State Rep. Sarah Lightner this week stood up for local parents by voting against a partisan plan that gives union bosses extensive control over the education of Michigan children.
Lightner, R-Springport, said House Bills 4354-57 make changes that will erode accountability in schools, spurn highly qualified teachers in favor of those with seniority, and make it harder to evaluate the effectiveness of the education Michigan students receive.
“Our kids deserve the best possible education we can provide,” Lightner said. “To achieve that, parents must be able to hold school leaders accountable and school leaders must be able to take action to improve bad policies and correct ineffective teachers. Taking decisions away from local superintendents and school board members and turning decision-making authority over to union executives who are not accountable to the community is not in the best interest of our students.”
House Bills 4354-57 would:
- Allow unions to dictate when and how teachers are evaluated. Evaluations are an important accountability measure that ensures local school districts are able to evaluate ineffective teachers and correct course. If parents and students are regularly lodging complaints against a teacher, administrators will have limited ability to conduct observations in that classroom under this plan.
- Allow unions to bargain over teacher placement. This is a bad policy that produced horrible results in the past. Senior teachers scoop up all the easier assignments and stick new teachers with the most difficult jobs. Michigan schools already have a problem retaining teachers and attracting new people to the profession; this is going to make the problem even worse.
- Allow unions to demand an end to third-party contracts for non-instructional services. Schools often contract with other local businesses to make sure non-instructional needs – like janitorial, bus, or cafeteria services – are met in the most cost-effective manner. Efficiency in these areas ultimately frees up more money to teach students and shrink class sizes. Preventing schools from contracting these types of services could increase costs, forcing layoffs and larger class sizes.
Despite Lightner’s opposition, each of the bills was approved by the House along party lines. The legislation now advances to the Senate for further consideration.
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