Sunday, November 16, 2008
You have to believe by now that I am not against recall after being involved in the attempt to recall Speaker Andy Dillon of Michigan for the last 1 1/2 years. I am, however, opposed to the recent attempts to recall members of the Wayne-Westland School Board. It seems that the attempt to recall them was a result of the school board's warning that they might fire teachers who failed to obey the law. They went out on strike for four days until the court ordered them back to work.
The Wayne-Westland Education Association stated that the board failed to respond to their request to reduce class size and that any reduction would have to come out of the teachers contract. The union rejected outright the proposal put out by the board that would allow a different insurance carrier.
The school board is not requesting that the teachers receive a cut in pay or a freeze. They are not suggesting a change in insurance benefits either. They are requesting that they be allowed to shop insurance instead of using MESSA. MESSA is a not-for-profit membership organization established by the MEA as a Voluntary Employee Beneficiary Association (VEBA). Because the union gets a cut, they are reluctant to allow competitive bidding. The union wants MESSA insurance at no cost to its members. The board wants to tie the districts costs to the increase in revenue received from the state. The union flatly refused it.
Salaries for the contract year 2007-2008 for Wayne Westland range from $34,409 for the first year new hire to $94,459 to a teacher who has a PHD and has been working for the district for 14 years. Their health care benefits are among the best money can buy. The districts MEAP scores are at or below the state average.
There is no doubt that teachers have a difficult job and a great deal of responsibility. But, they do have to get a grasp on reality. They have a closed community. They use children to their advantage and even to spread their propaganda which I believe they really think is true.
They can not go on living as if there has been no change in the economy and the world. They have to remember there are people standing in line wanting their job and they are qualified to do an equally good job or better. Taking children hostage is terrorism and their parents and the community are subject to extortion.
I am glad that they are going into fact finding. Maybe an equitable solution can be reached. In a state which will soon be in worse trouble, we can not make any more promises that we can not afford. Under no circumstances should the board allow binding arbitration. People should be applauding their board not recalling them.
You can recall your board, but it will not solve the problem.