachers.

“The problem is not tenure or evaluations. The problem is administrators failing to do evaluations. There should be accountability for administrators too, not just teachers.”

In vivid detail, Aldecoa described how her members are reacting to this anti-teacher legislation.

“I have 20 teachers who want out but they love what they do and they’re good teachers. I have another group who wants to move to another state. And I have another group that’s thinking about leaving teaching to go back to school and learn a different profession where they can feel valued.”

Click here to listen to their testimony.

Members of the State Tenure Commission spoke in support of tenure reform but with modifications, many of which echoed the concerns MEA has. Click here to read their position statement.

Read Art Przybylowicz's written statement.

The Committee will be taking more testimony next week.

How did your Representative vote on tenure legislation?

Find out how your state Representative voted on House Bills 4625, 4626, 4627 and 4628.