Saturday, February 26, 2011

NOW Snyder says his salary report was not an "apples-to-apples" comparison

AS REPORTED BY THE MIRS Capital Capsule - Saturday, February 26th, 2011
Gov. Rick SNYDER in a letter to state employees today defended the numbers he released in late January comparing public and private compensation.

The numbers came from a study by the Andersen Economic Group that did not adjust for factors like level of education and years worked at a job, and the Governor admitted it was not an "apples to apples" comparison.

In an email to state employees today, Snyder defended his use of the numbers, saying ". . . my point was not to make an apples-to-apples jobs comparison but instead take a look at how total public compensation compares to the total compensation of the working public that supports government."

He said that there were far more numbers in his presentation, including information on outdated infrastructure and the non-sustainability of the state's current spending. But he blames the media for not getting that information out.

"Unfortunately, the compensation story took on a life of its own in the media, diverting attention away from the real issues," said Snyder in his email. "You should hear my position directly, as opposed to the media reports and representations."

He said that while there were a few cases of public employees getting less compensation than those in the private sector, there were many more cases where total compensation was higher in the private sector.

He also reminded employees of the shared sacrifice included in the budget, and urged them to "trust in the process."

MY QUESTION: How do we "trust the process" as the governor requests when he allows this study to STAND AS IS, without reporting the problems with it, for over a month?


Here is how to contact Governor Snyder:
Please be sure to use your HOME EMAILS and/or CELL or HOME PHONES!

PHONE: (517) 373-3400
PHONE: (517) 335-7858 - Constituent Services
FAX:(517) 335-6863

Thursday, February 24, 2011

LANSING RALLY - Saturday, February 26th - NOON at the Capitol Building

The MEA is JOINED the "MoveOn" RALLY on SATURDAY, February 26th, 12 NOON at the Michigan Capitol Building in Lansing!

More Information from
Moments like these don't come along often.

Newly-elected Tea Party governor Scott Walker thought he could slash the Wisconsin state budget and dismantle 50 years of workers' rights without a fight, but boy was he wrong.
Hundreds of thousands of regular Wisconsinites-teachers, firefighters, police officers, students-have taken to the streets of Madison. They've occupied the capitol building for the last 7 days and nights.

But this isn't just about Wisconsin. In state capitals across the country, and in Washington, D.C., Republicans are using the wrecked economy as an excuse to slash vital programs and hurt workers. The American Dream itself is under attack.

So we're helping lead an emergency call for rallies in every state capital this Saturday at noon to support folks in Wisconsin and oppose these attacks, wherever they occur.

From my own perspective, the walk is to support everyone's rights in a democracy to express their own opinions and join together with others with similar interests. Businesses hire lobbyists to represent their concerns. Politicians join political parties to join others to reflect their wishes and concerns. Workers, be they teachers, fireman, whomever...... should also have the right to join together to represent their wishes and concerns.

The Saturday rally is not only to support Wisconsin workers, but to let everyone know that WE will not tolerate similar assaults to our rights to organize.

For more information regarding Wisconsin, begin with my blog post below or google "Wisconsin governor" will come up!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

A Short Synopsis of the Proposed Michigan Budget Cuts as Proposed by the Governor

A short summary of spending cuts proposed by Governor Snyder in his BUDGET ADDRESS at 11 a.m. today –
A total cut of $1.5 billion in cuts will be presented to the State Legislature.

A total cut of $470 per student for public schools. A savings of $425 million.
**$470 times 15,000 students (approx. population of WLCSD) = $7,050,00 Loss for WLCSD

An additional $85.6 million of cuts in categorical and district specific funding (I don’t have specifics).

Intermediate school district funding has been reduced by 5 percent

A 15 percent cut ($222 million) for higher education. To protect students, $83 million will be set aside to reward universities that keep tuition and fee increases below a five-year average.

Eliminating revenue sharing payments for cities, villages, and townships. A savings of $92.1 million.

A fund of $200 million to use as incentive payments for cities, villages, and townships that adopt “best practices” ( I don’t have specifics.)

Governor’s pay will be $1.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Public Sector Unions Under Attack

Public sector unions and their rights to collective bargaining are under attack in our surrounding states! Read about Wisconsin and Ohio.

Wisconsin's governor sent a letter to all public employees announcing his proposed bill that can be described in no other terms but "union busting".

In reaction to the Wisconsin governor's proposals, testimony was given and a rally was held at Wisconsin's State Capital today. Here is the link to an article describing the protests held at Wisconsin's State Capital today.

Click here to read about Wisconsin's anti-collective bargaining proposals.

This article is also available on the WLEA Facebook page.


In Ohio a Senate bill, sponsored by Republican state Sen. Shannon Jones, would eliminate collective bargaining rights and salary schedules for public employees across the state. GOP Gov. John Kasich has expressed his support for the bill in concept, but he has also signaled he may bring forth his own plan that could go even further.

Union members packed Ohio's State House today to protest the proposed changes.
Click here to read about the union busting attempts in Ohio.

This article can also be read on the WLEA Facebook Page.

You can contact Governor Snyder and urge him NOT to follow in the steps of the Ohio and Wisconsin state governments!

Here is how to contact Governor Snyder:
Please be sure to use your HOME EMAILS and/or CELL or HOME PHONES!

PHONE: (517) 373-3400
PHONE: (517) 335-7858 - Constituent Services
FAX:(517) 335-6863

The SURPLUS in the School Aid Fund

There is a surplus in the State’s School Aid Fund…….it could be as much as $670 million dollars. And yet, this money may not come to K-12 Schools. In fact, last year, the “surplus” that was in the State School Aid Fund did NOT come to K-12 Schools. Last year the money was taken from the fund and given to the Community Colleges.

What creates this “surplus”? Basically the legislature holds down the support they give K-12 schools and calls what is left in the fund, the “excess”. Shouldn’t there be no excess? This money was designated to be spent for public schools and should be spent there. How can they manipulate this money?

Technically, and I am not an expert on State Funding ins and outs, but Community College funding is supposed to come from the General Fund, not the School Aid Fund. Using a “loop hole” or some other shenanigans that they are allowed to use, the State can take money from the School Aid Fund and give it to Community Colleges instead of using General Fund money. The General Fund is in deficit, no doubt, but is taking money from K-12 the answer? Not that I am for funding increases, but Community Colleges can raise tuition and charge other fees to make more money. K-12 Public schools can NOT raise tuition and can not charge fees for attendance. The only money we can go to the community and request is for bonds for buildings and sinking funds. These funds can not be used for salaries or insurance, etc. So, it can’t help reduce class size.

Our NEW GOVERNOR has already said that it seems reasonable to him to use the “excess” in the School Aid Fund to bolster community college funding. Pretty much he says that education is education.

But you can look around Walled Lake, is there really an “excess” of funding in our school district? Class sizes are beyond acceptable. I find it very hard to swallow that there is a “surplus” in the school aid fund, particularly when the funds from the ARRA program won’t be available next year to offset the loss of dollars that were sent to community colleges.

WE ALL NEED TO WRITE GOVERNOR SNYDER TODAY! You need to tell him there is no excess in funding of K-12 schools. Tell him:
1) Walled Lake lost over $4 million dollars in funding per year for the 20J cut.
2) Walled Lake class sizes are well over acceptable numbers. Tell him how many kids you have in your classrooms this year compared to previous years.
3) Tell him what these high class sizes mean to your teaching and other services you provide.
4) Tell him that the citizens in Michigan designated this money for K-12 Education and for the state to send it to a college that has the ability to charge tuition is unacceptable.

Here is how to contact Governor Snyder:
Please be sure to use your HOME EMAILS and/or CELL or HOME PHONES!

PHONE: (517) 373-3400
PHONE: (517) 335-7858 - Constituent Services
FAX:(517) 335-6863

Monday, February 14, 2011

Lt. Gov. Calley's "Callous" Comments on the BUDGET

State Budget Proposal to be presented Thursday!
In Saturday’s LANSING STATE JOURNAL, a staff writer named Scott Davis wrote, “Pack a flashlight. Stock up on food. Map a route to a shelter.” He was referring to Lt. Gov. Brian Calley’s announcement last week that an “atomic bomb” was going to hit Lansing this coming Thursday when Governor Rick Snyder shares his proposed budget.

Michigan’s new state budget director, John Nixon, has confirmed that the budget will “include substantial cuts” in every area of state government. It appears that there will be a $1.8 billion short fall this year. Although Nixon did not confirm this information, the Lansing State Journal is predicting the following areas will be affected.

1) Corrections – It accounts for 23 percent of the state’s general fund.

2) Employee Wages – According to the House Fiscal Agency, wages and benefits for state employees totals $4.8 billion. (In recent years state employees have take wage freezes, furlough days and health benefit cuts)

3) Community Health Programs – funding for vaccinations, county-run clinics, preventative health programs and most Medicaid costs – currently cost $2.4 billion. However, Medicaid may not be able to be cut because it would mean losing matching dollars from the federal government.

4) Higher Education – Snyder indicated in the past that Higher Ed’s $1.5 billion budget seemed “rife” for cost savings.

5) State Revenue Sharing – Two-thirds of this program’s budget for cities and townships is protected by the State constitution. But one-third of their $1 billion budget could be cut
6) Business Tax Reform – Snyder wants to ditch the current business tax (MBT) and replace it with a 6% corporate income tax. This could reduce revenues by $1.5 billion dollars. The Lansing State Journal reports that Snyder has hinted that he wants to reduce about $2.6 billion in tax credits and exemptions. Between these two moves, the savings would be $1.1 billion and would be a big help in reducing the State’s shortfall in revenues.

The MEA calls Lt. Gov. Calley’s metaphor for Thursday’s budget proposal “callous and reckless” . The MEA points out that his usage of the message “dropping an atomic bomb on the city of Lansing” as being in complete contrast to Gov. Snyder’s calls for bipartisanship and responsible budget solutions. Frank Houston, campaign director for A Better Michigan Future (a coalition of organizations including the MEA) was quoted in the MEA’s Capital Comments on Monday, saying, “Michigan families throughout the state are already struggling to make ends meet, and Lt. Gov Calley’s slash-and-burn rhetoric is not helpful at all in calming the real anxieties our families already experience every day.”

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

State Board of Ed Votes to Raise MEAP Cut-off Scores

Wednesday's Detroit News reported that the state Board of Education approved raising the cut scores for MEAP tests at all levels, elementary, middle and high school; as well as the Michigan Merit Exam taken by 11th graders.

The State School Board President, John Austin, was quoted as saying, "We are making improvements, but we need to reach higher."

Robb Bobb, emergency financial manager for Detroit Schools issued a statement saying, "The proposed changes may cause some intial slippage in test scores, but the long-term benefits will be more significant."

Today (2/10/11) Arnie Duncan, the United States Education Secretary announced, "“I applaud Michigan for being honest with students on where they stand,” Duncan said. “Michigan’s education leaders are putting kids first by taking critical steps to help them compete in a global economy.”

According to the article, the new scoring will be determined over the next few months, and is slated to take effect in the 2011-2012 school year.
The change in cut scores also has ramifications for schools under the "No Child Left Behind Act" and whether they can meet "Adequate Yearly Progress". The writer of the Detroit News article claims that the number of schools who fail to meet AYP will jump from 14% to 66%. That seems extreme, but certainly AYP will be more elusive for many schools. Under the No Child Left Behind law, this could mean that schools that fail to meet AYP for two or more years will be subject to sanctions that include replacement of school leadership and staff, offering transportation to other schools, or even re-opening as a charter school.

To read the entire article, Click here: Detroit News MEAP Article
****Information about John D. Austin - the president of the State Board of Education (taken from the Michigan Department of Education website):

John C. Austin, President, D-Ann Arbor, Term Expires 1/1/2017 .

"Mr. Austin was elected in 2000 and re-elected in 2008. He is Director of the Great Lakes Economic Initiative with the Brookings Institution. He previously held the position of Executive Director of the New Economy Initiative for Southeast Michigan. He served as policy director for the Lieutenant Governor's Commission on Higher Education and Economic Growth. He is also a Lecturer at the University of Michigan. Mr. Austin holds a Master of Public Administration from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government and a Bachelor of Arts from Swarthmore College in Economics and Political Science."

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Federal education officials are warning schools across the nation NOT to use STALL TACTICS when it comes to evaluating children

As I have visited buildings across the district, I have heard many concerns regarding the SIPP process. Below I have copied and pasted an article which I found interesting.
From: – February 2, 2011

Written by: Michael F. Shaughnessy -
Eastern New Mexico University
Portales, New Mexico
Every once in a while, something comes along that is so important, that I am going to reproduce it almost word for word and cite the link below. The title of the article is, “Schools Warned About Delaying Special Education Assessments”, and it was posted today, Feb 1, 2011. It was written by Shaun Heasley and appears in CEC SMART Let me re-print it here, with some italics that I will put in, and some words in CAPITAL LETTERS that I will put in also.

"Federal education officials are warning schools across the nation NOT to use STALL TACTICS when it comes to evaluating children who may have a disability."
In a letter sent to state directors of special education late last month, Melody Musgrove who heads the Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs said she is aware that some schools may be using an educational approach known as “response to intervention” as reason to “delay or deny a timely initial evaluation for children suspected of having a disability.” Such a delay is unwarranted, Musgrove said.

Response to intervention is an approach employed by schools to improve academic outcomes for children who are struggling. The technique focuses on pinpointing students who may need help and provide appropriate interventions, which are closely monitored.
Some consider the technique helpful in identifying students who may need special education services, particularly those with learning disabilities.

However, Musgrove makes clear in her letter that while information gathered through response to intervention can be used to determine if a child has a disability, using the method in and of itself is not reason to keep a child from receiving a disability evaluation, especially if a parent has requested one.” The above is from 2011 Disability Scoop , LLC, All Rights Reserved.

This is a quite timely topic inasmuch as many teachers who were trained ten, fifteen or twenty years ago, may not know how to do a valid , reliable, research based “Response to Intervention”. This is important because some children, due to whatever reason are quite frequently absent, and thus a valid “response to intervention “ protocol cannot be implemented or evaluated.

This is critical because time lost and time wasted can never be regained. Children’s self-esteem, self-concept and self-worth can be impacted by repeated difficulties, stress and failures.

Schools should not be retaining students when there are school psychologists and diagnosticians out there who can do testing. Let’s not leave any child behind and do repeated interventions that seem to be ineffective or ineffectual. And no one should be “dragging their feet” and delay needed assessments.