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A flurry of legislative activity in 2011, both in Michigan and in other states, addressed teacher tenure and public sector collective bargaining. A new report by the Citizens Research Council of Michigan describes the Michigan reforms and places changes in Michigan statutes in the context of history and of changes occurring in other states.
In Michigan, the state government exercises very extensive control over public education: the state School Aid Fund, rather than local property taxes, is the primary funding source for public schools; the Teacher Tenure Act is a state law; the state manages the Public School Employees Retirement System; the state is empowered to take over school districts that are in financial or academic distress. In 2011, the state legislature increased state control over the operation of local school districts through a series of public acts. Legislated changes lengthened standard probationary periods for teachers, required more rigorous formal evaluations, accelerated the due process timeframe for firing teachers, and restricted allowable subjects of collective bargaining. These changes, which both increased management control and increased management responsibilities, were intended as well to reduce costs. The eventual effect on children's education is as yet unknown.
"As parents and as citizens, we are hugely invested in what happens in our public schools. The fiscal and philosophical battles being waged by lawmakers, education administrators, and teachers affect the future of our families and our state in profound ways," according to Bettie Buss, Senior Research Associate. This report will help citizens understand the changes being imposed on teachers, their unions, and school officials.
The full report is available at no cost on the Citizens Research Council's website, http://www.crcmich.org/PUBLICAT/2010s/2012/rpt380.html.