In AFT, Legislative Update

Educator Evaluation Bill Up in Senate Education Committee

The Senate Education Committee took testimony last week on SB 103, sponsored by Sen. Phil Pavlov (R-Port Huron), which would create educator evaluation mandates from the state significantly on state standardized tests, without any requirements for the observation and professional practice portion of educator evaluation. The committee is scheduled to discuss the bill again Tuesday, April 21. AFT Michigan is opposed to these bills and will continue to advocate for educator evaluation that is fair to teachers and is philosophically based on improvement of the teaching practice, and not punitive in intent.

More Labor Attacks from Rep. Gary Glenn

In addition to his bills which would expand the scope of Right to Work and eliminate exclusive representation of a public sector union, Rep. Gary Glenn (R-Midland), sponsored House Bill 4428, a bill that would require collective bargaining units to hold a recertification vote every two years. The bill was referred to the House Committee on Commerce and Trade. AFT Michigan is opposed to the bill.

27 Michigan Schools Released from Priority List

State Superintendent Mike Flanagan announced 27 Priority schools will be released from the State School Reform/Redesign Office. The 27 schools identified were among the earliest identified in 2010 when the Priority List process was created. There were 92 schools in that original cohort, and about 230 schools remaining on the list. Of the 27 schools identified, the following are from schools where AFT Michigan represents staff:

  • Holmes Elementary-Middle School — Detroit City School District
  • Hutchinson Elementary-Middle School — Detroit City School District
  • Schulze Elementary-Middle School — Detroit City School District
  • Eastland Middle School — Roseville Community Schools
  • Roseville Middle School — Roseville Community Schools

House Committee on Financial Liability Reform Approves New Package of “Early Warning” Bills to Deal with Deficit Districts

As outlined by the House Fiscal Agency, the package of bills would amend the Revised School Code (MCL 380.1 – 380.1852), the State School Aid Act (MCL 388.1601 – 388.1702) and the Local Financial Stability and Choice Act (MCL 141.1541 – 141.1575) to provide the Department of Education (MDE) and Treasury with earlier financial information with which to do the following:

  • Identify potential fiscal stress in school districts, Intermediate School Districts (ISDs), and Public School Academies (PSAs).
  • Require additional financial reporting by districts, ISDs, and PSAs.
  • Revise the existing Deficit Elimination Plan (DEP) requirements.
  • Create an Enhanced Deficit Elimination Plan (EDEP).
  • Revise the authority provided to MDE and Treasury to withhold state school aid payments.
  • Create an additional trigger under which the Treasurer can determine the existence of probable financial stress for a district with a deficit elimination plan, which then triggers the appointment of a financial review team.
  • Create an additional trigger under which the Treasurer can declare a financial emergency and recommend the appointment of an emergency manager.

The “triggers” in these bills cast an incredibly wide net, furthering the significant reporting burden felt by under-resourced school districts. The bills also allow for a bypass of the current process for appointing an emergency manager.

AFT Michigan vehemently opposed these bills last year when they were first introduced, and they did not make it through both chambers of the Legislature. We will continue to oppose these bills.

Coalition for Secure Retirement Hosts Advocacy Day in Lansing

 On April 14, the Coalition for Secure Retirement, of which AFT-MI is a founding member, hosted a day in Lansing for members to speak to their State Representatives and Senators about state employee and school employee pensions. Legislation has been introduced to close the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System (Senate Bill 102), and attendees urged lawmakers to oppose these efforts. The State Employees Retirement System was switched to a defined contribution system in 1997. Attendees touted a recent study by the National Institute on Retirement Security that showed Michigan State Employees in the defined contribution plan will receive only a fraction of the retirement benefits that they would have gotten if they were in a defined benefit plan.

There have been rumors that SB 102 may end up being part of a “Plan B” effort should Proposal 1 fail to pass on May 5. If Proposal 1 fails, the Legislature will be under huge pressure to find new money for road construction, and hammering public school pensions may become a bargaining chip to entice some conservative legislators to support a tax increase.

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