Harmful DPS Restructuring Plan Passes Senate, Goes to Snyder
Gov. Rick Snyder says he's set to sign legislation allowing Detroit schoolchildren to be taught by uncertified teachers - no high school diploma, no college degree, no training required - as part of a DPS restructuring plan that passed the Senate Wednesday night with only Republican support.
Detroit lawmakers were denied the right to speak about the legislation on the House floor by Republican leaders who have spent the last several days cobbling together the bare minimum of votes to move the package to Snyder's desk.
Even with the Flint water crisis still looming, Snyder said he would sign the package into law despite its lack of support from Detroit parents, community leaders, and educators. In echoes from the Flint water scandal, some are asking critical questions of the DPS plan: If legislators would not allow this to happen in their home districts, why is it acceptable for Detroit?
"This is a cowardly act," Sen. Morris Hood III (D-Detroit) said of the plan.
In addition to allowing uncertified teachers, the plan passed by both chambers fails to include a Detroit Education Commission to oversee the siting of new charter and traditional schools in the city. The DEC had been sought by a broad coalition of policymakers working on the issue to bring under control the "Wild West" atmosphere of for-profit charter schools operating with little oversight or accountability
Flint Supplies Drive Continues Through MEA UniServ Offices
You can help alleviate the strain on Flint teachers by donating the school supplies so badly needed to help kids who've been affected by the unsafe drinking water scandal. MEA members interested in helping are asked to conduct supply drives and deliver donations to local UniServ offices
as soon as possible. Items needed include: pens, pencils, colored pencils, markers, paper, binders, wipes, hand sanitizer, glue sticks, crayons, art supplies, PE equipment (balls, jump ropes, etc.), books, stickers, sticky notes, and more. Tax-deductible contribution can also be made. Make your check payable to the MEA Classroom Support Fund, with "Flint" in the memo line. Mail checks to MEA Classroom Support Fund, Attn: Rick Trainor, 1216 Kendale Blvd., P.O. Box 2573, East Lansing, MI 48826.
2016 Verification of Coverage Due by July 15
The deadline for responding to the Verification of Coverage for members who have Blue Cross/Blue Shield is July 15, 2016. If your response is not received by that date, your coverage will be cancelled on September 1, 2016. This form must be completed for yourself and anyone else covered by your retirement system health plan. You must respond to the survey even if you do not have other coverage. If you have not received your verification of coverage by June 10, we recommend you contact BC/BS., by calling the phone number on the back of your insurance card (800 422-9146)
The Verification of Coverage survey asks you to identify any other health coverage you or your dependents might have in addition to your retirement system coverage. The information you provide is used to coordinate your coverage with other plans. The coordination helps to insure that you are using all of your coverage in the right combination and that each of your health plans share the cost of your health care appropriately. This ONLY applies to members who have Blue Cross/Blue Shield.
Moody's Warns of Looming DPS Disaster
Moody's Investors Service is warning state lawmakers of unprecedented financial troubles ahead if they can't agree on a rational plan to restructure Detroit Public Schools, and MEA members are urged to continue adding their own pressure on legislators negotiating a potential solution.
House Republicans passed an anti-union, anti-public education package of bills along party lines last week following a marathon overnight session. The House Republicans' plan includes just $500 million to reduce existing debt, instead of the $715 million supported by the Senate, Gov. Rick Snyder, Michigan Department of Treasury and Judge Rhodes, the new DPS emergency manager, to fully address the problem.
On Tuesday, the bond rating service issued a report detailing the expected financial woes if a fix is not found soon, noting the significant differences between the plans that have passed the House and Senate. DPS is expected to run out of money by the end of June if no action is taken before then.
"While progress toward a workable solution to the district's fiscal situation is credit positive, the differences between the House bills and the package of Senate bills, passed in March, remain stark," the Moody's report said.
"We anticipate that lawmakers will begin to reconcile the bills soon because the district is quickly running out of resources to operate. The Legislature now has less than two months to compromise on a reform package or the district's financial position will possibly force a bankruptcy filing."
In addition, the House package would strip away unions and contracts from DPS employees; allow privatized instructional staff and uncertified teachers; and force dedicated teachers and support staff to reapply for their jobs.
House Republicans have made no secret of their desire to extend similar anti-union provisions statewide. MEA members should contact state senators, urging them to not pass the House version of the Detroit education legislation.
Click here to locate contact information for your state senator. Let him or her know that you are an MEA member and that we are committed to a bi-partisan legislative solution that - rather than attacking school employee rights - focuses on the following:
- Paying off the debt incurred while DPS was under state control,
- Ensuring employees are paid and have a voice to speak up about what's best for kids,
- Fixing unsafe and unhealthy conditions in Detroit schools, and
Implementing an oversight body for both traditional and charter schools that will ensure students receive a stable, quality education for years to come.