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Michigan legislature passes ‘anti-collective bargaining’ education reforms

The Republican-led state Legislature ended its session last night by passing a highly controversial package of reforms that reduce job security for teachers.

The Detroit Free Press reports that the bills will:

• Extend from four years to five the time it takes a new teacher to earn tenure protection.

• Bar districts from using seniority as a primary factor when laying off teachers.

• Require parents to be notified in writing if their child is taught by a teacher rated “ineffective.”

• Add seven items to the list of things unions can’t bargain for — including placement of teachers, personnel issues related to layoffs and decisions regarding discharge or discipline of an employee.

The legislation also sets up a new system for evaluating teachers.

The Detroit News reports:

Starting in the 2013-14 school year, 25 percent of a teacher’s annual year-end evaluation would be graded on their students’ academic growth on assessment data; the percentage would be increased incrementally each year until the 2015-16 school year, and thereafter, when 50 percent of teacher evaluations would be based on students’ growth and test scores.

The Michigan Education Association called the bills “anti-collective bargaining, anti-tenure” measures that will hurt children by forcing good teachers out of the profession and increasing staff turnover.

“This is a sad day for Michigan students,” said MEA President Iris K. Salters. “Whenever the working conditions of Michigan school employees are threatened, the learning conditions of students are deeply affected.”

Salters said the bills will do nothing to ensure that schools have adequate resources for education.

The Legislature’s move to cut $500 million from K-12 education this spring has led to lay-offs for 15,000 public school employees according to a report issued by the pro-labor We Are the People Foundation yesterday.

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