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Posted on Mon, Apr 4, 2011 : 2:57 p.m.

Hundreds protest cuts to public education at rally on University of Michigan campus

By Kyle Feldscher


Ann Arbor school board Trustee Christine Stead speaks to protestors during a rally at Ingalls Mall on the University of Michigan campus Monday. Stead said education is the foundation for a strong economy and funding cuts will hurt education.

Kyle Feldscher |

The cuts to public education in Gov. Rick Snyder’s proposed budget continue to meet loud, boisterous opposition, this time at a rally on the University of Michigan campus on Monday.

Several hundred union members and supporters gathered on Ingalls Mall to mark the 43rd anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. with activism of their own. With chants of “That’s not right” and “No budget cuts to education,” protesters made their opposition to Snyder’s plans loud and clear.

Ann Arbor school board Trustee Christine Stead compared the amount of money spent on students in the state of Michigan to the amount spent on prisoners, and said Snyder’s campaign promise of more and better jobs could not come true with a depleted public education system.

“We know we need a better economy in Michigan but cutting education is not the way to get there,” she said.

Stead was one of many speakers who told the crowd what they believed the consequences of Snyder's budget cuts could mean.

The governor has proposed a $300 per pupil cut to K-12 school districts for the 2011-12 school year, on top of a $170 per pupil cut that was not restored and increased retirement costs that are expected to be the equivalent of about $230 per pupil. Snyder also has proposed a flat 15 percent cut to higher education funding.

Many signs displayed and rhetoric used during the rally hinted at Snyder being a dictator. However, the main message of the rally was for solidarity among the middle class to fight budget cuts coming from Lansing.

Brit Satchwell, president of the Ann Arbor Education Association, said the cuts to education would touch everyone in Michigan, which means everyone has to pull together.


Ann Arbor Education Association President Brit Satchwell speaks at the 'We Are One' rally in Ann Arbor.

Kyle Feldscher |

“I always knew when it comes and hits the fan like this, we’d meet all kinds of new family members,” he said.

The rally was one of many We Are One events going on this week. Another rally was scheduled in Ypsilanti on Monday afternoon and a teach-in is scheduled to take place from 2-5 p.m. Tuesday in Room 126 in East Quadrangle on U-M’s campus.

Among the groups at the rally were the Teamsters, United Auto Workers, nurses unions, custodial unions, various activist groups and firefighters.

Craig Ferris, an Ann Arbor firefighter, said he was proud to speak to the crowd and advocate for more funding for public employees. He said the people at the rally were all hard workers and deserved to have the right to collectively bargain.

“I know something that’s very common between all of us,” Ferris said, “and that is that we work hard for a living and we deserve to make a living.”

Among the speakers from educator groups was Bonnie Halloran, president of the Lecturers’ Employee Organization.

Halloran said Snyder’s budget was “not about jobs, but about power” and said the large crowd had gathered for a “righteous cause.” She said the people of Michigan deserve to have well-funded public schools. She also took some swipes at right-wing Republicans, including members of the Tea Party.

“Tea parties are for little girls and their imaginary friends,” Halloran said.

The final speaker of the afternoon was Rodrick Green, pastor of the New Hope Baptist Church of Ann Arbor.

Green said the crowd needed to remember the spirit of King and continue the quest for justice in his name.

“We honor him because he was a man who dared to believe in the United States Constitution,” he said. “And that meant he believed every man was endowed with the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness — and the right to bargain collectively.”

Kyle Feldscher covers K-12 education for He can be reached at or you can follow him on Twitter.



Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 10:18 p.m.

Perhaps this will shake up a few misconceptions about the "gravy train" the school employees are riding. A friend of mine who had been an IT Director at a well off Michigan K-12 district recently left his position. "Why?", you ask. It couldn't possibly be pay and benefits, as he is on the public school "gravy train", right? Wrong. His words to me were that he was offered a "considerable upgrade in employment". Knowing him as well as I do, I did not have to ask him to clarify what that phrase meant. And, knowing him as I do, I know that it must have been a SIGNIFICANT raise to entice him away from a job he so enjoyed.


Tue, Apr 5, 2011 : 10:24 p.m.

On re-reading, I should have written: "it's your understanding of history and current events that *IS* corrupted." NOT "it's your understanding of history and current events that are corrupted." Thank you Mrs. DiBenedetto for your skilled language arts teaching in my elementary school. I hope your retirement income and benefits are keeping you as comfortable as you deserve to be in your old age.


Thu, Apr 7, 2011 : 1 a.m.

Thank you for thanking Mrs. DiBenedetto. Wherever she may be, I truly hope she is happy in the knowledge that she was a wonderful teacher to so many, just like you. She would appreciate your thoughtfulness and the fact that you understand the impact she had on your young life. I love my job teaching eight-year olds and I go to work every day because of people like you. I hope I am making a difference in their lives and they remember third grade as their best year EVER. Thank you.


Tue, Apr 5, 2011 : 10:15 p.m.

Overtaxed, you will have to make up your mind. You can't have it both ways. Either MLK's words were "true" (as you say) OR your words are true. On April 3, the day before he was assassinated in Memphis where he went to support the striking sanitation workers' effort to have a *public union*, MLK said, " The issue is injustice. The issue is the refusal of Memphis to be fair and honest in its dealings with its public servants, who happen to be sanitation workers." Only after he was assassinated did the city of Memphis recognize the sanitation workers' union, the American Federation of *State, County and Municipal* Employees (emphasis mine). Clearly MLK's words are in direct contrast to your own which read, "I do not understand how public unions are even allowed." The pro-worker rally on the UM campus occurred on this anniversary to honor King and his commitment to workers and *public unions* that fateful day. It's not the rally organizers who are corrupting King's message and work, it's your understanding of history and current events that are corrupted. But hopefully now you understand how "public unions are even allowed" -- it's because activists like King gave their lives for this right.

Jim McCargar

Tue, Apr 5, 2011 : 10:26 p.m.

Nicely said. Thank you.

Jim McCargar

Tue, Apr 5, 2011 : 5:04 p.m.

Ah, lunchtime. What have we got today, Top Cat? Snoopdog? Let's see. @OverTaxed: "I do not understand how public unions are even allowed." I get that. There are so many like you. That is precisely why those unions are necessary. Sad. See also pending HB 4152, 4306, 4142, 4241, 4320, 4321, 4365, SB 0007... Your use of pronouns has my brain overtaxed, OverTaxed. Who is the "they" that you say should do the "take," and who is the "you" from whom "they" should take? Is "they" the state, my school board, my principal, you? Is "you" me, because I'm a public school teacher? Is it my bus driving, hall-cleaning, office-administering, meal-serving, paraeducator colleagues? (Note to SnoopDog: now THERE'S a FILTHY-RICH set of entitlement-class thugs, ripe for a good Robin Hood action, right?) I'm a taxpayer, too, in my own school district. Does that mean I get to set MY own pay and benefits? Is "me" us? I'm so confused. @OverTaxed: "I determine their salary, I determine their benefits. I don't get a raise, you don't get a raise, understand how this works." So MY contract can be trumped by YOUR job performance and competence? That's truly frightening. I thought my salary and benefits were an exchange for MY services, negotiated by union and school district reps sitting down at a table and collectively negotiating. Somehow that seems so much more more...fair.


Tue, Apr 5, 2011 : 9:15 p.m.

I do not have a single working friend who has not taken a pay cut. Several have moved from Michigan to retain employment. Several are unemployed and on unemployment. Many, like me, are retired on fixed incomes. I have no more to give. Statistics are tricky things and I have no rhetorical skills, but I have no more to give. Please find another answer. Please.


Tue, Apr 5, 2011 : 3:34 p.m.

In response to Rachel I challenge people to list the ways that they have seen services cut to students due to cutbacks or lack of funds: Lab classes too large to conduct as many labs as usual. Classes with more students than desks. A class canceled for a world language and the students shifted to an online class, and eventually dropping it because of it being to hard to manage without direct teacher input.

Steve Norton, MIPFS

Tue, Apr 5, 2011 : 7:50 p.m.

Most of what you describe includes facilities problems, not program problems. You can fit 30 desks into a fifth grade classroom (and they have, at my kids' school), but that doesn't mean that having 30 kids instead of, say, 25 doesn't change the educational environment. In AAPS, we've cut the number of sections of many high school electives, removed an elective period and cut staffing and common planning time at the middle schools, and persistently pushed up the class size targets at all levels, just to name a few. Outside curriculum support for teachers has been nearly eliminated. People often think of schools as though everything is a high school. Nearly half of our students, and half our staff, are in elementary schools, where many of the off-handed suggestions some people offer make no sense at all. How many second graders could YOU teach at one time, especially when there are hard legal requirements for the time you must spend one-on-one with any child who has an IEP (receives special education services)?


Tue, Apr 5, 2011 : 4:56 p.m.

Necessary supplies not provided, requiring teachers to pay out-of-pocket.


Tue, Apr 5, 2011 : 3:01 p.m.

that is: try to teach everyone in the class (sorry for the left out word)


Tue, Apr 5, 2011 : 2:56 p.m.

First off, I am an Ann Arbor public school student attending high school here. Over the past years, I have noticed many classes I have really wanted to take--such as African Cultural Studies, Model United Nations, etc. are no longer available due to budget cuts. Additionally, class size has grown dramatically; I challenge anyone to go up in front of around thirty pupils and try to EVERYONE in the class. Not to mention, many teenagers have serious depression, or other mental health problems they are dealing with--this makes it extremely hard to focus in class. As a teacher, one must deal with all sorts of kids, rowdy and well behaved, shy, or loud--it is tough. Getting back to the actual education, with budget cuts coming this way, I may no longer be able to take French, I no for certain that art supplies are running low, and they are no longer offering many literature classes. Finally, education is the backbone of Michigan's economy. Towns such as Saline depend on their public schools; it is what attracts people to live there. Cutting money from schools there will obviously make them worse; this in turn makes property values lower, creating a failed economy, and a failed state. For quiet frankly, if you believe that Saline's downtown supports them, and that cutting their business tax will have a trickle down effect, you are delusional.


Thu, Apr 7, 2011 : 7:30 p.m.

@grye In these tough economic times I understand that cuts must be made. However balancing the budget on the back of the youth is completely unfair. I do support Governor Snyder in taxing senior pensions, as well as getting rid of the loopholes in the Michigan Business Tax; I do not support giving tax breaks to large corporations whose executives are already racking in huge profits, and are not producing jobs. Don't give businesses large tax breaks and do not cut education. There should however be salary reductions --especially on the new superintendent, and principals. Most importantly the special education millage must be passed (which will not result in higher taxes since it is simply a continuation of the original millage). If you have any other suggestions I would be delighted to hear them.


Tue, Apr 5, 2011 : 7:13 p.m.

Rachel, first you need to understand that jobs are required for someone to live in a community and pay the taxes needed to support the schools and other necessary government run organizations. To bring in more tax money you have 2 options; raise taxes (then people have less discretionary money to spend) or lower taxes (more money to spend which then creates more income to the business owner and allows them to expand their operation and create jobs). It is a difficult balance. Saying "just tax businesses more" defeats the growth opportunity. I understand the dilemma with schools and overcrowding. My wife is a teacher. I hear her pain everyday. Government organizations need to find ways to utilize economies of scale in combining management oversight to help reduce costs as well as other measures. If a teacher is required to "manage" 30 to 35 students, shouldn't a state run department manager be alloted the same number of employees to oversee? These are hard times and positive changes need to happen. Too many people on this website whine about the issues but offer no alternatives.

Steve Norton, MIPFS

Tue, Apr 5, 2011 : 2:15 p.m.

@Awakened, Actually, that's not quite true. For the education sector, at least, the budget deficits are not the result of over-promising. They are a result of a collapse of revenues. Problems in the pension arena are being driven by the overall aging of our society (more collecting, fewer paying in) and the meteoric rise in health care costs, which continued with nary a pause during the Great Recession. That is, the very same health coverage costs a ton more now than it did just a couple of years ago. What's interesting about all this is that Michigan overall "personal income" (total income generated by people and businesses in Michigan) only declined slightly in 2009, grew faster than inflation in 2010, and is projected by the leading state economists to continue growing faster than inflation both this year and next. (See the consensus revenue report from January.) But the taxes that support public services are not seeing this kind of growth. Why? Because we've built a tax system which has been collecting less and less for years. Last year, Michigan was farther under the Headlee revenue limit than we had been since they started calculating it in 1978. That's tax revenue as a percentage of total state income, not straight revenue. So, in good times and bad, we've been slowly starving the public sector. Some people think that's just fine. I don't. I think it's bad for my children, my community and my state.

Jack Panitch

Thu, Apr 7, 2011 : 8:42 a.m.

@bothDonandSteve: I'm having trouble understanding Donbee's point, and I'm wondering whether that's because a) he's responding to something Steve did not say, b) he assumes too much knowledge and doesn't make the point expressly, or c) I just needacupajoe. Would someone clarify?


Wed, Apr 6, 2011 : 11:23 p.m.

Mr Norton - Since the state income tax is based on the Federal Income Tax form, for a single person over the age of 65 with no home and no other deductions, the first $10,000 of their pension would be tax free in Michigan. As you add mortgages, property taxes, medical expenses and other costs, the result is the amount you can earn without paying any state tax goes up. For a typical couple the deductions would mean no state tax liability until they got to around $28,000 according to H&R Block.

Steve Norton, MIPFS

Wed, Apr 6, 2011 : 3:03 a.m.

@Awakened, I understand that so many of us have made sacrifices. Statistics aren't all that tricky; it's just that income inequality has been growing in Michigan (and the US) for several decades. So how about a progressive income tax rather than taxing all pensions (with no exemption for low-income retirees) and eliminating the earned income tax credit for the working poor? What about an extension of the sales tax to services, which make up a much larger share of the spending of high-income households? When the economy is in trouble, education should be the last thing we cut.


Tue, Apr 5, 2011 : 9:10 p.m.

I do not have a single working friend who has not taken a pay cut. Several have moved from Michigan to retain employment. Several are unemployed and on unemployment. Many, like me, are retired on fixed incomes. I have no more to give. Statistics are tricky things, but I have no more to give. Please find another answer. Please.


Tue, Apr 5, 2011 : 2:14 p.m.

Bottom line, cuts for union members. Among the groups at the rally were the Teamsters, United Auto Workers, nurses unions, custodial unions, various activist groups and firefighters. Apparently no one else really cares just like the rest of the country, unfortunately for many union members the ride is over, get used to it and be happy you are employed with the benefits you have.


Tue, Apr 5, 2011 : 2:10 p.m.

It is no wonder that one of the biggest concerns that teachers express about students right now is their lack of respect and the way many students feel entitled to be treated above all others. When the adults are calling teachers "thugs", labeling them as greedy and leading to the downfall of education it is not surprising that students are not repectful. Educators try to promote civil discourse, it seems that many have forgottent these lessons.


Tue, Apr 5, 2011 : 2 p.m.

I am not an economist. But I was taught that I should spend less than I earn and save for emergencies. I think it is wrong for politicians and government employees to spend my tax dollars differently. Sadly, they have promised way too much. Probably to get union support for re-election. It saddens my heart to think of all the teachers, police and fire officers now facing the reality that they were lied to for years. I hope they have prepared to take care of themselves and did not rely upon the promises of politicians. Now we must get our state back in the black. And everyone is sacrificing for the mistaken votes of the past.


Tue, Apr 5, 2011 : 10:26 p.m.

I don't think the corporations that are getting $1.8 BILLION in tax cuts are sacrificing anything. Most of which will wind out as bonuses for the upper tier of executives with out creating a single job in this state. The state wasn't broke until the Governor decided to give away all that money.


Tue, Apr 5, 2011 : 12:08 p.m.

Thank you to all who attended the rally. We need to continue raising awareness of the absurdity of Snyder's proposals - money to the corporations at the expense of education, arts, health care, the poor, and seniors. How can some people keep missing this obvious redistribution of wealth to the rich?


Tue, Apr 5, 2011 : 7:33 a.m.

Genuinely sad that we're down to running cell-phone photos. I'm fairly sure that most of the photographers in attendance would've donated their shots, if approached by the reporter. We're pretty hard to miss. For example, I'm the guy standing alone in the center of top image, camera mashed against my face. And on that note, here are my shots from the rally: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Tue, Apr 5, 2011 : 10:22 p.m.

excellent shots!


Tue, Apr 5, 2011 : 5:53 a.m.

So, Top Cat, people only work during the day? Helps splain why you devalue the workers rallying for their rights. You sound like one of those men who doesn't think about how his sock drawer stays stocked with clean socks until his wife goes on strike. I've got news for you, we work a 24 hour clock. We are the custodians who clean your office when you go home at the end of your neat little proper &quot;workday&quot;; We are the nurses who wipe the poopy butt of your loved one at 3am- or during the lunch break we never wind up getting; We are the cops or firefighters who answer your midnight call of distress; We are the stay at home moms whose days NEVER really end; We are the teachers who are still grading and painstakingly commenting on your child's paper while the midnight oil burns. Please toast us at your next 5'o clock Happy Hour, because we won't be able to join you. Cheers.


Tue, Apr 5, 2011 : 2:52 a.m.

This attack on education, teachers, and their union is insane. It will destroy what has been one of Ann Arbor's greatest assets -- its public schools. The teaching profession has been losing the battle to attract the highest quality people for years now --- and with this, it will only get worse. I am so glad my children are grown, are finished with the public schools, and have moved out of this state.


Tue, Apr 5, 2011 : 2:49 a.m.

The days of graduating high school with &quot;marketable skills&quot; met it's demise with the death of manufacturing. Globalization, transnational corporations and stratified production has made it far cheeper to produce goods outside of the US and import them into the country. I am sure that as our nation industrialized/urbanized many people lamented the increasing need for a high school education to develop marketable skills. Employment opportunities have shifted from manufacturing/factory labor to IT, health care, financial, engineering and service sector. The Bachelors degree today is the equivalent of a high school diploma forty years ago. Youth today need to have some further education (college, trade school, etc.) to develop marketable skills. A high school diploma positions you to work in food service, manual labor (if you can find it) or entry level jobs at corporations like Walmart. Just to be clear i am not knocking anyone who performs these jobs, I spent years working in restaurants, many in my family work in the service industry and I feel it should be a mandatory experience for everyone (it may increase empathy and patience in this country). It is not that todays youth have fewer skills than youth did in the past, it is that the definition of &quot;marketable skills&quot; has shifted greatly. We are in the middle of an economic transition much like the shift from agriculture to industry in the 1900's. The skills necessary to complete in the new economy will not be developed in k-12 alone and will necessitate changes in our nations education system. There are undoubtedly improvements to be made in k-12 education but that must be combined with measures to make educational opportunities more accessible and affordable after high school.

Basic Bob

Wed, Apr 6, 2011 : 1:44 a.m.

&quot;Employment opportunities have shifted from manufacturing/factory labor to IT, health care, financial, engineering.....&quot; Did you consider that many people are incapable of doing these jobs? We can send everyone to college and they still won't be any good at it. Better off they find a job that makes them happy and they can do well. Despite what many here are saying, manufacturing is not dead. But you might have to move around to find work.


Tue, Apr 5, 2011 : 3:24 p.m.

&quot;It is not that todays youth have fewer skills than youth did in the past,&quot; Very good points Jatra, except that students do not have the same skills. Past cuts in funding have squeezed out many programs not strictly 'academic' which provided students with skills or even an awareness of fields that do not require college but further training. Today's students are being prepared for college and not given the basis for alternatives.


Tue, Apr 5, 2011 : 2:01 p.m.

Jatra, what a perfect comment. It reflects where we are with employabilty skills in the 21st century. I can add that many of the federal programs like the Summer Youth Employment Program, that were designed to give 14-18 year olds on the job experience with summer employment tied to job skills training have been cut. So many of the neediest students no longer have the opportunity to learn essential job skills.

Jim McCargar

Tue, Apr 5, 2011 : 2:46 a.m.

Perhaps when you are an anonymous snooping blog-dog or a cartoon cat, biting seems just playful, Snoop. But I think you go too far. You glibly lump public employees into a group and call them "the entitlement class." On this blog you have called unionists "thugs," a mere ten minutes after pontificating, "Name calling will get you no where." [sic] Channeling Sarah, perhaps. Would you please do some homework, and use more consideration with your words before you mash into lumps? "Thug" means "a violent person, especially a criminal." Teachers are pre-screened and re-screened in this dimension more than just about anybody. At my mandatory teacher fingerprinting, the true felon after me asked, "What are you in for?" "Teaching," I replied. He simply nodded. Such are the times. Now, my brass knuckles clash with my white hair when I try to hide them there. Nonetheless, the legislature has the power to declare teachers and their unions to be criminals, subject to constitutional challenges, of course. But "the entitlement class"??? Please see me after, and perhaps we can clean your college boards.


Tue, Apr 5, 2011 : 2:44 a.m.

A few points as the article is presented - &quot;Hundreds&quot; seems a wee bit of an understatement. From what I can tell from my photos there was easily over 500 present. One of the speakers was a local business owner. Another represented nurses, many of whom were present. I'm a business owner and I took the time to attend. That's one of the perks of owning your own business I guess.

Joe Romeo

Tue, Apr 5, 2011 : 1:55 a.m.

It might be a good use of our time to discuss how the budget proposed by Snyder reduces state spending by a total of less than .5 %, and shifts about 10% of education funds to other departments. Is that wise? Is it appropriate for state government to be allowed to depose elected officials in favor of individuals or companies appointed by the governor? Is it appropriate for these appointed managers to have the power to nullify contracts? This budget does not save the state money, just spends it differently. I would favor spending more on education, not less.


Tue, Apr 5, 2011 : 2:48 a.m.

Joe - I don't know where you get your &quot;facts&quot; but lets start with the budget issues. 1) The state has to move more than $700 million dollars into Medicaid, no choice, the new &quot;Health Care Reform Act (Obamacare) requires it. 2) The state does not have the more than $2 billion in stimulus funds we spent last year. It is gone complements of last year's government. 3) We have to repay a chunk of the $3.9 billion dollars we borrowed from the Federal Government to pay unemployment to people in the state 4) We have to put some money against the underfunded state employee's pension fund - the choice right now is $400 million dollars. So given these requirements - where do you find the money. If you say new taxes, how much more are YOU willing to pay? Be honest here.


Tue, Apr 5, 2011 : 1:52 a.m.

I do not understand how public unions are even allowed. Public workers answer to us, they answer to me. I determine their salary, I determine their benefits. Why, because I pay them, that's why. I don't get a raise, you don't get a raise, understand how this works. Consultants tell you that you deserve more money or benefits? We tell you when you do a good job and bad. If you can demand more money, can we refuse to pay for bad service? Where are the checks and balances. I want to vote on your pay and benefits, I'm your employer. As for Ann Arbor Schools, I believe they get the most per student in the state. How about we socialize the socialist school system. If teachers and schools are suffering in Detroit, I feel we cut your funding and give it to them. I would be for that. Why do you deserve so much more then them, as they are your union brothers, right. Why don't you cut administration and give the children what we pay for, an eduction. The tax system and government funding has become manipulation and extortion. The cries of Police and Fire will be cut, Police and Fire will be cut. I pay the salaries, I support more Police and Fire, less of everything else. Does my demand get heard, no, they cut Police and Fire. I want safety, not a new, ugly City Hall with expensive art. Tell me why legislature needs a majority to pass things, but there is no majority of voters needed to pass tax increases. Five teachers show up for a millage vote and it passes on the spring election. That's not democracy. This country is a far cry from why it was created. Everybody cries freedom, where is my freedom from you? PS. Stop throwing MLK around as a way to get more money. His words were true and do not need to be corrupted by you. They should take from you to give to those less fortunate.


Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 5:22 p.m.

@overtaxed- As DonBee pointed out, AAPS is not the top in the state, but they are near the top. However, as a &quot;Hold Harmless&quot; district (of which there are 51 in the state), under Proposal A, Ann Arbor pays a significantly higher amount of taxes for education than they see put back into their school district by the State. Those additional taxes go to other districts throughout the state in order to try to bring some equity to the funding of school districts around the state, and maintain a baseline funding of approx. $7,000 per student (this number is down somewhat to reflect the changes in Gov. Snyder's budget proposal). As for your claim of: &quot;I determine their salary, I determine their benefits,&quot; that is simply not the case. You do not get to walk into your local school, police department, fire department, etc. and tell any of them that you are changing their pay or benefits (although, it would be funny to see you try that argument the next time you are pulled over by the police). I can understand your frustration with the current situation; I think we are all frustrated by it. However, your post comes across as an uninformed rant from someone ignorant of how their government, and the funding mechanism of public education, operates. Plain and simple, we all need to make our opinions known at the polling place. That means actually voting. Millages do not pass, as you try to claim, on five teachers showing up for the spring election. And if they do, where were you?


Tue, Apr 5, 2011 : 1:51 p.m.

Thank you Don Bee for correcting the statement that Ann Arbor gets the most per-pupil money in the state. Proposal A was a fiasco that helped put our schools in their current predicament. I'd also like to point out that citizens who pay taxes (who include public employees) are not automatically &quot;bosses&quot; of where their money goes. If so, I wouldn't be funding any of the three wars we're currently in.


Tue, Apr 5, 2011 : 2:45 a.m.

OverTaxed, you only think you're overtaxed.


Tue, Apr 5, 2011 : 2:44 a.m.

Over Taxed - AAPS does not get the top in the state, but they are close. Governments cut the items we care about the most, to keep taxpayers from reducing the funds they get. Instead of cutting overhead or supervisors, they cut the line people - police, teachers, firefighters. Why, so we will vote to keep or increase taxes.


Tue, Apr 5, 2011 : 1:43 a.m.

When was the last time any of you teacher detractors spent anytime in a classroom? Reading some of these comments makes me feel like what I'd image a year in detention with a bunch of dumb truants would be like. Just saying...


Tue, Apr 5, 2011 : 2:42 a.m.

Maxwell - Less then 2 weeks ago, I had over 120 5th graders for 4 hours in a gym. I held their attention for the whole time. Am I a teacher, no. Do I appreciate what it takes to be a teacher? Yes, I do. I do a lot of classroom time from Post Graduate seminars to grade school presentations. I know I am not cut out to be a full time teacher. But come on out with me on my job sometime. 12 to 18 inches of mud, heavy equipment and lots of dangerous items around. Try keeping 100 or so folks working together. Try keeping the various trades from complaining it is not their job or that someone else is doing their job. I won't trade you, but I doubt you would want to take mine either.


Tue, Apr 5, 2011 : 1:21 a.m.

Justice, Justice, Justice Give me a break! When unions start squeezing blood from a stone, I hope then the state would give you more money.


Tue, Apr 5, 2011 : 12:59 a.m.

&quot;the main message of the rally was for solidarity among the middle class to fight budget cuts coming from Lansing.&quot; &quot;Among the groups at the rally were the Teamsters, United Auto Workers, nurses unions, custodial unions, various activist groups and firefighters.&quot; What a joke, this is not about the &quot;middle class&quot; , it is about the &quot;entitlement class&quot; who benefits and pensions are not sustainable. Good Day


Tue, Apr 5, 2011 : 2:38 a.m.

sh1 - According to Jeff Irwin's plan, if you are married, and both work in AAPS as teachers, you are no longer middle class. You are in the top 20 percent of the state's income and should be taxed like a rich person. If you are on the top step of the table and single, you are also a rich person according the Jeff Irwin plan for new state taxes. I guess the state democratic party has decided you are not middle class.


Tue, Apr 5, 2011 : 1:35 a.m.

Can you please define who's in &quot;middle class&quot; if teachers, nurses, firefighters, etc. do not count?


Tue, Apr 5, 2011 : 1:10 a.m.

meant &quot;whose benefits&quot; not &quot;who benefits&quot;. Good Day


Tue, Apr 5, 2011 : 12:43 a.m.

If the AAEA really wants public support they will be transparent about contract negotiations and they will make concessions before the special ed millage vote. They have a poor tract record in this regard, but I hope they change.


Sun, Apr 10, 2011 : 2:43 a.m.

Jack, The teachers will say that they are not getting any raise next year, but costs are increasing by 6 million simple due to step increases and increased retirement costs. That's a major disconnect with the private sector.

Jack Panitch

Thu, Apr 7, 2011 : 9:02 a.m.

<a href=""></a> Hmmm. I don't think it's arguing semantics to say they took cuts the last round. You want them to take more, I get that. I'm just saying I don't think their acceptance of further cuts would change a significant number of votes. It's our responsibility, yours and mine, to educate folks, so that when they vote, in keeping with their consciences, they will know what the factual consequences will be.


Wed, Apr 6, 2011 : 6:09 p.m.

Jack, Good to see you comment again. In my view the special ed millage renewal is far from a sure thing. Taxpayers are really angry at the MEA and public institutions. Teachers tend to say they took a pay cut when they didn't get a raise, while most people say they took a pay cut only when their gross pay is actually cut. I think teachers need to take a real pay cut in a very transparent way to get the public on their side and get this millage passed.

Jack Panitch

Wed, Apr 6, 2011 : 5:19 a.m.

aataxpayer: I think you got it right the first time. A poor &quot;tract&quot; record. I would liken the collective bargaining process to legislative deal-making. And what is it they say you never want to see made? Legislation?? and, um, er . . . Sausages???!!! And what do they use to hold sausage filling? Isn't it fascia? And where does the fascia come from? Some poor animal's digestive tract? So, I think you got it right the first time. It really is a poor &quot;tract&quot; record. (at least once a tentative agreement is reached) Let's talk about legislative deal-making. What do you think about the Governor's budget? Do you think he's taking Michigan in the direction it ought to be headed. He appears to me to be a really decent human being leading us all down a road paved with good intentions. He means well proposing an income tax to replace the MBT: it's much more familiar to business than our weird, value-added approach. . . but there's that whole volatility problem, not to mention the huge loopholes. He means well favoring business as the engine that will drive the State's economic recovery . . . but it appears to be at the expense of the great schools that will continue to attract the new talent and energy needed to attract new business to fuel the recovery. Do you think he's proposing the visionary, delicately balanced approach Michigan needs to move into the future? I don't agree with you about the AAEA making concessions before the special ed millage vote. You'll have to explain the link a little better to me: I just don't see the floodgates of good will opening in response. And I need to know why we each shouldn't be saying to ourselves, this is my house, this is my responsibility. It starts and ends with me, and I will not set anyone else up to take the blame. You know me: I'll vote in favor of the renewal because it's the right thing to do.


Tue, Apr 5, 2011 : 1:09 a.m.

good post aataxpayer, pigs will fly before that happens ! Good Day


Tue, Apr 5, 2011 : 12:46 a.m.

Sorry about the typo.


Tue, Apr 5, 2011 : 12:16 a.m.

Let's market Michigan as &quot;The Rally State&quot; and encourage everyone to come to Michigan to hold their rallies. There could be a steady flow of money coming into local hotels, restaurants, parking structures, T-shirts with slogans, vendors, etc. Our own slogan could be, &quot;Rally Around Michigan!&quot; Other States try to host big conventions. We can specialize in rallies! Rallies bring in bucks.


Tue, Apr 5, 2011 : 12:12 a.m.

Which protest had more participants? This protest to cuts in public education or the hash bash.

Tom Joad

Tue, Apr 5, 2011 : 12:12 a.m.

McDonalds is can knock off your student loans after 50 years.


Tue, Apr 5, 2011 : 1:28 a.m.

It would be easier just to die. That would be a much easier way to get rid of the loans.

Marshall Applewhite

Mon, Apr 4, 2011 : 11:08 p.m.

Hopefully this restructuring is the wake up call K-12 schools need. It's unfathomable that children nowadays go to school from age 6 to 18 and still graduate without any marketable skills. Instead, they are forced to attend colleges for $80k where many continue to graduate without any marketable skills. We need to return to being a society where students learn skills in high school to give them decent job prospects. If not, the higher education bubble will burst even quicker than it already is on pace to. It is absolutely despicable that we have teachers protesting to maintain the current status quo. Absolutely despicable. Don't give these educators another penny until they actually identify and rectify the problem.


Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 5:40 p.m.

@Marshall Applewhite I think this is something that you need to bring up with employers (who are looking for Bachelor's Degrees for all new hires) and higher education, rather than with K-12 education. If our economy were still a manufacturing economy, or an agricultural economy, your arguments might hold water. However, in an economy based on information, and intellectual properties, education beyond high school is a necessity. And, districts such as AAPS do an excellent job of preparing students for higher education. Now let's look at Gov. Snyder's proposal to take money from the State Aid Fund and give it to public universities and community colleges. The State Aid Fund was created to help fund K-12 education. So, is the Governor helping K-12 education at all? No. He is simply exacerbating an already disastrous funding situation. And he is doing it by giving the money to the likes of University of Michigan and Michigan State University. These organizations can afford to pay a football coach 3.5 MILLION dollars a year, and spend millions more on improvements to their athletic facilities. But, here the Governor wants to throw more of your money at them to help with the financial issues? Seriously.

Marshall Applewhite

Mon, Apr 4, 2011 : 11:55 p.m.

@sh1 I agree that an education is more important now than in the past, and it just isn't good for society where everyone is going $80k into debt to gain a marketable skill. With the absurd amount of money we already pour into public K-12 education, everyone should be graduating high school having learned at least something to fall back on. I feel that if we didn't have things such as tenure and union contracts, K-12 education would actually have the mobility to adapt to the needs of modern society.


Mon, Apr 4, 2011 : 11:34 p.m.

I would attribute that more to changes in economics and business. Times certainly have changed. Many industries want workers who specialize. An education is probably more important now than in any time in our past.

Marshall Applewhite

Mon, Apr 4, 2011 : 11:26 p.m.

@sh1 Ann Arbor does a very good job of preparing students for college, but not for any practical skill. How many students can honestly graduate from high school and use the skills learned to begin a fruitful career? Very very few. And this is why the &quot;education bubble&quot; will keep steamrolling ahead.


Mon, Apr 4, 2011 : 11:17 p.m.

Where is your proof that students are graduating without marketable skills? I'm not really sure what you're talking about, especially in the Ann Arbor area where our school system is often acknowledged and written up in national publications.

Jim McCargar

Mon, Apr 4, 2011 : 9:56 p.m.

So, Top Cat: I find your &quot;them&quot; and &quot;us&quot; characterization to be intentionally inflammatory, and I am repelled by it. Would you like me to presume you have no job just because you post at 3:21 PM? You have my name; come have lunch with me, and I'll listen -- if you are willing to listen to me. I was there today at lunch, and yes, I have a job -- I'm a teacher. I'm also a taxpayer, a (mortgaged) property owner, a parent of public education children, and a proud alum of local public schools. I'm your neighbor, a customer in your local grocery store, a volunteer in your community. I am not &quot;them&quot; -- we are ALL us. That's what democracy's about. If you want to see some examplars of people who work hard at their jobs, then come visit my classroom, OUR classrooms, but be prepared to learn and help. Shadow the only custodian on the night shift. Imagine yourself trying to move as fast as our overloaded cafeteria servers. Try to inspire our award-winning music ensembles or art classes as well as our hard-trained, true professionals do. Have a go at safely navigating a tough bus schedule with 55 young lives in your hands on an icy pre-dawn dirt road. Juggle the constant rush of duties in a public school office. Spend a couple hours in the shoes of a public school principal. Then maybe I will ask YOU to &quot;think again.&quot;


Mon, Apr 4, 2011 : 9:31 p.m.

(My comment was deleted, so I will try again.) I noticed a poster here stating that teachers don't have anything better to do during the day than attend a rally defending their profession. I attempted to point out the irony of that poster being on in the afternoon of a work day.


Mon, Apr 4, 2011 : 9:24 p.m.

Just another union rally. Snyder is not &quot;cutting&quot; education he is &quot;cutting&quot; out the feather bed sweet heart contracts that have created an unsustainable state. When will the students confront the Prof in the front of the class?????? That is why tuition is so high NOT Snyder making a few cuts.


Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 1:38 p.m.

@donbee That was one of the most condescending, ego-centric replies I have ever seen posted on I'm not sure whether to laugh or cry. What a flotilla of assumptions you made about @eom: * &quot;You will retire at age 55.&quot; Seriously? Many teachers don't retire until they are forced to by health or other situations. And the majority are still there because they love what they do, not just to feather their retirement nest. * &quot;most folks are paying 3 or 4 THOUSAND a year or more as a single person...&quot; Let's see some real data to back up this claim, Don. We are tired of inflammatory rhetoric. * &quot;You sir...&quot; Are you certain @eom is male? I'm not. What I am trying to point out here, Don, is that you seem to have some serious filters that you are viewing this situation through. I think we all need to dump our preconceptions and get serious about solving the systemic problems at all levels: the state, the county and the local level. I also think that you have touched on another big issue. The incredible escalating costs of health care. But are we screaming at the health insurance companies, the legislators, and the doctors who keep those costs so high? Nope. Just the teachers and their &quot;sweet&quot; &quot;fatcat&quot; contracts.


Tue, Apr 5, 2011 : 1:39 p.m.

The point of the rally was not for teachers to &quot;scream&quot; about their salaries. It was about the future of collective bargaining in our state. Teachers do not want to see more cuts affecting the classroom. They understand that less money for materials and increased class sizes can only impact their students negatively.


Tue, Apr 5, 2011 : 2:34 a.m.

eom - You are not the enemy, but you don't have the deductibles others, do. You may pay $20 to visit a doctor and $10 for a refill on your pills, but a lot of folks have seen those co-pays hit $50 for a doctor's visit and $30 for a refill. You may have to pay a bit if you want the top tier medical insurance, but you still have a free option, most folks are paying 3 or 4 THOUSAND a year or more as a single person for less than your base program. You sir, do not know what it really feels like. You will retire at 55 and be guaranteed an amount of income every month you live, regardless of how long and medical insurance to go with it. Get real, I don't want to take away what you have, and I don't want to bash teacher, go back and check my posts. What I want is for you to realize you don't have it bad. That if you whine like you are that you will only tick more people off.


Tue, Apr 5, 2011 : 12:28 a.m.

Don, Clearly you aren't going to understand the &quot;cuts&quot; we have taken. You are only going to bash my profession and tell me how rich I am because of my benefit package and time off. &quot;Sorry, I don't see the same level of sacrifice that the UAW made at GM or other union employees made at tier 1 suppliers or that white collar employees have made across the state.&quot; I don't have the same job as the UAW or those at GM. My &quot;assembly line&quot; looks quite different. They are wiggly, curious, eager, and wonderful eight-year olds who depend on me to do my very best to teach them the demanding curriculum. I spend more than I care to mention out of my own pocket in order to give my kids everything I can for every lesson I teach. That's right, MY KIDS. All of them. The current group, all I've taught in the past, and the ones who have yet to enter my classroom. We aren't the enemy and taking away money from our classrooms will hurt the CHILDREN of Michigan.


Tue, Apr 5, 2011 : 12:25 a.m.

No, sh1, I am not, but I get sick of folks who have lost almost nothing in this depression screaming about the sacrifices they have made. Talk to people who lost their home, both jobs and their cars, that is sacrifice. The teachers in AAPS have been mostly protected from what the folks in the private economy have lived through. I don't want to cut teacher salaries, I have said that over and over, but this kind of whining makes me sick.


Mon, Apr 4, 2011 : 9:57 p.m.

Don, I almost get the feeling there is some lowest common denominator you're trying to reach. If one industry loses a perk, should all the other workers be obliged to give it up as well? As far as teacher sacrifices, the last few Ann Arbor contracts have seen increases in MESSA insurance premiums, co-pays, and prescriptions; and last year teachers took a hit in salary in order to keep other teachers from being laid off. Teachers are willing to compromise, as they've shown. Snyder is asking for just too much, and it will hurt at the classroom level.


Mon, Apr 4, 2011 : 9:44 p.m.

eom - Define sacrifice? A 3 percent contribution to retiree health care you will get back with interest? A contract that gives your union the majority of new dollars? Having to pay something for a health care program that is beyond the reach of most people? Sorry, I don't see the same level of sacrifice that the UAW made at GM or other union employees made at tier 1 suppliers or that white collar employees have made across the state.


Mon, Apr 4, 2011 : 9:43 p.m.

Please give an example of a recent feather bed sweetheart contract.


Mon, Apr 4, 2011 : 9:36 p.m.

Clearly you haven't been paying attention to all that our Gov. has planned for public education. He's cutting funds like a mad man. He's pitting the middle class against one another and he's going to destroy any chance of the best and the brightest becoming teachers in the years to come. I'm sorry so many people are short sighted and think teachers are so evil. I'm not sure how we got to this point, but I'm disgusted that we're here. I'm a teacher and I went to the rally to stand up for my rights as not only a teacher, but a Michigander. I'm on spring break, which has been part of our education system for decades and I won't apologize for it. &quot;Sweet heart&quot; contracts? Get real, we've been sacrificing a lot for a long time - and will continue to do so. However, I am a PROFESSIONAL and have earned the right to make a living - even a decent one.

John B.

Mon, Apr 4, 2011 : 9:04 p.m.

A New World Record for Godwin's Law!

Steve Norton, MIPFS

Mon, Apr 4, 2011 : 8:50 p.m.

Most of the people in the audience were teachers, and all ten Washtenaw Co. districts are on spring break. (By law, districts in an ISD have to adopt a common calendar, which we are now all on.) Moreover, the rally was scheduled from noon to 1pm - the lunch hour.


Mon, Apr 4, 2011 : 8:44 p.m.

@Kyle, Firemen, custodians, and the rest don't get &quot;spring breaks&quot;.


Tue, Apr 5, 2011 : 5:35 a.m.

And I imagine, like Top Cat, you think they only work in the daytime? Hope your house doesn't catch fire in the middle of the night, you won't know who to call to help at that hour.


Tue, Apr 5, 2011 : 1:04 a.m.

Firemen only work about half the month so many would have the day off. But that wouldn't matter. The Fire Cheif in Pittsfield Twp drives to his house in York Twp every day in the big ole Ford Excursion for lunch, what a nice perk funded by the taxpayers. Good Day


Tue, Apr 5, 2011 : 12:39 a.m.

Folks, please. Inform yourselves before dishing out the hostility. You may not realize it, but teachers are paid for the days they work. The rest of the days of the year, we are not paid for. That includes the summer &quot;vacation&quot; (annual lay-off). Every teacher contract works that way. Many of us would prefer to be employed year-round, but teaching in public schools is not a year-round job. It is only about 180 days a year. Many of us would prefer to work in our area of professional expertise year-round, but during breaks and over the summer, many teachers take other jobs to make ends meet. Whereas fireman and other workers have some decision-making power over when they take a vacation, school employees do not. The whole school has to shut down and everyone has to take their break at the same time. That's just the deal.

Kyle Feldscher

Mon, Apr 4, 2011 : 8:49 p.m.

Definitely understood Huron, but judging by the cheers when Brit Satchwell asked the crowd &quot;How many of you are educators?&quot; I would say the vast majority of people there were teachers.


Mon, Apr 4, 2011 : 8:13 p.m.

We really are one against Sick and The Gauleiters! Notice them herecharactarizing american umbrage as nothing. Res ipsa locquiter


Mon, Apr 4, 2011 : 7:23 p.m.

Yippie...with all those cuts...think of how much less we will all pay in state tax's......not. Why not cut money spent on prisoners? Starting with letting all the non violent pot heads out, that alone would probably save more money than his proposed cuts! Public employee's, which include health care providers (who at the U have had a wage freeze for 8 years) are next....this is getting to be outrageous Mr. Snyder, how bout tax the fat cat CEOs who have been robbing the state and nation blind!! How bout state politicians, including yourself, work for the good of the state and take huge pay cuts? Best bout you politicians PAY for your health the rest of us!


Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 1:17 p.m.

@jcj - Possibly because he was not even in politics when Proposal A and this whole fiscal house of cards was set in place. Just a guess, though... ;^)


Mon, Apr 4, 2011 : 7:52 p.m.

My point is so much anger towards Lansing, and that is understandable. But why does Pres Obama get a free pass on the state of the economy?


Mon, Apr 4, 2011 : 7:39 p.m.

How about you voice some of your complaints towards Pres Obama? How much of a refund do you get from your federal taxes compared to State? How about all politicians pay for their own health care?

Top Cat

Mon, Apr 4, 2011 : 7:21 p.m.

It's nice that these people have nothing to do in the middle of the day. It makes those of us that have jobs and are funding the public education industry think again.


Tue, Apr 5, 2011 : 1:27 a.m.

There are what, 50K students on campus and a few thousand faculty and only a few hundred showed up? There were more people at the pot rally. What a joke.


Tue, Apr 5, 2011 : 1:26 a.m.

I have a job and I worked today. My hours are flexible enough to allow me to attend. I was proud to be at the rally. Further most of the teachers in the county are on break.


Mon, Apr 4, 2011 : 9:40 p.m.

So we should spend whatever the education establishment wants, regardless of where it goes? I think not, consolidating districts, cutting administrators and focusing dollars on the classroom needs to be done. The system is too top heavy.


Mon, Apr 4, 2011 : 9:07 p.m.

I have a job, Top Cat. But some things are important enough to justify making the time to exercise free speech.


Mon, Apr 4, 2011 : 9:06 p.m.

I have a job, Top Cat (and work 70 hours a week). But some things are important enough to make time for free speech. Study your history and you'll understand what has been an American norm since before the founding. Cuts to education are a dangerous matter. As you so amply display, cut education and you leave people behind.


Mon, Apr 4, 2011 : 8:42 p.m.

Exactly what I was gonna say TC.

Stephen Landes

Mon, Apr 4, 2011 : 8 p.m.

One more reason to cut spending -- too many breaks.

Kyle Feldscher

Mon, Apr 4, 2011 : 7:23 p.m.

Top Cat- Ann Arbor schools, along with many other Washtenaw County school districts, are on spring break this week.