November 19, 2013

Contents of this issue:

  • Nearly one-third of Ravenna teachers leave MEA
  • Would-be teachers flunk new exams
  • Legislative committee reviews MEA activities
  • Freeland struggles to reach contract
  • DPS offering ‘child safety ID cards’
  • SPECIAL ALERT: What do you imagine would be the easiest and most convenient way to get notified of important education votes your state legislators make?

Nearly One-Third of Ravenna Teachers Leave MEA

RAVENNA, Mich. – Almost one-third of teachers have left the Ravenna Education Association, according to MLive. MLive reports that most of the teachers who left are those who have been with the district for many years.

At issue, according to MLive, is that the teachers say the MEA has prioritized keeping the Michigan Educational Special Services Association as insurer over teacher needs. MESSA is affiliated with the MEA, MLive reports.
Some teachers say, according to MLive, that in 2011 a contract was passed that included pay cuts in order to keep MESSA insurance, even though a cheaper alternative was available.

Teacher Dusty Fairfield told MLive that he briefly served as REA president after the 2011 contract. Fairfield, however, has since left the REA, according to MLive.

“Our representative only seemed interested that we were going to take MESSA,” he told MLive. “She wasn’t as interested in everything else that we were losing.”

Fairfield told MLive that he doesn’t think the MEA should be in the business of providing health insurance.

SOURCES: MLive, “Ravenna teachers leaving MEA union at much higher rates than rest of state,” Nov. 16, 2013

FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy,“Explanation of MESSA,” Nov. 1, 1993

Would-be Teachers Flunk New Exams

LANSING, Mich. – Nearly 75 percent of prospective teachers have flunked the new state teacher certification exams, the Detroit Free Press reports. Last year, on older tests, approximately 90 percent of test takers passed, the Free Press reports, compared to just 26 percent this year.

“I would be sad to see a student who wanted to be a teacher turned away,” Susan Dalebout, assistant dean of Michigan State University’s College of Education, told the Free Press. “On the other hand, I really think that we have — and the public has — every right to expect that teachers will be very well trained, and have deep subject matter preparation, and I think this is the move in the right direction.”

SOURCE: Detroit Free Press,“Michigan would-be teachers’ scores on tougher math, writing tests take a dive,” Nov. 15, 2013

FURTHER READING: Michigan Capitol Confidential,“It’s Time to Take Teaching Seriously,” Oct. 2, 2013

Legislative Committee Reviews MEA Activities

LANSING, Mich. – A new state Senate committee is investigating the Michigan Education Association’s use of an “August window” to restrict when teachers can leave the union, according to MLive.

Doug Pratt, temporary director of member benefits for the MEA, told MLive that “Membership organizations don’t go around marketing how to quit. That’s not how this works.”
Sen. Arlan Meekhof, R-West Olive, told MLive that he’s skeptical of the August window. “We believe it doesn’t stand up to muster,” he told MLive.

SOURCE: MLive,“MEA defends actions in right-to-work lawsuit, Michigan Senate investigation,” Nov. 14, 2013

FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Miriam Chanski v. Michigan Education Association,” November 2013

Freeland Struggles to Reach Contract

FREELAND, Mich. – Freeland administrators and teachers will continue to negotiate toward a contract in December, according to MLive.

MLive reports that Freeland teachers have been working without a contract since June 30. At the Freeland Board of Education’s last meeting, about 80 teachers picketed, according to MLive.
MLive reports that the district might require teachers to help pay more for health insurance and could reduce teacher pay.

SOURCE: MLive,“Freeland Community Schools administration, teachers schedule contract negotiation meeting in December,” Nov. 17, 2013

FURTHER READING: Michigan Capitol Confidential, “Legal Expert: Reopening School Union Contracts Makes Them Subject To Right-to-Work,” Nov. 15, 2013

DPS Offering ‘Child Safety ID Cards’

DETROIT – Detroit Public Schools is beginning to offer “child safety ID cards,” according to Michigan Radio.

Michigan Radio reports that participation is voluntary and that information pertaining to the ID cards will stay with DPS, and will not be shared with state police or any other criminal database.
The ID cards will contain a student’s photo, fingerprint and other information, according to Michigan Radio.

The ID cards could be used to help find a child in case of an emergency, Michigan Radio reports.

SOURCE: Michigan Radio,“Detroit schools issue ‘child safety ID cards’ to some students,” Nov. 12, 2013

FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy,“Thirkell Elementary: The School That Could," Sept. 12, 2013

Special Alert: New Voting App Joins the Mackinac Center Family of Apps

Imagine an easy and convenient way to get notified of important education votes your state legislators make. Imagine an easy and convenient way to alert your legislator about your agreement or disagreement with those votes. Coming this December, you won't have to imagine it. A new iPhone app alerts you of important votes which take place and enables you to tell you legislator — within just a couple taps of your screen. See more on the website: miVotes.org