It is not uncommon to hear a teacher complaining about the Michigan Education Association (MEA) and their lack of support for Republican candidates for office. A good number of teachers have a hard time getting behind the MEA just for that reason. After all, many teachers have conservative leanings. However, when the MEA does endorses a Republican candidate, it seems to backfire. In 2008, the MEA endorsed Grand Blanc Republican Paul Scott. According to an article in the Flint Journal, the MEA said Scott “exemplifies what MEA views as a friend of education.”
Fast forward a few years. Paul Scott is now in his second term, and now he is the chair of the House Education Committee. Despite the 2008 MEA endorsement and his education chair position, he has become anything but a friend of education. Scott who has studied to be a politician and lawyer, has never worked in the education field so far as I can tell. So maybe I shouldn’t be surprised that Scott is championing the attack on teachers rather than working to help public schools and public school children. What Scott does not understand can best be explained by something I heard from a speaker in Lansing at a rally of over 6,000 public school supporters. To paraphrase that speaker, “teachers’ working environment is their students’ learning environment. You cannot pass bills that affect teachers without also affecting students.” Paul Scott is not only willing to pass these laws, he is sponsoring them. He has co-sponsored a bill to fine the MEA $5,000 for every teacher that strikes and the bill also strips a striking teacher’s teaching license (HB4466). He also sponsored a bill that would remove the portion of law that requires “just cause” for firing a teacher (HB 4226). This bill would also allow for a teacher to be fired after 2 years of being rated “ineffective” regardless of any other factors.
Paul Scott calls seniority based lay-offs “asinine.” I might suggest allowing for a system of lay off under the disguise of performance, in a field where performance is impossible to accurately measure, as asinine. What will occur is that people who have a relationship with the administration, be it a social one or a physical one, will be the first to be retained. The next group to be retained will be the “yes men” group. The third group to be retained will be the lowest paid teachers. So basically we will have a “free market” system for lay-offs. Think about what will happen to people who have decades invested in a system and who have given everything of themselves for the children in the district in which they work. If they are not let go because of the reasons stated above, they will be let go because a new guy, with no ties to the community, who may not even want to stay for long, edges out the old guy on a performance evaluation. And suprise, the new guy only makes about half of what the old guy makes. Now the old guy, who needs a few years more to retire, will have to find someone who will want to hire an old guy and will probably have to do so at a starting teacher’s pay, which will lower his pension for life. That sounds asinine to me. But then again, “paying your dues” is probably not a phrase that Republicans would understand.
Paul Scott not only plans to destroy the profession of teaching, he is working to defund public education. Scott was a sponsor of the bill to repeal the single business tax which is now causing a huge hole in the general fund. In order to balance the general fund, the state will be taking money from the school aid fund. His latest bright idea (HB4138 & 4652), is to reduce the amount of sales tax on used automobiles which will also cause a decline in the school aid fund. Why is this guy chairing the education committee again?
Scott is no friend of education. He is an enemy combatant. Thank God teachers are starting to engage Scott in a ground war. They have begun knocking on doors to educate Scott’s constituents. He is one of many who must be replaced come November of 2012, if not sooner. Our student’s future depends on it.