Monday, December 21, 2009

News of the Day

State Legislators Pass “Race to the Top” Legislation
Both Houses Adopt Conference Reports for HB 4787, HB 4788, SB 926 and SB 981

On Saturday, the RTTT bills passed the Legislature. Thanks to the hard work of many MEA members and staff, these bills came a long way from their initial form. However, the final bill regarding turning around “failing” schools contained language that attacked the collective bargaining rights of our members in buildings put under control of a state school reform officer.

President Salters and AFT President David Hecker put out a joint statement which included the following:

“MEA and AFT-Michigan came to agreement with legislative leaders on every necessary aspect of Race to the Top, including alternative certification, using student data as a component in employee evaluation, and measures to turn around struggling schools. However, the absolutely unnecessary language in the bills stripping educators of their voice in helping students in those struggling schools is something neither union can or will support.

“During the marathon sessions in the past three days, MEA and AFT agreed to countless changes which would have put Michigan in excellent position to compete for RTTT funds. The overreaching of the Legislature with regard to the collective bargaining rights of employees in struggling schools taken over by a state school reform officer is simply a step too far -- and one not needed for RTTT.”

Issues included in the RTTT Package

There were several bills that were passed under the RTTT banner which dealt with many topics, including:

- Turning around low-performing schools

- Expanding alternative certification

- Expanding charter and cyber schools

- Using student data as a factor in evaluation

- Starting with this year’s 6th graders, increase the mandatory attendance age from 16 to 18

- Allowing greater personalization of the high school curriculum

- Requirements for bidding before privatizing

- A “Teacher Bill of Rights” which assists educators in obtaining books and other necessary supplies

- NOTE: The bills DID NOT modify tenure.

More details will be available next week as our experts further analyze the bills that passed. Stay tuned.