As many education officials know, the Michigan Education Association union talks about supporting public education, but behind the scenes wages war on school boards and superintendents attempting reforms that threaten union revenues and membership, even when such reforms help children.
The latest battleground is Arvon Public Schools, a small, one-school district in the Upper Peninsula's Baraga County. With a $260,000 annual budget and only 11 students, the school until recently had 5 union employees. When the school board decided to save 30 percent of the transportation, food service, and janitorial budget by contracting with private providers, union officials thwarted the proposal. The union's efforts lowered the school library fund from $5,000 to $300 and killed a proposed $20,000 science, music, art, and technology program--all to keep non-teaching union members on the payroll.
In this six-minute video, Mary Rogala, school board president, gives a brief description of the union actions that have denied children access to improved public school education. Prompted by the decreasing quality of the Arvon Township district and the consequent loss of students to a local private school, she and other board members embarked on a plan to save their local public school. Her story echoes many other cases where well intentioned public school board members have had their efforts beaten back by union threats, lawsuits, and other abuses.
Watch and judge for yourself about this drama from the front lines of Michigan education reform.