Letter to Members: For MI Kids and Educators

One of the things that becomes apparent in reading this issue of the Voice is how much expertise and caring MEA members bring to the table.

We know our kids, our schools, our communities and – most of all – our profession. The question is when will our understanding, knowledge, and dedication to students be respected by policymakers?

It’s an election year amid a two-year global pandemic—we must keep raising our voices every chance we get.

Several MEA members did just that when given short notice of a legislative hearing assembled for March 10 to consider reasons behind educator shortages in many job categories which have wreaked so much havoc on school staffing and workloads this year.

These members showed up via Zoom on a Thursday during lunch hours and prep time – and in-person in the case of Michigan Teacher of the Year Leah Porter – to explain the mostly human-created factors driving  people out.

Low pay and declining benefits topped the list, of course, but the speakers also detailed the disrespect, lack of support, over-testing, and bureaucracy which are driving good people away.

“While the past two years have had so many hurdles, the crisis in schools has been brewing for a long time,” Porter – a third-grade teacher in Holt – told the legislative subcommittee.

“Years of funding cuts, loss of pension and affordable insurance, consolidation of staff, additional work responsibilities from absorbed positions, and the perpetual attacks on education systems have created the perfect storm we are now facing.”

You can add your thoughts and experiences to the committee’s process of gathering information. Read the story and learn how to submit your own comments.

Right now we’re seeing yet another prime example of the kind of attacks on public education that have replaced any desire to support, listen to, or invest in our state’s public schools and educators – unsurprisingly from Betsy DeVos and others who wish to privatize public education.

The billionaire and her allies are funding a signature-gathering effort to jam through a school voucher scheme that would take away $500 million a year from public schools to benefit for-profit private schools – while giving her multimillionaire friends another massive tax break they don’t need.

What’s worse is the organizers of the petition drive may make an end-run around voters and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s veto pen if they succeed in gathering signatures. That’s why it’s important to decline to sign the so-called “Let MI Kids Learn” petitions, and urge your friends and family to do the same.

Then get involved in the fight!

For MI Kids, For Our Schools is a coalition of parents, educators and advocates dedicated to building a brighter future for Michigan children and fighting to defeat DeVos’ latest school voucher scheme. To learn more, visit ForMIKids.com and sign up to get involved.

We must keep raising our voices every chance we get.

Michigan students deserve good public schools where they can get the education and skills they need to succeed in college and the workplace. With an educator shortage and growing student mental health needs, we must provide our children with well-paid teachers and support staff, smaller class sizes and more mental health resources.

MEA Voice Feature Newsroom Uncategorized

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