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