Amy Kerr Hardin

The Siege on Michigan Public Education – By the Numbers

The Siege on Michigan Public Education – By the Numbers

By Amy Kerr Hardin at Democracy Tree

Democracy Tree reported late last week that the effects of anti-union laws directed at Michigan teachers, including the ban on payroll deduction of dues and right-to-work, had a miniscule impact on the voluntary payment of dues among Michigan Education Association members.

MEA president Steve Cook said a mere 1 percent didn’t pay. The GOP scheme was a flop.

While that number by itself speaks of the utter failure of bullying tactics employed by the Michigan legislature, it says even more when put in a larger context. Here are some more numbers that make that 1 percent non-payment truly astounding.

Let’s start with the soft numbers.

Although it’s difficult to pin down, somewhere between 41 and 51 percent of MEA and NEA members are Democrats. The results vary by study and by year (and possibly who’s reporting them). Similarly, about 25 percent, more or less, identify as Republicans and the rest as Independents. Without citing or clinging to any particular study or survey here, if those numbers are even remotely close to accurate, they say plenty about how teachers place the importance of their union membership over political affiliation.  And, even if those numbers are wildly inaccurate, it is safe to say that the Democrat to Republican ratio among Michigan teachers is certainly not 99 to 1.

Now, here are some hard numbers to gnaw on.

  • MEA union dues are currently set at 1.5 percent of the previous year’s salary, with an annual cap of $635 — a figure 99 percent are willingly to pay for representation they value– even under the GOP assault.
  • Average beginning pay for Michigan K-12 teachers is $34,100. Average overall salary for Michigan teachers is $55,541.
  • Lawmakers in Michigan earn $71,685, which is among the highest nationwide. Their expense account offers another $10,800 a year, with additional generous allowances for transportation costs and staff.
  • Nearly all public school teachers spend heavily out-of-pocket to supply their classroom — a National School Supply and Equipment Association Survey found that 99.5 percent spent on average $485 a year for classroom materials. That dollar number reflects 1.4 percent of an entry-level teacher’s salary in Michigan.

There are additional hard numbers that demonstrate the depth and breadth of the siege on Michigan’s educators.

Some very disturbing trends were uncovered in a recent analysis conducted by the Citizens Research Council. Their report titled Michigan’s Single-State Recession and its Effects on Public Employment, spurred them to conduct a comparative state-by-state analysis of public sector employment trends since the 2007 “Great Recession”, with Michigan public education numbers in focus. They drew from data found in another report from The Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government. They found the following trends (emphasis mine):

Over the nearly four and one-half year period examined by the Rockefeller Institute, Michigan had the third largest slide in public sector employment (7.4 percent), behind Nevada (10.1 percent) and Rhode Island (8.3 percent).  In percentage terms, Michigan’s decline was nearly three times as large as the total U.S. public sector employment decline over this period (2.7 percent).  As documented in the CRC report, and confirmed by the Rockefeller Institute, job losses in the local government sector (11.4 percent – second largest decline behind Nevada) fueled the overall public sector decline in Michigan, as was the case for the nation as a whole (3.2 percent).

The job losses they cite in the “local government sector” are primarily from one subset — K-12 education.

Michigan’s job losses in this sector have been much more severe (more than a factor of four) compared to the U.S. total during the Great Recession…the losses have been fueled by the consistent plunge in education jobs (primarily K-12 education).  Education employment for the U.S. declined more than non-education, but the difference between the two sub-sectors was not as significant as the decline in Michigan.  For the U.S., education lost about 3.5 percent of the jobs in existence in December 2007, compared to a loss of about 2.0 percent of the non-education jobs.  Michigan, in stark contrast, shed over 17.8 percent of the jobs in education compared to the December 2007 level.  Non-education local government employment, which is dominated by public safety, is 6.8 percent below the December 2007.  This job loss is nearly three times as large as the loss in the U.S. for this sector.

The CRC drives the point home with the following observation:

What is striking from analyzing the data is the fact that Michigan’s employment contraction in [the public] sector has well exceeded the contraction experienced in the U.S. overall.   The job losses have been most acute in the local government sector, especially education.

Numbers don’t lie — Michigan public education is in great peril.

Amy Kerr Hardin

Detroit Free Press Snyder Endorsement Actually Predicted How He Would Screw Michigan

That ill-advised Snyder endorsement contained a hidden gem….one the Detroit Free Press hopes readers won’t revisit.

It’s not often that a major metropolitan newspaper editorial board makes the news over an opinion piece, but that’s just what happened this past week as the Detroit Free Press backed-out of Governor Snyder’s camp like it was suddenly a circulation-killing leper colony. Their “opinion” diatribe displayed a full-blown case of the second stage of grief: Anger — after having lingered on the first stage: Denial, for nearly two years post their endorsement of the governor. Snyder’s about-face on Right-to-work spelled the end of their steamy relationship. The Free Press went well beyond dumping, they completely sanitized themselves of their affection for his dirty politics.

The editors would be well served to examine how much journalistic research was invested in identifying their candidate of choice. On the surface, without even comparing and contrasting Snyder to Virg Bernero, his Democratic foe, you’d think a responsible editorial board would at least question the wisdom of putting a known corporate raider in charge of a state that earned a solid “F” on its Corruption Risk Report Card from the State Integrity Investigation Project. Wide-open for potential corruption, Michigan ranks 44th, with all three branches of government receiving individual flunking grades. More →

Michigan Lawmakers’ Attack on Women

Blessed be the Lawmakers — A Seasonal Kind of Celebration….

by Amy Kerr Hardin | Democracy Tree

Oh ye fine ladies, tis anon thouest doth pay homage to thine heroes of ye honourable Michigan O’Legislature – cometh now, permit not thou pouteth such, be ye good fair maidens and displayeth proper respect and beareth due homage uponst thine finest of menfolk… 

Exalt! Courageous leaders be they!

Get your shit together girlfriends, sit down, sinch-up your wimples, cross those ankles, hands in lap, and give a demure smile of thanks for the Republican leaders that boldly saved you from the assault of multiple heinous bills and resolutions, all bravely slain in committee, with no chance of disturbing your pretty little heads.

Let us now enumerate the laws slain by Republicans to protect the gentler sex (a solemn reading, please bow your heads, chicas)– More →

A Ballot Proposal Too Far – Michigan’s Proposition 6

My friends and I, along with many dedicated democracy lovers in the statewide coalition Stand Up for Democracy, have spent over a year and a half campaigning and fighting for our basic right to home rule in the state of Michigan. We ran an honest and earnest petition drive with great integrity, and that is why we prevailed. It wasn’t easy, but it was worth it, and with plenty more hard work and a bit of luck, we will enjoy success in the good fight in November.

…If you live in Michigan and own a functioning TV set, you know all about Prop 6, and you probably have exercised use of the mute function on your remote more than usual these past few months.

…The ads are more than fact-challenged — they are unabashedly based on complete lies.

…Prop 6 is nothing more than a bunch of rich asshole friends of the owners of the Ambassador Bridge, the Moroun family, pooling their millions to attempt to hijack and re-purpose the on-going progressive movement to protect education, public services, and our teachers and firefighters.

Tell your friends not to be fooled.

To read Amy Kerr Hardin’s complete post at Democracy Tree, please click here.