Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Please CALL or WRITE!!! Tenure Laws and Insurance HARD CAP!

House Bills 4625 through 4628
(specifics are listed in the previous posting) were passed in the House in the last week and are now on the agenda of the Senate Education Committee which meets Wednesday, June 22nd.

Yesterday, the MEA Crisis Coordinator, a few local presidents, myself, and a MEA Uniserve director met with Senator Mike Kowall in Waterford. We spoke to him about the parts of the tenure bill that many members of our legislature are concerned with – the laws that require teachers to have a hearing before the Tenure Commission before they can be terminated. Legislators feel this process is too time consuming and very expensive, to the point of being prohibitive to terminating poor teachers. However, they have over reacted by creating language that makes it far too easy to wrongfully dismiss a teacher.

The MEA has taken a position that doing away with this portion of the tenure law would be tolerable IF IT IS REPLACED with language that requires such cases to go to arbitration. Sen. Kowall was very interested in this concept and is going to seek out the legislator from Saginaw who is expected to bring such a proposal to the Senate Caucus today.

I also spoke to Senator Kowall very specifically about Walled Lake’s evaluation system, for both tenured and non-tenured teachers. I explained the “Charlotte Danielson”-esk Framework for Effective teachers and how all teachers set goals for their year using this framework and instructional strategies of Marzano. He was very impressed to learn that our teachers, through PLC and Inquiry Projects, set goals, pick evaluation instruments and present their findings at the end of the year. I also explained the Guided Practice and Plan of Improvement which stipulate goal setting, regular meetings and observations by an administrator, mentoring and self evaluation for teachers whose practices need improvement.

He acknowledged that there were very fine districts out there, but not all were like Walled Lake. That’s when the MEA Crisis Coordinator pointed out that the legislature’s “one-size-fits –all” legislation was misguided and that such things should be left to individual district bargaining!

I also talked about the need for DUE PROCESS so that districts can not make ARBITRARY, CAPRICIOUS decisions regarding teacher employment. He seemed very supportive of this concept as well. In fact, MEA staff who have spoken to Governor Snyder in the last few days have reported that the Governor also supports the use of the words “due process”.

I hope we were able to make a difference in Senator Kowall’s viewpoints and that it might somehow make a difference in the outcome of the Tenure Bills in the State Senate.

PLEASE email or call Senator Kowall and emphasize your support for:
1) Arbitration in place of the Tenure Commission Hearings
2) Ask him to support local district bargaining which supports local decisions regarding evaluation, layoff and recall, and compensation
3) As him to support the words DUE PROCESS be included in any language that deals with teacher discipline or dismissal!

State Senator Mike Kowall R-White Lake Twp
517-373-1758 SenMKowall@senate.michigan.gov

Sen. Joe Hune - R - Hamburg Township (Livingston County)

House Bill 4572 calls for a hard cap on public employer contributions to health insurance.
A HARD CAP on insurance would mean that the State would pass a law that would CAP the amount of money a district could pay toward an employee’s health benefits. At this time, the caps set by this legislation are:
1) Single - $5000
2) 2 Person - $10,000
3) Family - $13,000

Anything above these caps would have to be paid by the EMPLOYEE. The bill allows these limits to be adjusted yearly by the State Treasurer based upon the Consumer Price Index. BUT HERE IS THE PROBLEM – Insurance costs have been increasing way beyond the Consumer Price Index for years now. This means that the employee would be caught paying ever increasing dollars!

Our insurance only increased by 7.3% this year, and we lowered that amount by switching to the Saver RX Rider. However, employees with other insurance companies experienced price increases of OVER 30%. This would leave the employee in an ever changing situation of diminishing returns, or seeking new insurance each year, or cutting their own benefits each year to make it more affordable.

In addition, HARD CAPS are more punitive to those with lower salaries! A HARD CAP does not adjust to a person’s salary as a percentage would. Everyone would have to pay everything over the cap whether they made $10,000 or $90,000.

1)VOTE “NO” on House Bill 4572.
2) Tell them that inordinately punishes those who earn less money.
3) Tell them that LOCAL BARGAINING can control costs better than a "one-size-fits-all" strategy by the STATE!

Representative Bill Rogers – R, BrightonPhone:
(517) 373-1784

Representative Paul Scott – R, Grand BlancPhone:
(517) 373-1780

Representative Hugh Crawford – R, Wixom
Phone: (517) 373-0827

Representative Eileen Kowall – R, White Lake
Phone: (517) 373-2616