January 27, 2020
Request Your Absentee Ballot for the March 10 Primary!
Michigan’s presidential primary is only 43 days away and now’s the time to request your ballot to vote by mail, or to request an absentee ballot in person at your local clerk’s office.
Thanks to 2018’s Proposal 3, voting in Michigan has never been easier. To check your registration, or to print off the form to request an absentee ballot, click here to go to the Michigan Secretary of State’s office.
Reminder: Check Out AFTVotes to Make Your Voice Heard in AFT’s Presidential Endorsement Process
As you may know, the national AFT has been doing a lot to involve members in the decision about whether or not, and who, our union will endorse in the Democratic Presidential Primary. Check out aftvotes.org for information on the candidates and ways you can get involved.
Last Chance to Register for the February Union Building Institute!
Our final Union Building Institute of the school year will be Sat, February 8, at UM Dearborn-Fairlane Center North! You can sign up now by following this link.
In addition to our core courses:
- Member Organizing
- Collective Bargaining & Contract Enforcement
- Coalitions & Political Action
We will also offer advanced workshops on:
- Advanced Bargaining: Analyzing Employer Finances and Costing Out Proposals
- Advanced Grievance-Handling: Presenting 2nd & 3rd Step Grievances
- Advanced Foundations: Financial Management for Union Officers
If you are a relatively new leader in your local, particularly in a role such as building rep or steward, we recommend starting with either Member Organizing 101 and/or Collective Bargaining & Contract Enforcement 101. And with less than a year to go before the general election, we hope as many locals as possible will be represented in the Coalitions & Political Action workshop!
Ed Trust-Midwest: Major Hike in Education Funding Needed, Needs to Double in High Poverty Districts
“Michigan is one of only 16 states providing less funding to its highest poverty districts than its lowest-poverty districts, ” writes Ed Trust-Midwest in its report released last week: Michigan’s School Funding: Crisis and Opportunity. This report reinforces recent findings of the School Finance Research Collaborative and Michigan State University. The MSU study reported that between 1995 and 2015, “Michigan had the lowest total education revenue growth of all 50 states,” and, when adjusted for inflation, “Michigan’s per-pupil funding declined by 22 percent between 2002 and 2015.”
Ed Trust-Midwest’s suggested principles for K-12 funding include: funding according to student need (equity), more funding to districts with lower fiscal capacity, and accountability and transparency on how funds are spent. All three studies cited call for significant increases in K-12 funding–the Ed Trust report calls for doubling funding for students from low-income backgrounds.
P.S. On Sunday, February 9, we are holding a Local Financial Review Workshop for members of financial review committees to complete the yearly task in a supportive environment. This is open only to local financial review committee members and treasurers.
AFT and Student Defense Sue DeVos Over Predatory For-Profit Colleges
Student Defense filed a landmark federal lawsuit last week, on behalf the American Federation of Teachers, the California Federation of Teachers and individual members, targeting the Trump administration’s illegal repeal of protections for students at for-profit and career college programs.
The complaint accuses Education Secretary Betsy DeVos of violating federal law by pushing through a repeal riddled with errors and unfounded assertions. It argues the repeal puts students at the mercy of for-profit schools with a documented history of leaving borrowers with worthless degrees and tens of thousands of dollars of debt they cannot repay.
The lawsuit asks the courts to immediately reinstate the “gainful employment” rule and restore vital protections for students considering enrolling in a career-certificate program or a for-profit college. By the Department of Education’s own estimates, the lawsuit also stands to save taxpayers $5.3 billion by ending the flow of federal funds to failing programs.
U.S. Supreme Court Hears Voucher Case
On January 22, the United States Supreme Court heard Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue. The court’s decision could mandate voucher funding for religious schools, violating the constitutions of 38 states, including Michigan. It could also upend the clear language of the U.S. Constitution that guarantees religious liberty in part by separating church and state. With Trump’s addition of Justice Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, there is reason to be greatly concerned about the possible outcome of this case.
Survey for Updating State’s Top 10 Education Plan
An online survey is being offered for the public to help review and update Michigan’s Top 10 in 10 strategic education plan.
“We’re asking the public to help shape Michigan’s education focus,” said State Superintendent Dr. Michael F. Rice. “It is my expectation, and that of the State Board of Education, that an updated plan will be more streamlined and focused, and will have measures that align with the goals to help us monitor progress toward becoming a top education state.”
The survey will close on February 7, 2020. The link can be found on the MDE website at www.michigan.gov/Top10in10. A draft of the updated plan is expected to be presented to the State Board of Education in late spring of 2020.
David Hecker, President