Monday, June 27, 2011

Tenure Bills and Hard Cap are NOW IN THE SENATE!

A RE- CAP from “Capitol Comments”, June 24th, 2011.

A new Senate bill has been introduced: SB 503, sponsored by Sen. Roger Kahn (R-Saginaw). It makes changes to the tenure process without assaulting the rights of teachers working in Michigan public schools. The bill would shift tenure decisions from the current lengthy process through the Tenure Commission to a locally-initiated arbitration process. It would save districts money and limit the time involved in making decisions about dismissing tenured teachers.

MEA President Iris K. Salters. “SB 503 refocuses the current tenure debate back on the real issues, rather than simply disguising an outright attack on the due process and collective bargaining rights of school employees, as was done with House Bills 4625-4628.”

House Bills 4625-4628 passed by the House earlier this month and reported out of the Senate Education Committee last week. They effectively dismantle teacher tenure by removing “reasonable and just cause” protections for firing tenured teachers and prohibiting all school employees from bargaining about a broad variety of subjects related to their working environments and their students' learning environments. This would effectively require fired teachers to take every case to federal court, costing districts even more money than the current tenure process.

“Tenure was developed more than 70 years ago to protect good teachers – not bad ones,” Salters said. “No one wants bad teachers in Michigan classrooms. But we all want our basic rights protected, and HBs 4625-4628 assault those basic rights to due process and collective bargaining.”

There is some indication Senators in Lansing support keeping “JUST CAUSE” as the determination for job action decisions. This wordage is very important as legally it implies that a certain level of proof MUST be met before someone can be discharged from their jobs. This is a VERY IMPORTANT piece of any tenure bill that might come out of the state’s legislature.

The legislature goes on vacation JULY 1st – FRIDAY! There is every indication they are apt to move this legislation very quickly this week to beat that deadline!

ALSO ON TAP IS SENATE consideration of the bill passed by the House last week putting a HARD CAP on insurance payments school districts are allowed to pay BY LAW. This would BLOCK any local bargaining regarding employee payments in the future.
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 (these figures have changed since the last blog):
1) Single - $5000
2) 2 Person - $12,000
3) Family - $15,000

In the last round of talks in the Senate, most senators were against the hard cap because they see that it is a one-price-for-all type of deal. If you only make $30,000 or if your make $80,000, the amount does not change. Therefore it unfairly punishes those at lower salary levels.

PLEASE email or call Senator Kowall and Senator Hune and emphasize your support for:
1) Arbitration in place of the Tenure Commission Hearings
2) Ask him to support Senate Bill 503
3) As him to support the words DUE PROCESS be included in any language that deals with teacher discipline or dismissal!
4) Ask him to VOTE AGAINST "Hard Caps" on insurance payments because it unfairly penalizes those with lower pay

State Senator Mike Kowall R-White Lake Twp

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