Those efforts by myself and thousands of other so-called 'union bosses' haven't stopped this Legislature's relentless efforts to wreck collective bargaining--and by extension, public education. So when I started hearing about 'the power of union bosses' being 'enshrined in the Michigan Constitution' by opponents of Proposal 2, I had to laugh at how ridiculous that sounds.
I remember spending a good deal of time in Lansing, trying to explain to one Republican state senator that academia is very different from the private sector, and how his idiotic 'cyber schools' idea could not possibly do the job that our public schools do regularly. My fellow Michigan Education Association colleagues all over the state tried to show this Republican legislature the error of its ways in trashing public education.
It all fell on deliberately deaf ears, because these radicals had their own agenda.
More charter schools and 'cyber schools' have been promoted, despite plenty of evidence showing their performance ranging from unproven to horrendous.
Teacher tenure has been crippled, tempting administrators all over the state to satisfy personal grudges and fire effective teachers with impunity.
Seniority in placements and layoffs has been abolished--with the intent of dumping experienced teachers in favor of 'cheaper' ones, which will prove the old adage that you get what you pay for.
Teachers have had 3% of their income illegally stolen from them for quite some time, in the guise of retirement health care reform.
These are only a few examples of Republican educational 'reforms.'
Their plan to 'reform' public education out of existence is simple: drastically cut and withhold the funds schools need, rig tests to make public schools fail, mostly through too much weight on an 'achievement gap' on standardized state tests along with artificially high 'cut scores,' then hand over those 'failed schools' to private companies.
What, you may ask, does any of this have to do with Proposal 2? EVERYTHING.
Governor Snyder and the Republicans in the Legislature have perverted the whole collective bargaining process with their so-called 'education reforms,' putting too much power in the hands of school administrators. If they succeed in opposing Proposal 2, they'll do more than pervert the process--they'll try to abolish it for all public sector employees. Do you think they'll stop there, and leave private sector unions alone? I think not. What will happen to the middle class then?
Proposal 2 won't do anything for me personally that it won't do for everyone in the state. It actually does enshrine something for all of us: a fair process for collective bargaining away from the Legislature's ability to screw it up, or abolish it altogether. It will be there for everyone to benefit from--like it is in several other states.
I'm a firm believer in public schools being the best guarantor of social mobility and the best hope for a bright future for our children. I stand opposed to all efforts to destroy it, and I reject that ridiculous notion that the leadership of democratic unions like the one I represent can somehow subvert democracy.
Public education, public sector employees, and collective bargaining are all too important to be messed with by radicals in the Legislature. That's why this 'union boss' will vote YES on Proposal 2, and hopes that you do the same on November 6.
Trenton Education Association