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  • Jessica Lumbreras, UniServ Consultant speaks at Jan 9, 2019 Board Meeting

  • MEA President Paula Herbart & officers

  • Board of Directors Meeting January 9 2019

  • Gretchen Witmer Speaks to over 50 Michigan Union Leaders at MiARA Meeting at MEA

Whitmer Makes Education a Priority

Feb 21, 2019

MEA Capitol Comments

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer listed education funding along with fixing roads and other infrastructure as the top two priorities facing Michigan policymakers during her first State of the State address on Tuesday night.

Everyone can see the terrible condition of the state’s roads, and the average motorist spends $562 per year in car repairs from damage related to crumbling streets and highways – a “road tax that doesn’t even fix the damn roads,” Whitmer said.

Less visible is the education crisis confronting Michigan, although numerous studies from a variety of sources in recent years have documented parallels between stagnant or falling student performance indicators and our state’s worst-in-nation school funding decline.

Michigan ranks dead last among all states for per-pupil school funding increases since 1994. And over the past 15 years, Michigan students have shown the least improvement in the only assessment directly comparable state-to-state, the National Assessment of Educational Progress.

“Let’s be clear,” Whitmer said. “This is not happening because Michigan kids are less talented. It’s not happening because our kids are less motivated. It’s not happening because our educators are less dedicated. It’s happening because generations of leadership have failed them.”

Continue reading . . .

Maryland invests in schools. Michigan doesn’t. Maryland thrives.

Feb 18, 2019

Bridge Magazine February 11, 2019

"A generation ago, Maryland and Michigan chose different paths.

For Maryland children it has been the best of times, for Michigan children it has been the worst of times. In this tale of two states, Maryland’s school financing choices drove the public schools into the top 10 states nationally, while Michigan’s choices drove public school achievement down. This real world experiment produced definitive results.  

The primary driver of Michigan’s education decline began in 1994 with Proposal A. It significantly reduced property taxes and prohibited taxation by most local school districts to support operating expenses. In a failed attempt to equalize funding, most local school districts are allocated a “foundation grant” from the state. Some districts (mostly wealthy) avoid low funding through “out-of-formula” and “hold harmless” loopholes"  Continue Reading

Michigan cut school funding and school performance plummeted. Coincidence?

Feb 14, 2019

Bridge Magazine January 19, 2019
"Michigan ranks dead last in the nation in school funding growth in the quarter century since Michigan radically changed how it funded public education system, according to a new Michigan State University study.

School funding has dropped 18 percent since 1995 when spending is adjusted for inflation, according to the report. Only one other state, West Virginia, had a decrease in inflation-adjusted spending in that time.

Michigan ranked 48th in per-pupil spending growth over the same period.

“I was shocked when I saw this,” said David Arsen, MSU professor of education policy and lead author of the study"
Continue Reading

 

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MEA-RETIRED ON-LINE VOTING INSTRUCTIONS

Jan 23, 2019

Beginning February 4, 2019, MEA-Retired lifetime members may cast their ballots MEA-Retired delegates to the MEA Representative Assembly, the NEA Representative Assembly, and the NEA-Retired Annual Meeting, as well as Region Directors (Odd numbered regions).  

On-line voting will begin at 8 a.m. EST on February 4, 2019 and will continue until 4 p.m. February 15, 2019.

You can use any computer with internet access - your own computer, your neighbor's, your grandchildren's or one at your local library.

1.   On the dates above, to to the MEA website at www.mymea.org/onlinevoting

2.   Follow the Login instructions:

First Name (often your legal first name)

Last Name

Last four digits

of your social security number  

3.  Click the "Login" button.

4.   If your record is found and the polls are open, your ballot will be displayed.

5.   Select the people for whom you wish to vote. Clicking the

"Additional Info" link next to a ballot item will allow you to read biographical information on the candidate if it has been submitted.

6.  Once you have made your selections, click the "Confirm Ballot" button.

7.     A preview of your ballot selections will be shown. To modify any of your selections, click the "Modify Ballot" button.

8.   To cast your ballot, click the "Cast Ballot" button. Once your ballot is cast, you will see a confirmation page. 

9.   Click the "Sign Out" link to log out of the system.

MEA-Retired Board Watches MPSERS Board Meetings

Jan 17, 2019

MPSERS Board Observer Report – by Jim Pearson, MEA-Retired liaison

Part of being retired is that occasional thought, “I wonder how my pension system is doing?” On behalf of MEA-Retired, I attend every meeting of the MPSERS Board to keep in touch with that. What follows is my interpretation of the answer to that question and a web link to a source you may examine if you wish to see the details.

In round numbers, the MPSERS Funding Ratio in 1983 was a reasonably healthy 71.6%. In 2010 the Ratio had only dropped to 71.1% as the Great Recession started to erode investment returns. By 2016 it had dropped to 59.7%. For years MPSERS had an assumed annual investment return of 8%. The Bureau of Investments, Michigan Department of Treasury managed (in my opinion, heroically) to average an over 6% return during the 2006-2016 decade. So, the Ratio as of last December has climbed to 66.9%.

Looking ahead, there are a couple of things to keep in mind. The US has been in a robust market period for quite a few years and a market downturn is a when, not if. On the upside, if the MI Treasury Department can get us through the Great Recession, no worries with respect to ordinary recessions. But….there is a new factor of which we should be aware.

We had a census in 2010. New voting districts were subsequently drawn by the majority party in Michigan. The districts were severely gerrymandered such that that party obtained an iron grip on the Michigan government. Ideologically opposed to pensions, they mostly discontinued traditional pensions for new school employees in Michigan. Problem was that a pension depends on new hires to fund the plan and appreciates that retirees do not require income forever. The problem was where to get money coming in until the current pensioners are gone (2030’s to the 2050’s).

Part of the solution was to collect UAAL funds from school districts (Unfunded Actuarial Accrued Liability). Consequently, the employer calculated contribution to the retirement system has risen from 6% of payroll (2008) to 30% (2017). This dramatic increase in cost to districts, plus the end of traditional pensions for new employees, has much to do with the current shortage of teachers, school bus drivers, and many other school positions. Pay has been cut or been stagnant. Worse, the UAAL funds are paid to the districts as part of the annual, per student Foundation Allowance and a few weeks later a portion of these must be returned to the state – commonly known as a shell game. Significant money is being taken out of the classroom.

In sum, school funding in Michigan is reaching crisis levels and we should take care who we send to lead in all three branches of government. A school problem could become our problem.

https://www.michigan.gov/orsschools/ ..then select “Board Information,” then select “Special Reports.” Look at “2017 Investment Report.” For another opinion and more detail look at “2017 Pension Valuation Report.”


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