James Gillette: "[M]ost districts have unique circumstances and history that cannot be captured in standard language."
Frank Garcia: "I believe there should be more communication between school districts, especially during these times when more and more districts are facing similar financial conditions and experiencing similar union activities. I’ve been fortunate that I’ve had the opportunity to speak to several colleagues who have had [a] similar, or are in the middle of experiencing the same, situation. I appreciate the many colleagues throughout the area and state who have called me to express their support and offer assistance. Though I notice this is happening more and more, I believe the opportunity to have more subject-specific dialogue among districts should be occurring more frequently."
The nation’s two largest teacher unions, the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers, encourage their affiliates, including the MEA and Michigan Federation of Teachers, to use standard or "pattern" contract language in their collective bargaining agreements. Such pattern language appeared in the collective bargaining agreements of all 583 Michigan school districts the Mackinac Center examined in 1998.
These pattern agreements do not adequately meet the unique educational needs of individual schools, districts or teachers. For example, what may be an appropriate contract provision in an inner-city Detroit school may not be helpful or right for a rural district in the Upper Peninsula. Moreover, such contracts discourage innovation, and they subject experimentation to an inefficient, centralized bureaucracy.