Advocacy continues to ensure all school employees are paid, all students are educated
“MEA wants to thank the many school districts that have done the right thing and continued paying all school employees during this closure,” said MEA President Paula Herbart today, as the COVID-19 school closures approach the two-week mark.
“From teachers to hourly support staff like food service and custodians, school employees are stepping up and putting the needs of students first in this crisis. Public schools are still receiving taxpayer funds from the state during the closure, and we appreciate all those that are continuing pay so their employees can focus on student needs instead of their personal economic situations.”
Where employees aren’t being paid or the situation is unclear, local and state-level MEA leaders and staff are actively advocating for necessary support using existing district funds. School employees shouldn’t be forced to add pressure on state unemployment benefits when taxpayers are already putting money into school districts that can be used to issue paychecks.
MEA also recognizes that districts need answers to key questions about forgiveness of instructional time requirements in order to keep those paychecks moving on time. That’s why members and the public have been active in contacting lawmakers to urge legislative action on these issues. Almost 70,000 emails and countless phone calls have gone to legislative offices to emphasize the urgency of this situation.
“We’ve heard from many lawmakers who are supportive of taking necessary action, but there is now an open question about when they will be able to return to Lansing to vote on these measures. As this crisis continues, we need our state government to do what’s right for both the education of our students and the livelihood of school employees.”
That includes ongoing conversations between MEA and every level of state government, including a working group convened by Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey this week to address both short- and long-term needs for student learning, school calendar, personnel needs and ongoing non-instructional support – especially providing meals for students in need.
“We appreciate the conversations we’ve been engaged in thus far and we’re ready to work together at any time to ensure the voices of Michigan’s dedicated educators are part of solutions to continue meeting the education needs of Michigan students,” Herbart said. “We have to continue providing an educational experience during this crisis that meets the varied needs of students in districts across the state, including those without the ability to access virtual learning options.”