Traverse City Record-Eagle

Opinion

March 6, 2014

Forum: Return to local control

(Continued)

But lack of an economic future is not the only thing destroying teacher morale. The list of topics prohibited at the bargaining table for discussion by educators’ elected representatives continues to grow. Procedures for teacher discipline, demotion or dismissal is no longer discussable. And the weaker “not arbitrary or capricious” legal criterion now applies replacing “reasonable and just cause.” Really?

In addition, teachers no longer have a voice in the teacher evaluation process. Even as the state switches tests almost yearly, using tests without much correspondence to classroom instruction, teachers now understand their performance review, employment status and pay will be capriciously tied to student results which must make up a “predominant” component of the evaluative rating. Add to the list of forbidden subjects the processes around layoff, recall, classroom placement, and we’re talking real stress.

Would a change to a part-time Legislature result in a return to representation for local constituents for at least two of the aforementioned problems? Would the elimination of gerrymandered safe districts make legislators more responsive? Certainly, an electorate that actively informs itself and demands different results remains a critical component.

About the author: Tom Bousamra is a retired teacher of 38 years and former President of the Traverse City Education Association from 1991 to 1999. He is an active community and church volunteer and has served as Catholic chaplain at the Grand Traverse County Jail for 28 years.

About the forum: The forum is a periodic column of opinion written by Record-Eagle readers in their areas of expertise. Submissions of 500 words or less may be made by emailing letters@record-eagle.com. Please include biographical information and a photo.

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