Teachers from all over the state come to Lansing to talk to elected officials

Over 200 teachers and support staff from AFT Michigan came to the state capital for their annual legislative action day. AFT members shared stories with elected officials about how they’re helping kids in the classrooms and their communities and also called for more investment in public education.

“Teachers, parapros and support staff have been doing great work in their classrooms to ensure Michigan’s students have a bright future ahead of them, but they also need more support from the state, which is critically important and why so many members showed up,”said David Hecker, president of AFT Michigan. “That’s why these folks are here today, to talk to their elected officials about their work and what the legislature can do to ensure they can be as effective as possible when teaching and supporting the classroom.”

AFT Michigan and its members are focusing their legislative action day on ways to improve teacher evaluations and training, highlighting the need for investments in well-equipped paraprofessional and support staff and speaking out against the outsourcing of school services, which hurts kids in the classroom.

“We want what’s best for Michigan’s students across the state,” Hecker continued. “The surest way to do that is to make sure teachers and staff receive excellent training, have the means to support themselves and have a say in their districts and classrooms.”

From the Upper Peninsula to Detroit, teachers poured in from all over Michigan to be in Lansing today.

Steve Wilson, president of RMFT 4330 and a teacher in the Rudyard Public School District, drove four hours from his home district in the eastern part of the Upper Peninsula to be in Lansing today.

Wilson said one of his main concerns that he wanted to address with elected officials was the attacks that have targeted teacher’s salaries and pensions, which can make it difficult to attract the best talent.

“It’s hard to hire the best and the brightest if they keep taking away the reasons people got into education,” Wilson said. “We have to get more people out there in the public to realize that there’s an attack on public education right now. It’s an alarming trend right now.”

Ivy Bailey, executive vice president of the Detroit Federation of Teachers, which represents over 4,000 teachers, said teachers need to have a voice in education policy because they’re the ones who interact with students on a daily basis.

“I think the legislature needs to start allowing teachers to have a voice at the table. Nobody knows better what’s good for a student than a teacher because we’re with them all day long almost everyday,” Bailey said. “We know their issues, we know their concerns. Nobody can speak better to that than a teacher.”

The legislative action day happened to fall on the same day that Gov. Rick Snyder announced major reforms to Detroit Public Schools. AFT Michigan serves on the steering committee for the Coalition for the Future of Detroit Schoolchildren and believes the coalition’s recommendations for the district are in the best interest of the city’s children and the community.

“We are proud to participate with the Coalition for the Future of Detroit Schoolchildren and the Coalition’s report: The Choice is Ours,” said David Hecker. “This report includes solid recommendations that, if implemented, would benefit the children of Detroit and Michigan. We look forward to working on policies and legislation that advance these recommendations.”


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