A lot can happen while you’re sleeping and going through the routine of everyday life so to speak. If you haven’t been paying attention here in Michigan, much has been going on with politics and governing. While the national focus was busy on Wisconsin, here in Michigan all manner of craziness has been taking place through the passing of legislation stealthily under an emergency provision. The only national figure that has made much of a fuss about what is happening in Michigan seems to be Rachel Maddow. For this I thank you Rachel. I didn’t know about the over five hundred bills that have been passed with this emergency situation. I knew about the emergency manager law that installs a little “dictator” in the place of people that have been voted into their positions, essentially denying voters their voted choice. I did not know the manner in which the bulk of legislation has been passed this past year, through an emergency bill that doesn’t even take a roll call vote. How 73 votes can be counted in a few seconds by a human being is beyond me. Rachel has a video here that shows how this is being done. I haven’t read about this in any local Michigan paper and I have been wondering why the Democrats have been so weak. Well, now I know! Please watch this video all the way through. It is radical what is happening in my beloved state. This is not democracy!
As a teacher here in Michigan, I feel like I have a target on my back. It is all related to the fact that I am part of a teachers’ union more than anything else. The Snyder government is swiftly doing whatever it can do to destroy any teacher union in Michigan by passing legislation that essentially disrupts the bargaining process. The Republicans will say it is about money but it really is about the politics of it all. They recently passed legislation that will not allow schools to deduct my union dues from my pay. Now I have direct deposit and money is taken out for a lot of different things including United Way and the Sturgis Foundation. It just doesn’t make any sense that my union dues couldn’t work the same way as the United Way. This is just a way to make it more difficult for me as a teacher. I will protest this and it may be through things like the United Way. This legislation needs to be stopped. As a teacher I haven’t been a part of a team that is just concerned about money and insurance. Class size is an important issue. It’s difficult to get around to students if you have a large class. Our advanced math class has 37 students in it. That is just too many students for one teacher to really get around to every student, no matter how great a teacher he/she is. The issue of class size is basically a dead issue. Nothing is going to happen to improve this situation with the current legislative body in Lansing. I encourage everyone to please get involved and find out about these issues.
The pressure for teachers is very great right now. They have to produce some kind of result based on a test students take. If you think this is not going to have any kind of affect on your child, you must be kidding yourself. Emotionally, your child might be feeling beat up by a system that tells him/her that they just aren’t good enough. In other ways your child might be denied exploratory classes that might help him/her develop special talents. This is a frustrating time for educators, but I think it is apt to be even more frustrating to the child that can’t seem to fit into the square peg when they might be more like a circle. Just as we, as adults, aren’t all the same, children learn and develop at different rates as well. In my seventh grade art class, I recently had a child create a comic strip called “The Alien Take Over”. Just so you know, MEAP stands for the Michigan Educational Assessment Program….you know, THE TEST! Now for the child that is brilliant, this may not have a big effect on him/her. However, if your child gets stressed out easily, lacks self esteem, needs more time, or is a perfectionist, he/she just might get even more stressed out with what’s happening in education today when they just don’t quite “measure” up! In the comic strip the student is abducted and taken to the MEAP. I really wouldn’t want my child’s memories of school to be about some big test. I remember one big test when I was in school and that was the SAT. I certainly wouldn’t want that test to be the only thing I remembered in my K-12 experience. I remember good and bad teachers the most. I remember the kindness of my second grade teacher, Mrs. Smith, when she gave me a brief case to hold my books because we were moving. Above all else that stands out in my mind. I hope you can remember some teacher that made you feel special, not one that made you feel stupid because you failed to pass the MEAP.
By the way, Rachel Maddow, keep it up! I appreciate all that you do to shine a light on what is happening in Michigan and for that, I thank you!