Wednesday, December 16, 2009

News of the Day

MEA Launches ‘Reading Program’ for Legislators
Encourage leaders in Lansing to READ bills BEFORE they VOTE on them

Reading is fundamental – especially for legislators.

That’s why, today, MEA is launching a new “reading program” for our elected leaders in Lansing. Just as it’s critical for our students to read their assignments before taking a test, our state representatives and senators must READ any bills on school reform before they VOTE on them.

With the federal Race to the Top deadline looming, negotiations in Lansing around RTTT-related legislation will stretch well into the evening hours. These various House- and Senate-approved bills are in conference committee where six legislators will have significant influence over any compromise. They are Sen. Wayne Kuipers (R-Holland), Sen. Gerald Van Woerkom (R-Muskegon), Sen. Buzz Thomas (D-Detroit), Rep. Tim Melton (D-Auburn Hills), Rep. Doug Geiss (D-Taylor), and Rep. Phillip Pavlov (R-St. Clair).

In these kind of last-minute negotiations, it’s common for legislators outside the conference committee to not have the opportunity to fully read compromise bills before voting.

But with our students’ futures at stake, it is essential that our leaders in Lansing do the responsible thing, read whatever bills come before them, and carefully consider the reforms they are enacting. The details of these reforms are critical – they will impact the education that students receive for years to come.

Critical areas for them to look for and oppose include:

- School reform that narrowly focuses on instituting building level reforms without addressing dysfunctional bureaucracies.

- Expansion of charter schools without proper oversight, transparency and accountability, as well as unregulated cyber schools or other new school models that don’t ensure a high-quality education for students.

- The elimination of teacher tenure and other assaults on school employee rights that ensure good working environments for employees – and good learning environments for students.

Act now!

E-mail and call your state representative and senator today (leave a voicemail if no one is available to take your call in person). If one of your legislators is on the conference committee, urge them to consider these issues in finalizing compromise bills. If your elected officials aren’t on the committee, share your concerns and ask that they consider them as they make their decisions in the coming days.

But above all, insist that all our leaders in Lansing take the time to READ this significant legislation BEFORE they cast a final VOTE.