Workers’ Memorial Day: Wednesday, April 28
Every year on April 28, Workers Memorial Day is observed across America to remember those who lost their lives while on the job and to renew the goal to make workplaces safer and healthier. This day is even more poignant than usual this year as we remember all those we lost too soon, from within our membership and our communities.
This year, MIOSHA is asking Michiganders to wear orange on Wednesday in support of the struggle for safe workplaces across our state. The AFT Michigan staff broke out our orange shirts for our staff meeting last week (see below):
Wednesday afternoon: Facebook Live event with Governor Gretchen Whitmer
Wednesday at 1PM, the MI AFL-CIO will host Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for a discussion to mark Workers’ Memorial Day and have a conversation with her about what her administration is doing to protect workers in Michigan right now and into the future. Register here: https://aflcio.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_6W6h8csRRK2Z34Jps7gkhw
Wednesday evening: Facebook Live event with US Senator Gary Peters
Wednesday at 5PM, the MI AFL-CIO will host US Senator Gary Peters for a conversation to mark Workers’ Memorial Day, get an update on what he’s been working on, and talk about the importance of passing the PRO Act. Register here: https://aflcio.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_7LhNP1luR3GydHWErLMyIA
And remember, if you haven’t received the vaccine yet, there’s a spot for you at Ford Field. To sign up for your 1st dose of Pfizer, text ENDCOVID to 75049, visit http://clinic.meijer.com/register/CL2021 or call 888-535-6136 (press 1).
State Budget Battles, Testing and Teacher Evaluation Discussed in Lansing
In February, the Governor proposed the largest school aid budget in history utilizing the influx of one-time funds from the federal government. Last week the House and Senate released their budget proposal for fiscal year 2021-2022. The House Budget cuts or eliminates many of the increases put forth by the Governor. For example, the governor proposed a 2% increase in the per student foundation allowance, providing an additional $82 to $164 per pupil, while the House proposal slashes this increase to only $50-$100 per pupil. The House proposal reduces the Governor’s proposed $1000 increase to GSRP to only $150 and includes $25 million to incentive schools to transition to a year round calendar. The Senate’s budget proposal would actually increase the per student foundation allowance $125 to $250 per pupil, but does not include any funds to support districts with declining enrollment, while the Governor budgeted $200 million for these efforts. The Senate and the Governor’s budgets concurred on 2% budget increase to ISDs and special education cost reimbursements to districts.
Both chambers also proposed budgets for universities and community colleges. The House proposal would radically reform how colleges and universities are funded, resulting in a projected 19% increase for some institutions and a 24% decrease for others. The Senate proposal is much less experimental and offers a flat budget with no increase or decrease for any institution. Governor Whitmer proposed 2% increases for all universities and community colleges, $70 million in one-time COVID response funds, $120 million for the Reconnect program to provide tuition-free community college, and $60 million to help first responders complete degree programs. As the legislature and Governor negotiate, we will continue to advocate with all parties for funding that is equitable for our students and schools.
With federally mandated testing underway and the school year entering its final two months, the time is NOW for lawmakers to take action on bills waiving the state summative assessments, removing student growth data from teacher evaluations, and delaying the implementation of third-grade reading retention. The use of standardized test data to retain students and judge teacher effectiveness is never a good policy decision and it’s especially harmful during the ongoing pandemic.
President Biden Launches Task Force to Empower Workers Rights
Today, President Joseph Biden launched a task force to empower workers to organize and successfully bargain with their employers. The task force is chaired by Vice President Kamala Harris and vice-chaired by Labor Secretary Marty Walsh. To have the President form this task force, make the video encouraging workers to organize, and act on so many pro-worker policies in just 100 days is unprecedented. Yet another example that elections matter.
We Can Do Better
Today, the Macomb Daily ran my op ed where I wrote that “returning to normal” in the context of student recovery is not enough. We must seize the opportunity to take what we have learned this past year to provide an even better education for all kids, regardless of race, income or zip code.
Roseville Wins New Contract
Congratulations to the Roseville Federation of Teachers on securing a new contract. After years of half steps and furlough days, members will be moved to their correct step and get their full longevity. Before the end of this school year, they’ll get made whole for this year, with the remaining half step, longevity, two furlough days, and a lump sum payment. Elementary teachers will also get back a lost prep period. Great job by President Autumn Pokone and the entire RFT leadership team!
Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist to Kick Off AFT Michigan Education Policy Conference May 1
We’re excited to announce that Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist will join us at AFT Michigan’s Education Policy Conference, which will take place on May 1st from 8:30 AM-12:30 PM.
This conference will also include:
- A state budget overview, with breakouts focusing on universities, community colleges, and PreK-12 schools;
- A panel discussion about racial justice in our education system, focusing on the problems with punitive practices and how we can be part of dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline; and
- Breakouts by constituency to discuss safely navigating COVID-19 and improving public education in Michigan over the year ahead.
2021 Rollie Hopgood Future Teachers Scholarship Award Applications Now Available!
AFT Michigan has three eligibility categories of the “Rollie Hopgood Future Teachers Scholarship Award” for qualifying individuals.
Scholarship categories and links to applications and forms are:
- Graduating senior of an AFT Michigan high school with the goal of becoming a teacher;
- AFT Michigan PSRP dues paying member for at least one academic year enrolled (full- or part-time) in a teacher certification program at a college or university;
- AFT Michigan dues paying member for at least one academic year son(s) and/or daughter(s) who is a graduating senior with the goal of becoming a teacher.
Upcoming Professional Development
Strategies to Help Grieving Students and Enhance Social Emotional Skills Prek-14
May 1, 2021, 8:30 a.m – 4:00 p.m.
This workshop will provide participants an opportunity to review research about how personal loss has a profound impact emotionally and the academic growth of students. Attendees will develop strategies to help learners cope with loss and the grieving process.
David Hecker, President