Friday, December 18, 2009

See you next year!

Thank you to all for your hard work this year on the important issues facing our membership. As new issues are emerging at the state and local level, I believe we will all need to arm ourselves with information.

In the meantime, have a wonderful, restful two weeks and see you next year!

Regarding the Petition "We Need Your Help"

I have learned today that a petition is in existence that is called “We Need Your Help! Walled Lake K-12 Teaching positions are at Stake!”. It further states that, “We now understand that a WLEA vote will not happen in time to save electives and k-12 teaching positions unless WLEA teachers demand a k-12 vote before the first week of February…….”.

I believe it is important for everyone to know that the WLEA must always be sure that a plan is brought forward to the membership after it has been thoroughly explored and that all possible ramifications have been identified. It is to no one’s advantage to rush decisions. The essay included with the petition does not fully reflect all of these issues.

I am particularly concerned that the petition does not reflect what I have said is the process to follow required by our Constitution and Bylaws.
1) A plan can be taken to the Bargaining Committee. The Bargaining Committee can then decide whether to take the plan forward.

******At this point a Letter of Understanding would need to be agreed upon between the WLEA and the administration of the Walled Lake Schools.

2) A Letter of Understanding can then be taken to the WLEA Board of Directors, who can then decide to vote on it themselves, or send it to the General Membership for a vote.


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A Letter from Iris Salters regarding RACE TO THE TOP Legislation

Please click on the link to read Iris Salter's letter regarding the legislation on RACE TO THE TOP.

Use the MEA site to get contact information regarding your elected legislators:

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Legislature is busy.......not particularly a good thing!

As I have mentioned at the Special Board of Directors’ Meeting and the General Membership Meeting, it has been reported that the Michigan House and Senate have abandoned working on the financial issues of per pupil funding and 20j. They aren’t even working on reforming funding of schools in anticipation of the funding nightmare being faced by the schools in 2010-2011. Instead, both houses of the legislature are working on legislation related to “The Race to the Top”.

The “RTTT” is a block of money for education being offered by President Obama’s administration to states that change their state laws in the following ways:
1) Change teacher certification laws that allow people to follow a path to becoming a teacher other than the state certification process that currently exists.
2) Open up the law that caps the number of charter schools allowed in the state.
3) Attach student test scores to teacher pay and/or evaluation in some way.
If these changes are not made, the state will get none of the RTTT money.

The MEA has always been against all three of these requirements. On the other hand, if they stand against any legislation on these issues, they believe they will then be blamed for blocking available money for education in times that require every single dollar available to be explored. The MEA reluctantly agreed to lobby and negotiate the three requirements. They have asked for all MEA Uniserve staff who are not involved in bargaining, to come to Lansing for the entire week to work as lobbyists. Marci Felegy, a uniserve director for Waterford and former Walled Lake teacher, is currently assigned to lobby with Lisa Brown, one of this area’s house representatives.

For a legislature that couldn’t get anything done in the last month, they have proven their ability to “work”. I am being sarcastic………but they have proven they can work, which makes the financial woes more perplexing to me.

IN THE MEANTIME, the issues involved in the RTTT funds is VERY important to educators and I ask you to read the report from the MEA Lobbyist, Dave Stafford, that I have copied and pasted below.

A report from Dave Stafford, MEA Lobbyist -

Last evening I sent you a message regarding the latest Race to the Top legislation, HB 5623 and HB 5636. We were successful in having the bill modified prior to action by the House Education Committee. Specifically, the language defining “significant” as counting for at least 60% of the evaluation was removed from the bill. We also have a commitment from the sponsor of the bill to work with us to find acceptable language regarding the use of data in compensation calculations. After the bill was amended the committee reported it out to the full House of Representatives. We expect it to be acted upon tomorrow and sent to the Senate.

In the next week we will be facing action in both houses of the Legislature that me proceed at breakneck speed. They will be considering final passage of several bills dealing with school reform, charter schools, alternative certification and bargaining rights among others. All of this is to try to position the State to be in line for a Race to the Top grant of up to $500 million for schools. As a practical matter the deadline for completion of all of this legislation is no later than December 17th.

We will do our very best to keep you posted on this legislation as it develops. We will probably call upon you more than once to contact your representatives and senators to support our positions as we go forward. We hope that you will make the calls, send the e-mails and help us shape this very important legislation. There are very important issues at stake, as well as the federal funding, and we are trying to make sure that the “reform” is done right. We don’t want to stick our heads in the sand and pretend that nothing should be done to improve schools and education. However, we also don’t want, and will not tolerate, the push by some to blame school employees for the problems and define reform as punishing them.

Our goal is to help draft reform that will make our schools better places for children to grow and learn. We hope that you can help us achieve it.

PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE write or call our local senator’s office, Nancy Cassis. Emails and phone numbers can be found below!

Your voices make a difference no matter which avenue you choose to follow!
(Please remember to use your home email account!)

Senator Michael Bishop, Senate Majority Leader

Senator Nancy Cassis - Senator for our school district

District 37 – Farmington & Farmington Hills – Vicki Barnett

District 38 – Novi, Walled Lake City, Wixom –
Hugh Crawford

District 39 – West Bloomfield Twp., Commerce Twp.
-Lisa Brown

District 43 – West Bloomfield –
Gail Haines

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Michigan Legislature Leaves on VACATION until Dec. 1st

Schools are in crisis mode and the State Legislators have left for vacation until December 1st!
Contact your legislators NOW!
From the MEA:
As legislators enjoy the Thanksgiving break, schools are left in the lurch again. Lawmakers have cancelled sessions until Dec. 1, a move that means a $127 per pupil proration cut to schools will take effect beginning with the Dec. 20 state aid payment.

Schools started their fiscal year July 1 and many districts have announced that the $127 per student cut -- on top of a previous reduction this school year of $165 per student -- will force layoffs and program cuts. State funding cuts will be even more extreme for districts that receive 20j funds; Gov. Jennifer Granholm previously vetoed $54 million for these schools.

Though the $127 per pupil cut will take place in December, the Legislature could yet restore some funds for K-12 schools. Legislators will have a few days to consider and pass a supplemental budget bill for schools before the state begins processing payments in mid-December.

Please contact your legislators immediately -- ask them to take up a supplemental budget for schools as soon as they return. Tell them what IS HAPPENING IN OUR district -- and to the students you serve -- if the proration cut occurs next month.

Senator Michael Bishop, Senate Majority Leader

Senator Nancy Cassis - Senator for our school district

Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday, November 13th, 2009

Dear Fellow WLEA Members,
I am writing today with a great sadness. I can not recall ever working in education and in association business at a worse time than right now. School funding issues have caused unprecedented changes in decision making and thus, in our district.

Today six of our fellow WLEA members were told they will be moved to new positions beginning second semester because their current job positions will be cut. This includes 1 elementary counselor, 4 media specialists, and 1 CRT. In turn, as a result of the elimination of positions and subsequent moves, another five WLEA members will be moved to lay off status.

On November 5th, the Board of Education held a closed session to discuss negotiations prior to the regular Board of Education meeting. The Board directed Dr. Hamilton to make mid-year cuts to abate the loss of revenues to Walled Lake dictated by the State Legislature. The parameters for the position cuts, as agreed to by the Board of Education and Dr. Hamilton, included: 1) not disrupting elementary classroom assignments for this year, and 2) not making any cuts that would involve more than 1 bump. I tell you this, just as a way to communicate how some of the decisions were made by the Walled Lake administration.

As we move ahead in the coming weeks, no one knows if the State Legislature will solve the revenue problems for our school. The future is uncertain. I will try to keep you updated as soon as I have available information. If you need to contact me, please feel free.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Summary of Tuesday's Lansing Happenings (11/10/09)

From Wednesday morning's Detroit News -

Lansing politicians remain in a stand off -

Granholm said she'd back extending a sales tax on services, if districts initiate a ballot proposal. Education leaders said later they're trying to draw up school funding reforms, but haven't focused on a service tax.

"There are 551 school districts. If we get 1,000 signatures per district, we're on the ballot," said Rep. Mark Meadows, D-East Lansing, sponsor of a bill to reduce the sales tax from 6 cents to 5 cents on the dollar and extending the levy to most services.

• Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop, R-Rochester, who captured the support of House Democrats for a $165-per-student cut to balance the budget with no new taxes, called on Granholm to rescind cuts she has ordered -- including an additional $127-per-student reduction to start in December. He also called on the House to approve a package of Senate-approved bills that would raise $100 million for schools by freezing the earned income tax credit, scaling back film credits and holding a tax amnesty.

• House Democrats, meanwhile, said they're waiting for the Senate to approve a House bill that would freeze the personal income tax exemption. Speaker Andy Dillon, D-Redford Township, is in China trying to bring business home to the state to invigorate the economy.

"The leadership is playing a blame game," said Bill Rustem, president of the Lansing policy think tank Public Sector Consultants.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Monday, Nov. 7th News

Most of you have heard about the cuts in the secretarial units. It is still early, but I do not have any other news at this point.

HOWEVER, the Michigan State Senate is meeting tomorrow and Thursday of this week and will be considering the bill sent to them from the State House that reinstates most of the $127 per pupil cut and 1/2 of 20j funds. (Please read the post from Friday if you have not already done so.)

Tomorrow in Lansing, PTSA's will be gathering to urge the Senate to pass this bill. WE CAN DO OUR PART!!!! Please CALL or EMAIL Senate Majority Leader Bishop and Senator Nancy Cassis (from our Region!). I would love to see 990 emails sitting on each of their desks tomorrow morning as they consider funding for schools! PLEASE DO NOT BE SHY!
The emails do not have to be long, nor do the phone messages. I will give examples below that you can cut and paste, or read aloud over the phone. PLEASE HELP!!!!

Sample email or to leave a voice message:
Dear Senator, I would like to urge you to reinstate the funding lost to the Walled Lake Schools. Essential services to all children will have to be cut with the 2 per pupil funding cuts and the loss of 20J funds. Please vote for quality education by insuring revenue sources that will allow the education children need to be successful with today's mandated requirements and in their future work lives.
Your name
Your home address
Your phone number (if you like)

Senator Michael Bishop, Senate Majority Leader

Senator Nancy Cassis - Senator for our school district

Friday, November 6, 2009

Potential Funding Reinstatement - HELP!!!!

The news from Lansing yesterday - Thursday, November 5th.

An appropriations bill was passed by the House that would allow cuts to K-12 schools to be lessened. The bill would use federal stimulus money to give back all but $10 of the $127 per student cut previously ordered by Governor Granholm. The bill also restores $800,000 for school bus inspections.

The bill also contained an amendment that would PARTIALLY restore $52 million for “high-spending school districts” – the 20J funds - that were eliminated by Gov. Granholm with her line item veto of the 20 J funds. HERE’S the CAVEAT to the return of the 20J funds in the House’s bill ---- half of the resotoration of the $52 million would be given to the “high-spending districts” and the the other half would go to the state's lowest-spending districts.

Another problem - the money to restore the $52 million would come from the “Michigan Future Fund”, a pot which does not yet have a revenue source. This is a problem for the Republicans in the Senate who are ALSO opposed to using the stimulus money set aside for next year. Matt Marsden, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop, R-Rochester was quoted as saying, "The House has $100 million in revenue in the Earned Income Tax Credit freeze bill that Democrats refused to use.”

As you can see, the disagreements between the two parties continues and threatens to abort any attempt to restore at least some of the funds that Walled Lake has lost.

PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE write or call Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop’s office; PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE write or call our local senator’s office, Nancy Cassis. Emails and phone numbers can be found below!

Your voices make a difference no matter which avenue you choose to follow!
(Please remember to use your home email account!)

Senator Michael Bishop, Senate Majority Leader

Senator Nancy Cassis - Senator for our school district

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Yesterday in the Michigan State Senate & House - A Report for October 28th, 2009

Yesterday afternoon the State Senate Appropriations Committee moved SR 88 to the Senate floor for “concurrence”. SR 88 is a resolution to begin the process of overriding Governor Granholm’s veto of Sec. 20j funds in the 2009-10 K-12 School Aid budget.
Testimony was given by many different superintendents, including our own, I believe. Superintendents from Troy, Livonia, Birmingham, Farmington, and Royal Oak also gave testimony. The MEA publication, “Capital Chaos”, reported that the superintendents reported the cuts they have made in their budgets and the additional cuts they must make if the legislature fails to restore funding.

Mike Shibler, Superintendent of the Rockford Public Schools, testified that the 20j funds cost the non 20j schools $35/student. He supports restoring the 20j funds but not at a cost to non 20j districts.

The message to the Appropriations Committee also included the very important request for a stable form of funding for the public schools.

The resolution passed by a vote of 10 – 5.

The House Ethics and Elections Committee today approved three bills that would amend campaign finance law. The legislation would affect public employee payroll deductions for donations to union political action committees (PAC). Now, the measures go to the full House for consideration. MEA supports the bills.

House Bill 4245 allows public employees to contribute to a union PAC by payroll deduction if the union fully compensates the public body for the use of any resources.

House Bill 4284 eliminates the requirement that labor organizations and others obtain annual consent for contributions from individuals who give on an automatic basis, such as through payroll deduction. Written consent would still be required, but not every year.

House Bill 4997 does the same thing as House Bills 4245 and 4284 but also affects communications to elect or defeat a candidate, including automated telephone calls. Automated calls and other electronic communications would have to clearly state the name and address or telephone number of the person paying for the communication. Further, telephone communications could not take place before 9 a.m. or after 8 p.m.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Capital Chaos - MEA Publication about Funding Crisis

***Capital Chaos is published by Linda Myers, Campaign Consultant for Government Affairs at the MEA

News of the Day
Governor Holds Round Table Discussions on Budget

Governor Granholm visited West Michigan last Friday to meet with superintendents, school board members and school staff looking for solutions to the education funding crisis.

The Governor met with members of the school communities in the Muskegon and Kent ISDs encouraging them to support her ideas for a short-term fix and long-term changes to how schools are funded. As she sees it, tax reform is key to avoiding any further budget dramas like we’re seeing now.

After the Governor explained the state’s financial crisis and her reasons for cutting an additional $127 from state aid, on top of the $165 already cut, she heard the impact the cuts will have on education—in addition to the budget slashing schools have already endured.

She heard of the potential elimination of 600 jobs in Kent County and 225 teaching jobs in Ottawa County. Kent City has already eliminated guidance counselors and day custodians. In Whitehall, this new round of cuts could mean cutting programs in fine arts and eliminating athletics and extra-curricular. The message was clear—schools are no longer cutting the number of programs—they’re cutting education quality.

John Mierz, a Whitehall teacher and MEA member, was invited to participate in the discussion. He told the Governor that it’s impossible for districts and staff to do any long-term planning when there’s such funding uncertainty.

Arch Lewis, MEA Research Consultant and a participant in the discussion agreed. “We need a long-term systemic. It’s obvious Prop A isn’t working. We need to get money to schools that will be a permanent revenue source.”

For the short term, the Legislature has 30 days to implement immediate solutions like freezing schedule increases in personal tax exemptions, or having special interest groups pay a percentage of their tax exemptions as a way of closing tax loopholes.

The Governor ended both discussions with the same challenge. “We have to mobilize like we’ve never mobilized before and fix this problem. Contact your legislator and tell them to vote for the needs of public education. Kids only have this moment. The Legislature must be convinced. Are you willing to help me?”

Emergency meetings deal with school funding crisis

In an emergency meeting on Monday, the State Board of Education urged the Governor and the Legislature to immediately find money to reduce the cuts in school funding. Meanwhile, the governor held another round-table discussion in Rochester.

Local MEA leaders and staff attended the meeting. They supplied stories about the cuts in their local districts and its effect on the classroom and students. Oakland County superintendents spoke of cost cutting measures they have been making over the past several years.

Sen. Mike Bishop (R) Rochester, Rep. Tom McMillin (R) Rochester Hills, and Rep. Kim Meltzer (R) Clinton Township were in attendance at the meeting.

Leon Drolet, former State Representative, organized a group of anti-tax proponents to demonstrate outside the Rochester Public Schools Administration building during the roundtable discussion. He had his huge pink pig parked in the parking lot to denote pork barrel spending.

At the urging of the Governor, contact your legislator today. Phone, email, or text legislators and tell them we must save public education. Urge them to look for revenue by reforming our antiquated tax structure and fixing our broken school funding system. For our economic survival, education must be a priority.

Senator Michael Bishop, Senate Majority
Senator Nancy Cassis - Senator for the northern part of our school district
Representative Hugh Crawford, Legislator from Novi and represents parts of Walled Lake
Governor Granholm -
Follow this link:,1607,7-168-21995-65331--,00.html

Thursday, October 22, 2009


Late this afternoon, Gov. Granholm announced AN ADDITIONAL cut of $127 per-pupil for this year. She based this cut on a report from the Department of Treasury which shows another short fall in expected revenues. This cut is in addition to the $165 per-student reduction that Governor Granholm signed into effect on Monday. This cut is in addition to the 20j funds that the Governor cut for our district, which amounted to over $4.5 million dollars.

Current law requires that the Treasurer notify the Governor if the actual revenue collections are less than the estimated revenue on which the budget is based. In that case, the Governor is required to notify the Legislature that payments to school districts will be reduced on a per pupil basis in 30 days unless the Legislature adopts a solution to the revenue shortfall.

In an email this afternoon from one of our MEA lobbyists, Senator Mike Bishop, Republican leader of the Senate, is reported to have said that the budget that was given to Governor Granholm was balanced and that she didn't need to make the cuts. Senator Bishop goes as far as to say that there is an excess in the School Aid Fund. However, the MEA reports that Senator Bishop is basing his figures on the Revenue Estimating Conference in May of 2009. This Revenue Estimation has already proven to be higher than actual revenues collected. In addition, revenues in the state have continued to fall well below predictions since that time.

I wrote our Senator, Nancy Cassis, and heard back from her almost immediately. She told me she supports our school receiving 20j funds, but she will not support tax increases. If you've read the Oakland Press you know that the Governor is traveling around the state talking to Superintendents. She was in Livingston County today and is making phone calls to superintendents as well. She wants revenue increases.

We need to keep the pressure on to get our government to end this deadlock which will only result in the dismantling of education as we know it. Please write or call our Senators and Governor. Please remember to do it from your home email accounts and phones. Their emails and phone numbers are listed below.

Senator Michael Bishop, Senate Majority Leader

Senator Nancy Cassis - Senator for the northern part of our school district

Representative Hugh Crawford, Legislator from Novi and represents parts of Walled Lake

Governor Granholm - Follow this link:,1607,7-168-21995-65331--,00.html

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Wednesday Morning AFTER the $4.7 Million Cut

By now you have all heard about the cut of "20j" monies that Governor Granholm cut with her veto yesterday. The 20j funds are monies given to districts whose per-pupil finance amount was greater than the State's allotment when school financing switched from local millages to Proposal A. In Walled Lake that is $4.7 MILLION dollars.

I have heard very little from the MEA since then. I did get an email from their MEA PAC chairperson who stated that this move by the governor demonstrated that school finance needed to be revamped. I received a call from Kerry Birmingham, the "press secretary" for the MEA, in the afternoon asking if I would speak to a reporter from the Free Press. Kerry told me that the MEA's message is that school finance needs to be reformed. She told me that the MEA is not bashing the Governor. In fact, I read that the Governor held a news conference in the afternoon yesterday with MEA lobbyists standing around her.

Still, I have heard very little from the MEA. Perhaps they are trying to determine which avenue to go; but I think there is something else going on, and that was potentially confirmed with newspaper reporting this morning. I believe Governor Granholm is trying to pressure the Legislature to add revenue to the state picture. She is not asking for a straight tax increase, but there are several measures she has suggested that would help plug the holes in the state finances. Senator Bishop (Republican) has sworn that taxes will not be raised and warned Governor Granhom not to veto anything else. However, further cuts are looming for education as the sales tax revenues continue to drop.

I feel like Governor Granholm and Senator Bishop are playing the old game of "chicken" with schools like Walled Lake right smack dab in the middle of the road. I can only suggest that you write Governor Granhom and that you write Senator Bishop. Write your own representatives in State government. (Remember, PLEASE DO IT FROM YOUR HOME EMAIL ACCOUNTS!)


Senator Michael Bishop, Senate Majority Leader

Senator Nancy Cassis - Senator for the northern part of our school district

Representative Hugh Crawford, Legislator from Novi and represents parts of Walled Lake

Governor Granholm - Follow this link:,1607,7-168-21995-65331--,00.html

Iris Salters, President of the MEA

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Totals form the $165 per student cut.....

A LOSS OF $2,599,646

Friday, October 9th - Legislature Passes Budget with $165 per pupil cut!

From MEA VOTES - the online newsletter from the MEA
Late Thursday night, the state House and Senate passed the K-12 budget for 2009-10 with a $165 per pupil cut, a smaller reduction than the initial proposal of $218 per pupil.
The budget also continues to fund several key programs, including early childhood and at-risk programs, but that doesn't mean those programs are off the hook. Lawmakers gave school districts the option of cutting them at the local level and using the money allocated to them somewhere else. And the reality is, the size of the per pupil cuts may make it necessary for local districts to cut some of the very programs that make them most successful.
In a press statement, MEA President Iris K. Salters praised the thousands of public school supporters whose vocal opposition to education cuts prevented the worst from coming to pass. "But the lack of a full investment in public schools is disturbing, especially since the vast majority of our legislators ran for office touting the importance of education to our economic recovery," Salters said.
She called on the Legislature to begin work now on addressing anticipated shortfalls in next year's budget by updating Michigan's antiquated tax structure and implementing tax reforms to stabilize funding for schools.
"It's time to invest in our state. It's time to invest in our schools. MEA is proud to have been part of leading that charge during this budget debate and we're proud to commit today to continuing that fight because of our solemn belief that the key to our economic future is preparing our students for the jobs Michigan needs."

Friday, October 2, 2009

Report From the MEA on Legislative Budget Issues

Granholm will use veto power on budget.
Yesterday afternoon, Gov. Granholm declared she would use her veto power on the 2010 budget that the House and Senate sent her this morning. She said she would use her veto power to shape a budget that “diversifies the economy, educates students and protects people at risk.”

Early this morning, the Senate approved a continuation budget that ended a brief government shutdown. But the House couldn’t get the votes for the proposed $218-per-pupil-cut in the School Aid budget—despite an agreement between leaders of both Chambers to do so.


What’s Next?
The MEA believes that the only way to avoid drastic cuts is through added revenue. The question is where that money will come from. MEA reports that a recent EPIC/MRA poll showed that an overwhelming majority—77 percent-- of Michigan residents responding, said, “Don’t cut education.” Rather, they support a budget that is a combination of cuts and new revenue sources.

The unfortunate possibility is that a revenue source may be the Michigan Health Benefits Program (HB 5345) as proposed by Speaker Andy Dillon. The MEA’s fight against this threat to our health care, our bargaining rights and our union is still out there as legislators look for ways to avoid drastic cuts to education.

PLEASE CONTACT YOUR REPRESENTATIVES. CALL OR EMAIL (from home, please). Thank Lisa Brown for her support of education and tell her you support her in the continued fights to settle the budget!

District 37 – Farmington & Farmington Hills – Vicki Barnett
District 38 – Novi, Walled Lake City, Wixom – Hugh Crawford
District 39 – West Bloomfield Twp., Commerce Twp. -Lisa Brown
District 43 – West Bloomfield – Gail Haines
District 44 – White Lake Township – Eileen Kowall

October 2nd, 2009 - Report of the Electives Committee

The History Behind the Electives Committee -
Last Spring (2009)a group of electives teachers asked to meet with Chriss Golden after registration had been completed. They were alarmed by how the shift to the 6 hour day, in tandem with the increased and more stringent graduation requirements initiated by the State of Michigan, had caused a drop in the number of students registering for elective classes. Elective teachers were losing several sections of their offerings, and some had even been shifted to different schools. Because of the incremental increase of requirements over 2009-2009 and 2009-2010, they anticipated that even fewer students would be able to sign up for electives in the 2010-2011 school year. Chriss asked Daryl Szymanski and me to also attend this meeting as the vice-president and president elect of the WLEA.

The electives people, Daryl, myself, and Cyndi Austin (our uniserve director) met again in July and worked on the survey that was sent to all secondary staff (high school and middle school) of the WLEA. Our intent was to determine the membership's view of the effect of the 6 hour day. I sent the results of that survey to secondary teachers last week.

We also asked Dr. Hamilton to gather registration data for us comparing electives student numbers and teacher FTE from the 2008-2009 school year (a 7 period day schedule) and for this year (2009-2010). The data showed an average drop of over 13% for the combined electives FTE. Physical education classes dropped the most, and Foreign Language showed little, if any change. Other areas that showed a decrease in FTE included Business, Music/Performing Arts, Art, and Industrial Arts.

In discussing this information, the Electives group that was meeting together saw that a return to the 7 hour day would alleviate the registration problems for electives classes, but were mindful that the load of teaching 6 classes out of 7 the previous 2 years had been unpopular and problematic for many teachers, particularly the core teachers. So, the committee decided to ask to meet with Dr. Hamilton to talk about possible solutions.

The October 2nd Committee Report -
Daryl Szymanski, Mary Rashid, David Deluca, and I met with Dr. Hamilton. We briefly went over the survey and the numbers as he had those before our meeting. He knows the issue!

The first suggestion put on the table, was immediately pushed off the table. That being, a return to the 7 hour day, with core teachers teaching 5 out of 7, and electives teaching 6 out of 7. Dr. Hamilton told us that would cost 1 million to 2 million dollars and considering the state budget mess, couldn't be done.

We then talked about the possibility of core teachers teaching academic classes for 5 out of 7 hours, but perhaps there was a sixth hour assignment that would be beneficial to students, and yet not add any preparation to the academic day. We also talked about caps on class sizes, similar to the language previously in the contract that expired with the demise of the 7 hour day last spring. After lots of ideas being floated, the following actions were taken:

1) Dr. Hamilton is sending out a Metro Bureau Search to all districts in this area asking 5 questions regarding their experience with the increasing academic requirements from the state and maintaining student opportunity to take electives.
2) Mary said that Judy knows of a program being done in Grosse Pointe that may give us an idea. Judy, could you send a bit of this information to me and I will contact the EA president in Grosse Pointe.
3) I did not say this at the meeting, yesterday afternoon, Cyndi Austin sent out a questionnaire to all MEA Eastern Zone leaders, asking them questions similar to the inquiries in the Metro Bureau Search.

We also talked about deadlines looming for decision making, as scheduling will need to be set, probably in December. This is of grave concern to me.

How to proceed? I am going to talk with Cyndi regarding some issues, but I believe we need to look at
1) finding an acceptable use for a 6th hour for core teachers that does not require an additional prep
2) is there any other way of accomplishing this AND giving more time for students to take electives.
3) We need to bring high school core teachers into our group SOON and will be pursuing this later today and on Monday.
4) I will need to take this to the Bargaining Committee as well, probably as we add core teachers.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

First Meeting of Health Care Reform Committee

The first meeting of the Public Employee Health Care Reform Committee has been scheduled for this Thursday, September 3rd, at 10:00 A.M. at the State Capitol Building. The single item on the agenda is a presentation by Speaker Dillon on his proposal.

At this time it appears there will be hearings of this committee scheduled once per week through September. There is no specific schedule at this time.

The members of the committee are:
Pam Byrnes (D) Chelsea (chairperson)
Harold Haugh (D) Roseville
Bert Johnson (D) Highland Park
Michael Lahti (D) Hancock
Tim Melton (D) Auburn Hills
Dan Scrips (D) Leland
Woodrow Stanley (D) Flint
Kate Segal (D) Battle Creek
Phillip Pavlov (R) St. Clair is the minority vice-chair
Robert Genetski (R) Saugatuck
Matthew Lori (R) Constantine
Bill Rogers (R) Brighton
James Bolger (R) Marshall

DRAFT A - Dillon Health Plan

This is a “first look” at Speaker Dillon’s Draft Bill creating the “Michigan Health Benefits Program Act”. It came out late last week and the MEA has been evaluating it over the weekend. This is their first summary of it:

The Speaker's legislation (Michigan Health Benefits Program Act):
--creates a mandatory state government-run health plan housed in the Department of Management and Budget, governed by a state Health Benefits Board and administered by the Office of State Employer
--mandates participation of all state, local, city, college, township, and county governments, agencies, school districts, public school academies, ISDs, community colleges, and public universities as well as all public retirement systems, obtain employee health plans from the state benefits plan Sec. 21(2), page 13
--eliminates collective bargaining (public employers and employees would be limited in choosing from the menu of plans and plan designs approved by the Health Benefits Board) Sec. 7(a), Page 4 and Sec. 11(c), Page 6
--mandates that all local governments participate in the state government-run health plan

--requires that all local governments are also financially liable for any budget shortfalls in the state-run fund Sec. 20, Page 12
--creates a state health benefits fund in the Department of Treasury Sec. 18(1), Page 10
--creates a public health plan by allowing individuals and organizations in the private sector to purchase coverage from the state Health Benefits plan Sec. 7(h), Page 7
--creates a new level of bureaucracy in state government within the Office of State Employer. Sec 10, Page 5
--puts state government between doctors and their patients and gives government a major role in patient health care decisions by mandating "use of clinical advocates to review diagnoses and care for correct treatment." Sec. 12(e), Page 7
--gives the Office of State Employer authority to create a new bureaucracy, and hire an executive director and staff to administer the program Sec. 13(c), Page 8
--allows local governments to opt-out of the program if they pay for an actuarial study

Thursday, August 13, 2009

MEA News Release - August 13th, 2009

Evidence shows schools pay less for health insurance
New analysis breaks myths of health care debate

EAST LANSING, Mich., August 13, 2009 – A new report dramatically changes the debate on public employee health care with this single fact: Michigan schools spend less per employee than private companies for health insurance. And unlike the private sector, public school health care costs are going down.
“Wrong Diagnosis-Wrong Cure” dispels many of the common myths about public school employee health insurance currently being presented as truth in the cost-cutting debate.
“This report shows that Speaker Dillon’s health care proposal is based on misinformation and faulty data,” said MEA President Iris K. Salters. “The real numbers reported to the Michigan Department of Education clearly indicate that the root of financial problems for public schools is not rising health care costs, as Dillon would have you believe.”
Speaker Dillon’s proposal is based on bringing health care spending for public employees in line with what private employers pay, but this report shows that if that were to happen, Michigan taxpayers would end up paying much more.
The evidence—gathered from actual costs, not projections—is startling:
Over the last three years, Michigan’s public schools have experienced an actual reduction of almost $350 per employee per year in the cost of health benefits paid by school employers.
· In that same three year period, overall expenditures for health benefits provided by public school employers declined more than $36 million—while health care costs for private employers have increased more than 29 percent.
· Health insurance benefit costs for Michigan’s teachers are 20 percent below private sector costs.
· In 2008, only about 1 in 4 school support employees had access to any employer-paid medical insurance.
“Speaker Dillon’s plan is flawed from the onset because it relies on projected numbers, rather than actual costs,” said the report’s author, financial analyst Arch Lewis, “In fact, the study shows that the Dillon analysis is based on projected public school health benefit costs that are $365 million to $645 million above the actual 2007-08 costs for school employee health benefits.”
“Wrong Diagnosis-Wrong Cure” uses actual costs from school district reports to the MDE to “shatter misguided illusions and present clear and comprehensive facts,” said Lewis.
“Michigan taxpayers cannot afford to gamble on a proposal built on faulty analysis and misinformation. This report shows why it could end up costing us all millions more,” said Salters.
To see the complete report, “Wrong Diagnosis-Wrong Cure,” go to

Monday, August 10, 2009

Rep. Lisa Brown at MEA Office Aug. 18, 2009 @ 6:30 PM

Dear WLEA Friends,
Lisa Brown, the legislator for the eastern portion of our school district, cancelled her previous meeting with us, but she will now be coming on Tuesday, August 18th, 2009, at 6:30.

Cyndi Austin, our Uniserve Director, has asked us to meet at 6:00 pm prior to Rep. Brown's arrival. If you can come, I would greatly appreciate it.

If you need directions or would like to talk to me or Cyndi, please call the Uniserve Office.
39300 West Twelve Mile Road, Suite 140
Farmington Hills, MI 48331
Ofc: 248-553-8198

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Dear Fellow WLEA Members,
First of all, THANK YOU, THANK YOU for all your efforts to communicate with our representatives in Lansing! Secondly, I feel I have asked you a million times to pass on information this summer, and I hate to intrude on your vacation again. I persist only because I know how important quality health care is to all of us, and our health care is now being seriously threatened. In this blog I have included information from Steve Cook, the Vice president of the MEA.

First a Labor Coalition was formed by the efforts of Lu Battaglieri, the Executive Director of the MEA. Members of the Labor Coalition include:

Michigan Association of Governmental Employees
IUOE – Local 547
Michigan Nurses Association
SEIU Michigan State Council
Teamsters Local 214
Amalgamated Transit Union, Michigan Legislative Council
Michigan AFSCME Council 25
Michigan State Employees Association
IBEW Michigan State Conference

The Labor Coalition met with Mr. Dillon and here is Steve Cook's (MEA Vice President) summary of the meeting:
Dillon is sticking to his “concept” and we, together with members of the Labor Coalition, are working overtime with legislators to defeat it. Dillon however offered to the Coalition the idea that we could develop our own plan. Here’s the problem, each day at bargaining tables across the state each member of the Labor Coalition has members that are doing just that – dealing first hand with the high cost of health insurance with their employers in negotiations and selecting that insurance that both employers and union members can best afford. Dillon’s offer to the Labor Coalition to bargain against ourselves was refused.

Dillon’s unacceptable premise is that in order for the Labor Coalition to offer a plan it has to begin with the foundation of a one size fits all, take it or leave it statewide health plan and then build from there. As reported in Gongwer News Service yesterday, the AFT said there needs to be a “do-over” of the Dillon plan. AFSCME Council 25 said his plan is “not salvageable.” MEA agrees.

PLEASE WRITE YOUR LEGISLATORS!!!! Use EMAIL!!! Use your home accounts! I have listed districts, names, and email addresses below!
District 37 – Farmington & Farmington Hills – Vicki Barnett
District 38 – Novi, Walled Lake City, Wixom – Hugh Crawford
District 39 – West Bloomfield Twp., Commerce Twp.Lisa Brown
District 43 – West Bloomfield – Gail Haines
District 44 – White Lake Township – Eileen Kowall

Monday, August 3, 2009

A Letter From Representative Dillon Regarding His Health Care Proposal - What do you think?

Rep. Dillon's Letter:

Thank you for contacting me regarding your concerns with my recent proposal to reform health care for public sector employees. I appreciate your thoughtful suggestions and advocacy on this important matter.

Please know this is simply a proposal. At this time, no legislation has been agreed upon or introduced. To ensure all concerns are heard, I am continuing to meet with groups and organizations that would be affected by this proposal. With that said, as you know these are very tough economic times, and the effects resonate in the lives of all Michigan residents. I believe that with a budget deficit approaching $2 billion, state government must make some difficult cuts in spending and do its fair share to shoulder the burden - including legislators.

I have argued from the start that the state has been using one-time gimmicks for the past eight years to avoid addressing our structural deficit. We need to make tough cuts and implement serious reforms to reduce the cost of government.

The plan I am proposing will overhaul health care for Michigan's public sector employees and retirees, consolidating the hundreds of different health benefit plans under one roof. Creating this larger pool of customers will maximize efficiency and cost savings, while making health care more affordable and accessible. This move will save taxpayers almost $1 billion per year once fully implemented.

Please note that every public employee, including myself, my colleagues in the House and Senate, the Governor, all public school teachers and many others will be able to choose from the same health care plans. Finally, this is a pro-worker reform proposal. Current contracts in place will be honored, collective bargaining rights will be sustained and patient choice will be preserved.

It is necessary to assure the state is financially sound and can compete in the 21st Century. This reform will allow the state to continue to provide for access to affordable heath care, a quality educational system and adequately funded police and fire protection, all of which are critical ingredients to a healthy economy.

As I stated earlier, this is just a proposal. In the coming weeks I will continue to meet with many groups representing state and municipal workers throughout Michigan. It is my hope we can come together and work on a solution that works best for all parties, especially Michigan citizens.

Please rest assured that I will keep your views in mind as we work through this process.

For additional information, you may view my proposal at .

Again, thank you for your correspondence. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future regarding this or any other matter of concern.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

HEALTH BENEFITS PROPOSAL put forth by House Speaker Andy Dillon

Please go to:
Facebook fans - type in Michigan Education Association
Twitter fans -

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Educators: What are you doing during your summer break?

*At last night's School Board Meeting (July 9, 2009), I shared the following events that members emailed to me. The Board gave me well over my 3 allotted minutes, and I still didn't get them all read! I think it is just awesome how HARD our members work no matter what time of year it is!
**Also at last night's meeting, Scott Little was moved from interim to the official Assistant Superintendent of Employee and Labor Services!

Board of Education Three Minute SHARE Presentation – July 9, 2009
Good Evening, my name is Terese Fitzpatrick and I am the proud president of the Walled Lake Education Association.
Iris Salters, President of the MEA, recently wrote a newspaper article talking about what educators did during the summer. I thought it might be interesting to find out what Walled Lake educators were doing this summer, so I sent out an email. The responses were amazing, and although I can’t share them all, I will begin with the remaining minutes I have. For all those whose accomplishments I can’t “get out” in the 3 minutes alloted to me, I want them to know I will be posting them to my blog for everyone to see.

David Stanton at Northern is working this summer toward the completion of his doctorate degree by finishing his required course work. He is also taking the Advanced Placement World History seminar at Oakland University.

Sherri Look at Central is teaching summer school and is also taking the entry test to be accepted into University Of Maryland’s Masters of Chemical and Life Science Program.

Paulette Loe had the opportunity to attend the ground breaking for the new Federal Lock project on the grounds of the Soo Locks. Many dignitaries were in attendance including Senators Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow. She conversed with Senator Levin about the History of the Upper Penninsula, as well as sharing the great work being done with kids at Walled Lake Western! Way to go, Paulette. Thanks for promoting Walled Lake Schools with our representatives in Washington!

Lois Griffin, Cindy Goris ad Jan Lamb from Walnut Creek attended a summer institute on Linking Literacy which focused on reading and writing essentials.

Jan, Greg Cleveland, Mary Rashid, Barney Hyland and Mike Peterson will be attending a 3 day vocal music workshop at MSU at the end of July.

Amanda Swanson of Central and Molly Anson of Northern did a week long AP statistics training course. Molly and Joanne Lambert did a 2 day workshop to learn how to use the TI-NSpire calculator to enhance their teaching.

Julia Gidcumb from Creek attended a four day workshop sponsored by Eastern Michigan University called, Training Content Area Teachers to Teach English. This class focused on teaching ELL students and also on teaching writing.

Joan Garretson and Cheryl Goodwin taught a 2 day Non-violent Crisis Intervention class in June and will be doing it again in August. Joan has taken a 4 day class this month to be qualified as an advanced Non-Violent Crisis Intervention Instructor.

Jason Culbert is taking math courses to gain another certification, which will make it his fourth certification area. He is also updating his Water Safety Instructor Certification this summer.

Melanie Livingston from Commerce traveled to London this summer and did a study on the Prime Meridian. In addition, she told me that Commerce teachers are participating in the online book study “Writing Essentials” using the blogosphere!

Several teachers at Mary Helen Guest have volunteered their time this summer to come in and conduct a reading lesson with students that have been selected for their Super Summer Success program. Teachers gather with students every Wedenday for 45 minutes to read to and chat with the students about their reading done at home.

Patti Graham from Smart is serving as the Public Relations Director for the Michigan Reading Association and is chairing the Public Relations Committee for next year’s MRA conference.

Patti Graham and Tim Wichert, also of Smart, attended a 2 day conference at Central Michigan University meeting with the NASA folks learning about Astronomy and solar system instruction.

Brian Blackney from Western wrote that he attended a two day symposium with the US Peace Institute at Baker College. He also completed his Education Specialist degree at Oakland University. In addition he is being in serviced to become a “Digital Coach” and will be teaching at Walled Lake “Spice it Up” Seminar in August.

Kelli Doyle of Clifford Smart is taking classes this summer to earn a library science degree at Wayne State.

I am taking a 24 week program through Notre Dame University to earn an Executive Certificate from their Business college in Negotiations and Communications.

Cathy Ferguson is heading up a very successful ESL Summer School with 123 students, 10 teachers, and 7 Walled Lake district bilingual parapros.

Zuzanna Morelli from Geisler is one of the ESL teachers working in that program and she also attended an ELL Summer Academy which dealt with motivating adolescent readers and writers.

Saundra Josephson from Smart is teaching the Autistic spectrum Disorder extended school year program. She is also taking a class on reproductive health and sexuality for special education students at Oakland Schools. She will be meeting with other CI staff this summer to work on curriculum and goal writing for the CI population at the middle and high schools.

Jeri Weems, Jenny Farough, Fran Hufferd and Kari Routledge are attending the Michigan Reading Association’s Summer Lit conference next week that is featuring Nell Duke and Stephanie Harvey.

Steven McIntyre from Smart is adding six new credits to his current TWO master’s degrees to renew his teaching certificate. He is also a part of the Aspiring Principal Academy and is teaching summer school at Western.

Melissa Imhoff of Creek took Moodle Basics at Oakland Schools this summer and has completed Pam Shoemaker’s 5 Module Technology online course. Later this summer she will be taking two more online Special Ed classes through

Kaye Lynn Mazurek who teaches German at Northern emailed me from Germany to let me know that she is there with 22 Walled Lake Northern students participating in a German-American exchange program. It is a 25 day trip. The students are going to school every day and participating in field trips. They have done flag exchanges and tshirt-painting with German families as they develop friendships with the German students.

Rita Sintron from Northern is taking an online course this summer sponsored by This course prepares her to train others to integrate thinkfinity resources into the curriculum to enhance student learning. She will be receiving full credentials as a thinkfinity Field Trainer for Michigan.

Jamie Singelyn from Smart has laid out his entire 8th grade social studies benchmark studies for next year and has posted it to his website.

Paula Cullison at Guest is taking classes and participates in their Super summer success.

Brian Gorden at Smart is taking 3 summer classes.

Emily McBryar, soon to be from Geisler, is taking classes at Oakland University toward her master’s degree.

Kathy Murray at Glengary is doing a 6 hour training called “Talk, Draw, Write”. She is participating in the Techno Fest this summer and helping to plan Martin Luther King Day activites.

Suzanne Stiles of Wixom and Beverly Currie of Loon Lake are leaving for Santa Fe, New Mexico on Saturday to attend a art teacher training session with emphasis on Pueblo culture and pottery. They will be presenting their learnings to 12 other art teachers in September.

Laura King from Creek is taking a class on Communication and Collaboration in the classroom this summer.

Michael Weiskopf from Western attended the 2009 Michigan Joint Education Conference at Holt High School in June.

Debbie Jess-Isenegger completed her 30+ hours in March and will be leaving for Pampered Chef “school” in Chicago on Wednesday.

Carol Kravetz from Geisler is conducting an instructional program for the West Bloomfield School District that provides weekly units of study in math and language arts for grades K through 8. She is also working with the group of educators planning Martin Luther King Day celebrations for 2010. In August she will be taking a one week workshop at Oakland Schools, called "The Reading Workshop." Carol is also the president of the West Bloomfield Library Board which keeps her very busy.

Jennifer La Cross shares that several teachers from Walled Lake Central took a week long class on Differeniated Instruction last week. Lessons were created and will be ready to use when school begins.

Chris Kozicki from Commerce Elementary shares that Commerce teachers are working on continuing their educations during the summer. Those who are changing grade levels are accessing the District Curriculum website to study pacing guides, rubrics, and curriculum guide lines. These teachers as well as others are reading and reviewing current research making sure they are continuing to use best educational practices in the coming school year. A teacher blog page has been set up on the Commerce School website to accomodate discussion of our selected summer reading, Writing Essentials, by noted author Regie Routman. We are updating and recreating personal web pages so that communication between home and school flows smoothly when the new school year begins. Commerce teachers are commited to excellence!

Sandi Brough-Gresh wrote that this summer I attended AP physics training and spent a day this summer with Judy Davis and JP Arens updating and revising Physics benchmarks.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Important Legislative Update!

The House Education Committee has reported out to the full House of Representatives a package of bills that the MEA strongly supports.

HB 4788 – This is very important legislation as it amends PERA (Public Employees Relations Act). This piece of legislation:
1) REMOVES the prohibition against bargaining over privatization,
2) REMOVES the prohibition against bargaining the first day of the school year,
3) REMOVES the prohibition against bargaining the granting of a leave of absence to teach in a charter school.
Item 2 would be particularly useful to teacher bargaining units as we struggle with the increasing “fixed” requirements regarding the school calendar; i.e., mandatory 2 weeks in December/January, and the mandatory first week of April for Spring Break.

Item 1 is becoming increasingly important to MEA bargaining groups as school districts seek to privatize their custodial, food, and transportation services, affecting hundreds of MEA members who drive our buses, cook and feed children, and clean our schools.

Details in other legislation include the preservation of bargaining rights for employees in “failing” schools. Also, the provisions of the new legislation limit charter school expansion to the "last resort" after all other efforts fail to make improvement in the “failing” school. It also states that the charter schools must be located in the attendance are of the “failing” school. This has not yet become a concern for our school district, but I believe it is important to consider this issue as it affects other schools around us and school choice.

PLEASE WRITE YOUR LEGISLATORS!!!! Please urge them to support the amendments to PERA and guidelines for preserving bargaining right for employees in “failing” schools. Use EMAIL!!! Use your home accounts! I have listed districts, names, and email addresses below!

District 37 – Farmington & Farmington Hills – Vicki Barnett

District 38 – Novi, Walled Lake City, Wixom – Hugh Crawford

District 39 – West Bloomfield Twp., Commerce Twp.
Lisa Brown

District 43 – West Bloomfield – Gail Haines

District 44 – White Lake Township – Eileen Kowall

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Interesting Research

I received this article from the MEA Leaders email. Please read on:
New report urges policymakers to address poverty in order to increase student learning
Contact: Teri Battaglieri – (517) 203-2940;
EAST LANSING, Mich., (March 9, 2009) – A new report argues that out-of-school factors related to poverty are the major cause of the achievement gap that exists between poor and minority students and the rest of the student population. This is in direct contrast to current federal education policies that are based on the belief that public schools should shoulder the blame for lack of achievement on the part of impoverished students.
“Schools are told to fix problems that largely lie outside their zone of influence,” says David Berliner, Regents Professor of Education at Arizona State University and author of the report Poverty and Potential: Out-of-School Factors and School Success, which was released today by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.
Berliner’s report comes as debate continues over the renewal of the No Child Left Behind Act, which imposes stiff accountability measures on schools in return for federal aid. NCLB requires public schools to demonstrate “adequate yearly progress” toward the eventual elimination of gaps in achievement among all demographic groups of students and imposes a variety of sanctions if they fall short.
Berliner says that NCLB’s accountability system is “fatally flawed” because it holds schools accountable for student achievement without regard for the out-of-school factors that affect it.
“This report provides exactly the type of information that should guide education policy,” says Teri Battaglieri, Director of the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice. “It clearly explains why poverty must be directly addressed by those interested in closing the achievement gap, and it makes the case for spending our resources on strategies that will significantly impact student learning.”
Berliner’s report reviews six out-of-school factors that have been clearly linked to lower achievement among poor and minority-group students: birth weight and non-genetic parental influences; medical care; food insecurity; environmental pollution; family breakdown and stress; and neighborhood norms and conditions. In addition, he notes a seventh factor: extended learning opportunities in the form of summer programs, after-school programs, and preschool programs. Access to these resources by poor and minority students could help mitigate the effects of the other six factors.
Because of the extraordinary influence of the six factors identified in the report, Berliner cautions that “increased spending on schools, as beneficial as that might be, will probably come up short in closing the gaps.” Instead, he calls for an approach to school improvement that would demand “a reasonable level of societal accountability for children’s physical and mental health and safety.”
“At that point,” he concludes, “maybe we can sensibly and productively demand that schools be accountable for comparable levels of academic achievement for all America’s children.”
Find David Berliner’s report, Poverty and Potential: Out-of-School Factors and School Success, on the Web at:

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The news today said that the economy had fallen to levels as low as in 1981. I asked my husband, "Do you remember as many people being out of jobs in 1981 as now?" He hadn't.

However, as I sat here thinking a little harder (1981 was a LONG time ago and I'm not getting younger!), the principal at my job in Whitmore Lake at that time, came to me one October day and told me the Board of Education had voted to lay me and several other teachers off in 10 days due to emergency financial conditions. The teachers there had been working without a contract for over a year, and money to small districts was even less than before (schools were supported merely by their millage votes back in those Proposal A). I was so sad and I cried on the way home from school. I was a special ed teacher in those days and I had done my student teaching at the Children's Psychiatric Hospital at the University of Michigan, so I saw that they had an opening. In 2 weeks I was working there. I was geeked. A pay raise and it was a great place to work.

That same year, after getting the new job, my old black Mustang was getting old, so I went out to buy my OWN first brand new car. The cheapest interest rate I could get was 14%....YIKES. I bought a little Ford EXP (a sportsy version of the Ford Escort) and I was thrilled.

Three years later my husband and I bought our first house. We got an adjustable mortgage at 9%....YIKES.....and that was cheap. The first house we had TRIED to buy, and eventually let the deal fall through, was an adjustable 11% loan. We decided that was too much. Of course, a fixed rate mortgage was much higher at that point. THANK goodness the overall cost of houses and cars was much lower then. We later refinanced the house for a cheaper fixed rate.

My point being.......things were kind of bad back then, but they got better. Hopefully, things get better now as well.

Saturday, February 28, 2009 techs!

Tonight we had SOMETHING on our computer that continued to say we had all these awful viruses and Trojans programs. It wouldn't let you go onto websites, email, or anything. And the only way to get out of it appeared to be to pay them BUCKS! I messed with the control panel to see if I couldn't remove it, but it wasn't on the control panel. I decided I needed help.

I called Symantec because I have Norton as my virus protector, and they said they could help me if I couldn't find this virus. They knew exactly what it was. So, I paid them a fee and they gave me numbers to enter and they had control of my computer on a remote basis. Pretty scary in a way! On the otherhand, what a gift. The tech found the virus with a few different clicks. He seemed to be searching a couple different places, and then he got rid of it. He made it look way too easy.

So, my computer seems fixed, and I'm thinking that the world certainly has changed. In the old days I would have had to lug in the dang thing and gotten it back in two weeks if I was lucky. I talked to two technicians and they both had very thick accents. I believe they were Indian. I wonder if they were in India; usually I ask, but I didn't tonight. It makes me think of the economy in Michigan and jobs for the future generations. What will there be for them to do and where will it be? As a middle school teacher you want kids to be prepared, but is there more we should be doing? As I struggle to get them to read and write better, I hope they take their education seriously. I doubt there will be jobs that won't require good reading and writing skills.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

What I'm hearing

I've been running around the my car....delivering my final yellow card to teacher mailboxes. I've had a chance to meet many people along the way. What I am hearing is that teachers want to be heard, they want to hear, and they want to be treated fairly. I think that's exactly what all teachers need and want....employees need and want......human beings need and want. We want people to know what we are doing and to listen to us when we talk. People also want to get information as well. Getting out information to the membership so everyone gets the same message and all of the news is something people need and want. Thirdly, people want what's fair and to be treated fairly. I guess the question should be, who wouldn't want to be treated fairly? Who wouldn't want what is fair?

This will be an important job to get done if I am elected president, but it certainly is exactly what I want and need as an educator myself.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Back to School After Break

Back to school today after the winter break. The kids were happy to be back, and it was good to see them. REALLY! It's funny, I love to teach and be with kids. My first hour advanced English group is the only group I am teaching now because I've turned over my other hours to my student teacher. We just finished the poetry unit and we are beginning research! I am teaching them true research (in my opinion) and we are doing it with internet sources, but they have to keep note cards. I do this because I don't want them copying and pasting information into a document. I suppose we could keep electronic cards of some sort, but then they would be copying and pasting to those. I am really trying to have them get used to reading information, picking out the most important "stuff", and then summarizing it in their own words. Old fashioned? Maybe. Necessary? I still think so, but I would be willing to investigate other venues as long as they were summarizing and restating info in their own words.

We teachers, are always looking for new ways.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Animal Advocacy

So, today I'm going to break away from my discussion of education and pursue my other passion.....animal rights. Specifically, the "kill" policies of many groups who pretend to be animal right activists. I am specifically speaking of the Humane Society of the United States. I will NEVER, EVER EVER again give them one cent of my money.

The situation? A dog fighting/pit bull fighting breeder was arrested in Wilkes County, North Carolina in December. His arrest followed an investigation by the HSUS. The Wilkes County authorities took over 120 dogs into their care. Since the December date, 15 to 20 puppies were born to the already existing puppy population in the breeding group. The plight of these "rescued dogs" apparently was a very contradictory issue, and it eventually ended up in court. The judge ruled that ALL of the dogs were to be "Euthanized"......killed. The Humane Society of the United States recommended this as well because of their policy about fighting dogs. Within 24 hours all of these dogs were killed.

How any HUMAN could consent to kill over 130 dogs and puppies is beyond anything I can imagine. It is particularly disturbing when rescue groups with such elite reputations, such as Best Friends (a HUGE rescue group in Utah....they have the show "Dog Town" on the National Geographic Channel), had tried to contact the people in charge, to arrange for the dogs to be taken in by TRUE RESCUE GROUPS and earn their "pet certificates" (After the trial, the Wilkes County authorities claim they never heard from Best Friends. The judge got three calls in January alone, but never returned the calls!). I believe the Humane Society of United States does not fit the image they wish to portray when they encourage the killing of 135 dogs. They are nothing but a kill group. Puppies born after the seizure were also killed. How could they be deemed dangerous? I believe people will be judged by their humaneness toward other species. The state of North Carolina and HSUS has failed that test of humaneness.

If you would like to read more, here are several sights to go to:

If you would like to sign an electronic petition:

Here's the site for the head CEO of the HSUS.....very interesting....grrrrrrr. It makes you think he's a good guy:

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Reading the Contract Outloud Together

Today I spent some time at the MEA Uniserve Office reading the contract outloud together with Cyndi Austin, while Chriss was reading another part with Katie, the secretary. It's the way we were proofreading the contract to be sure everything was as it should be. Actually, it cracked me up a little....reading outloud together.......kind of teacherly, don't you think? It also was a good review of the contract language. There's so much of it, and it was interesting to go back through it. It's like anything you read, some parts "stick out" more than others depending on what you've been dealing with in life.

I was also very interested that I could read outloud and comprehend at the same time. Sometimes reading outloud together in class gets a bad rap, and I know reading silently is important, but my 7th graders love to hear me read outloud. Of course, I get a little dramatic sometimes, which they enjoy. I work to get kids to read with a bit more inflection and "feeling". My Advanced English kids have been reading their poetry outloud in class, and they rush through it so quickly and mumble so WELL, that I can't even understand what they're talking about. I'm going to have to look more into that.

Monday, February 16, 2009

More Jennifer and More Newspaper Stuff

The Livingston County Press published my letter to the editor on Sunday. It was right next to a letter Iris Salters and Kuipers (a republican from the west side of the state) wrote regarding the proposed retirement plan. I expected to catch a lot of "stuff" (that's not the word I would usually use) online in response to that post, but the responses there were actually supportive of teachers and of the post! Amazing in Livingston County. Maybe they were teachers. I think teachers should speak out more, but I suppose there's a fear that speaking out will draw fire. Oh well. That can be fun too!

Jennifer Granholm proposed a $59 cut per student for next year. The stimulus plan came out the next day, so I'm hoping that $59 cut will go away.

This morning in the Free Press there was an article about teachers getting merit pay. They quoted people from 3 schools in the state that have some form of merit pay already. It sounded like the money is tied to the school making "Adequate Yearly Progress" in at least two of those school districts. I find this proposal a little scarey. Not because I don't believe in my teaching abilities, but because I know how many things affect a student's learning that are totally OUTSIDE of my control. I also know that a lot of strategies that would help students WILL NOT be paid for by our cash strapped school districts. I find this particularly worrisome because President Obama's Education "czar" is from Chicago where they have used merit pay. I guess we'll see!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Stimulus Package

I can not believe the Republican congressmen are trying to sell to Americans that the stimulus package will ruin the economy.....HELLO......who was president when all this "stuff" happened?

Speaking of "stuff" happening, Governor Granholm is putting forth a budget proposal today that cuts over $1 billion dollars. The papers are saying that education is one of her top priorities, but this is going to be tough when she is looking to cut such a huge amount. I would love for her budget to preserve current funding for the schools, and a stimulus from the federal government would help, particular if it helps fund Medicare.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Awesome Workmates

Yesterday I was talking to Peggy about my presidential candidacy flyers and how I wanted to deliver them to schools. Peggy immediately told me that people wanted to help me and I should let them. By this morning she had a whole list of people who had volunteered to go to different schools and distribute my flyers.

First, I was so touched, awed, and thankful for Peggy's success in getting a group of volunteers together so quickly. Secondly, I was so totally awed at how happy people were to help out.

If they are reading this, I want them to know how thankful I am and how awesome the staff at Geisler really is!

More Newspaper and MESSA stuff

Speaking of newspaper stuff. This morning's Livingston County Press had an editorial bashing teachers, their unions, and school districts for not trying to control insurance costs. This came almost directly after two specific contract settlements in Livingston County. First, Pinckney Teachers settled their contract and moved BACK to MESSA, saving the district $332,000. A bargaining group of support people just settled a contract in Hartland and moved to a less costly MESSA plan, also saving the district money.

The timing of the editorial really doesn't make sense to me, except my humble opinion...the criticism of MESSA and teacher health care has nothing to do with COST. I believe it is an attack on teacher and support staff unions. Ever since Engler was the governor it seems we've been under attack. Republicans who have followed in Engler's footsteps have also been after the teacher unions and the health care. Here is where I believe Lansing lobbyists come in. I would bet that the insurance industry lobbyists have spent major dollars to get a law like PA 106 passed. That provides access to MESSA insurance experience information, and in turn allows the insurance companies to give quotes for teacher and support staff insurance. The whole move is to get what the insurance companies view as a lucrative insurance market and thus more $$$. So, now these "other" companies come in, as they did in Pinckney, low bid their product, but later raise rates more than MESSA ever has (Pinckney's "other" company raised rates by 35%).

So, I wrote a letter to the Livingston County Press. We'll see if they publish it.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Rapid Response Team

Another kind of blogging or writing that I've been doing is through the MEA's Rapid Response Team. There are a number of us on the "team", nobody knows who exactly (except Doug Pratt at the MEA), and when there are articles or editorials in the newspapers regarding education and/or the MEA, I might hear from the MEA and be asked to write a letter to the editor.

The MEA also did a "webinar" training this past summer on writing letters and blogs. That was pretty neat and the first time I've done one of those. Basically you sign on at a specific time and I also called them on the phone, and somehow we are all hooked together. So, we watched a power point on the computer as they talked. We even did questions and answer with the whole group. While it was certainly neat to not have to drive to Lansing, and I could sit at my computer barefoot, I missed seeing faces. I guess I just like to see who's talking. I have decided that I am a very visual person. I judge people's faces and moods all the time while they are talking. I like that feeling of connection with the speaker, and I do that by watching their face, their smile, etc. Not seeing the person takes something away from it for me. Now is that a good thing, or is that a disability? I do think it tells me that I would do best in a classroom and not doing a computer course. We'll see.

My First Entry - My Beginnings with Blogging

I decided to try a that I'm running for President of the WLEA. Partly because, if elected President, I want to make this part of what I do to keep the membership informed. I find it amazing how much time I spend on line...just reading STUFF. All kinds of stuff that includes newspapers from Denver, Boulder, Detroit, Albuquerque, and even Wisconsin.

I have particularly enjoyed a blog that is written by the author, Jon Katz. He wrote books about dogs that he got after he moved to a farm in Upstate New York. Actually, he bought the farm after his first border collie, who needed to have a job, which Katz determined to be sheep herding. Boy, I wish I could acquire a state park so my dog could walk there any time he wanted. Anyway, Katz named his farm BEDLAM FARMS. The guy, in truth, infuriates me because he doesn't want to attribute too many human characteristics to animals, and me, I do it ALL the time.

The other type of blogging I've enjoyed is in response to newspaper articles. The Boulder paper, The Daily Camera, is particular fun to read. It seems those bloggers have quite the sense of humor. A lot of the other blogs, particularly the Livingston County Press and the Detroit Free Press, can be downright nasty......are they still called flamers?