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Wednesday, May 15, 2013 1:59 AM

In Rare Praise of Teachers

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I do not frequently stand with teachers. It's not that I have anything against teachers. I don't. Teaching is an honorable profession.

Those who understand my stance, know full well my problems sit with teachers' unions, administrators, and union work rules.

Far too often I hear requests for tax increases allegedly "for the kids" when really the tax increases are for the teachers and administrators, not the kids.

Something Different

Today, I want to report something different. I want people to know that sometimes teachers want to do something that is genuinely for the kids. In this instance, state law does not permit it.

Please consider Michigan District Fires All Teachers, Closes Every School.

Summer break has started very early for kids in one Michigan school district.

Buena Vista schools have been closed for five days already, and on Monday, the district's website stated that the school would be closed until further notice. For good reason, this decision has parents, and the community, up in arms.

The problem in Buena Vista is that the school district, educating approximately 450 kids, is out of money. All the teachers have been laid off and a financial emergency has been declared. The district has suffered from declining enrollment, which, in turn, has led to a loss of $3 million in state funding since 2010.

In an effort to keep schools open, teachers said they would work without pay. This is not possible under Michigan law so educators have been left in limbo. To make matters worse, the staff has also lost their health insurance.

The Buena Vista School District website states that they consider it their "highest calling to be entrusted with the care and education of the community’s children."
Buena Vista Announcement

From the Buena Vista School District Website:
3. Teachers have offered to work for free until Friday, May 10. Why did the District lay them off?

Michigan law requires that employers pay employees for work performed. We thank the teaching staff for their dedication, and understand their frustration. However, we must follow the law.

Over the past day, many staff who have been laid off have asked how they may volunteer their time. Staff who make the personal decision to do so should contact the District regarding the logistics of that volunteering. However, we must stress that under current circumstances, there is no ability to compensate staff for their services and there is no indication that there will be money for such compensation at any time in the future.

7. How should teachers and staff obtain their belongings from their classrooms and work areas?

The District buildings will remain open and, we understand, the Principals have volunteered to remain in their buildings, on an unpaid basis, into the indefinite future. Staff should report to their building principals and, in an orderly fashion, collect their belongings. Additionally, staff should turn in, to their building principal, their school-issued items, such as keys, phones, laptops, etc.

For the sake of order, we ask that these tasks be completed by Friday, May 10, 2013.
That notice came out on May 1.

I salute the teachers in the Michigan Buena Vista School District for having the kids best interest at heart when they volunteered to work for free to close out the school year. Sadly, a blatantly bad Michigan law did not permit such action.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

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