Democrats have framed the opening of negotiations on these topics as a way to increase teachers’ voice in key school district decisions, potentially retain more teachers and restore key bargaining rights that unions lost in 2011 during a series of education reforms.
On the topic:
But superintendents generally oppose the measures, saying that allowing unions and districts to haggle over what grades teachers teach would lead to a system based on teacher seniority, which they say would hurt younger teachers.
“As the nation faces a teacher shortage, treating education professionals like cogs in a machine will only increase the drain on dedicated educators,” Grand Rapids Education Association member and eighth-grade science teacher Wendy Winston said Thursday. “Our teachers deserve clear and fair transfer and placement procedures. Mutually agreed upon language will protect staff and students from arbitrary and capricious involuntary transfers.”
Rep. Tom Coons, R-Claire, and two other Republicans voted against the bills. He said he believes opening teacher placement negotiations would lead to a seniority-based system where teachers with more experience get first choice as to which classes they teach.
“What they’ve done is they’ve made it bad for young teachers … they don’t have the guts to say how we’re going to accommodate teachers,” he told Bridge Michigan.
The bills would also allow bargaining over teacher evaluations. Democrats are expected to soon introduce separate legislation to change that assessment system of the state which administrators say is cumbersome and teachers unions say needs to be redesigned. Koonce told Bridge that he is open to reforming the teacher evaluation process.
The House Labor Committee heard testimony from several teachers union leaders who talked about instances where teachers received little attention before being assigned a different subject or grade level.