Unions Pushing Referenda on Education Reform

Education Action Group reports that state teachers unions in Michigan, North Dakota and Idaho are lobbying to convince voters to overturn collective bargaining limits, spending reforms and accountability measures that EAG claims have been good for students but detrimental to unions.

Tenure is currently being phased out in North Dakota and Idaho while Michigan granted financial managers the authority to dispense with union contracts in districts with the worst budget problems.

In each state, teachers unions are dialing up the propaganda as members push petitions to put these changes up for public votes. It’s Big Labor’s last-grasp attempt to regain control over public education by restoring the union-first mentality that has produced mediocre academic results and a steady flow of tax dollars into union coffers for decades.

In Idaho officials have collected signatures for three reactionary referendums on education reform bills adopted during 2011.

Proposition 3 would reverse the increase in online learning accessibility introduced in the Students Come First reforms. Propositions 1 and 2 would repeal recent laws promoted by Governor Butch Otter that end tenure protections and institute merit pay for effective teachers.

The Idaho reforms drew heated criticism from the state’s teachers unions because they demolished key aspects of the old system that prioritized the union over students.

Angry protestors defiled Superintendent Luna’s vehicle and heckled his elderly mother during the legislative debates on the reforms, which were ultimately passed last spring. In April 2011, the Idaho Education Association, the statewide teachers union, challenged the constitutionality of the laws, specifically those clipping collective bargaining privileges.

The unions lost a battle in district court when Judge Hansen ruled in September that the limits on collective bargaining were both ‘reasonable and necessary’.

Despite the initial court victory, Gov. Otter and local education reformers “realize this issue and the fate of Students Come First will remain in the courts – including the court of public opinion,” Otter told the Idaho Press.

In Michigan union officials from the Michigan Education Association are challenging the new EFM powers as being unconstitutional and it appears they have collected enough signatures to put the question on the ballot for the November elections. Governor Snyder has already requested that the law be reviewed by the Michigan Supreme Court, but if state officials confirm that the petition presented by MEA supported group Stand Up for Democracy does contain enough valid signatures then Governor Snyder’s power to help struggling schools will be suspended until after the November elections.

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