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  • MEA-Retired Members March in support of #redfored

  • MEA-Retired Officers March at Headquarters for #redfored

  • Senator Debbie Stabenow With MEA-Retired Members Jack & Jo Ellis

  • Gretchen Whitmer Speaks at MEA-RA

  • MEA-Retired Members at the Capitol

Charlotte Union Members Push for Right to Wear Red You are here:

May 22, 2018

From Michigan Education Association 
Teachers and staff in Charlotte Public Schools will join educators across Michigan wearing red shirts to show support for public education on Wednesday – two weeks after being threatened with disciplinary action for participating in the statewide show of solidarity.

The Charlotte Education Association (CEA) also will take part in a “walk-in” that day – meeting outside before school, wearing red, and walking into school together to promote the message that lawmakers should “value students, respect educators and fund our schools.”

School employees at hundreds of buildings across Michigan have held similar events on Wednesdays this May – often joined by their district’s principals, superintendents and school board members who are also concerned about our state’s broken school funding system.

“This is about a lot more than red shirts,” said CEA President Julie Davis. “This is for the kids, who deserve to receive the funding and the services they need.”

Early this month, local union leaders told Superintendent Mark Rosekrans about plans to wear red shirts during Wednesdays in May – inviting administrators to participate – and he told Davis those wearing a red shirt would get a written warning in their personnel file.

When CEA members went ahead with plans to wear red on Wednesday, May 9, building administrators took pictures of teachers wearing the shirts, some with lettering that read, “Support Charlotte teachers as we support your students,” according to MEA UniServ Director Yvonne Briley-Wilson.

In addition, that day at least two local leaders experienced unannounced classroom observations while wearing the shirts.

By the end of the day, Rosekrans issued a staff memorandum announcing that “political action and/or protest (including wearing certain T-shirts in support of a cause) is not allowed while at work, and the failure to ignore this rule could result in discipline.”

The staff was frightened but undeterred, according to the local president and other teachers interviewed for this story. “We’re unified, we stand together, and we support public education,” Davis said.

Upset by the memo – which constituted an attack on protected union activity – staff members across Charlotte’s five buildings wore blue shirts on Thursday, May 10, but delayed a planned walk-in on the following Wednesday until a general membership meeting could be held to allay fears and gauge interest.

Bolstered by support from MEA, CEA members voted to proceed with the walk-in this week. In the meantime, the superintendent backed away from his earlier memo – sending out an email stating coordinated shirts were allowed as long as they did not contain a “political statement.”

Teachers in the district want to communicate a sense of urgency about issues facing educators in Charlotte and in many schools across the state and country, “so we can work collaboratively to solve them,” Davis said.

Educators in the district say school staffing has been cut to the bone. Without adequate paraeducators, social workers, and counselors, teachers are left without the support they need to manage difficult behaviors and differentiate instruction to the needs of students.

“We have a high-poverty population, and a lot of kids need extra help – a lot of families need help – and they don’t get that because we don’t have a social worker anymore,” one teacher said. “We have oversized classes, and trying to get to all of those kids is impossible.”

Behavior systems that should be developed and implemented school-wide are left to individual teachers to figure out, those interviewed said. In addition, the district eliminated a classroom for students with Emotional Impairment (EI), so those children remain in general education classrooms and resource rooms ill-equipped to address their needs.

Across all grade levels, school employees have seen their supply budgets shrink. Teachers interviewed for this story say they spend hundreds of dollars buying basic items for their classrooms, including books, paper, pencils, crayons, disinfectant wipes, and tissues.

And the substitute teacher shortage means faculty members routinely lose planning time filling in for absent colleagues. Title I specialists and “encore” teachers – who provide classes such as art and physical education – often sub instead of providing targeted services to students.

At the same time, the district has built up a fund equity – or rainy day fund – nearing 20 percent. The state recommends that districts hold at least 5 percent of funds in reserve. The district should not be banking money when needs are high and unmet, Davis said.

“We have a pool of money that’s not being utilized the way it was meant to be,” she said.

The resulting low morale has led to above-average teacher turnover of 15 percent a year in the past several years, she added. “Our new teacher turnover is through the roof, because you can’t keep people under these conditions.”

School employees have creative ideas, and they want to be part of a collaborative effort to solve problems, the teachers said.

“We all want kids to succeed,” said one educator who asked not to be identified. “Why can’t we all be on the same team?”

Mich. educators oppose arming teachers, MEA says

May 14, 2018

Detroit News: May 14, 2018

“A majority of Michigan Education Association educators polled on the potential arming of school personnel oppose it, according to survey results released Monday by the association.

The survey, which included responses from 1,005 public school employees who are MEA members, found 71 percent opposed allowing school employees to carry concealed guns in schools. Sixty-seven percent said allowing school personnel to carry firearms in schools would be ineffective at preventing gun violence in schools, according to the survey conducted by GBA Strategies, a Washington, D.C.-based consulting group.”  To continue reading click here.

Report of MEA-Retired Observer of MPSERS Board Meeting

May 02, 2018

The Office of Retirement Services has met with the MEA-Retired Officers quarterly this past year. Changes are discussed and officers are brought up-to-date about what is happening. Frequently officers take letters from MEA-Retired members who have expressed concerns or have problems with their health care to discuss at this meeting. So please consider sending us a letter or e-mail if you have issues. Putting issues in writing has a greater impact and is much more successful.

The Michigan Public School Employees' Retirement System Board provides oversight of the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System.  This 12-member Board oversees the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System administration.  The MPSERS board meets several times a year and are open to the public.  Their meetings schedules can be found on their website at : https://www.michigan.gov/orsschools/0,4653,7-206-47004---,00.html

MEA-Retired has a member attend these public meetings and reports back to their membership at the MEA-Retired Board of Director’s meetings.  Mr. Jim Pearson represents MEA-Retired at MPSERS meetings and is our advocate there.  To read Jim’s March 15, 2018 report click here.

New Medicare Card Arriving

May 01, 2018

You may have heard Medicare will be removing Social Security numbers from Medicare cards and issuing new cards to help guard against identity theft.

New Medicare cards will show an 11-digit Medicare number that is unique to individuals. Medicare will mail new cards gradually between April 2018 and April 2019. Mailing everyone a new Medicare card will take some time. Your card may arrive at a different time than your friends and neighbors. Be sure to go to www.ssa.gov to update your address on file with the Social Security Administration if you’ve recently moved.

Individuals enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B before April 2018 don’t need to take any action. Medicare will provide their new Medicare numbers to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, OptumRx and Office of Retirement Services (ORS).

If you have a family member who becomes eligible for Medicare Part A and Part B after April 2018, ORS will mail you instructions on how to update your insurance enrollment with their new Medicare number. Tell ORS your family members’ Medicare numbers as soon as new Medicare cards are received. Once ORS receives the Medicare numbers, they will be sent to Blue Cross and OptumRx and your insurance rate will be adjusted as a result of your family members’ enrollment in the Medicare plan.

Coming Soon: 2018 Verification of Coverage survey

Apr 30, 2018

The 2018 Verification of Coverage survey will be mailed to all retirees in May. You must complete this form for yourself and anyone else covered by your retirement system health plan. You must respond to the survey, even if you don’t have other coverage. If you don’t respond to the survey, your retirement system medical plan and prescription drug coverage will be canceled.

The Verification of Coverage survey asks you to identify any other health coverage you or your dependents might have in addition to your retirement system coverage. The information is used to determine your eligibility in the retirement system’s health plan.
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