MEA unveils bold 5-point reform plan to make Michigan a leader in education

'MEA's A+ Agenda' calls for action, accountability and achievement

LANSING, Mich., January 18, 2010 — On the eve of Gov. Rick Snyder’s first State of the State address, the Michigan Education Association today announced five bold areas for reform that can improve public schools and help Michigan students compete in the 21st century economy.

“‘MEA’s A+ Agenda’ contains commonsense reforms that will help make Michigan a leader in public education through real, balanced solutions to the issues facing our state,” said MEA President Iris K. Salters.

“Michigan’s school employees are ready and willing to work with Gov. Snyder and the new Legislature to tackle real problems and ensure that public education fulfills its mission to prepare students for the jobs Michigan needs.”

MEA’s A+ Agenda addresses five areas in need of attention by lawmakers in Lansing:

  • Realign Michigan’s PreK-12 system to support students in achieving the goal our state values most: graduating high school ready to succeed in college or other post-secondary opportunities.
  • Increase accountability for EVERYONE in public education – teachers, administrators, support staff, parents, et al – for the overall educational success of Michigan’s students.
  • Increase efficiency for ALL school districts to get the greatest return on investment for students, communities and the economy.
  • Ensure good stewardship of taxpayer dollars by increasing school district financial stability and accountability.
  • Fix Michigan’s antiquated tax structure that has led to Michigan’s decade-long budget crisis.

Specific reforms highlighted included:

  • Reducing the need for remedial coursework by college students;
  • Expanding access to early childhood education and parent training programs;
  • Streamlining the process for dismissing ineffective tenured teachers (while ensuring fair, impartial standards based on locally-controlled evaluation systems);
  • Improving training and evaluation for all education employees;
  • Requiring employers to allow parents to attend parent-teacher conferences;
  • Clarifying systems for consolidating school districts or administrative/support services;
  • Mandating independent, high-quality cost benefit analyses before and after any consolidation or outsourcing of services to ensure savings are achieved;
  • Increasing financial stability for school districts (including supporting Gov. Snyder’s call for a two-year budget by July 1);
  • Spending more than 85 percent of school revenue on “direct student support;” and
  • Reviewing tax incentive programs to ensure they create jobs -- and eliminate those that don’t.

MEA Director of Public Affairs Doug Pratt said legislation on many of these topics is already under development. “We look forward to sitting down with lawmakers interested in these areas to find common ground and see these concepts put into law.”

“We need to get Michigan working again, and the only way that’s going to happen is if we have a trained, educated and skilled workforce,” Salters said. “We must prioritize education reform, because it is the key to success for our students and for our state as we work to create the best-educated workforce possible.”