Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Response to Gov.-Elect Snyder's "Idea"

Okay, so I am really not in a warm, tropical place this vacation, and thus, I'm reading the local papers! I submited this to the Detroit News in Response to Governor-elect Snyder's December 22nd article regarding public employee pay cuts.
You can write as well by using this link:

I always read articles about slashing teacher pay with great trepidation because the real story is not out there. At first glance, it must appear to people, including our incoming governor, that teachers have made no concessions, nor given up any salary. Quite frankly, I think this is brought up again and again because people will come to believe it if they hear it enough without looking at what has actually happened.

Because of collective bargaining, there are MANY different ways that a teacher group can help save a district money. We are not tied to the unimaginative, draconian cuts that business uses. Teachers over the years have again and again given up pay raises to maintain parts of their health care. Because of collective bargaining, teacher groups can look at their insurance policies and bargain in new riders that save a district money. For instance, higher prescription co-pays, higher office visits and deductibles.

Last year, if you looked around the state, teachers bargained away their pay raises, they increased their payment tracks, and they took furlough days. In addition, less teachers are doing more and more with bigger classes, without the help of interventionists or classroom aides, which saves districts, in some cases, 100’s of salaries.

Snyder’s proposals are also very shortsighted in that they will not improve Michigan’s economy. Lou Glazer, the president of Michigan Future, a non-partisan, non-profit organization, says that the future of Michigan is a “knowledge-driven economy”. He says it is “80% of the nations’ job growth since 2001.” He says that the problem with Michigan is that “we are 32nd in the share of our employment earnings from knowledge-based industries”. He goes on to say that employers will move to where the talent is, not places with “low taxes and weak unions”, the very things our own state leaders continually push forward as "policy".

We should be treating educators as the foremost leaders of the future of Michigan and paying them as such. We are not going to attract the best educators to the schools and thus have our children the best educated if education is seen as a place where the employee is continually bashed and at risk of major loss of compensation at the whim of a partisan government. That is the real crime in Michigan.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

School Heroes! Finally!

Good Morning! A more balanced view of "Superman" appeared in the Freep yesterday! I thought you might want to see it and read it. You can also click on the link below if you wish to comment on the writer's commentary!
Posted: Dec. 14, 2010, Freep

There's no ‘Superman,’ but there are school heroes
Earl C. Rickman III is the president of the National School Boards Association and president of the Board of Education of Mount Clemens Community School District.

Everywhere I go these days, people ask if I have seen “Waiting for Superman,” the documentary that chronicles five families who have entered lotteries to seek admission to charter schools.
I have indeed seen the documentary and feel it is provoking conversations that are long overdue about public education.

However, the messaging associated with these projects – “charters are good,” “traditional public schools are failing,” and “teachers unions are bad” – oversimplifies complicated issues and threatens to hinder thoughtful discussions about education reform. The “us” versus “them” mentality promotes division rather than the collaboration necessary for our public schools to succeed.

Instead of helping people understand the many challenges schools face and what it takes to address them, director and narrator Davis Guggenheim presents misleading information and simplistic solutions that benefit no one, especially those in classrooms who work so hard to help our children succeed.

We shouldn’t use a handful of outliers to make sweeping claims about policy. While the stories highlighted in “Waiting for Superman” offer inspiring lessons about how strong principals and committed teachers can transform children’s lives and futures, research shows that only 17% of charters outperform their traditional counterparts.

It’s also unfair and misleading to use the lowest-performing public schools as typical examples. While there are struggling public schools, there are also many successful public schools and teachers – here in Mount Clemens, across Michigan and around the country – that are helping children from all backgrounds reach great academic heights.

We know all too well how urgently change is needed, but not from a corporate-modeled agenda of teacher bashing, union bashing, elected board governance bashing, test-based accountability, and highly selective charters run by private management companies.

Despite a lot of empty rhetoric about the importance of great teachers, the documentary does not contain a single positive image of a traditional public school or teacher. It never shows real teachers who are working in the trenches in traditional public schools every day and how they are offering hope for the students in their classrooms. The film simply disrespects and discredits traditional teachers. Not a single one of these dedicated teachers has a voice in the film.
And there is no suggestion of how parents are working in collaboration with school leaders to improve the public schools their children attend, no suggestion of community engagement, no suggestion of how effective board leadership can improve public education.
There is no discussion of funding inequities, poverty, race, testing or the long dismal history of top-down bureaucratic educational reform failures.

The film displays a heart tugging and undeniably powerful emotional impact. The stories of the children and families it highlights are truly compelling for all of us. But the film uses these stories to advance an agenda that continues to hurt public schools and the vast majority of communities that depend on them.

Am I saying that we shouldn't criticize public education? No!

If there were not the perceptions that the current system is not getting the job done and not addressing the needs of all students, there would be no need or outcry for change by those who depend on public school districts to provide a quality educational experience for their children.
For 26 years as a member of the Mount Clemens Board of Education I have fought, argued and advocated to bring social justice to our classrooms, our schools, our districts and our unions. I’ve learned that there is no such thing as a “Superman”; rather, ordinary men and women must do extraordinary things for our children.

If children are our most essential investment, we must invest in their future and provide them with a quality public education. Instead, it is an annual ritual as we look at ways to cut education funding even when it will sacrifice student learning and achievement. We must make sure that we have the essential assets — great teachers, staff, curriculum, and key resources — to build an unwavering infrastructure for a solid education.

School leaders must nurture the ambition, creativity, curiosity and boldness of these young minds that come through our doors. These children will become lifelong learners and the leaders of tomorrow, and we must see that their dreams become reality through our work.

You can find real heroes in every traditional public school, but “Waiting for Superman” fails to recognize this, and that is the movie’s fatal flaw. Instead of bashing our hard-working teachers, school leaders, parents and community leaders, we should look for realistic steps we can take to improve achievement and make opportunities available to all children.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Good News and THANK YOU!

Good News!!! As reported by the Michigan Information and Research Service this morning at 5:06....."Tenure Bill Flunks Out - Legislation (HB 4410) to allow school districts to strip teachers of their tenure under certain circumstances, went literally nowhere in the Democratic-controlled House today. "

Thank you to everyone who called or wrote their representatives! Also, thank you for those of you who participated in the CYBER LOBBYING on the http://www.detnews/ site! We are a huge collective voice that needs to be heard!

Another highlight from Lansing; the corrected version of the federal EduJobs money legislation was passed by the legislature and will go to the governor for a signature later today, if it has not already done so. This version should pass federal muster and monies can be released to the schools. It appears that Walled Lake will only receive $111 per student, while other "poor" districts will receive $222, but final numbers will be forthcoming by Monday.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Read the post and then CYBER LOBBY!!!!

Please be sure to read the current posting below for information. THEN----

1) Call or write your legislators (emails and phone #'s are below) - please use your cells or home emails!

2) CLICK on the following link and go to the DETROIT NEWS - Cyber Lobby and read other people's comments!!! BE VOCAL!!!!

Click here to CYBER LOBBY. Then click on the box in the top righthand corner of the Detroit News page to go to CYBER LOBBY. (It only allows you to vote once from a computer, so I can not give you the exact web address since I have already voted!)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


Late this evening the following Legislative update was sent out by our MEA Lobbyist, Dave Stafford. The Senate and House have made it clear that they have taken up legislation that SERIOUSLY AFFECTS TEACHER EVALUATIONS AND THE TENURE ACT. It is very important that we contact our legislators today (Dec. 2nd) as it looks as if they will be working all day and into the night!

FROM DAVE STAFFORD (MEA Lobbyist): “The Senate passed an amended version of HB 4410, a bill to change the School Code by inserting almost four pages of language to micro-manage the evaluation process for teachers and administrators. Included in this language is a requirement that at least 45% of the evaluation must be based upon student growth in academic achievement and using standardized test scores when possible. This amended version of HB 4410 was sent back to the House of Representatives where efforts are underway to buy or otherwise convince members to support this bill.”
Note: The Race To the Top Bill will already require schools to amend their evaluation process, but it allows for LOCAL BARGAINING and LOCAL Associations to bargain what is good for their district!!!!! We need to retain our LOCAL ABILITY to bargain the teacher evaluation process!

“There is also a bill attacking tenure rights that passed the Senate nearly a year ago and is currently in the House of Representatives. Part of the dealing that is going on involves the House amending that bill, SB 638, passing it and sending it back to the Senate. We haven’t seen a copy of the proposed House amendments, but we know they are already drafted and that they will probably involve taking away tenure from employees with no effective recourse against such action; and some form of additional hoops for probationary employees to jump through on top of their current four year probationary period.”
Note: The State controls what is in the Tenure Law, but they are functioning on very poor information. If your tenure is revoked, you should have the ability to pursue recourse for such action! Probationary teachers' evaluation timelines were already increased from 2 years to 4 years. The number of classes they need to take and the costs involved in meeting all of their certificate requirements have tremendously increased over the last 10 years. We should ask our legislators, are "more hoops" really needed, and what is the true agenda behind the tenure changes?

Please call or write your state representatives TODAY!!!!! Urge them to vote NO on HB 4410 and SB 638 if they come up for a vote. Representative Contacts Below!

Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop
Phone: 517-373-2417
Fax: 517-373-2694

State Senator Nancy Cassis
Phone: 517-373-1758
Fax: 517-373-0938

State Senator Gilda Jacobs
Phone: 517-373-7888
Fax: 517-373- 2983

State Representative Vicki Barnett
Phone: 517-373-1793
Fax: 517-373-8501

State Representative Lisa Brown
Phone: 517-373-1799
Fax: 517-373-8361

State Representative Hugh Crawford
Phone: 517-373-0827
Fax: 517-373-5873

State Representative Eileen Kowall
Phone: 517-373-2616
Fax: 517-373-5843

Monday, November 22, 2010

Sunday's Det News Editorial Attacks Teacher Pay....AGAIN!

My thoughts about the Nov. 21st Detroit News Editorial - (Links to the article can be found in the next post below this one)

Yesterday’s Detroit News Opinion section once again attacked teachers. I have to tell you I don’t understand why we as teachers are constantly under attack. But this particular editorial was particularly sickening to me as it presented half truths and non truths as fact.

It also quoted Michael Van Beek as an education researcher. For those of you who don’t know, Michael Van Beek writes for the Mackinaw Center for Public Policy. It is decisively anti-teacher. Michael Van Beek is highly critical of teacher pay and teacher health benefits. He wants teachers to pay at least 20% toward their health benefits because that’s what the “private sector” does. I wonder if that is really true. As an educational researcher, Michael Van Beek “analyzed” the WLEA’s contract and published it to his Mackinaw Center site. First of all, in his write up, he stated that our WLEA had over 20 steps……..not true. Also, at the end of the pdf copy of our contract, on his site, a document was attached that was from the support staff’s contract. It was a tentative agreement regarding their new contract which had lawyer initials on it. How do you suppose he got that? And did Mr. Van Beek think that was part of our contract, really?

Back to the editorial…….The premise of the editorial was that teachers could save their salaries by accepting a merit pay system. Quite frankly, in all the educational research I have found and received from the MEA, nothing exists that links merit pay to student achievement. Practically speaking, if you think about this concept of merit pay and teacher pay, you can probably come up with many of the problems it involves on your own. While teachers in the classroom and their educational practices are of paramount importance, can you always control ALL of the factors that influence student learning? How many of those factors fall outside of your sphere of influence? How would student growth be determined? By Benchmark tests, by MEAP tests, by what??? Is it fair to judge your effectiveness on student scores alone? Should your pay be judged on a student’s one day of performance? If the MEAP is used in the fall, are you really the teacher whose “work” is being reflected in the students’ scores, or is it last year’s teacher? If you teach music or art or anything but English or Math, should your pay be calculated on a student’s scores on the MEAP?

This concept of Merit Pay is now being required by the Race to the Top law that was passed through our legislature last year so the Michigan Education Department could apply for Federal Race to the Top Funds. (Michigan did not qualify.) However, it does not have to be the whole determination of a teacher’s pay. At this time each individual district can bargain what student growth is and how much it needs to be and how much “pay” will be used as “merit”. But for the Detroit News to say that it is the answer to the economy of Michigan is beyond my understanding.

As teachers we are responsible for the training and education of all future citizens of the world. Everyone wants the children of today to be responsible, capable adults willing and able to make their way as successful human beings and members of society. Is there no greater goal in the world? AND YET, this article criticizes teachers who earn $83,000 a year and a handful (300) who earn over $100,000. I think that is a pretty low salary for the people who are expected to educate and prepare children for the future. AND as I type this, I sit in front of the TV and watch Brett Favre moaning that he has to go home for the season since the Vikings won’t make it to the playoffs. How many teacher salaries does he make all on his own? And, since the Vikings aren’t going to the playoffs, perhaps he should not earn as much this year. AND perhaps, since he doesn’t work but 3 months of the year (I mean….holy moly….they had to go south to beg him to come play this year), perhaps they should divide his pay by 3. And…..since he…..I’m going to stop now…..

Please read one WALLED LAKE TEACHER'S response below (besides my own!) to this Editorial!!!

Lisa's Response to the DET NEWS and YOU CAN WRITE TOO!!!!!

Below you will find Lisa Ellis's response to the Detroit News Editorial on Sunday, Nov. 21, 2010.
Thank you, Lisa, for allowing me to share this with the members!

If you want to read the editorial, please CLICK HERE!

If you would like to respond to this editorial yourself by emailing the Detroit News at

Here's Lisa's letter:

My heart sank, again, Sunday morning as I read the Detroit News Editorial about teachers. Once again, it has been pointed out that Michigan must balance the budget by cutting the wages and benefits of teachers to better align with the private sector. My husband is a firefighter (his department is also facing cuts) and I have been a teacher for 33 years. I’m the daughter and great niece of teachers as well. I have a Master’s Degree and am certified in 2 areas of special education. My husband and I have both worked second jobs at various times of our careers to pay for college for our 3 children – although I receive a paycheck year round, it is because I have my salary spread out that way. For most of my career, I did not receive any of my pay during months that I did not work. I arrive at work an hour before my work day begins, and usually stay another hour after my work day ends. I attend and help with many evening functions that our students and parents benefit from. Like my colleagues, I attend trainings, bring work home, and spend hundreds of dollars each year on supplies that will help my students learn.

You compare our benefits and wages to the private sector, but I cannot think of any other profession where the employees work far beyond the work day without compensation, where they attend meetings and conferences, science fairs, literacy nights, ice-cream socials, dances and concerts, and tutoring. It takes hours each week to prepare lessons that stimulate thinking, allow for differentiated instruction, and align with the district and state curriculum expectations.

Being a teacher has been tremendously gratifying. I love the moment that a 5 year old reads his first word and the pride on the face of a 6 year old who has just written a story that she has shared with her classmates. I am passionate about helping my special education students achieve their goals and I feel full of hope for every child that walks into my classroom. I work really hard at what I do, and I’m very good at it – the fact that my job is exciting, fun and rewarding is icing on the cake. I am proud of who I am and what I do for a living, and so it hurts my heart to be blamed for budget problems, for earning the wage I do, and for my benefits. When I hire a plumber or a house painter or when I go to my eye doctor or my car mechanic I go to the best person I can, and when they give me the bill, I pay it knowing that I got what I paid for. I do not begrudge those people for how they earn their living – they’ve learned their skill and have a right to charge me for it. Teaching is not volunteer work, although most teachers also do engage in volunteer work. This is how we support our families.

I’d love to show you my classroom – you keep trying to make it about the budget, but teaching isn’t about the money. It’s about the children.

Lisa Ellis
Walled Lake School District

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Kuipers Proposes Bills to Change Tenure Law and Control

ALERT! - I received this from MEA's Lobbyist, Dave Stafford, yesterday evening. It concerns legislation that was proposed by Sen. Kuipers from Holland. These two bills will have the effect to 1) change your protections under the tenure law, and 2) grossly change the state's new teacher evaluation requirements under the RTTT law by requiring that student growth account for at least 50% of a teacher's evaluation. There are indications from the MEA Economist, Ruth Beier, that these two bills will be TIE-BARRED to the amendments needed to guarantee Michigan gets it share of the EduJob Funds (see yesterdays blogpost)!

**Lansing Office - 517-373-6920 or 877-KUIPERS
Tell him to take care of business and pass funding for schools, which the legislature previously screwed up, and leave teacher evaluation up to people who know what they are talking about!

From Dave Stafford, MEA Lobbyist -
Two bills were introduced in the Michigan Senate today and taken up in the Senate Education Committee today to severely restrict the tenure rights of Michigan teachers and remove many of the due process provisions that currently protect them on the one hand, and to create artificial mandates regarding the standards on which they are to be evaluated.

SB 1581 proposes several changes to the Michigan Teacher Tenure Act:
* In her/his last year of probation the teacher is not deemed to complete probation unless s/he receives a rating of "effective" from the administration.
* The bill removes language that says failure to evaluate the teacher in her/his last year of probation is evidence that s/he is successful and replaces it with language that says failure to evaluate is NOT evidence that s/he is successful.
* Regardless of whether a teacher in her/his last year of probation is notified 60 days before the end of the school year that s/he will be terminated, the teacher shall not be employed in the following year unless s/he receive a rating of "effective" under the evaluation system called for in SB 1582 (below).
* For teachers WHO ARE ON TENURE the bill provides that they will go back to serve a four year probationary period if they receive "ineffective" ratings under the evaluation system called for in SB 1582 (below). THESE TEACHERS WOULD BE DEEMED TO BE PROBATIONARY FOR ALL PURPOSES UNDER THE TENURE ACT, INCLUDING DISCIPLINE AND DISCHARGE. SB 1582 proposes to amend Sec. 1249 of the School Code dealing with evaluations to make several changes:

* Add language that each teacher and school administrator be evaluated by a system that "rates the teacher as either effective' or 'ineffective'".
* It takes out language that says the evaluation will use multiple rating categories that take into account student growth "as a significant factor" and replace it with a provision, "in a way that ensures that at least 50% of the annual evaluation is based on student growth."
* It proposes that state assessments must be used unless there is no state assessment in which case local assessments may be used to measure student growth. * The bill proposes that the evaluation system appeal process provides for an appeal to either the district superintendent or to the ISD superintendent (or their designee).

It appears that the Senate will try to move these bills this week in order to be ready to push for their passage as part of the final negotiations on the re-appropriation of the Federal EduJobs funding that was partially vetoed by Gov. Granholm last month.

ME AGAIN - This is even more outrageous......the Legislature meets on today, November 10th and then takes a two week recess. They return on Tuesday November 30th and are scheduled to meet Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday (11/30, 12/1 & 12/2) for sure.

**Lansing Office - 517-373-6920 or 877-KUIPERS
Tell him to take care of business and pass funding for schools, which the legislature previously screwed up, and leave teacher evaluation up to people who know what they are talking about!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Legislature has to FIX EduJob Funding Fiasco

Good Morning Fellow WLEA Members –
I don’t know about you, but I believe I have a post-election exhaustion or let –down or malaise……not quite sure what to call it. In fact, I don’t even want to talk about it! Right now, anyway. However, there are a few things that should be moving ahead in the next 7 or 8 weeks and we need to keep our eyes and ears open!

About a week ago, I attended an MEA Training session called “Tough Times Bargaining BOOT CAMP”. Although we are not in a tough times bargaining at this point, there are TWO issues confronting us in the near future! Today I will tell you about the issues effecting school funding!

Edu Job Money (Obama Bucks – Federal Ed Jobs Program)
Michigan submitted their application for “FEDERAL ED JOBS PROGRAM” (commonly called “Obama Bucks” or “Edu Jobs Fund”) in September. States could choose to distribute the funds according to Title I populations or according to the state’s “primary funding formula.” Michigan checked the box to say they would use their “primary funding formula”. This formula is basically a 2x (2 times) funding formula. Meaning essentially that districts under a certain per pupil funding level would receive twice as much as districts above that same per pupil funding level. Walled Lake is above the cut off point for 2X funding.

On October 1st, the Michigan legislature, using the Edu Job money, allocated a flat $154 per pupil to Michigan school districts. They did not follow their “primary funding formula”, nor did they allocate the funds according to Title I students. They did allocate $66 million from another funding source according to the state’s primary funding formula (schools received either $23 or $46 per pupil).

The Michigan legislature ignored a key guideline in the funding requirements. The EduJobs bill made it clear the states could not "supplant" money that should come out of a state's education budget. Since the base foundation grant is supposed to include the $154 per pupil, Michigan could not use the federal money to replace or "supplant" it. The federal government sent a letter to the Governor notifying her that the Michigan legislature did not follow the rules. If Governor Granholm had not vetoed the $154 per pupil restoration, Michigan would have lost ALL the federal funds allocated to the state under the EduJobs bill. Michigan's funds would have been redistributed to the other 49 states and Michigan would have received $0. The Michigan Legislature will need to return to Lansing now that the election is over and change their application. In most likelihood they will need to follow the 2x formula to be able to receive the Federal money.

What does this mean for Walled Lake?
Under the $154 per student plan, Walled Lake would have receive approximately $2.7 million dollars. Under the 2X formula, Walled Lake will receive approximately $1.7 million dollars.

Oddly, Walled Lake is considered a “rich” district….receiving $8635 per pupil under ideal conditions. Compare this to other “RICH” districts – Southfield receives $11, 291 per pupil; Farmington receives $10, 365 per pupil; Birmingham receive $12, 244 per pupil. How can we be considered a “rich” district?????

Thursday, October 28, 2010

It is 9:44 PM on Nov. 2nd, 2010

In the last year, during my first year as President of the Walled Lake Education Association, I can not think of ONE issue we have had to deal with that wasn't in some way connected to decisions made by our State's legislature and governor!
The LOSS of funding - 20J and per pupil funding.
RACE TO THE TOP and legislation that is going to change the way you are evaluated and paid.
The 3% TAX you pay above and beyond your regular state taxes.
LAYOFFS due to funding.
CLASS SIZES due to funding!
Giving back pay raises!
Increased health care co-pays!
Fill in the blanks: _____ ______ ______ _____ ______ ______ _____

A Chance to Win an iPad!!!

Sign up for MEA text messages -- you could win an iPad!
Take a moment to sign up for important text message updates from MEA
-- simply text the letters "MEA" to 69866 and you'll begin receiving messages when we need you to act on behalf of Michigan's public schools, school employees, and students.

Everyone who signs up to receive text messages from MEA before Dec. 1 will be in the running to win a new Apple iPad!

So don't delay -- text "MEA" to 69866 today!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

A former advocate of the No Child Left Behind Act concludes the policy was wrong!

I thought EA Members everywhere might find this interesting!!!!! Just to remind you, Diane Ravitch was the Assistant Secretary of Education during George H.W. Bush's presidency!
FROM: - "The Year in Sanity" - This group is "celebrating great acts of clear thinking".

Commentary by Emily Holleman

It's hard to admit you were wrong. It's even harder to admit you were wrong in publicly backing the largest educational reform bill in a generation. So, it's all the more impressive that Diane Ravitch not only acknowledged that she had made a mistake by advocating the No Child Left Behind Act, but also wrote an entire book, "The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education," about just how misguided that policy was.

Ravitch, who served as the assistant secretary of education under President George H.W. Bush and became an early and vocal supporter of his son's 2001 plan, made a name for herself touting the conservative pillars of educational reform: choice and testing. As recently as 2005, she praised the No Child Left Behind Act, writing, "All this attention and focus is paying off for younger students, who are reading and solving mathematics problems better than their parents' generation."

But then Ravitch did something few of us ever bother to do -- she researched the issue in depth and came to the realization that her views were incorrect. Earlier this year, Ravitch said on NPR, "I was known as a conservative advocate of many of these policies. But I've looked at the evidence and I've concluded they're wrong. They've put us on the wrong track. I feel passionately about the improvement of public education, and I don't think any of this is going to improve public education."

When she spoke to Salon's Mary Elizabeth Williams in March, Ravitch explained why those appealing ideas of "choice" (vouchers and charter schools) and "standards" (testing) are bad things: "You create a mentality that private education is good, and public education is bad. What's the long-term result? Look at New Orleans, where over 60 percent of the kids are in charter schools. The schools are basically in the hands of private entrepreneurs, who may or may not have the best interests of kids at heart."

By admitting her mistakes and fighting against the now-popular concepts she long championed, Ravitch displays a quality rarely seen in public life: a true dedication to education that trumps allegiance to any particular ideology.

Click on the following phrase to read Ravitch's commentary on NPR and her book:
"The Death and Life of the Great American School System"

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

"Waiting for Superman" - NEA Response

"Waiting for Superman", the movie, examines the state of education. It is being shown at a special invitation only screening at the Main Art Theater in Royal Oak tonight. It will open to the general public on Friday.

The National Education Association’s reaction to the Film -

Who: This film was made by “Inconvenient Truth” producer Davis Guggenheim. It features footage of NEA President Dennis Van Roekel from NEA’s Representative Assembly, as well as extensive interviews with AFT President Randi Weingarten.

Why: Guggenheim says he made “Waiting for Superman” to encourage the same level of national discourse on public education that “An Inconvenient Truth” generated on climate change. NEA and its state and local affiliates welcome others to the same discussion we’ve been having for years. In an effort to encourage a more thoughtful and thorough discussion, Association leaders have agreed to participate in panel discussions following film screenings.

Thoughts and General Comments from the NEA: ( I will paraphrase the entire report. )
The NEA contends that the film over simplifies complex issues. It lacks depth and factual, research-based analysis. It has also missed the opportunity to shed light on the good that is happening in our public schools. Waiting for Superman says important things about the challenges of public education, but it over simplifieses complicated issues by saying “charters are good” and “teachers unions are bad”. It lumps all schools together. ALL SCHOOLS are NOT the same. Public education is a shared responsibility, but this film is divisive rather than collaborative.

The film glosses over the negative effects of the Bush-era reforms (NCLB), ignoring the impact on students with disabilities and any negative effects of the testing mania. It promotes charter schools as the “silver bullet” to improve public education, even as it admits that only one charter school in five is more effective than a traditional public school.

The NEA says “Waiting for Superman” has SUPER MYTHS:

Super Myth #1: Teacher unions are “bad”, but teachers are “good”. Teacher unions are made up of members who are educators and the film doesn’t interview any superintendents that have a collaborative relationship with their union.

Super Myth #2: Charter Schools are a magic, silver bullet solution. Charter schools are one solution, but schools across the country are benefitting from a range of exciting, new ideas. Rick Hess, education commentator, American Enterprise Institute says, “These flicks accelerate the troubling trend of turning every good idea into a moral crusade, so that retooling K-12 becomes a question of moral rectitude in which we choose sides and “reformers” are supposed to smother questions about policy or practice. They also wildly romanticize charters, charter school teachers, and the kids and families, making it harder to speak honestly or bluntly.”

To read the NEA’s entire reaction to the film, CLICK HERE:

Saturday, September 25, 2010

NEA Town Hall Meeting; Questions for the President and new websites to check out!

I am forwarding you today a message from the NEA regarding a media push that will begin this Sunday and Monday (September 26th & 27th). There are also opportunities to PARTICIPATE in the town hall meeting and submit questions to President Obama. Check out the new connections on Twitter and Facebook!

FROM THE NEA (National Education Association):
We expect a great deal of national focus on education as NBC hosts its Education Nation initiative ( across all its properties and Waiting for Superman is released. We appreciate the collaboration with affiliates to challenge wrong ideas. and advance a pro-public education message. Here are just some of the actions underway. And see below how you can join the effort to Speak Up! to make sure your voice and the voices of our members are heard.

· Participate in MSNBC’s virtual Teacher Town Hall on Sunday September 26th from 12 -2p EST To sign up, click on this link - TEACHER TOWN HALL

· Ask President Obama a question about how we can make a great public school for every student on the Today Show Monday, September 27th. To submit a question for President Obama, click on SUBMIT A QUESTION

· Watch President Van Roekel during his LIVE MSNBC interview with Contessa Brewer at noon EST on Monday, September 27

· Watch President Van Roekel during his LIVE CNBC Power Lunch interview at 1:30 pm EST

· Watch President Van Roekel’s panel during Education Nation: 4:45-6 pm EST “Good Apples: How do we keep the good ones, throw out the bad ones and put a new shine on the profession” broadcast LIVE on

· Watch President Van Roekel on Monday evening during his 7:30 pm EST LIVE interview on New York’s Evening News with Chuck Scarborough

· Follow us on Twitter and tweet using the hashtag “#stopteacherbashing". Click on NEA TWITTER

· Become a “fan” of Speak up for Education and Kids on Facebook – a community of educators and concerned citizens – now more than 37,000 strong. Click on SPEAK UP FOR EDUCATION AND KIDS ON FACEBOOK

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

"Budget Move Shortchanges Our Children"

"Budget Move Shortchanges Our Children" -
The title from today's editorial in the Livingston County Press......Livingston County tends to be pretty conservative and almost wholly Republican (except for a few of us), and THEY even get that the Legislature's and the governor's (notice I don't call her "our" governor anymore) actions were a total disservice to the children in Michigan.

I've reprinted part of the editorial below and have provided a link to the entire editorial at the bottom of today's posting.

"..........If that sounds cynical, then what else to make of the state's so-called budget solution that is crafted by transferring — swiping — $208 million from the state's K-12 education fund?
The only reason the education fund has a surplus is because some state revenue came in higher this year than projected, a rarity in light of the cuts that have been forced on K-12 education funding. Rather than give the money to schools already adjusting to budget restrictions, the state decided to hold on to the surplus to provide a cushion against further cuts as the state's downtrodden economy refuses to recover.
It wasn't a bad idea, until the state's dysfunctional government hijacked the money to help cover up the fact that it has continually failed to effectively balance the state's budget. This, despite the fact that the federal government has poured into state coffers hundreds of millions of dollars that it doesn't have.
Swiping the money from the education fund might even violate the state's constitution, although it is unlikely anyone in Lansing has the backbone to tackle that fight."

For the entire editorial click below:
The entire Livingston County Press Editorial

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

On Your Next Pay Check......

As Walled Lake Educators you will be receiving your first paycheck on September 10th, 2010. When you do you will notice the new/additional 3% retirement tax being taken from your pay. It will be listed after the title, “Health Care Fund” at the bottom right corner of your pay stub.

Below is a summary of the MEA’s lawsuit against MPSERS drafted by the MEA general counsel. This was sent today by Lu Battaglieri, the Executive Director of the MEA.

MEA is pursuing a lawsuit challenging the legality of the additional 3% contribution that school employees must make to the Michigan Public Schools Employees Retirement System (MPSERS) on wages earned beginning July 1, 2010. This additional contribution, which is going to be used to pay for the retiree health insurance of current retirees, was included in legislation passed earlier this year. The lawsuit, brought by five MEA members in the Michigan Court of Claims, alleges that the legislation breaches contractual rights of school employees and violates various provisions of the Michigan and United States constitutions.

At the beginning of the lawsuit, Court of Claims Judge James Giddings issued a preliminary injunction requiring that MPSERS place the 3% contribution in a separate interest-bearing escrow account and stopping MPSERS from using that money until further order of the court. By issuing the preliminary injunction, the court is ensuring that school employees will be able to receive a refund of the additional 3% contribution, if the lawsuit is ultimately successful.

Both sides agree that the lawsuit does not present factual disputes that would require a trial. On August 26, Judge Giddings heard oral arguments on the case. He will be issuing a written decision on the legal issues raised in the lawsuit. While a decision is pending, MEA is proceeding with the court procedure for having this case certified as a class action lawsuit.

Although a decision from Judge Giddings is expected in the near future, it is also anticipated that the case will be appealed by the losing party, so the case will most likely continue for a considerable period of time.

Monday, August 16, 2010

August Election News and Recall Information

Good Morning.
A few updates on happenings in August.

Michigan House of Representative Election: The Lakes Area Coordinating Council in tandem with the MEA had a “screening and endorsing” meeting and will be supporting Lisa Brown’s re-election bid for the Michigan House of Representatives. Also, the Farmington Coordinating Council held a “screening and endorsing” meeting and will be backing Vicki Barnett in her re-election campaign for the Michigan House of Representatives. I will write more about those meetings later and post it on my blog.

School Board Election: There are three seats up for election this November. Five people had filed to run for the three seats by the August 10th deadline. I will have more information regarding that election later as well.

School Board Meeting this Thursday, August 19th, 2010 and RECALLS:
The School Board meeting this Thursday will be at 7:30 in the ESC Board Room. The Agenda for the meeting is available on Walled Lake’s Website. You can also contact Cindy Barstow to be placed on a list to receive all Board Agendas and Minutes through your district email.

Thursday’s meeting will include the first recall of teachers who were laid off at the end of last school year. I do NOT have a list at this time and do not believe that the list will be posted to Walled Lake School’s website. According to information I have been given, principals will contact teachers who are being recalled at that meeting. At this time the school district is tentatively planning a Special Board of Education Meeting for August 26th at which they will have a second formal recall of teachers.

The school district seems to be handling the recall of teachers VERY conservatively this summer due to the funding limitations they are experiencing. The 20J funds have not been restored and the per pupil funding increase was only $11 per student, which is still a loss of over $150 per student from the 2008-2009 school year. For Walled Lake that is approximately $170,000. Not much. It is unclear at this time how and when the recent passage of Federal money will be distributed by the State. There are many rumors/opinions out there. When I know more, I will pass it on.

The other factor complicating the recall of teachers in Walled Lake includes a drastic drop in the registration of students. At this time, numbers are appearing that show a loss of over 400 students at the elementary level. In the Spring they were anticipating a loss of 157 students, so the newest numbers are having a dramatic effect on the number of sections of regular elementary classes being needed and the number of FAPES sections needed. Obviously, as the end of August approaches, everyone is hoping that the number of registrations increases significantly.

Monday, July 26, 2010

August Primary-July 30th Update

Dear WLEA Members,
The August 3rd Primary Election is less than a week away.

To read more about the upcoming election, go to:
(go to the members only section)

Monday, July 12, 2010

Report on the 2010-2011 School Aid Act

This report came from Ruth Beier on July 8th. Ruth is the MEA's Economist.
The Governor signed the 2010-11 School Aid Act yesterday with a few vetoes. You have received updates, but here are all of the important items in one place: (My comments are in red in the text of the message).

1. All districts will receive an additional $11 per pupil for 2009-10. (This is approximately ONLY $170,000 for the Walled Lake Schools..not much). The money will be distributed to districts in the July 2010 and August 2010 state school aid payment. This has the effect of reducing the cut in the foundation allowance from $165 to $154 per pupil for 2009-10. This is extra money for 2009-10 that the district did not budget.
2. For next year, districts will receive the same foundation allowance that they received in 2009-10. Most districts budgeted an additional reduction in the foundation allowance for 2009-10. The foundation allowance will not be reduced, and will actually be $11 per pupil higher than it was at the beginning of 2009-10.
3. For example – if a district’s foundation allowance was $7,165 per pupil in 2008-09, that district started out the 2009-10 year thinking it would see a cut of $165 per pupil, or an effective foundation allowance of $7,000 for 2009-10. That district will actually receive $7,011 per pupil for 2009-10. That district will also receive $7,011 per pupil in 2010-11.
4. There is no provision to restore the 20j payments in 2010-11. (The section that would have restored up to ½ of the 20j funds if a tax amnesty bill passed was vetoed by your governor.)(Vicki Barnett - House Rep (D) and Lisa Brown - House Rep (D) voted AGAINST this School Aid Bill BECAUSE they did NOT restore any portion of the 20J funds).
5. Declining enrollment, At-Risk, School Readiness, Special Education, Adult Education, and Vocational education categoricals are largely unchanged from 2009-10.
6. The 5-hour online PD requirement is eliminated.
7. Districts are still allowed to count up to 38 hours of PD as instruction if it takes place when students are not scheduled for class. It can occur any time between July 1, 2010 and June 30, 2011.
8. Districts are NOT allowed to count a PD day as an instructional day to meet the instructional day requirement. PD can only be used to meet the instructional hour requirement (1,098 hours).
9. The instructional day requirement remains the same as current law: Districts must provide at least 165 days of instruction in 2010-11 and 2011-12, and at least 170 days of instruction in 2012-13. In addition, districts can’t provide fewer instructional days than they provided in 2009-10. If a district had 173 days in 2009-10, it has to have at least 173 in 2010-11 and beyond.
10. The “30 hours worth” of snow days is changed to the number of days "equivalent" to 30 hours, which for most districts would be between 5 and 6 days. In other words, districts are allowed to count between 5 to 6 days that are cancelled due to uncontrollable circumstances toward the day requirement.
11. A “day” for the purposes of meeting the day requirement is still not defined. In the past, if students came to school, the day counted as an instructional day. So far, the MDE has not published any rules about days having to be at least a certain number of hours.
12. The MPSERS rate increased from 16.94% in 2009-10 to 19.41% in 2010-11. There is no indication that the 3% tax on school employees will reduce this rate. (This 2.47% raise in the MPSERS is DESPITE or IN ADDITION to the 3% of salary each of us is now required to pay into the "Health Trust".....which has no guarantees.)
13. The $500,000 grant for Pontiac Schools that was included in the conference report was vetoed by the governor.
14. The $300,000 grant for a new Agriculture program at Saginaw Valley State University was vetoed by the Governor

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

What Educators REALLY do during their summer break!

Here is the email I sent WLEA members a week ago:
If I could ask for your help for this Thursday's Board of Education Meeting, I would appreciate it.

In my 3 minutes of Audience Participation time during the next School Board Meeting, I would like to share information regarding members of the WLEA who are working on classes and/or additional degrees this summer. I would also like to know what classes or seminars you are teaching this summer! Or perhaps you are working with colleagues on curriculum and/or materials!

I want to continue to reinforce the idea that educators don't just get free time all summer! We all work hard to continue our educations, develop educational materials, and plan for the year ahead!
Thank you!

The response was overwhelming! I have 8 pages of responses thus far, and I am still receiving new ones every day!

Click on the link below to read the document!


Thursday, June 24, 2010

MEA Enough is Enough Rally - June 24th, 2010 - Lansing

Thousands of educators gathered together at the Capitol building to deliver the message that Michigan schools need adequate and stable funding! Many people from the WLEA rode together on a bus and other WLEA members joined us there! For more pictures go to Facebook: WLEA - Walled Lake Education Association (click for the link)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Teachers Do Not get ENOUGH Credit

I was at the Side Track Restaurant in Depot Town (old Ypsilanti) this past weekend enjoying some great stuffed salmon (by the is a great restaurant and reasonable!). I found the new edition of the Eastern Echo, Eastern Michigan's student newspaper, sitting there with this headline: "Teachers do not get enough credit". HAD TO READ IT!

We all need to read MORE editorials that are thanking teachers! Click on the link below to take you to the online version of the Eastern Echo article! Enjoy!

Eastern Echo Editorial - June 14th

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

If you have retired, you may already belong, but you may want to join,,,,,,,

MEA - Retired!!!
MEA-Retired stands for Michigan Education Association-Retired. It is an MEA affiliate made up of current and retired public school employees. Any person who receives a pension check from the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System (MPSERS), was on MEA staff, or has worked for a public school system in another state, is eligible for MEA-Retired membership. Currently working MEA members (including ESP and higher education) and MEA staff are eligible to join MEA-Retired and become active MEA-Retired members upon retirement.

Here is the url for more information:

Monday, June 14, 2010


Perhaps you have all seen the Free Press Editorial from yesterday in which the paper glorifies what they call, “15 courageous House Democrats”. They are glorifying them because these 16 Democrats joined forces with the Republican to adopt legislation requiring Michigan teachers to pay a greater percentage of their pension and health costs – THIS IS THE 3% “TAX” you have to pay beginning next school year!

I would like to say, that I do not find these legislators courageous for targeting your bargained pay as a resource for them to solve Michigan’s financial problems. To me courageous would have been standing up and saying that Michigan needed to find ways to solve the financial dilemmas without making teachers shoulder the cost. Courageous would have been legislating an end to their FULL Health care perks after only 6 years of service. Courageous would have been requiring themselves to pay a 3% tax to work. Courageous would have been going to the people of Michigan and saying we need new funding sources.

These Legislators are:
Dan Scripps, Tim Melton, Kathy Angerer, John Espinoza
Marc Corriveau, Dudley Spade, Bob Constan, Martin Griffin
Joel Sheltrown, Jim Slezak, Bert Johnson, Ed Clemente
Andy Dillon, Judy Nerat, Pam Byrnes, David Nathan

1) These same “courageous people” will vote with the Repbulicans to use the anticpated increased funds in the School Aide Fund, NOT TO RESTORE FUNDING TO THE SCHOOLS, but will “rob” the School Aide Fund to shore up the General Fund. This will leave schools in the same miserable funding mess that they have been in this year.
2) These same “courageous people” will vote to send the Constitutional Amendment to the people of Michigan to lower your wages by an ADDITIONAL 5%. This amendment could realistically appear on the August, 2010 primary ballot! This would mean that the entire state of Michigan could vote on your bargained pay!

YOU NEED TO WRITE YOUR SENATORS AND LEGISLATORS . Write the Legislators listed above as well!

Also, consider attending the MEA Rally in Lansing on June 24th!
REMEMBER – Please do this from your home emails or from your home or cell phones.

For any legislator in Michigan, use this weblink:

Governor Jennifer Granholm
Phone 517-335-6863
Faxto write Gov. Granholm, please go to the website

Speaker of the House - Andy Dillon
Phone: 517-373-0857
Fax: 517-373-5976

Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop
Phone: 517-373-2417
Fax: 517-373-2694

State Senator Nancy Cassis
Phone: 517-373-1758
Fax: 517-373-0938

State Senator Gilda Jacobs
Phone: 517-373-7888
Fax: 517-373- 2983

State Representative Vicki Barnett
Phone: 517-373-1793
Fax: 517-373-8501

State Representative Lisa Brown
Phone: 517-373-1799
Fax: 517-373-8361

State Representative Hugh Crawford
Phone: 517-373-0827
Fax: 517-373-5873

State Representative Eileen Kowall
Phone: 517-373-2616
Fax: 517-373-5843

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Capital Rally on Thursday, June 24th!!!

From the MEA -
Capitol rally on Thursday, June 24th: Will you be there?
Join the cause -- have you had enough????

Don't miss the MEA's massive rally at the state Capitol on June 24th -- a critical opportunity to talk with your legislators about how students are negatively affected when schools lack adequate, equitable, and stable funding.

Aside from promoting our cause, there will be drawings for great prizes, including a new Apple iPad and Nintendo Wii. Bring kids along for facepainting and other fun. Make a PAC contribution and get "in the ring" with the boxer and punching bag from MEA's TV commercials.
MOST importantly, be there on Thursday, June 24th to help deliver one clear message to our leaders in Lansing --

Enough is Enough! (click on the red for the Rally Poster!)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A Bit of Good News from the House of Representatives

The paradox at the state capital continues!

This evening Dave Stafford, one of the MEA lobbyists, sent out a communication which indicated that the Michigan House of Representatives had passed its version of the 2010-2011 state school aid bill, SB1163. This bill also includes appropriations for the current school year, 2009-2010.

The House's version of the bill restores $65.00 per pupil of the $165.00 per pupil funding cut from 2009-2010. Their version of the bill appears to restore all or most of the cuts from this year in next year's funding.

The bill must now go to a conference committee to resolve differences between the House and Senate versions of SB1163.

The not so good news: As has been reported in the papers and in yesterday's blog, revenues for the State Aid Fund are well above what was expected, while revenues for the general fund were considerably less than projected. Dave Stafford reports that efforts are mounting in the Legislature and the governor's office to raid the school aid fund to balance the other budgets. At this time it appears as if they plan to transfer the entire state aid for community colleges from the general fund to the school aid fund. This would totally eat up all of the increased school aid revenue. Thus, the cuts made to education would continue for years to come.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


5 percent pay cut proposal headed to full Senate

The Senate Reforms and Restructuring Committee today passed Senate Joint Resolution U, a proposed constitutional amendment to cut the pay of all public employees in the state by 5 percent. The proposal would also mandate a three-year wage freeze.
THIS WOULD BE A CUT ON TOP of the 3% TAX voted into law last week. This could mean a TOTAL OF 8% CUT in WAGES!!! FOR 3 years!!!

This is the path a constitutional amendment would follow to become law:
If Senate Joint Resolution U receives a two-thirds majority in the Senate and House as required, it will go on the August primary ballot for voters to decide. If approved by voters, it would be implemented Oct. 1.

This is paradoxal as just yesterday it was announced that state sales taxes are rising and would cause the State School Aid Fund to have over $200 million more than anticipated. At the same time, Senator Bishop (the Senate Majority Leader) was talking of giving that very same money to municipalities. Other Senate leaders were talking of taking the new funds from the State School Aid Fund and moving it to the General Fund to cover shortages there. I believe this 5% wage cut proposal is PART of that plan. What better way to save school districts money, while raiding SCHOOL FUNDS. Again, taxing the school employees.

As I have thought about this more this evening, the fact that a group of legislators can propose legislating away the rights of employees to negotiate and contract with their employers smacks at the most sacredly held components of a democracy. If a government can obliterate thousands of public employee contracts today, is it not obliterating the very foundation of the constitution of our country?

Senate leaders may try to pass the measure soon, so your URGENT help is needed to defeat this proposal. Please contact your state senator TODAY and tell them to vote NO. Please do this from your home emails or phones!

Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop
Phone: 517-373-2417
Fax: 517-373-2694

State Senator Nancy Cassis
Phone: 517-373-1758
Fax: 517-373-0938

State Senator Gilda Jacobs
Phone: 517-373-7888
Fax: 517-373- 2983

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

MEA Voice Online

MEA Voice Online -- May 18, 2010
All titles and blue print below are active links to more information - JUST CLICK!
FAQs about new retirement law
Are you eligible for the recently passed retirement incentive? When will the 3 percent "school employee tax" start to hit your paycheck? What does this mean for new employees starting this fall? Get the answers to some frequently asked questions about the retirement legislation passed last week by the Legislature and Gov. Jennifer Granholm.

Enough is Enough!
Attend a local rally next Monday to protest attacks, demand funding
If you hadn't had enough of the attacks on school employees before last week's retirement vote, you probably have now! Make your voice heard -- attend one of more than 40 local rallies taking place across the state on the evening of Monday, May 24. To stop lawmakers from continuing to balance the budget on your back, we must demand adequate, equitable, stable funding for public education.
In this election year, it's critical that we show our strength in numbers to politicians who will soon hit the campaign trail claiming to be pro-education -- it's time to make them keep their promises. Be part of the thousands of MEA members who will mobilize on Monday to attend local rallies. And mark your calendar now to attend a massive statewide rally at the Capitol on June 24 -- more details will be coming soon.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

EDITED FRIDAY AM - Legislature expected to vote on pension reform tonight

Good Morning - This red "piece" is an edit of my post from last night regarding the House and Senate action on the "Retirement Bill". IT WAS PASSED BY THE HOUSE AND SENATE, BUT WILL NEED TO GO TO THE GOVERNOR FOR A SIGNATURE! Here is a portion of a press release from Iris Salters, MEA President, this morning:
"The retirement legislation passed this morning by Michigan Senate and House lawmakers is an ill-conceived plan that will not deliver savings to cash-strapped school districts. The meager ‘incentive’ included in the bill will fail to entice anyone not already planning to retire to do so. In fact, it will cost school districts far more money than any estimated savings because the numbers of potential retirees who might take advantage is grossly exaggerated."

Me again: If you were planning to retire in the next year or two, the 1.6 multiplier, as well as the 1.55 multiplier for the "80" rule, is a good deal. And, if a number of people take it, it will mean more jobs for people who are not of retirement age.
However-----using myself as a demonstration ----I have 31 years in as an educator. If I work 3 more years, I will earn more at the 1.5 multiplier in 3 years than I would if I retired today with the 1.6 multiplier. I had planned to work 3 more years anyway. I will earn approximately 40% more in salary over those 3 years, so this is NOT an incentive for me.
Those of us still working will have to pay 3% of our salaries to the state. It does NOT go into an individual account for each of us.
Please read the details below from last night to find out more about the lack of a guarantee for medical benefits in retirement and the "hybrid" retirement plan for future educators.


  • This legislation has an increased multiplier for retirees - GOOD!
  • This legislation has serious implications for those who do NOT retire!
  • The Senate has made it clear they do not want to guarantee retiree health benefits in the future!!!

    Lawmakers have apparently reached a deal on a retirement plan that would hurt thousands of school employees.

    At this time, MEA members are urged to IMMEDIATELY contact their state legislators to urge them to vote NO on Senate Bill 1227. Please also tell them to vote NO on House Bill 4073, legislation that would create an insurance trust.

    A vote is expected late tonight or during the night, according to legislative sources and media reports.

    The "compromise" includes:

    A 1.6 percent multiplier (up from the standard 1.5 percent) for those currently eligible to retire, if they retire this summer.

    A 1.55 percent multiplier for those who are not currently eligible but who meet the rule of 80 -- that is, their age and years of service total 80 -- if they retire this summer.

    All who do not retire will pay an extra 3 percent of salary above what they currently pay toward retirement and this money will be put in a trust set up by House Bill 4073.

    House Bill 4073 will be amended to indicate that NO ONE IS GUARANTEED HEALTH BENEFITS IN RETIREMENT.

    Employees hired after July 1 will be placed in an inferior "hybrid" retirement plan proposed by Gov. Jennifer Granholm.

    Here's why your legislators should vote NO on the conference report for Senate Bill 1227 and on House Bill 4073:

    This plan attempts to balance the school aid budget on the backs of employees. There will still be massive cuts in state aid to schools next year.

    The continued erosion of the number of employees participating in the system because of outsourcing and privatization and the exclusion of charter school employees will continue to drive up the contribution rate in future years.

    The proposal places future employees in a vastly inferior retirement plan and forces them to pay almost 10 percent of their salary to that plan.

    All school employees will be required to pay a tax of 3 percent, which totals almost $2,600 a year for experienced teachers.

    PLEASE ACT NOW! Don't wait! Your legislators need to hear from you.

Governor Jennifer Granholm
517-373-3400 Phone 517-335-6863 Fax
to write Gov. Granholm, please go to the website

Speaker of the House Andy Dillon
Phone: 517-373-0857
Fax: 517-373-5976

Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop
Phone: 517-373-2417
Fax: 517-373-2694

State Senator Nancy Cassis
Phone: 517-373-1758
Fax: 517-373-0938

State Senator Gilda Jacobs
Phone: 517-373-7888
Fax: 517-373- 2983

State Representative Vicki Barnett
Phone: 517-373-1793
Fax: 517-373-8501

State Representative Lisa Brown
Phone: 517-373-1799
Fax: 517-373-8361

State Representative Hugh Crawford
Phone: 517-373-0827
Fax: 517-373-5873

State Representative Eileen Kowall
Phone: 517-373-2616
Fax: 517-373-5843

Monday, May 10, 2010

Race to the TOP - The Second Application

As reported by Iris Salters, President of the MEA, this afternoon.

The Michigan Education Association today issued a letter of support to the state’s second Race to the Top application, signing on to a plan that has the potential to improve the quality of education for every student in Michigan.

“This second application process was markedly different from the first, “said MEA President Iris K. Salters. “The outcome reflects a much more collaborative, useful plan for schools to implement, should they so choose.”
\Local school districts and local education associations will make their own decisions about whether or not to sign Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs), but MEA is recommending that its local units give careful consideration to supporting this application.

“Many of the concerns we had with the first application have been addressed because we, along with other professional organizations, were able to participate in the crafting of the RTTT plan,” Salters said. “This meant that the voices of the dedicated employees who work in our schools—and know best what our students need—were heard and valued.”

This collaboration resulted in a much stronger application, which will place Michigan in a more competitive position in this second round.

“Still, we must remember that although any federal funding awarded through Race to the Top will help our schools in these tough economic times, it will not solve our long-term budget problems,” Salters said. “It is imperative that Michigan lawmakers work to fix the fundamental flaws in the way public education is funded in order to ensure the highest quality education for every student.”

Local associations have until May 20 to decide whether to sign off on the state’s Race to the Top application.

You may review the Race to the Top Phase 2 Application on the Michigan Department of Education’s Web site at We will need to review the obligations a school district must meet should it receive any funds because some of those obligations may impact our local contract.

A Non-Report on Retirement

Sad to say, the legislature nor the conference committee met on Friday. Nor from any reports, have they reconvened today. Hopefully tomorrow.

I have read over the weekend at least two different columnists who are blaming the lack of action on the Democrats. They are being accused of doing the will of the MEA. One of the items that the Republicans seem to find most offensive is that the Democrats want money put into a trust that will be used to guarantee future health care for retirees. The Democratic plan also includes a requirement that private companies who employee workers in the public schools (i.e., bus drivers, custodians), must pay into the MPSERS fund for their employees. Quite frankly, a huge monetary gap is being created in the retirement fund because the amount of money being paid into the fund becomes smaller with every group that is privatized.

The Republicans are talking about a 1.6 multiplier and a 1.55 multiplier for additional employees with the "80 and out" provision previously proposed by the House Democrats. So, perhaps they are coming closer. Perhaps tomorrow we will find out.

Regardless, a "full time" legislature that meets 3 days a week and earns full health benefits after 6 years of service, AND then lobs criticism at teachers for wanting a guarantee of health care in their retirement, seems to be a group that is fraught with hypocrisy and untruths. But do they care???

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

SB1227 News from Tuesday ON Wednesday

I have been waiting today to see if I would receive any updates on the talks between the House and the Senate regarding SB1227. I have heard nothing at this point.

Yesterday the MEA Lobbyist reported that the Senate adjourned before noon because they didn't feel anything was going to happen........ The conference committee was to meet today at 9:30 AM. (Governor Granholm's "final" deadline was Tuesday, although she planned to have an active role in Wednesday's talks. I know...what is a deadline then?). The new deadline may be June 30th.

In Tuesday's talks, Senator Jud Gilbert (R) was proposing a 1.55 multiplier, while the House's offer was a 1.6 multiplier. The House also wants the employees' 3 percent contribution to go to a health care trust, which would guarantee coverage for retirees. Matt Marsden, Senator Bishop's spokesman, says that would create a $40 billion liability for the state. House Speaker Andy Dillon disputes those figures.

Senator Bishop is calling the House's retirement plan an "entitlement", not a reform and talks about it being like "blowing up a Christmas tree".

Monday, May 3, 2010

More News on "Retirement Legislation"

More News on the “Retirement” Legislation

Wednesday and Thursday of last week were spent in negotiations between House and Senate members of the Conference Committee to resolve the differences between the two versions of SB 1227. As of late Thursday everyone had gone home, although another meeting of the Conference Committee could happen today (Monday, May 3rd).

The committee has missed Governor Granholm’s deadline for making a decision on the retirement issues, leaving potential retirees not knowing what to do. The Governor’s press secretary, Liz Boyd, released a statement last Thursday questioning whether the legislature was truly interested in doing real reforms.

In the last proposals made on Thursday, the Senate made a “final” offer that included a 1.55 multiplier, while the House Democrats were pushing for a 1.6 multiplier with a guarantee for healthcare for all who had paid into the system. The House believes their plan will save money over a one year period and send dollars to the local school districts and that by having MPSER members pay 3 percent more into the trust fund would address the concerns of an “unfunded mandate” being touted by the Senate Republicans.

CALL AND OR WRITE THE CONFERENCE COMMITTEE MEMBERS LISTED BELOW! By CLICKING on their names, you will be taken to the Legislative Contact site offered by the MEA. You can write them from that site or get their phone numbers.

DO IT TODAY!!!! Tell these legislators to PASS THE HOUSE VERSION OF SB 1227! Or as it is called by the House, H-9.

Members of the conference committee include
Rep. Mark Meadows (D-East Lansing),
Rep. Martin Griffin (D-Jackson),
Rep. James Bolger (R-Marshall),
Sen. Mark Jansen (R-Grand Rapids),
Sen. Judson Gilbert (R-Algonac), and
Sen. Deborah Cherry (D-Burton).

Please use your home emails to contact the legislators!