Unions: 'Race' memo goes too far

LANSING, Mich. - Now that the state Legislature has signed off on school reform intended to bring federal dollars to Michigan, local school districts and union leaders aren't sure they want to follow suit, according to a report at Mlive.com

State education leaders and Gov. Jennifer Granholm have asked school boards, superintendents and union presidents in local districts to sign a "memorandum of understanding" by Thursday indicating they will support the reform measures, including one that would allow teacher and principal evaluations based partly on student test scores, Mlive reported.

The Michigan Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers-Michigan say that the state's implementation plans go beyond the scope of the reform laws, the report said. They are advising local union leaders not to sign.

School districts have been told that if they do not sign the memorandum, it will weaken Michigan's chances to win Race to the Top grant money. Further, school districts that do not participate have been told they will not be eligible to receive grant funding, Mlive reported, although they will have to follow the new laws.

The Huron Daily Tribune reported that several districts in the Huron County area had second thoughts about signing the statement, questioning the amount of local dollars that would be needed to carry out the grant requirements.

Mlive.com, "Teachers unions object to Michigan school reform plan," Jan. 4, 2010

Huron Daily Tribune, "Should Our Schools Race to the Top?" Jan. 2, 2010

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Race to the Top Realities," Dec. 22, 2009