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Eclectablog’s 2014 Person of the Year: Michigan public school teachers

Anyone who reads this blog regularly knows that our team has great love for public education and public school educators. There are few groups in Michigan who are so unfairly maligned and held responsible for the failings of others – parents, administrators, and lawmakers, for example – than public school teachers. This heartbreaking situation propels me to write about their plight frequently and often with a great deal of passion and emotion. I make no apologies for that.

Something profound happened in 2014. Teachers really began to speak out on their own behalf in Michigan far more than they ever had before.…

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UPDATED: As Republicans continue to defund education, Michiganders support MORE funding and higher teacher pay

For the past four years, Michigan Republicans, taking their cues from the anti-teacher group Mackinac Center, have defunded education, gone after teacher pay and benefits, and done just about everything they could to put public education and public educators out of business. Their model is to make teaching so unattractive that the professionals abandon it as a career, leaving the job to those willing to be paid a pittance. The model also involves putting public schools in austerity mode and then forcing them to “compete” with for-profit charters that have lower costs and can cherry pick their students.

As it turns out, all of this hating on public education and the heroes that work in our public schools is not representative of how Michiganders view public education.…

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EVENT TONIGHT: Chelsea teachers to hold public forum in effort to secure contract

The teachers in the Chelsea Public Schools system have been working without a contract since June 30, 2014. Negotiations for a new contract began in the spring and continued throughout the spring and summer. However, the Chelsea Education Association (CEA) and the school board were unable to come to an agreement. As a next step, the CEA has requested a fact-finding process:

[T]he Chelsea Education Association requested that a third-party fact-finder be brought into the union’s negotiations with the Chelsea Board of Education. The school board is complying with the request.

Teachers have been working without a new contract since the school year started.

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After slashing teacher benefits, firing staff, and outsourcing “nearly everything”, Flint schools face Emergency Management

Welcome to Michigan under Republican rule

Flint schools have been in financial trouble since 2011 when it first went into debt. In 2012, they eliminated 460 teachers and staff positions. In May of this year, they laid off 91 more teachers and staff and slashed benefits of the remaining teachers as an alternative to a 19% pay cut. Later in the summer, another 12 teachers and 8 administrators were fired. In the meantime, they have “closed and sold off buildings, eliminated staff and outsourced nearly everything except instructional and administrative positions.”

The result? An increased deficit that now leaves Flint schools $21.9 million in the hole and facing an Emergency Manager.…

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Michigan for-profit charter schools industry fires up its propaganda machine

In the wake of the blistering multi-day expose by the Detroit Free Press detailing the failures of for-profit charters in Michigan and the astonishing lack of transparency and accountability they enjoy, the charter school industry is ramping up its propaganda machine. Just in the past few days, there have been two op-eds in The Detroit News promoting their for-profit-with-tax-dollars model as something good for public schools in Michigan and something requiring no oversight.

On November 12th, conservative colunist Dennis Lennox promoted the idea of abolishing the state Board of Education, the last remaining bulwark fighting for charter school accountability in Michigan and one of the very few remaining state government level bodies which Democrats have a majority.…

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Michigan school figures out how to tell a gun-toting bad guy from a gun-toting good guy: go into lockdown & call 911

Imagine this scenario: you’re taking your third-grader to school and you look over and there’s a guy in front of the school with a handgun strapped to his hip. What do you do? Is this a crazy guy who is going to start shooting the place up? Is it just a gun-loving lady making a point about her Second Amendment rights?

What if you’re a teacher or the principal of the school? Do you just let it go and hope everything turns out all right? After all, several hundred children are under your watch and their lives and safety are your responsibility for the next several hours.…

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Why I hate one-issue voters and why I am asking you to be one — just this once

According to Dictionary.com, hatred is defined in this way: verb (used without object), hated, hating. To feel intense dislike, or extreme aversion or hostility.

It is my firm belief that as a society we use the word hate too casually. I offer this preamble to my last shot at motivating you to vote, act, and make sure others vote tomorrow, but there is a twist to my message today and I am asking you to stay with me as I work though my rationale behind what I am about to ask of all of you, but it starts with something that I do hate.…

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INTERVIEW: Democrat Kristy Pagan – This millennial is ready for prime time

This is the second in a four-part series with women who are running for the Michigan State House of Representatives. With your help and votes, they can win and change the face of politics in Michigan. I believe in all of them and I want you to as well.

When I hear names like Rashida Tlaib, Sarah Roberts, Gretchen Driscoll, and Debbie Stabenow, I think strong, independent-minded strategists. Political forces that have led by example and have bucked the system and the political will of mostly men to not only win in the elections game but also provide amazing insight, voice and SOLUTIONS to problems that have plagued us all.…

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Corporatist profiteer Richard Berman attacks AFT President Randi Weingarten in Detroit News “Op-Ed”

The Detroit News published an op-ed yesterday by a man so well-known for being a corporatist shill and profiteer that running it must have been a decision made by the News‘ advertising department. The piece was penned by a Richard Berman and attempts to lay the entire blame for the poor quality of Detroit Public schools at the feet of the teachers union and, more specifically, at the feet of Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT).

It hardly bears pointing out that Detroit schools didn’t get where they are because of greedy, self-interested teachers. You don’t go to work in Detroit public schools with the aim of becoming wealthy thanks to your cushy union job.…

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UPDATED: Mackinac Center is outraged – OUTRAGED! – that we spend more on teachers than on prisons

Most of the time, when I read stuff slithering out of the Mackinac Center’s propaganda arm Michigan Capitol Confidential, I just shrug it off with a Reaganesque, “there they go again”. But every once in a while their effluvium is so nonsensical that it makes me read and reread it again to make sure that it isn’t something coming from The Onion. One of their posts yesterday, titled “Michigan Now Spending More on Teacher Retiree Liabilities Than Prisons”, is in that category.

The thrust of the post, and I’m not kidding here, is that it is simply outrageous that, in Michigan, we’re spending more on teachers than on prisons.…

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