Sunday, February 26, 2012

MEA President Steve Cook's Message

In case you missed the latest video message from President Steve Cook.  His remarks regarding Mitt Romney also ran as an editorial in the Detroit News.

Cyber School Bill Stalled

Congratulations to those of you who contacted your legislator regarding SB 619-623, the so called "Cyber School" bill.  Your efforts have stalled the bill in the House of Representatives.  The Republicans realized they did not have enough votes for passage last week.  However, the fight is not over, so keep in contact with your state representative and urge them to vote no on this group of bills.

Interesting that news headlines tout Gov. Snyder's plan to give more money to public schools as an "increase" in school aid funds.  Well, yes and no.  There will be an increase over what was given last year, but not the 2.8 to 3% as stated by the Governor.  After crunching the numbers, it comes out to 0.2 to 0.8%.  Some increase.  However, if you look at the total hit schools took last year, which amounted to $1.8 million, it is a stretch to call this years funding an increase.  It's like saying we received a 3% pay raise when inflation has been running at 4%.  Poof, there goes your "raise".

And finally, have you noticed Lansing is taking a different approach as to how we should pay for government services lately?  Take for instance road repairs.  It used to be road maintainance and construction was funded through the state gasoline tax and federal taxes reimbursed to the state.  Not any more.  If the powers that be have their way, funding will come from the general fund or areas with a surplus such as education.  I realize no one wants to see gas prices go up with additional taxes, but this idea of,  "if I don't use it, I should not have to pay for it" mentality has gotten way out of hand.  Simply because I don't drive on roads in Detroit, doesn't mean I should not pay a gas tax to fund repairs and construction for those same roads, or anywhere in Michigan .  It is about the common good, not the individual.  Somehow our Lansing folks have  come to the conclusion if people complain about higher gas taxes, then they will simply start paying for it out of the general fund.  If you think there is nothing wrong with this idea, think again.  Where do you think education funding comes from?  What do you think will happen when the school aid fund runs a surplus, as it did last year?  I dislike paying more in taxes just like you do, but be careful what you wish for.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Breaking News: PPP poll shows Dems Have Good Shot Winning House

A new Public Policy Poll shows Michigan Democrats have a legitimate chance to flip the House of Representatives in 2012 fall elections. According to Public Policy Poll,

"Democrats should have a pretty good chance at retaking control of the House there this fall.  They lead the generic legislative ballot by 14 points, 48-34. They have an 8 point advantage with independents and are also benefiting from superior party unity with 92% of Democrats planning to vote Democratic to 83% of Republicans planning to vote Republican."

This should give every one of us renewed vigor and focused resolve to keep the pressure on our elected officials to do the right thing. Keep calling them. Encourage your friends and neighbors to vote this coming November. It is our opportunity to turn the tide on the education bashers and destroyers of the middle class.

Yes, Friday is the best day of the week.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

More in Store From Lansing

Keep calling your legislator and tell them to slow down the cyber school train.  Its not that it is a bad idea.  It is the fact it is yet to be a proven educational method for teaching kids what they need to complete in today's economy.  Don't be fooled by the proponents of cyber schools when they say it will give students and their parents options to a public education.  Do you really want to gamble with your child's education and put it in the hands of a corporation that does not even reside in Michigan?  All we are saying is slow down and look at the facts.  Due diligence is needed before we pump millions of tax payer dollars into coporate pockets on an idea that has not been proven.  Keep calling.  Rembemer, thos ewho can, teach.  Those who cannot pass bills against those who can teach.

Keep Up the Support for East Jordan

A big, big thanks to Greta, Deb, Mary Jo, Dave, and Regina for attending the E.J. board meeting last Monday.  The board managed to bring boring to a new level with a drawn out budget reviewunheard of in teh annals of board meetings, new rules to stifle public comment (really?), and generally trying to wear down everyone attending  in hopes they would pack up and leave.  A big hug of support goes out to all the E.J. staff and a message of stay strong and hold firm to your beliefs.  You are in the right!  Stay tuned for more updates as they occur.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Unlimited Cyber Schools on Horizon

HB619 passed out of committee today that would allow unlimited cyber schools to be created in Michigan. Call your representative NOW and tell him to vote NO! This is an untested, unfounded, and expensive idea. Colorado spent over $10 million to a private firm to run an on-line school with very poor results. Over half the kids returned to their traditional high school further behind in skills after only one year of on-line classes. Of that number a third ended up dropping out.
Even Michigan state superintendent Mike Flanigan is opposed to the idea of unlimited cyber schools. Private firms are licking their chops at the prospect of millions of public dollars flowing to them when they set up their for profit on-line schools.

Call your representative now and tell him to vote NO on this waste of public school funds.

East Jordan Board Meeting

Our friends in East Jordan continue to need our support. The next Board meeting is Monday, February 13 at 5:30pm. I know we have a board meeting as well at 7pm, but we could make a night of it. The E.J. Board continues to take a hard line with the staff; demanding a 10 percent pay cut, 20 percent co-pay on insurance premiums, and punishing them with a 5 percent cut in pay for every month they fail to settle. The EJ Association has offered the board a package that would have saved them over $20,000 a month, if they had settled in July. C'mon! Really?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Upcoming Board Meeting

Board Meeting Monday, February 13 at 7pm. The board will be discussing next year's budget, and it does not look good. Everyone should attend.

Can Lansing Make It Illegaler To Protest?

Have you called Rep. Foster or Rep. MacMaster yet? Why not? it takes all of 10 minutes or less. Your call could make the difference. Read the summary below. If you value your organization, you need to call. You have nothing to lose and much to gain.

House committee passes more anti-union bills--Call your state representative!
Posted on 01/31/12 at 4:01pm

On a party line vote, the House Oversight, Reform and Ethics Committee passed on Tuesday House Bills 5023-5026, a package of anti-union bills meant to curtail the powers of labor unions:

HB 5023--fines striking public employees one day's pay and their union $5,000 for each day of the strike, expanding the penalties beyond the current rules that only apply to public school employees.

HB 5024--sets fines and restrictions on members and their unions for mass picketing.

HB 5025--requires an employee's annual written authorization to have their union dues deducted from their paycheck by employers.

HB 5026--eliminates the prohibition against employers advertising for strike breakers.