Thursday, October 15, 2009

School Funding Cuts

Tax revenues for Michigan schools are not coming back; schools will see deeper midyear cuts on top of the $165/student cut already announced. Next year will be much worse as schools stand to lose over $500/student. It is time for the MEA to come to the table just as the UAW did and readjust their reality. Teachers are not the bad guys here but nearly 90% of operating budgets are dedicated to salaries and benefits. Existing contracts and agreements were crafted in a dramatically different economic climate. Very small changes to compensation and benefit agreements shared over thousands of public teacher and administrator contracts will have a dramatic impact on local operating budgets that can help alleviate the impact of Michigan's recession. Now is the time to push our state legislators to force the MEA to the table and solicit suggestions from them. For the 800 pound gorilla of the UAW to move it took a 1,000 pound gorilla of bankruptcy. Michigan's recession is the 1,000 pound gorilla and the MEA must wake up to its existence.

The union talks about "family," every family I know (including mine) has seen wage and benefit cuts, some as much as 20% to 30% as a response to the recession. If we are indeed family, how is the MEA helping? How is a 1% to 4% adjustment equivalent to "slashing" pay (quoting from AFT Union leader David Hecker) when the tax paying parents of students have endured much worse? Why is a proposed plan to save on health care costs equivalent to a declaration of war? The traditional MEA response of throwing the youngest teachers off the bus will not work; it will only make things worse.

I love my teachers, and I want to keep them employed at schools with reasonable class sizes -- to achieve this we need the MEA's help. Every parent of every child should contact their elected representative and demand hearings involving the MEA, get them to the table before it's too late. Urge the MEA to allow local units to open existing contracts for structural adjustments. Find the legislative will power to adjust revenue streams. A real family responses to a crisis with hope crafted from shared sacrifice, not with a cry of WAR!

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