Friday, September 30, 2011

Senate Bill 618 – Moves out of the Senate Education Committee to the Full Senate

On Wednesday, Sept. 28th, the Michigan Senate Education Committee passed a substitute amendment that broke the “tie-bar” between Senate Bill 618 and Senate Bill 624. Summarily, SENATE BILL 618 was reported OUT of Committee to the Senate Floor!

Senate Bill 624 mandated “Schools of Choice” for all public school districts in Michigan and was highly contested by the Michigan Association of School Boards. This bill remains in committee.

However, Senate Bill 618 has moved to the floor. The Senate floor will probably hear testimony in the next week and when it will move to a vote of the Senate is not clear at this time. WE MUST TAKE ACTION NOW. THIS BILL CAN TOTALLY CHANGE the terms of your employment, your pay, your benefits, your retirement and MORE!

SB 618 does several things.

1) It eliminates the cap on both charter and cyber schools

2) It allows for the private contracting of teachers in Michigan PUBLIC SCHOOLS!

This bill would allow school boards to contract with a person or business for teaching services!

If you look at the privatization of our substitutes, custodians, and the attempted privatization of our school bus drivers in Walled Lake in the past two years, I believe you can clearly see the significance these changes could have for you and for the education of children!

a) A school district could choose to go to the “lowest bidder” for teacher services. What kind of salaries do you believe this “lowest bidder” might be willing to pay? Although it may not be minimum wage, the salary implications would probably be significant.

What does the "lowest bid" mean to quality education for children?

b) Once a private company employes a teacher, they would no longer have to pay into the State Pension Plan for their employees. That would automatically save school districts up to 25% of their salaried teachers’ costs! It would be irresistible, in my opinion. BUT WHAT DOES THAT MEAN TO YOU?

1) Your pension benefits in the State Pension Plan could be frozen where they are now.

2) If school districts are no longer paying into the pension system, will that system be sustainable on investment earnings? Will it exist in the future?

3) If you have less than 10 years into the State Pension system before you are privatized, will you be able to ever qualify for that benefit?

c) Health insurance as a privatized teacher – It wouldn’t be a requirement of a private company, or it could be a very high cost/high deductible type of plan

d) You would likely be an “at will” employee, meaning you could be let go for any reason.

What would outsourcing teaching positions to private, for-profit companies mean for the children of Michigan?

1) Would it upsurp local control?

2) Would it end the concept of neighborhood schools and local school systems?

3) Would it mean that children would be taught by only those willing or able to accept a low wage?

4) Would a for-profit corporation really use a decision making process that meant doing what is BEST for children, or would they do what is best for the stake holders or those who receive the profits for their business?

Joe Hune, the Senator from my Livingston County home, feels that privatizing teachers is just an addition to the list of privatized services already existing in public schools. He even believes that privatization would, “….probably even require in some instances a higher threshold of academic achievement, so I don’t see a problem with.”

We need to contact our senators and urge them NOT to pass this law!

We need to also let our friends and neighbors know about this legislation! Many of these people may not understand the effect this legislation could have on the concept of neighborhood and local school districts! The could become non-existent. The investment of their tax dollars in local districts, buildings, and equipment could be passed on to a corporation. Their tax dollars to the state could be used to fund charter schools that have highly specialized agendas that they may not support. Their tax dollars could be used to fund the profits of corporations that join the “education” market more for $$$ than for educational excellence.

Below you will find a link to a site that will refer you to your local senator! Click AND tell your senator to oppose SB 618!