Thursday, December 12, 2013

EAA Law Passes Senate

Below I have posted the report of the passage of the EAA Bill in the State Senate late yesterday as reported by MIRS NEWS AGENCY.   There were several cross over votes from the Republican side of the Senate resulting in a very close vote.   The bill will now return to the House for concurrence and it is expected to be signed into law.   Immediate effect has yet to be included with the law.

A cap on the number of public schools being operated by the Education Achievement Authority (EAA) was lifted from legislation passed by the Senate today, but the new version of the legislation also puts an 18-month moratorium on new schools entering the system.

The new version of Click to add MIRS Bill Hound HB 4369 puts the state Superintendent in control of which schools end up being run by the state-operated authority for troubled schools as opposing to setting a 50-school limit the House agreed to this past spring.

None of Senate's new language alleviated concerns from Democrats, however, which didn't see much improvement in the codification of EAA, which is currently only operating in 15 Detroit schools as part of an inter-local agreement.

"Although I didn't think it was possible, you've actually succeeded in making this legislation worse," said Sen. Hoon-Yung HOPGOOD (D-Taylor) after seeing a series of his amendments fail.

After having sat in the Senate Education Committee for more than six months, the bill was discharged to the floor and passed, 20-18. Republican Sens. Judy EMMONS (R-Sherdian), Bruce CASWELL (R-Hillsdale), Rick JONES (R-Grand Ledge), Tory ROCCA (R-Sterling Heights), Tonya SCHUITMAKER (R-Lawton) and Mike NOFS (R-Battle Creek) joined Democrats in voting no.

Senate Education Committee Chair Phil PAVLOV (R-St. Clair) said today that the bill would help address the state's academically failing schools by giving the state Superintendent Mike FLANAGANpower to address these schools through the EAA management structure.

Click to add MIRS Bill Hound HB 4369 allows persistently low achieving schools to be operated by another public school or "reform/redesign district," rather than exclusively going with a private educational management organization. It puts a priority on K-8 schools and allows for cash-flow borrowing. 

"There is no expansion of the EAA. The Superintendent cannot even make a recommendation to add schools to this list until January of 2015, no schools can go in until July of 2015," said Pavlov.

An amendment from Hopgood to increase transparency originally passed 27-11. It added provisions like subjecting the body to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), implementing annual financial audits, having a conflict of interest policy in place for board members and complies with state law regarding students with disabilities.

But the vote was reconsidered, recess was called, and then the item was temporarily passed on. On reconsideration, the amendment went down.

Caswell, Rocca and Sen. Goeff HANSEN (R-Hart) voted with the Democrats on the doomed amendment.

An amendment from Pavlov ended up addressing transparency, passing with 28 "aye" votes. It was different from the Hopgood amendment in that it didn't require contracts to be disclosed on the EAA's website, and left it up to the Department of Treasury to determine "if" the public body was subject to FOIA and the Open Meetings Act. Treasury was not named in Hopgood's version.

Hopgood offered a second amendment that would do away with the inter-local agreement, which he said lacked transparency. It went down 18-20.

He offered a third that would add a stipulation saying that the schools in the reform district could not have had declining enrollment. It went down 12-26 on party lines.

He offered a fourth saying no public school could go into a system operated by the EAA under the 2011 inter-local agreement. It went down 17-21.

Democratic Senators spoke at length in explaining their no-votes.

Sen. Coleman YOUNG Jr. (D-Detroit) echoed Hopgood's take that this was worse than what's already in place.

"This is nothing more than spilt, expired, stank nasty milk poured in a new glass," said Young.

Sen. Bert JOHNSON (D-Highland Park) spent around 45 minutes speaking against the EAA, recapping articles from various sources and talking about things like the for-profit education industry and the irony of Republican support from an ideological perspective.

Pavlov, who spoke after Johnson, said that "I think that I could have probably prepared 45 minutes' worth of comments… but I don't see a lot of value in that."

At a press conference this morning, Rep. Ellen Cogen LIPTON (D-Huntington Woods) said that the EAA had already proven it wasn't helping kids, citing declining enrollment.

"I describe it as sort of that leftover fish . . . just sort of the longer it languishes, it just keeps getting more and more rotten," said Lipton.

She said that the ideal solution was to throw this fish out, but "we're hearing that the Governor's office would like to add some spice and maybe some herbs to dress up the rotten fish."

EAA Chief Officer of Accountability, Equity and Innovation Mary ESSELMAN pointed to student gains on tests and defended the enrollment numbers, saying not all the kids were there on count day.

Flanagan Wants To Move More Schools Into EAA, May Not Be Able To
State Superintendent Mike FLANAGAN announced yesterday he wanted to move more than 10 schools into the Education Achievement Authority (EAA), but the Senate today passed legislation that would put a moratorium on new schools entering the State School Reform/Redesign District until July of 2015.

"What this is is a moratorium for approximately 18 months on any new schools moving into the EAA format," said Richardville.

MIRS asked if it were his understanding then that Flanagan wouldn't be able to put the schools he wants to into the system until after the moratorium.

"That's my understanding," said Richardville.

Flanagan released a statement this morning that called for legislation on the issue. The Race to the Top law of 2009 does not give the Department of Education the tools to address some of the mechanics involved in turning around the state's lowest performing schools, he said.

"Shame on anyone who insists on maintaining the status quo, to keep kids in this handful of failing schools where I wouldn't dare send my grandkids," he said.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

From Steve Norton @ "Michigan Parents for Schools"
**Please use the easy-to-use link below to contact your senator

TAKE ACTION! Possible vote TODAY on the EAA bill - Call your SENATOR now!

The word is out that the Michigan Senate may be moving to vote on the bill expanding the Education Achievement Authority (EAA) as early as today! There are plans to expand the EAA very soon to a number of communities across Michigan.
The EAA is a dubious experiment, foisted on families and communities without their input or agreement. The bill, HB 4369, would make the EAA a permanent part of state government and give it very broad authority. It answers to no one but the Governor, and it has the power to take over schools that score poorly on whatever bubble-test measure the Legislature cooks up.
There ARE alternatives to the EAA which would really help struggling schools and students, and use methods that have already been proven and which respect the wishes of parents and school communities. Michigan Parents for Schools has been working with legislators on developing some of these alternatives.

CALL YOUR SENATOR TODAY and let them know you want real solutions, not half-baked experiments forced on parents by Lansing!



Friday, December 6, 2013

Friday Update on Legislation Reported Earlier this week!

MIRS News Agency reported yesterday evening that the legislation on “Third Grade Retention” and the “Letter Rating System for Schools” did not come to a vote on the House floor as was initially indicated. 

MIRS News quoted the following legislators for the absence of the expected vote:

Rep. Colleen LaMonte (D – Montague) said that everyone was getting communications from superintendents and teachers.  “Our superintendents and our teachers are on the front lines of this.  They know what they’re dealing with.  And they know what they need.   And I think we need to be listening to them,” she said.

House Education Chairwoman Lisa Posthumus Lyons (R-Alto) says that members of the House were hearing a lot of opposition from back in their districts.  So, she is pursuing parent involvement (notice she didn’t say teachers).

Representative Tom McMillin (R-Rochester Hills) has said, in reference to the Letter Grading System, that he would like language that would allow districts themselves to come up with additional metrics to track their performance.  He also opposes the grading system because he feels it would put Common Core standards “on steroids”, and that it would encourage teaching to the test.  (Please remember that this man has been a pretty conservative member of the House and his opposition to the grading system is probably directly related to his opposition to the Common Core standards).

IT IS EXPECTED THAT THIS LEGISLATION WILL COME BEFORE THE HOUSE AND SENATE AGAIN NEXT WEEK!!!   So, please continue to contact your legislators using the links in the blog entries below. (Wednesday’s Blog Entry!)

On the EAA front:  Dr. Vickie Markavitch, the Superintendent of Oakland Intermediate Schools has published a video explaining the EAA and the reasons for opposition to the EAA.   It is a very interesting video.  Be sure to listen by clicking the link below:

You can take action against the EAA by clicking on Thursday’s Blog Entry!


Thursday, December 5, 2013

MI Senate is looking to expand the EAA

What is the EAA?
It is the Educatiion Achievement Authority is a "state run school district" and its task is to improve struggling schools.   In its short existence, it has been operating 15 schools that were formerly part of the Detroit school district.   House Bill 4369 seeks to increase that number to 50 schools and make the EAA a part of state government and ultimately controlled by the governor of Michigan.

Why is that a problem?
First, documents that were obtained through FOIA requests show that the EAA has not accomplished much of what it was supposed to do.  Check out the website "Inside the EAA", set up by Democratic Rep. Ellen Cogan Lipton.  Click HERE
The FOIA documents show, among other things,
 that the EAA -
1) The EAA is closely aligned to the Broad Foundation founded by billionaire Eli Broad to further corporate school reform
2) The EAA lost almost 25% of their students from last year in the 15 Detroit schools
3) Financing problems - they had to borrow money from the State
4) They gave their own tests, so there are not state wide test scores that can be compared to show their effectiveness.

You should care because -
The EAA is something that you should be concerned about as teachers and parents.
1)Their operating standards include firing EVERYONE that works at the school they take over.
2)There is no way for a local community to give input.
3) HOW SOON do you think an EAA school will come to you?  How did your school do this past year on the state tests?

Connect with your state senator and give your opinion by clicking on the link below.  It is VERY easy to use by just entering your zip code.   This link is provided by "Michigan Parents for Schools".


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Retention in Third Grade & New School Rating System

PLEASE TAKE ACTION by clicking the links below!

They are available through "Michigan Parents for Schools" and are QUICK AND EASY!
The site gives suggested messages to use for your email to legislators and will automatically identify your House representative and send the email when you provide your zip code!

The HOUSE may vote on these issues THIS AFTERNOON (Wednesday)

The issues:

1) Retention of all children in third grade if they do not pass a reading test and score "proficient".

The bill addresses no way to address students who can not read "proficiently"; it only proposes to hold students back.  As educators I am sure you can think of a multitude of reasons this proposal is over simplified and could prove to be not only ineffective, but damaging.

Take action at this link:
On third grade retention (HB 5111):

2)  The second issue is the school rating system used by the Department of Education.  This past year they used a new color system that many found confusing.   The Legislature proposes remedying this by passing a bill that changes the process to a simple grading system:  A through F.

The problem; their proposal is all too simplistic.   If a school gets an A, what does that mean.   If a school gets a C, what does that mean?  Everyone has a preconceived image of what a grade means, so on the surface this bill seems to make sense.   What this bill really needs is for personnel who are PRO-education to define the ratings.  This process NEEDS to STAY IN the Department of Education and should not be done by our legislators.   We know they have not been public school friendly.  What do you suppose their "bias" might make this bill a "tool" for?

Take action at this link:
On the A-F rating system (HB 5112):

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Possible Turkey Dinner Conversation Starters!

These suggestions for Turkey Dinner Conversations are from the website:

Monday, November 4, 2013

Tell WLCSD Friends and Neighbors to vote YES on the Bond!

By Jackie Gurwin
Posted: |

As a parent with children in the Walled Lake School District, I highly support the passage of the 2013 Safety, Security, and Technology Bond.

My children have been attending Keith Elementary for the last 5 years and I have never seen a school so dedicated to its students and families.  Our teachers and staff put forth great effort to give our children a safe and exemplary place to learn and it time for us to give them the tools to make their jobs even more effective.

We all know how frightened we were last year with the devastating acts that took place in Sandy Hook. This bond proposal allows us to make changes within our school to better control building access and upgrade our alarm systems. It allows us to add signage to help first responders get to exactly where they need to be in the event of an emergency.  

We all want our kids to be safe at school and this bond allows WLCSD to make changes that will make our kids even safer.  

But that's not all.  The bond also improves technology in the classrooms with added tools to help ALL students learn more efficiently. Interactive Digital Projectors would be added to every classroom in the district. These projectors allow teachers to move around the room and do hands on activities with the students on any surface. The bond would also add surround sound systems in the classrooms that assure all students can hear their instructor at all times.

This bond will put Walled Lake Schools back on the map as one of the most technologically advanced districts in the state.

Many of the projects within the bond, such as repairs to our phone system, need to be completed whether the bond passes or not.  However, without passage of the bond, the funds to fix these systems will be taken from our General Fund and negatively impact our classrooms.  This is NOT something we can afford.

Please come out and vote "Yes" on the Walled Lake Schools 2013 Safety, Security, and Technology Bond on Tuesday, Nov. 5.  Help us show our schools and our kids that they are of utmost importance in our community. The polls are open from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. and we look forward to your support.

Jackie Gurwin is a resident of West Bloomfield.
Please share with WLCSD neighbors and friends!  Vote YES tomorrow!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Tricks or Treats for Michigan Families?????

  A "Trick or Treat" Message from Juli Matuzak, Political Coordinator for the AFT Michigan
For the past three years, Governor Rick Snyder’s right-wing agenda has resulted in some seriously spooky results for Michigan’s middle-class and working families. While Snyder was busy handing out goodies to his corporate buddies who’ve come knocking at his door, he’s slammed opportunities shut for everyday Michiganders.
“Snyder came into office wearing his businessman costume, but it was all one big trick. Over the last three years, Michiganders have come to realize who Snyder really is — just another right-wing politician with the wrong priorities for working families,” saidLonnie Scott, executive director of Progress Michigan. “Michiganders need to double-check what Snyder is handing out. When you take off the pretty wrapper that Snyder’s cloaked his administration in, you’ll quickly realize the people of Michigan have been duped.”
In light of Halloween, here are just a few of the numerous examples of Snyder’s “tricks” for working families and “treats” for his well-connected allies, corporate pals and Michigan’s wealthiest people.
TRICKS for Michigan families:
-Thanks to Snyder, seniors now pay over $3,000 more in taxes – causing the most vulnerable citizens to choose between paying for groceries and filling prescriptions (Grand Rapids Press 7/13/11)
-Snyder hit single parents with a $363 tax increase — thanks to nearly eliminating the Earned Income Tax Credit (Grand Rapids Press 7/13/11)
-Snyder slashed higher education funding by 15 percent — making it harder for young Michiganders to get ahead without accruing massive amounts of debt (Detroit News 6/21/11, Associated Press, 6/22/11)
-Snyder cut $100 million to local governments — like police and fire departments (Associated Press 6/22/11, Detroit News 6/21/11)
-Snyder cut funding to public schools by $470 per student – despite 71 percent of Michiganders opposing such cuts — resulting in larger class sizes and less resources in the classroom (Grand Rapids Press 5/20/11, Kalamazoo Gazette 5/16/11)
-After voters overturned the emergency financial manager law, Snyder went against the will of the people and created a new one (Associated Press 12/27/12)
-Snyder lied about Right to Work not being on his “agenda” — then turned around and passed the wage-killing law over the outcry of thousands of protesters during lame duck (MLive 12/12/11)
-Michigan just saw three straight months of increasing unemployment (Associated Press 09/18/13)
-Michigan has the 4th worst unemployment in America thanks to Snyder’s backwards priorities (Bureau of Labor Statistics)
-Michigan went from 2nd in job growth when Snyder took office — which is now down to 36th under his watch (Arizona State University)
TREATS for right-wing special interests, corporations and the wealthy:
-Snyder’s $1.8 billion tax break for big business was paid for by cuts to schools, as well as higher taxes on the elderly and working families (Detroit News 6/21/11, Associated Press 6/22/11)
-Snyder wanted to cut thousands of corrections officers, close prisons and privatize services with corporations (Detroit Free Press 2/18/11, Detroit News 9/29/11)
-Snyder privatized the care of Michigan’s military veterans, leading to a laundry list of complaints about the services (Lansing State Journal 10/4/2013)
-Snyder’s top aide created a secretive “Skunk Works” group that sought to covertly change public education through a voucher system and cyber schools (Detroit News 4/19/13)
-Snyder expanded for-profit, unaccountable and unproven cyber schools – at the expense of neighborhood schools (Pioneer 5/16/12)
-Snyder signed several bills that softened environmental regulations on businesses, resulting in greater risk to our natural resources (Michigan Chronicle 12/7/11-12/13/11)

“Time after time, Snyder is tricking the public, while doling out treats to those who need help the least,” added Scott. “He claims his policies have sweetened things up here in Michigan, but the reality is much more bitter. Snyder is obviously delusional if he thinks Michigan is the ‘Comeback State’ while we’re experiencing three straight months of increasing unemployment. This claim isn’t only disingenuous, it’s also a reflection of how Snyder’s right-wing policies have left Michigan without the more and better jobs he continuously promises.”

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Click the TAKE ACTION tab!

House Committee Set to Cut Schools TODAY Take Action!
(Information from Tri-County Alliance)

Take Action!
Last week, we alerted you to the House transportation funding plan being considered by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Their plan relies on cutting the School Aid Fund approximately $800 million each year and instead shifting those funds to pay for road repairs and construction.  It's a top priority of the Governor, the Speaker of the House and the Senate Majority Leader.

The initial three bills of their plan are expected to be voted on TOMORROW morning in Committee, which begins at 10:30 a.m. in Lansing. Bills under consideration tomorrow are House Bills 4571, 4572 and 4677.

Please TAKE ACTION now and tell your State Representative to oppose House Bills 4571, 4572, 4677 and any plan that cuts even a penny more from local schools.

 If you no longer wish to receive e-mail from us, please click here.

Monday, May 6, 2013

A Parents' Guide to Education In Michigan

Monday, May 13, Novi, 6-8 p.m. “A Parent’s Guide to Public Education in Michigan”
  • - Novi Middle School, 49000 Eleven Mile Road, Novi, Michigan 48374,
  • Hosted by: Novi Community Schools, Novi Education Association, Farmington Public Schools and the Farmington Education Association.
  • Moderated by WXYZ Channel 7 Anchor JoAnne Purtan. Attended by key local and state stakeholders.
  • Contact: Tom Brenner, 248-449-1500,


There will be three direct discussion sessions and one question and answer session to the Parent’s Guide to Education Forum hosted jointly by the school districts and Education Associations from the communities of: Novi, Farmington, Livonia, Plymouth-Canton, South Lyon, Walled Lake, and Waterford .

Novi Middle School Auditorium ( 49000 Eleven Mile Road, Novi, Michigan 48374 – Located at the North East corner of Eleven Mile and Wixom Roads)

Seating will be on a first come first served basis. Doors open at 5:00 PM

5:00 – 6:15          Panelist Reception – Light Dinner will be provided for panelists and hosts.

6:15 – 6:45         Introduction and Welcome – Welcoming remarks from Superintendents Steve
Matthews (Novi) and Susan Zurvalec (Farmington), EA Presidents Tom Brenner and David Workman.
Topic:    What is the state of Michigan’s responsibility toward educating its population? How do we measure our performance?

Introduction of Panelists (9-12 total) – Two Minute Self-Introductions

Panelists:             1 Governor Snyder Representative (Bill Rustem confirmed), 1 Local School Administrator (TBD), 4  State School Board Members (all confirmed John Austin, Michelle Fecteau, Casandra Ulbrich, Eileen Weiser), 2 School of Ed (University) Representatives, 4 State Legislators (preferably from the House and Senate Education Committee – confirmed State Senator Phil Pavlov, State Senator Hoon-Yung Hopgood, State Representative Hugh Crawford, State Representative Ellen Cogen Lipton), 1 teacher (confirmed Novi HS Science teacher Brian Langley)

6:45-7:15              Session 1 – Student Performance/Effective Schools
7:15- 7:45             Session 2 – Teacher Recruitment/ Professional Development/Evaluation
7:45-8:15              Session 3 – Public Finance of Education
8:15-9:00             Session 4 – Question and Answer with Audience

Each Panelist will be given the questions ahead of time and be asked to be prepared to answer questions in 2 of the 3 primary sessions. Each session will consist of a discussion of two-three questions where the panelists will have an opportunity to answer and then address issues brought up by other panelists. Each speaker will have a time limit on their responses (2 minutes). Moderator reserves the right to redirect panelists to directly answer the question or respond to another panelist’s remarks. Audience will have the opportunity to directly ask questions of the panelists to conclude the event.

Monday, May 13, Novi, 6-8 p.m. “A Parent’s Guide to Public Education in Michigan” -  Novi Middle School, 49000 Eleven Mile Road, Novi, Michigan 48374,  Hosted by: Novi Community Schools, Novi Education Association, Farmington Public Schools and the Farmington Education Association. Moderated by WXYZ Channel 7 Anchor JoAnne Purtan. Attended by key local and state stakeholders. Contact: Tom Brenner, 248-449-1500,

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Bus Driver Rally - May 2nd!


May 2nd, 2013
Beginning at 5:30 PM until the Board Meeting starts at 7:30 PM
This is the LAST CHANCE for the bus drivers to prevent privatization!
The approval of the Dean Transportation Contract is on the School Board Agenda! It does say this approval is dependent upon an acceptable settlement with the WLCSD Transportation Group!
The BUS DRIVERS NEED YOUR HELP! Come to the rally AND the board meeting! Or come for whatever you can! But they need everyone to show their support!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

State Legislature Budget Report from Tri-County Alliance

A REPRINT from the Tri-County Alliance for Public Education -

Yesterday afternoon, both the House and Senate passed their versions of the FY 13-14 School Aid budgets. This is meant to give you a brief look at what happened.

What's clear is that our voices helped move the needle in the Senate, although we have a long way to go over the next 5-6 weeks. Stay tuned for more ways to help us achieve a budget that our schools and students deserve.


-Both continue the disinvestment of public education by providing fewer classroom dollars than last year.

-Both divert $400 million dollars to subsidize higher education.

-Both contain gimmicks of the Oxford Foundation, most notably in Sec. 21f which provides "vouchers to vendors" by forcing districts to send taxpayer dollars to, and be academically accountable for, private and for-profit vendors providing online curriculum and instruction.

-Both contain an EAA slush fund ($8M in Senate, $7M in House).


Here are two noteworthy changes the House made on the floor:

-They decreased GSRP by $12M and instead shifted that $12M to the equity categorical. This change will boost the equity payment from $34 per pupil to $50 per pupil, raising the minimum foundation grant to $7,016.

-The House also added – without any debate or recorded vote - a Rep. Tom McMillin (R-Rochester) amendment specifically prohibiting the Department of Education from spending any money on either the Common Core standards or Smarter Balance Assessments.


The Senate made several changes to their budget:

-They adopted the following amendments by Sen. Patrick Colbeck (R-Canton):

-Restoring the $155M MPSERS offset categorical, which was eliminated in subcommittee.

-Eliminated the $22M Education "reserve fund".

-Eliminated the $34 per pupil equity payment to districts receiving the minimum foundation.

-Increased the basic foundation grant up to $8,078 per pupil.

-They adopted an amendment from Senator Hoon-Yung Hopgood (D-Taylor) that stripped language related to the Governor's secret "skunk works" project.

While the Senate made positive progress, there is still a long way to go before we are supportive.


Normally, both chambers will reject the other's budgets, setting up the conference committee process to engage after the May Revenue Estimating Conference, which is scheduled for 9 a.m. on Wednesday, May 15. Here, they will determine whether January estimates were too high, too low or fairly steady. Revised budget targets will be agreed to and the conference committee process will start in earnest. They hope to finalize all budgets around June 1, 2013.


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

We can't let this go!!!!!

Yesterday Governor Snyder spoke at the Educational Summit in East Lansing (I wasn’t invited, were you?) about the “Skunk Works”.  This is a group that was working on a proposal for educational reform in an under-the-radar way……in total secrecy.  They were working on a proposal for a “Value” education that would include $5000 vouchers to parents and lots of private companies offering online classes, among other things.  It was reported last Friday that state workers who were involved in these meetings were told to use their private emails so they were not subject to FOIA requests.   No educators were included in the group.   And guess who was running the group?  Lansing attorney Richard McLellan, organizer of the Oxford proposal that was immensely unpopular with schools, and he was formerly part of the Mackinaw Center.

State Board of Education President John Austin has said that he has a problem with this group.  He feels it is the wrong way to talk about change and how education is funded.  He is troubled by the secretive nature of the group, as all of us should be.

What did Governor Snyder have to say about this group?  He told the news that, “it wasn’t a good choice”, and said his involvement was minimal.   Is this beginning to sound like his comments about Right-to-work legislation?  It is to me.   He denies involvement or interest and then signs the bill into law.   Yesterday he also said that, “Their choice of names wasn’t a good choice.  And I don’t know how often the met or how they handled it, but as a practical matter I don’t want to be in the business of saying people shouldn’t bring me ideas.”

We should all be alarmed!  Walled Lake currently receives $8600 per student….if the state doesn’t cut their allocation to schools as it has in the past.   Imagine parents getting a voucher for $5000.  Even if they decided to send their children to the public school, the loss of revenue would be tremendous……$3600 per student.  Remember what $470 per student loss of revenue meant to our schools?  This kind of loss is not sustainable.   If you have not already read my re-print of an article yesterday about the Traverse City schools, please READ IT.  (It is in the blog post below this one!)

This is all a total effort on the part of private companies and their legislative cronies to put public schools out of business and give for-profit companies the state monies formally used for public schools.   PUBLIC TAX dollars will go to PRIVATE CORPORATIONS to run schools.  I don’t know about others, but I personally do not pay my taxes to enrich the Koch brothers or Bill Gates, do you?

We can not stay silent.  WRITE THE GOVERNOR NOW!  Tell him you do not want YOUR HARD EARNED MONEY that you pay for TAXES to go to private companies.   My salary paid in taxes should not be used to make the CEO’s richer.

Most importantly, if this plan goes forward, I may not have a salary to pay for taxes…….

To contact the governor, click on this link: 

And then click on: “Share Your Opinion”

I wrote Governor Snyder and heard back within 2 hours!!!!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Is an Emergency Manager Coming to Your School? Maybe…(Re Traverse City Schools)

From:  “Democracy Tree – Watchdog Commentary on all Three Branches of Government
– a blog written by Amy Kerr Hardin dedicated to saving democracy.

**Abbreviated from original article posted April 12, 2013
From Terese:  This is about the Traverse City Schools, but could well be about ANY PUBLIC SCHOOL in Michigan, including Walled Lake!

Today’s morning paper brought bad news to my community — the Traverse City Record-Eagle reported a pending fiscal crisis for Traverse City Area Public Schools. The Senate’s proposed budget for the 2014 school year cuts per pupil funding by $41 — that’s $410,000 district wide. This figure will have to be reconciled with Gov. Snyder’s proposed $300,000 trim, and the House’s $510,000 cut. Either way, it will be around $400,000 lost. Since 2008, TCAPS has already cut $11.4 million from an increasingly impossible budget situation.  There’s simply no more room to give.

While stories just like this are being repeated in other local papers around the state about their school district’s deficit plights, what makes the TCAPS story all the more shocking is that the chair of the Senate School Aid Subcommittee, who authored this budget, is Sen. Howard Walker (R) — elected by the good folks of Traverse City.

Naturally, the TCAPS Superintendent, Steve Cousins was outraged, as were other school officials, yet they certainly saw this coming for quite some time. Kelly Hall, the President of the Board of Education called it “unconscionable”, and the Chief Financial Officer, Paul Soma, predicted that under these conditions, by 2016, the growing deficit will trigger a state required deficit elimination plan — the first step on the road to emergency management.

Two years ago, at a press conference to launch the statewide petition drive to repeal the Emergency Manager law, Superintendent Cousins called the school funding problem a “manufactured crisis“, he said the state plan is to “create a scenario that bankrupts government, and then bring in people who are just gonna slash and burn”.

Activist Betsy Coffia …… was fired-up, and more than a little pissed-off at our leaders in Lansing. She wondered: what can we do now to stop the wholesale destruction of public education in Michigan — before it’s too late?

Certainly, enough angry and determined voters in 2014 is crucial, but it is clear that in the mean time, these Republicans are bent on destroying public education (among other things) in the state. A couple of days ago, some Democrats introduced Senate Joint Resolution R to amend the Michigan Constitution by making it illegal to insert for-profit motives in public education. A measure doomed to fail. Gov. Snyder’s “best practices” holds hostage school funding where privatization is not implemented. Democracy Tree has written extensively about the dangers of privatization in public schools, including cyber schools and charters run entirely, or in part, on a for-profit basis.

Superintendent Cousins said,   “I think a better solution to the problem is to allow our representative government to work. If people don’t like the decisions that their local elected officials are making, we have a method for changing that — it’s called the ballot box.”

From Terese:  Thinking ahead....we need to become focused on the 2014 election now.   We can not wait until the day is here.   The forces that would like to defund public education have taken years to propoganditize, and they have been effective in turning the sentiment against public education and educators.   We all have to be vocal and re-educate those who have been mislead by the information broadcast by these groups.  

We can not bury our heads.  We can not wait.  We need to start speaking up to our neighbors, family, and friends.  Do not hesitate.  




Friday, April 12, 2013

Forward from - "Michigan Parents for Schools" - TAKE ACTION

WLEA MEMBERS - Please read through this information and TAKE ACTION by clicking the links at the end of the posting!!!

Time to stop playing games with school funding - budget options range from bad to worse

Let's play
Fibbing or Funding
The only game show where your school always gets less than your children deserve!
Pick a door to reveal your "prize"!
Door #1 - Snyder Plan Door #2 - House plan Door #3 - Senate plan
Districts LOSE between $2 and $32 per pupil
Claimed 2% increase is mostly money taken from a "cookie jar" which had been diverted earlier when cuts were even bigger
Sneaks in parts of the "Oxford report" by forcing districts to pay for up to two online courses per semester with no say over the provider, what "successful completion" means, or what kind of credit to award.
Commits an extra $10 million to Michigan Virtual University, and basically makes an $8 million "gift" to the EAA to support "student centered learning"
Districts LOSE between $18 and $52 per pupil
Eliminates best practices grants, which went to most districts
Gives more money for performance and tech grants, which serve many fewer districts
Penalizes districts which recently opened their contracts
Cuts the increase to Great Start, making 4,200 fewer openings
Also sneaks in the "Oxford report" provisions
Districts LOSE between $18 and $102 per pupil, on average
Eliminates help to local districts with their pension system costs, and uses a smaller amount to give a foundation increase to all districts - which is a windfall for charter schools, which mostly are not in the pension system (they'll get an increase)
Puts $22 million in an "education reserve fund" instead of giving it to our students
Eliminates both best practices and technology grants
Also sneaks in the "Oxford report" provisions
Total spending even less than the Governor!
We need to stop playing games with the
schools that serve our children and our
communities. Shifting money around to
make cuts look like tiny increases is simply
disrespectful to the people of Michigan.

Here are some facts they want us to forget:

---Spending on K-12 education has fallen 18%
over the last twelve years, once you factor in inflation.
---Even after taking a smaller number of students 
into account, it has fallen 9% over twelve years
---It's not all the recession - we're spending a
shrinking share of our state's economy on
education, in good
times or bad.
Tell your legislators and the Governor that we
need to stop playing games and do right by our
children and our state! We need to give school the
resources they need to do what we ask them to do.

Speak out today!

Steven Norton
Executive Director
Michigan Parents for Schools


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

RTW takes effect Thursday; wear RED

From MEA’s “Capitol Comments” – 3/25/13

Numerous activites are being planned for Thursday to coincide with the official implementation of Michigan's so-called "right-to-work" law. Whether they're able to attend any of the events or not,

MEA members are encouraged to WEAR RED on Thursday.

The “We Are Michigan Coalition” (of which MEA is a part) will hold an event that morning to hold Snyder accountable for his attacks on Michigan's middle class and his dramatic reversal of his position on right-to-work.

MEA members and retirees who are able to attend should plan on arriving at the Detroit Athletic Club, 241 Madison St. in Detroit, by 7 a.m. Click here to RSVP.

In addition, the Michigan State AFL-CIO is holding events throughout the state on Thursday to raise awareness about how right-to-work will harm middle-class families. The events include candlelight vigils, marches, community forums and more. Click here to find an event near you.

Remember: The battle is far from over. Right-to-work is temporary. Solidarity is forever.


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Legislature Aims Interference at Contract Settlement

Today I am sharing with you an email from our MEA President regarding the actions taken in the House and Senate subcommittees yesterday that would tie appropriation bills to WHEN groups settled their contracts with universities AND WITH SCHOOL SYSTEMS!!!!

I have also included a link to an article written by MIRS News Agency that explains yesterday's happenings in the legislature in more detail.

Message from MEA President Steve Cook

Dear MEA local presidents, board members and staff,

Using bullying tactics to try to enforce a law that doesn't yet exist, Republican-led House subcommittees today passed symbolic appropriations bills that would cut funding for school districts and universities that bargain "fair share" contracts prior to the so-called "right-to-work" law's taking effect on March 28.

The bills stand at a very early stage in the budget process – they are not expected to pass the full House and Senate, but rather serve as a form of political saber-rattling by political extremists bent on intimidating school districts and universities.

The House Appropriations School Aid Subcommittee voted to eliminate 22j performance grants and 22i technology and infrastructure grants for school districts that approve fair share contract extensions or agreements between Dec. 10, 2012, and March 28, 2013, unless those districts can show that the renegotiated agreements will result in at least 10 percent in savings.

The House Appropriations Higher Education Subcommittee, meanwhile, voted to cut funding by 15 percent for universities that bargain fair share agreements with their employees.

Republicans in the Legislature are using threats, intimidation and bullying tactics to interfere with legal contract negotiations between school districts, universities and employees. It's time politicians stop their big-government witch hunt and allow employers and employees to bargain in good faith.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Protest the EAA - Message from the MEA Capital Comments

Contact your legislators now -- House panel could take up EAA legislation tomorrow

The state House Education Committee may vote Wednesday on House Bill 4369, which would create a statewide "takeover" district called the Education Achievement Authority.

MEA members are urged to contact their lawmakers and urge them to oppose the EAA legislation. Click here to find contact information for your legislators.

The committee is meeting at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday in Room 519 of the Anderson House Office Building, 124 North Capitol Ave. in Lansing.

Currently a pilot program in Detroit, the EAA would be allowed to take over up to 50 public schools across the state that are deemed by arbitrary and flawed rankings to be in the state's bottom 5 percent. The bill would also allow the EAA to create new charter schools within two miles of a so-called "failing" school.

Contact your lawmakers and tell them:

  • Rather than addressing specific problems facing local school districts, House Bill 4369 would eliminate the time-honored tradition of neighborhood schools, allowing state government bureaucrats to impose their will over local parents and communities.
  • Proponents tout the Detroit EAA's alleged effectiveness, even though it has only been in place for a few months and has already demanded a government bailout. Under this legislation, taxpayers could be forced to bail out the statewide EAA at the expense of their own local schools.
  • The Legislature just took steps to stabilize the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System, but House Bill 4369 would destabilize the state's pension plan by reducing the number of employees paying into the system.
  • The bill strips away basic employment rights of school employees in buildings put under EAA control, taking away their ability to provide meaningful input on issues like curriculum, class sizes and school safety. In addition, school employees transferred to an EAA school would unfairly lose the retirement benefits they've already paid for.

In addition to your own lawmaker, please consider contacting the members of the House Education Committee. Go to this following link and type in their names for instant email access!
EASY Email Connection HERE!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

What do you get for your dues dollars?

......A very common question that I am asked MORE than just time-to-time!

Please click on the link to get an answer to that question from Rick Trainor, MEA Secretary/Treasurer.

Rick Trainor - MEA

Rick, along with Christina Canfield and Greg Steimel (both from the MEA), will be at the Northern High School  Auditorium on Monday, March 11th at 5 PM. 

They will be talking about what you get for your dues dollars and giving you information and research that counters the claims being made by Right-to-Work enthusiasts.

We are hearing from the RTW people all the time; COME HERE FROM THE OTHER SIDE!  Come to the presentation and be a part of spreading the TRUTH about teachers' unions and RTW!

You may come without RSVP's, but it would help us plan for seating if you respond through the link provided below!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

MEA Coordinating Council Speakers!!!!

What does the MEA & your local Union do for YOU?

Sponsored by the Oakland County MEA Coordinating Council

Attend this information meeting to learn about:

Right-to-Work Impact & Fair-Share

Monday, March 11th at 5 PM
Walled Lake Northern Auditorium

Rick Trainor, MEA Secretary/Treasurer
Christina Canfield, MEA Organzier
Greg Steimel, Research Consultant

RSVP using this link:

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Appy Hour! by Pam S. and Jennifer B.

Appy Hour!!!

Jennifer Bond and Pam Shoemaker are hosting an “Appy Hour” at the Uptown Grille in Commerce Twp on Feb 6 from 4:30-6pm.

This will be a fun, informal professional development session for teachers to share iPad apps with one another. This is modeled after something the staff at Sandy Hook Elementary did prior to the tragic shooting. So, in honor of Sandy Hook and Digital Learning Day, teachers are invited to come to Appy Hour to socialize and gain a greater APPtitude for using their iPads.

This event is for anyone interested in learning or sharing all things awesome about apps!

Flyer information at:

RSVP at:

Thursday, January 31, 2013

ACLU and Coalition Files Lawsuit Against Right to Work

AS REPORTED BY MIRS News, January 31st, 2013

“The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan and a coalition of labor unions is asking a judge to strike down Michigan's landmark Right to Work law.

According to a press release, the premise of the suit is that the law was enacted "while the public was locked out of the Capitol in violation of the Open Meetings Act, the First Amendment and the Michigan Constitution."

"By allowing state police to block citizens from entering the Capitol, Lansing politicians not only violated the basic American principles of open and transparent government, they also violated specific state and federal laws designed to protect the rights of citizens," Michigan Education Association (MEA) President Steven COOK said in the press release. "We're confident the courts will agree that the Legislature's actions on the afternoon of Dec. 6 constituted a clear violation of the Open Meetings Act and should be invalidated."

The lawsuit was brought on behalf of Steve Cook, Rick TRAINOR {MEA President and Secretary/Treasurer}, Sen. Rebekah WARREN (D-Ann Arbor), Rep. Rashida TLAIB (D-Detroit), Rep. Brandon DILLON (D-Grand Rapids), the MEA, Michigan State AFL-CIO, the Michigan Building & Construction Trades Council, Change to Win and Bonnie BACQUEROUX, an instructor at Michigan State University School of Journalism and the co-founder of Lansing Online News

According to the press release, the lawsuit was originally filed on Dec. 6, 2012 in order to reopen the Capitol doors. Today, however, attorneys filed an amended complaint seeking to invalidate the law. The case is currently before Ingham County Judge William E. COLLETTE.

Asked about the new suit this morning, Rep. Mike SHIRKEY (R-Clarklake), a lead proponent of Right to Work, said there was no legislative action to close the Capitol on Dec. 6. That was strictly a Michigan State Police issue concerning safety and security, he added.

"This is just another Hail Mary pass by those who oppose giving workers the freedom to choose," Shirkey said. "And it has frankly no merit." “