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Legislative and other action alerts to MIPFS supporters

Legislative Update: Tenure Bills, "A Solution Worse than the Problem"

6/27: See our update in the comment section about the bills as reported from committee. The full Senate will be voting soon….

Last week, the state House of Representatives approved a package of bills that would remake the teacher tenure process, change the rules regarding seniority, and enforce a state-wide teacher evaluation framework that would guide promotion and firing decisions. While the bills individually appear to address reasonable concerns about the difficulty of disciplining tenured staff and the “last-in-first-out” system used for layoffs, taken together they have the potential to do tremendous damage to our public schools.

School districts would have to move quickly to institute a comprehensive evaluation system which relies primarily on standardized tests – tests which do not yet exist for most grades or subject areas. The burden on administration would increase exponentially, with no added resources to make sure the evaluations are performed effectively. Teachers would have no guaranteed voice in the construction of evaluation systems, since the bills would prohibit collective bargaining on those issues. Finally, the changes would, in our view, create a powerful incentive for principals and administrators – who face unrelenting budget pressures – to bias performance evaluations so that it would be easier to remove senior, more expensive teachers regardless of their actual performance. As a result, Michigan Parents for Schools cannot support this legislation and calls on the state Senate to defeat the bills.

State School Aid budget action alert

Update: 13 May 2011

Tax changes lock-in reduced revenues for schools and other public services

In a dramatic series of votes yesterday, the package of tax changes proposed by the Governor emerged from committee in the Senate, passed on the floor of the Senate (with a 19-19 tie broken by the Lt. Governor), was sent over to the House where it passed there as well. The Governor is expected to sign the bills shortly.

With this rapid-fire move, the legislature has essentially closed off any option of looking at new revenue to support schools, at least for the foreseeable future. Because of a spending item inserted in the bill, it will be exempt even from a statewide referendum. The bills eliminate the Michigan Business Tax and replace it with a Corporate Income Tax that brings in $1.1 billion less in revenue for next year – an effective tax cut of $1.1 billion in FY12 and $1.7 billion in FY13.

Some of this revenue loss will be made up with taxation of all pension income of new retirees, a 70% cut in the Earned Income Tax Credit, and the elimination or limitation of many other personal tax credits.

What this means is that any moderation of the cuts to schools will have to come from cuts in other areas or luck in tax collections.

State Budget action alert

Everyone who values public education in Michigan needs to speak out NOW

Dear Friends and Supporters of Education,

This is an extraordinary moment for public education in the state of Michigan. The full impact of the Great Recession, and of years of trying to ignore funding problems in education, are hitting our communities all at once. Dramatic changes are proposed, because "dire times require drastic measures." Over $1 billion would be cut from education under the Governor's proposed budget, most of that from K-12 education. These cuts would dramatically affect our schools, and limit the education we can offer to our children for years to come.

Do the changes make sense? Do they reflect the real needs and values of the people of Michigan? We're not so sure.

A good race requires preparation

_The following action alert was sent out to MIPFS subscribers today._

Lets think clearly about the changes we make to qualify for Federal funding

Dear supporters of public education, This has been a busy fall for all of us at Michigan Parents for Schools, and you have have heard less from us than usual given the turmoil around education funding in Michigan. You will be hearing much more from us soon! But there is a fast-approaching issue which we wanted to bring to your attention today. Our main concern is that rapidly cobbled-together measures, designed to qualify Michigan to receive further Federal stimulus funding, will make permanent changes to our schools that have not received adequate consideration. We are especially concerned with the emphasis put on standardized testing as the primary measure of student achievement and the major factor in evaluating teachers, administrators and schools.

Action Alert: Senate Appropriations cuts schools $174 million and guts early childhood programs

*The Senate Appropriations Committee voted Thursday to cut state aid to schools by $110 per pupil next year, and also to completely eliminate several state programs to assist early childhood education and school readiness.* "Click here to see our action alert message, and contact your legislators!":http://capwiz.com/miparentsforschools/issues/alert/?alertid=13575281

Today's action message

Dear Friends,

As I'm sure you know, time is running out for a budget deal in Lansing. The new fiscal year starts tonight at midnight, and the Governor has already made plans for a government shutdown.

So the pressure is on, as it should be. But sometimes, during protracted late-night negotiations where everyone is playing "let's make a deal," people can lose sight of what's really important. Let's remind them!

http://capwiz.com/miparentsforschools/issues/alert/?alertid=10302701&typ...

Alert! School funding crisis needs solution now!

Take action now!

Make your voices heard! The school funding situation is at a critical juncture. State officials have just finished their review of expected tax collections. They found that revenues earmarked for schools will come in even lower than expected in January -- $153 million lower than the earlier estimates that were already revised downward. That means a total shortfall of as much as $560 million for this year and cuts to districts of $116 per pupil right at the end of the year unless new money is found.

Speak out now to stop late cuts this year!

We sent this letter to Chmn. Cushingberry, other members of the House Appropriations Committee, Reps. Ebli (Monroe) and Warren (Ann Arbor), and Sens. Brater and Richardville, on April 5th. A copy of the final letter in PDF form is attached to this posting. Dear friends, As you may know, last week the Senate passed a bill, along party lines, that would cut $34 per pupil from school districts' allowances for this year. This and other cuts were part of an attempt by the Senate's Republican majority to close the School Aid Fund deficit of $377 million without any new revenues. While the $34 cut seems small, it is coming so late in the schools' fiscal years that it has the potential to be very destructive -- especially to districts which have little or no reserve.

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