Saturday, February 5, 2011

Work & Money

Steve Norton (of Michigan Parents for Schools) pointed out this timely issue briefing by the D.C.-based Economic Policy Institute:
Are Michigan Public Employees Over-Compensated? (The report says no.)
Obviously, that's been the subject of much discussion over the past couple of weeks. Rick Snyder's administration came out with a report last week saying yes, they are.

In any case, this week Mary Morgan reports in the Ann Arbor Chronicle on the recent Washtenaw County Commissioners' (and top staff/elected officials) retreat. Since employee compensation is over 70% of the cost of most organizations--including the county--obviously what county employees get paid is relevant to the discussion.

Given what is going on with public schools, I found this description of what Catherine McClary (County Treasurer) had to say most interesting:

McClary described how she grew up in Ypsilanti and Augusta Township. Both of her parents were public school teachers – they weren’t paid well, she noted, because teachers weren’t unionized at the time. Her dad moonlighted as a bus driver because those jobs were unionized and he could earn more. Her earliest memories were going door to door to solicit support for a school millage.
 And now, the bus drivers in some districts are unionized...for the WISD they are trying to organize...teachers at public school districts are unionized, but for the most part public charter school teachers and private school teachers are not.

I'm not currently a union member (I have been a member of two different unions in the past), but I'm grateful for the unions that gave us a five-day work week, safe working conditions, and living wages.


  1. Willow Run's numbers are shocking, but Ypsi's aren't so great, either. Tough world for public schools right now, and the linked story makes it look like they're about to get tougher:

    It's one thing when the federal government makes these big decisions, but what is with our own State Board of Education, anyway?

    - YpsiAnon

  2. Yes, you're right. And both Ypsilanti's and Willow Run's unions have made significant concessions.

    What Willow Run has had that Ypsilanti has NOT had include: crooked administrators; consistent declines in school enrollment; constant in-fighting between and among school board members; and even higher increases in child poverty than Ypsilanti. And all of that has kept them from doing the kind of planning that Ypsilanti has been doing (albeit only partly successfully). And that shows up, when both high schools get labeled as "failing" but Willow Run's "turnaround" plan is poorly written, doesn't meet the requirements of the program, and needs major changes; whereas Ypsilanti's plan is accepted with minor changes.

  3. As for the state school board, I think the driving issue is that Michigan students are scoring as proficient on the MEAP/MME but doing poorly on nationally-ranked tests, which indicates that the scoring might be too easy on the MEAP. [Which actually, I find interesting in that I think the MEAP has always well-reflected my individual children's proficiencies and deficits.] So their "fix" is to raise the MEAP cutoffs. I agree, that's not a fix. It's just likely to punish struggling schools more.