Firing teachers who even discuss the possibility of striking

    Once again, the Republicans of Michigan are making national headlines for their bold new policy initiatives. Today, it’s House bill 4465, sponsored by Bill Rogers of Brighton. If passed, it would, among other things, punish striking teachers by stripping them of their credentials for two years, making it impossible for them to work as educators in the state of Michigan. The following assessment of the legislation comes from the Michigan Education Association:

    A proposal supposedly intended to deter teachers from illegally striking would now strip them of their ability to teach for two years – or for life – and would kick out the employee’s union for five years.

    The penalties would apply even if no strike actually occurred, so long as it was determined that a strike was in the planning stages. The legislation states that neither a union member nor a union could “solicit or encourage any other person to strike” or “conspire with any other person to cause a strike.”

    Yup, you read that right. You could lose your job for two years, or for life, even if you don’t actually strike… All you have to do is consider striking. Here’s more.

    The House Education Committee took testimony today on House Bills 4465 and 4466. A vote could come as early next week. MEA vigorously opposes these bills that seek to further silence the voices of school employees.

    The committee listened to testimony from several people, including Reps. Paul Scott, R-Grand Blanc, and Bill Rogers, R-Brighton, sponsors of the bills.

    Saying striking teachers pose a “spectacle,” Scott said he backed harsh penalties because educators are “valuable.”

    “I think a teacher in a child’s classroom is absolutely vital,” Scott said.

    Democrats on the panel questioned why the bills single out teachers and asked why current law – which makes strikes illegal and allows penalties – is insufficient.

    “We’re picking on teachers,” said Rep. Douglas Geiss, D-Taylor. “The next step is to take teachers out back and shoot them.”

    Among other things, the bills would:

    • Require non-tenured teachers who strike to be fired immediately.
    • Suspend the teaching certificate of tenured teachers for at least two years or permanently revoke the certificate.
    • Consolidate cases so that all employees alleged to have participated in a strike would be judged together; the time period for these cases would be greatly collapsed.
    • The union representing the employees on strike would be decertified for five years. The state would order a new election with a different union. These penalties would apply even if no actual strike occurred, but if a union or its representative was found to “solicit or encourage any other person to strike” or to “conspire with any other person to cause a strike.”

    Wayne-Westland Community Schools Superintendent Gregory Baracy testified about a work stoppage in his district in 2008. It was the last major job action in a public school in Michigan.

    He disputed media reports and teacher complaints at the time about large class sizes as the reason for the teachers’ action. He criticized union members and leaders who were involved. Baracy tried to dismiss the fact that an administrative law judge found the district had violated its duty to bargain in good faith and had ordered the district to “cease and desist” from refusing to do so and from failing to provide relevant information to the union, a point mentioned by Rep. Lisa Brown, D-West Bloomfield.

    It was repeatedly noted during the hearing that teacher strikes are already illegal – and rare…

    Oh, and then there’s HB 4241 which would eliminate teacher tenure.

    Way to go, Michigan!

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      26 Comments

      1. LaidOffTeacherPatti
        Posted April 21, 2011 at 8:23 pm | Permalink

        For the record, we really don’t have tenure like the professors do. I mean, a principal can put together a case against us if s/he just takes the time to make it. We really have more of “due process”…that is, my principal can’t decide to just fire me when I walk in on Tuesday. What he CAN do is put together a case against me…he would have to show that I wasn’t where I was supposed to be (i.e. I’m supposed to be in 8th grade math during 3rd hour but I was in the staff room…which I never am b/c I am where I am supposed to be). Or he puts together a list of times I was late or snuck out (I don’t)…you see where I’m going with this.

        Anyway, what next for teachers? Extra taxes? Maybe double my house note during the summer months when I’m off (and not getting paid, btw)? String me up by my thumbs? Come on politicians–what’s next?

        FYI, My lay off notice announced the EFM Rob Bobb is going to make substantial changes to our contract as of May 17th…you’ll be the first to know, Mark.

      2. Dirtgrain
        Posted April 21, 2011 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

        It’s comical the way they keep patching on shit, as if they keep realizing they can get away with more and more. Maybe they can. How Republican is this state these days?

      3. Boy O Boy
        Posted April 21, 2011 at 10:39 pm | Permalink

        “Teachers” who go on strike are basically hostage takers who threaten children and parents to get what they want which is pay WAY above what they deserve. NO, I don’t support the “right” of anyone who threatens children to line their pockets.

        The whole “teacher certification” system is a farce. THOUSANDS of successful homeschoolers have proved that you don’t need a state endorsement to teach your children. Teacher certification is a farce developed by state sponsored universities to maintain their monopoly and force people to pay obscene tuition. Why? All for the pleasure of being brainwashed into their doctrine so they force their views on our children.

        It’s not just teachers’ unions that need to go. It’s the whole oppressive process of certification. If you get rid of that you will have plenty of truly qualified people willing to teach our children what they truly need to learn.

      4. cause for concern
        Posted April 21, 2011 at 11:23 pm | Permalink

        RE: Boy O Boy, Are you suggesting that we just have teachers in the public schools who have no certification at all?? What alternative system are you suggesting?

      5. Posted April 21, 2011 at 11:44 pm | Permalink

        Really?

      6. Posted April 22, 2011 at 12:17 am | Permalink

        I don’t really have any opinions on grade school teacher certification, simply because I don’t know much about it. I really don’t know enough to defend or criticize it, though I am a professional teacher myself.

        However, your assertion that getting rid of certification rules and teaching standards would result in better education is interesting.

        Do you believe that medical care would improve if medical licensing were abolished?

        After all, there are millions of people who have successfully treated their own conditions.

        I curious as to what you might think.

      7. Posted April 22, 2011 at 12:18 am | Permalink

        Also, what exactly do children need to learn?

      8. EOS
        Posted April 22, 2011 at 4:51 am | Permalink

        Education should teach students the skills necessary for self-learning: reading comprehension, mathematical computation, and reasoning. A teacher may motivate but all knowledge is self-acquired.

      9. Knox
        Posted April 22, 2011 at 5:55 am | Permalink

        I think we should have all teachers wear scarlet “T”s on their chests, so that they can be identified in public, in case people want to slap them, or spit upon them.

      10. EOS
        Posted April 22, 2011 at 6:43 am | Permalink

        There are no teaching certifications or standards imposed on those who teach at the College or University level. And large numbers of students still go heavily into debt to receive instruction from hundreds of thousands of educators who have never taken a single pedagogical course.

      11. Posted April 22, 2011 at 6:52 am | Permalink

        Have you ever taught?

        ….

        No, I didn’t think so.

        Just because people do certain things, doesn’t make them a good idea. Proper training of college and university educators would go a long way to improving the first couple of years of college education.

      12. EOS
        Posted April 22, 2011 at 7:29 am | Permalink

        I am a Michigan certified secondary educator in the science field. I wasn’t taught anything in the School of Education that was beneficial in my subsequent teaching assignments.

      13. Dirtgrain
        Posted April 22, 2011 at 7:33 am | Permalink

        Boy O Boy: “The whole “teacher certification” system is a farce. THOUSANDS of successful homeschoolers have proved that you don’t need a state endorsement to teach your children.”

        This is terribly flawed logic. The success of one parent teaching one or several children is not comparable to one teacher teaching thirty students (give or take)–I’ll be having forty students in my classes next year (I have 34-36 per class right now), if something doesn’t change between now and then with school funding.

      14. Dirtgrain
        Posted April 22, 2011 at 7:34 am | Permalink

        “I wasn’t taught anything in the School of Education that was beneficial in my subsequent teaching assignments.”

        I don’t believe you. Beware of absolutes.

      15. EOS
        Posted April 22, 2011 at 7:43 am | Permalink

        You’re right Dirtgrain. Perhaps I should have phrased it differently. There was little taught in the School of Education that benefited subsequent instruction. I can load a filmstrip into a projector and properly set up a tripod screen assembly.

      16. Brainless
        Posted April 22, 2011 at 8:03 am | Permalink

        Hey EOS, I’m calling you out from the other thread. You haven’t commented on the U.S. reaching its height of power and influence during a high-tax time in its history. Whatsa matter? Nobody give you any talking points?

        Worthless little ditto-head child. No wonder you didn’t learn anything in college. Too worried about your red stapler there, Milton?

      17. John Galt
        Posted April 22, 2011 at 8:17 am | Permalink

        Teaching is an elitist field. I think the profession should be opened up to people with more diverse backgrounds, like high school dropouts, fast food managers, military recruiters and of itinerant fundamentalist ministers. Life experience should be valued, and not just book learning. If this were to happen, you’d see the children of our country finally reaching their full potential.

      18. Edward
        Posted April 22, 2011 at 8:20 am | Permalink

        Are you teaching now, EOS? Are you one of those bad teachers we keep hearing about who can’t be fired? I would love it if Mark could interview some of the kids who you taught science to.

      19. Glen S.
        Posted April 22, 2011 at 8:24 am | Permalink

        Over the past thirty years, the carcass of what was once a great, proud nation has been systematically stripped clean by legions of lawyers, accountants and politicians from both parties — all in loyal service to the unbridled avarice of the already super-rich, along with multinational corporations and major Wall Street “banks.”

        Now, as many in the working- and middle-class are finally waking up to realize that both they and their homeland have been robbed blind … and that neither they nor their children will ever again enjoy the kind of security and prosperity that was once part of the American Dream, there are justifiably angry and looking for someone to blame.

        That so many of them could so easily be manipulated by right-wing charlatans into believing their resentment is best directed at largely middle-class public-sector workers — and most especially, SCHOOL TEACHERS (!) — would be funny, if it weren’t so sad, not to mention scary.

      20. EOS
        Posted April 22, 2011 at 8:25 am | Permalink

        Teaching is an large aspect of my current position. I tell the pool owners all about the critters that live in their pools and explain the chemistry of pee.

      21. MaryKay Rep
        Posted April 22, 2011 at 10:29 am | Permalink

        I like the idea of firing teachers for committing acts of thought crime. I think a superintendent should be able to fire a teacher if he sees even a glimmer in her eye that she might be plotting behind his back.

      22. K2
        Posted April 22, 2011 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

        It’ll be much better once administrators can hire anyone, as long as they can read from a script.

      23. TT
        Posted April 22, 2011 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

        That’s why all teachers should be replaced with sexy mannequins outfitted with tape recorders.

      24. LaidOffTeacherPatti
        Posted April 22, 2011 at 9:44 pm | Permalink

        Don’t hate on me but I have to agree with EOS re: the teacher ed programs. I won’t say that they didn’t teach me *anything* but I will say that I had been teaching adult ed for two years and kind of just got it right away. I have never been a “natural” at anything but I did kind of naturally “take” to teaching. Nevertheless, I did learn some stuff, but there was very little talk about classroom management (very important), only one class on special ed for the general ed teachers (crazy given the push for inclusion). I didn’t even see an IEP until I was doing student teaching! So yeah, a little more pragmatic stuff would have been helpful.
        Having said that, there still needs to be some sort of standards/certification process to maintain the integrity of the profession. No offense if you do this for a living, but I don’t want the busboy at Denny’s teaching Braille to the kiddos. At least not until s/he takes a few classes.
        Further, I think there SHOULD be some sort of certification for folks at the university level…the crappiest teachers I ever had were at my undergraduate, law school and graduate schools…my K-12 teachers were rock stars compared to some of those hacks.

      25. EOS
        Posted April 23, 2011 at 7:48 am | Permalink

        Thanks Patti. The worst teachers I ever had were at the School of Ed. I had one Professor that apologized to the class but explained that he was required to give a final exam during the scheduled time. He passed out a list of 5 essay questions in advance and told us that we would have to choose 3 to answer during the “final”. They were seemingly good questions but did not pertain to anything we discussed in class or covered in any reading assignment. I went to the Professors scheduled office hours and inquired as to how he expected us to answer the questions since it was uncovered material. He said there were no right or wrong answers and as long as I took a position and backed it with supporting statements in a well written essay that I’d do fine.

        So when I got my exam back with no corrections and no comments but with a “B” grade, I asked him why. He told me that it was well written, but since I had questioned the assignment, I got the “B”. “I can’t give everyone A’s.”

      26. LaidOffTeacherPatti
        Posted April 23, 2011 at 11:29 am | Permalink

        EOS, I feel ya. I would love to somehow teach at the School of Ed AND have my job but that’s really not possible. For now though here are some hints to any future teachers on here: 1) be enthusiastic…you’d be amazed at what you can get the kids to do just because YOU are excited. I taught government for 3 years and had them rockin’ in the aisles, singing the 27 Amendments to the 12 days of Xmas theme, 2) be consistent–if you give a consequence, follow through. Don’t say “If you don’t stop, I’m taking away gym” and then let the kid go to gym. See the problem? 3) If you are teaching in the hood like I do, you are possibly the only consistent adult in that kid’s life so please do what you say you are going to do and if you can’t, explain why. It’s amazing how well kids adapt when they understand WHY something is or isn’t going to happen.

        There is much much more and, as I said, I want to keep certification programs to maintain the integrity of the field but they need some more real life skillz, yo, taught up in there.

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