FAQ on MPSERA Litigation

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We answer some of your Frequently Asked Questions Regarding the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement Act Litigation.

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Free to MEA members: WebEx on Certification this Wednesday

Considering the changes in the law regarding certification, there is nothing more important than keeping your certification up-to-date. Whether your certificate expires this summer or in five years—you need to develop a plan to protect your certification.

MEA can help!

Join the free WebEx workshop for MEA members on Wednesday, May 21 at 5 p.m.  (EDS). “What Every Teacher Needs to Know about Certification” will cover how to keep your certification current; how to renew and/or progress your certificate using the new certification rules; how to use District-Provided Professional Development and SCECHs; and how to use MOECS to complete the renewal process.

You can join the online workshop for free by going to https://mea.webex.com/mea/j.php?MTID=ma224c260e491ced484d1a33039bd8f74. When asked, enter your name and email address. If a password is required, enter 12345 and then click “Join.” The WebEx will also be recorded so MEA members can view it at a later date.

Birmingham teacher, MEA member honored as Michigan Teacher of the Year

Twenty years of teaching his students to “learn globally and serve locally” earned Rick Joseph the title of the 2015-16 Michigan Teacher of the YearJoseph is a fifth/sixth grade language arts and social studies teacher at Birmingham Covington School and an MEA member. He was selected for the honor from 487 teachers across the state who applied.

“This is a huge surprise, but there is no way I can be Teacher of the Year without the help of my team. I always say there is no “I” in team. My colleagues and students inspire me and teach me every day and they share in this honor,” Joseph said.

The announcement also came as a surprise to students and staff who had gathered in the school gym supposedly to be recognized by State Superintendent Mike Flanagan for being one of the top 50 best middle schools in the U.S. Flanagan used the opportunity to recognize Joseph for his outstanding work.

“I had the honor to watch him in his classroom. He is truly an inspiration to his students. Like all teachers, Rick makes a profound impact and will influence his students forever,” said Flanagan.

Joseph is the first Birmingham teacher to receive the honor from the State Board of Education.  He is also a National Board Certified teacher and a 2012 winner of the Microsoft Global Forum for Expert Educators. He was one of the world’s most innovative educators chosen from 75 countries and honored at a reception in Prague.

Laughter and play aren’t luxuries—they’re necessities!


Participants in the annual BFCL Ladies Day at the MEA on May 8 got inspiration and ideas for their professional and personal lives from an unusual keynote speaker—a stand-up comedian. Sharon Lacey is a former award-winning teacher who quit the profession when she feared she was showing early signs of Alzheimer’s which runs in her family.

“I was scared. I decided it was better to do everything in life I wanted to do while I still could. I always wanted to be a stand-up comedian. It’s been quite an adventure and I’ve learned to embrace it,” Lacey said. 

That was more than nine years ago, but she still draws on her experiences as a middle school history teacher to connect with her audience through humor. 

“Considering what you’re dealing with—mandatory testing with test results tied to your evaluations, union busting, wage cuts—a mountain of problems—it feels  like you’re working in a war zone. And I should know, I’ve been in Iraq entertaining our troops,” Lacey told the ladies.

She touched on topics familiar to her audience—homework, Facebook, classroom supplies, and school pictures—bringing humor to every-day situations that, at some point, have tested the patience of every educator in the room. 

MEA urges postponement in using M-STEP results because of testing problems

EAST LANSING, Mich., April 21, 2015 — In an open letter to Gov. Snyder and state education stakeholders, MEA President Steve Cook is asking that data from the Michigan Student Test of Educational Progress (M-STEP) not be used this year in teacher evaluations, district rankings, or for any other purposes. The letter details numerous problems associated with the test, which is now in its second week of implementation in school districts across the state.

Cook said, “After just five days, we’re hearing loud and clear from our members just some of the many problems associated with M-STEP. It’s impossible to believe that this test could be an accurate measure of student growth. We can’t use unreliable data to judge teachers and school districts.”

The letter points out that M-STEP is taking huge amounts of time away from classroom instruction and curriculum. In some cases, a whole school day is absorbed with testing, when only a few hours were scheduled. Teachers reported that students are not finishing the test and were “locked out” of completing the test later.

Since M-STEP is an online test, computers and computer labs are unavailable to other students and classes to do their work. In many schools, computer labs are in school libraries which are now off limits during the testing period.

In too many cases, a school district’s infrastructure isn’t able to provide the technology needed for administration of M-STEP. A middle school test coordinator spent the first days of the testing window working with computers locking up or crashing; insufficient server capacity, equipment failures, and software issues. “It seemed M-STEP became an assessment of a student’s ability to manipulate the technology, and less a test of what a student learned.”

Detroit school coalition calls for overhaul of Detroit schools

After three months, the Coalition for the Future of Detroit Schoolchildren issued its report for Gov. Snyder. The group was charged with coming up with ideas and recommendations to reform education in Detroit.

David Hecker, president of the American Federation of Teachers in Michigan (AFT-Michigan) and one of five Coalition co-chairs, said, "We have a system that isn't working. The fact is all urban districts are performing much better than Detroit. All we're asking for is a level playing field."

The Coalition wants the state to assume $53 million a year of Detroit Public Schools' (DPS) $450 million debt since it occurred while the state was in charge of the district. For many years, DPS has been under the control of several emergency managers to deal with its financial problems and in 2011, came under the control of the Education Achievement Authority (EAA) to improve its academic standing.

In keeping with that idea, the Coalition recommended the control of DPS be returned to an elected school board and the agreement with EAA be ended.

Is it easy for Michigan students to find career information?

Take the online survey

The Center for Michigan, a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization, is looking for information from educators like you about improving career outcomes for Michigan students after high school. It’s critical that you share your ideas and opinions in an online survey they’re conducting.

The survey is part of the Center’s Community Conversations to better understand career navigation, college affordability and the opportunities and hurdles students face in getting a good job and pursuing a successful career in Michigan. 

Your responses will be confidential and not linked to you in any way. The data will be used to create a report summarizing what Michigan citizens feel about these issues. 

Go online now to complete the survey. The survey will be available until April 6.

2015 M-STEP vendors win three-year contract

The two vendors who are currently administering the 2015 M-STEP assessments won a three-year contract to continue their work. Data Recognition Corporation and Measurement, Inc. were awarded the contract by the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) and the Department of Technology, Management and Budget (DTMB).

This year, the Smarter Balanced consortium content is being used for the math and English Language Arts portion of M-STEP, with Michigan-developed content aligned to state standards provident questions the for science and social studies questions. That will be the same combination for the 2016 statewide assessment.

Five companies submitted bids for the statewide testing contract. The three-year $103.7 million contract for Data Recognition Corp. and Measurement, Inc. still needs to be approved.

Whiston chosen as new State Superintendent

The State Board of Education has picked Brian Whiston, Dearborn Public Schools Superintendent, to replace current State Superintendent Mike Flanagan who retires at the end of June.

Before becoming Dearborn’s superintendent, Whiston spent 11 years as a lobbyist for Oakland Schools. He was also a school board member for Waterford Schools and taught at Wayne State University.

During his interview, Whiston expressed concern that teachers are being targeted and that needs to change. “We do need to celebrate the great things our teachers are doing. We have to celebrate the career, the field of education.”

Whiston said his first priorities will involve proposing a plan to improve student achievement and a plan to change how schools are funded.

Whiston was selected over Vicki Markavitch, Oakland Schools Superintendent, and Scott Menzel, Washtenaw Intermediate School Superintendent, for the position.

Flanagan: 'Poverty is a tough nut to crack.' Tell MEA how you're doing it!


State Superintendent Mike Flanagan told the audience gathered at the Governor's Education and Economic Summit last week that, "Poverty is a tough nut to crack," and challenged them to help underprivileged children learn.

The recent Kids Count report from the Michigan League for Public Policy  revealed that more Michigan children are living in poverty. The number of children in poverty increased by 35 percent with one in four children living in poverty and one in three qualifying for food assistance because their families' incomes are $23,600 or less a year.

The statistics on childhood hunger are equally as disheartening. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), 16 million students are victims of childhood hunger.

While he acknowledged that teachers and staff see firsthand every day the impact poverty and hunger has on their students and their ability to learn, he said, "It's our collective job together."

To raise the awareness of poverty and hunger in our schools, Flanagan encouraged the audience to tell their stories. 

Tell us your story of how poverty is impacting your classroom and you on our MEA Facebook page. How are you dealing with it?