public sector

Stateside: Education reforms aim to change schools' formats

Dec 3, 2012
James Sarmiento / Flickr

The Michigan House of Representatives and Senate are looking at a series of proposals that could drastically change the state’s education system.

Jeff Williams of Public Sector Consultants and MLive reporter Tim Martin addressed the various reforms.

According to Martin, the proposals were met with a variety of responses.

“The folks in favor of it tend to be people who now offer alternatives to the traditional K-12 school districts. Some of the traditional K-12 districts feel these changes are coming too fast. They’re worried about the model and what it might mean for them from a financial standpoint,” said Martin.

The proposals would change the way schools receive funding.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Public employee union leaders are ecstatic that a referendum challenging the state’s emergency manager law will be on the November ballot.

They’ve fiercely opposed the law in large part because emergency managers have the power to alter or throw out collectively-bargained contracts.

http://www.ypsd.org/district/superintendentsmessage/

Superintendent Dedric Martin says the school system could need an emergency manager, unless staff agree to deeper cuts. 

Martin acknowledges staff already took a 10 percent salary cut. 

“That comes on the heels of additional concessions that they've made. And we've had reductions at all levels. Unfortunately it's not enough to carry a balanced budget and pay back money that has already been borrowed and spent," he said.

Martin says he knows the "emergency manager" card could be perceived as a ploy to get further concessions from unions.

Dave Bing
Mayor Dave Bing / Facebook.com

Today, Detroit Mayor Dave Bing decided to go ahead and impose new contract terms that will cut wages by 10 percent and drastically change their work rules for many of Detroit's city union workers.

This decision comes after the Detroit City Council voted down the proposed plan yesterday, 5-4.

Detroit City Council
Detroit City Council / Facebook

The Detroit City Council has rejected a proposal to impose new contract terms on most city employees.

Mayor Dave Bing asked for the changes, which include a 10-percent pay cut and major work rule changes.

City officials say Detroit’s consent agreement with the state allows them to impose the terms even without the council's approval.

A big coalition of about 30 unions representing Detroit city workers has ratified a new contract.

The workers gave up a lot, including a 10% pay cut, a major health care reorganization, and switching from traditional pensions to defined-contribution retirement plans.

But for a variety of reasons, it’s unclear whether it’s enough to help the city avoid state intervention.

Every culture and civilization has a set of myths which are sometimes partly true, but which are exaggerated out of proportion.

For example, they say any child in America can grow up to be president. That was made more believable when Barack Obama won. But for too many children today, a decent education, let alone the White House, is an impossible dream.

We take other things on faith too. These days, something most people seem to believe is that we have too many public sector employees, that they are paid too much, and that the cost of their pensions and benefits are killing us.

As a result, it is widely expected that Governor Snyder will seek deep cuts in public sector benefits to help close a nearly two billion dollar hole in next year’s state budget.