Association Update

October 31, 2012

1. The local MEA office is seeking volunteers to make phone calls Sunday afternoon. If you believe in Proposal Two (and fear the consequences of failure), consider giving a little of your time to call people identified as YES voters (they will be less likely to hang up on you or worse). If you are interested, reply and I’ll provide more details (the where and when).

2. The administration met with three of us to review the new online evaluation website. We still have many unanswered questions regarding evaluations this year, but the form used last year with five major categories and, under each one, several sub-categories will be essentially the same — just online instead of on paper. The observation “checklist” seems to be more aligned with the categories on the eval. form, unlike the E-Cove observation form that had many confusing categories that were not on the actual evaluation. We still don’t know things like . . . how many observations will we have, how long will the principal observe, how many goals we have to have, how we can use data to demonstrate student “growth”, etc. When we get the answers, you will know.

3. The PEA Executive Board sent a questionnaire to all sitting school board members, along with the two candidates. So far, only the two candidates have responded. Their answers will be provided at our next PEA meeting.

4. Vote. Did I mention that you should vote next week? Well, vote.

5. Do you know what “right to work” means? It means that no one has to join a union. At first, that might sound good. Think of all the things you can do with the dues money you won’t pay. However, once enough people choose not to join, the union can’t afford to stay in business. Once the union is gone, the contract is gone. They can pay you what they want to. They can require you to do whatever they want to. They can change anything you are used to — from class size, to the workday, to the number of nights you must report to work. EVERYTHING in our contract is GONE when our association is gone. Dues are high, but in the long run, well worth it. Did I mention that your insurance is a subsidiary of MEA? When MEA is gone, MESSA goes too.

6. Vote.

7. The administration has a new contract form for us to sign. The old contract was one page. The new one is three pages. It contains things that sound really bad to me — I need to have MEA check it out. The new form was created by the Thrun Law Firm and is intended to comply with all new state laws. I’m not a lawyer, but it seems to “over reach” in a couple of areas. You won’t see the new form for at least a week or two, and I hope to get some clarity before you are asked to sign it.

8. I met with other county association reps and administrators last week, to approve the “more common” calendar for next year, and review calendars for the next six years. We (PEA) really need someone who works at the K-5 level to join the negotiations team to give the elementary perspective on everything from calendar issues to class size. Please consider joining our team for next spring’s bargaining. NO EXPERIENCE NECESSARY. We were all “first timers” once.

9. You have probably heard this already, but just in case . . . The Office of Retirement Services (ORS) is still taking retirement elections. If you made your choices by last Friday’s deadline, you can change your mind. If you didn’t choose, you still can. Until a court rules on the temporary restraining order against the deadline, the ORS site will be open. I haven’t heard if Parchment met its quota and got the $1000 bonus. I also haven’t heard what they’re going to do with the money!

As always, thanks for doing the great jobs you do with our students. Let me know if you have any questions about the above items or other contract issues. Oh yeah, and don’t forget to vote!


Elections 2012

October 13, 2012

You are probably pretty tired of hearing about the upcoming election. I don’t blame you. Between the steady stream of TV commercials urging yes or no votes and the telephone “robo” calls, it seems we can’t escape the issues.

Can we, however, fully understand the issues?

This is what we know as educators:

  • Our jobs have gotten increasingly more difficult in the last two years. The Michigan legilature has passed over 600 different bills that impact our students, our evaluations, our pensions and insurance, and our district’s funding.
  • Proposal Two is the biggest ballot issue for Michigan’s teachers. If you have been teaching for five or more years, you have gotten used to the provisions of our contract. And, you have noticed that some things in that contract disappeared last year. Why? Because the legislators decided they knew our needs better than we did.
  • Everything in your contract was placed there after both sides — teachers and administrators — negotiated together to arrive at an agreeable compromise. Both sides knew the community, the students, the local issues, and what was best for Parchment. Now, Lansing thinks they know what is best for us.

Proposal Two restores our right to bargain things locally — without interference from Lansing.

I hope you are planning to vote YES on Proposal Two, and encourage your spouse, child, parent, cousin, sibling — even neighbor — to also vote yes.

The Kalamazoo County Education Association has endorsed local candidates. These are individuals who have responded to requests for “screening” and have given education-friendly positions. We feel that they will support us in our increasingly difficult jobs if they are elected. These are Kalamazoo County positions only.

U.S. 6th Congressional — Mike O’Brien (not endorsed by MEA)
60th House Seat–  Sean McCann
63rd House Seat –Bill Farmer
Kalamazoo CountyProsecuting Attorney —  Jeffrey S. Getting
Kalamazoo County Clerk  & Register of Deeds–  Brian Johnson
Kalamazoo County Treasurer  —  Grace Borgfjord

Kalamazoo County Commission
District #2   —     Dave Buskirk
District #4   —     Michael Seals
District #5   —     Julie Rogers
District #6   —     Tom Novak
District #7   —     Leroy Crabtree
District #9   —     Robert Kildea

Local School Board

Gull Lake  —   Lin Marklin

The Michigan Education Association PAC has endorsed the following state and national candidates:

President  —  Barack Obama

Michigan Supreme Court —  Connie Marie Kelley, Bridget Mary McCormack, Shelia Johnson

State Board of Education  —   Michelle Fecteau, Lupes Ramos-Montigny

MSU Board of Trustees  —  Joel Ferguson, Brian Mosallan

U of M Board of Regents  —   Mark Bernstein, Shauna Ryder Diggs

WSU Board of Governors  —  Sandra Hughes O’Brien, Kim Trent

U.S. Senate  –Debbie Stabenow

U.S. House (some endorsed candidates are outside our area)

Gary McDowell
Steve Pestka
Dan Kildee
Sander Levin
David Curson
Syed Taj
John Dingell
John Conyers, Jr.
Gary Peters

STATE HOUSE CANDIDATES (this is a partial list of nearby districts — Click this link to find which House District you live in)

62nd House District – Kate Segal
63rd House District – William Farmer
66th House District – Richard (Dick) Rajkovich
70th House District  – Mike Huckleberry
71st House District – Theresa Abed
74th House District – Rob VerHeulen
76th House District – Winnie Brinks
87th House District – Mike Callton

MEA Recommendations on the Ballot Proposals

Proposal One (emergency manager)   —  NO

Proposal Two (collective bargaining)  — YES

Proposal Three (affordable home care)   — YES

Proposal Four (clean energy)  — YES

Proposal Five (2/3 supermajority)  — NO

Proposal Six (bridge)  — (no position)

I have 10 Yes on Prop Two yards signs. The first ten PEA members to e-mail a request can have them. Let me know ASAP!