Michigan Education Association

Southfield fires 350 employees under guise of helping students

MEA will hold school board members accountable for results

EAST LANSING, Mich., April 23, 2008 – More than 350 Southfield school employees were fired by the Board of Education Tuesday night in a tragically misguided vote mislabeled as an effort to “help students.”

Under the guise of improving the education of Southfield students, the board voted 5-2 to get rid of the district’s bus drivers, custodians and maintenance workers and to hire private companies to do their work. The district rejected $18 million in concessions over three years from the employees, who are members of the Southfield Michigan Education Support Personnel Association, an affiliate of the Michigan Education Association.

“The Southfield school board members said this decision was in the best interests of students – and we’re going to hold them accountable for this decision,” said MEA President Iris K. Salters. “Student test scores better improve, class sizes better get smaller, necessary classroom supplies better be provided. And, most of all, the district better actually save at least $6 million a year. If not, MEA will show the community how the school board lied when it made this decision.”

In rejecting employee concessions, the school board not only hurt the families of the 350 affected workers, but also negatively impacted the greater Southfield community and the Michigan economy. Many of the Southfield employees live in the district where they work and have children or grandchildren enrolled in its schools. By contrast, all the firms Southfield now will contract with are from outside Michigan.

“This is a sad day for the city of Southfield and the state of Michigan because neither can afford to lose 350 jobs,” Salters said.

Despite evidence to the contrary, school board members are buying into promises that privatization will save money without cutting services.

Cost-cutting is not a certain outcome of privatization, according to a recent report, “A Guide to Contracting Out School Support Services: Good for the School? Good for the Community?” by Drs. William J. Mathis and Lorna Jimerson. The report found that even when school districts can save money by selling out their services to private companies, the practice can have negative consequences for students’ education and the community’s economy. (For information about the study, go to www.greatlakescenter.org.)


Updated: February 6, 2009 4:40 PM

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