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  • President Kay Walker-Telma

  • Education Leaders 2021

  • Senator Debbie Stabenow With MEA-Retired Members Jack & Jo Ellis

Salute to all educators

May 11, 2021

Welcome to May! This week, May 2-8, has been designated Teacher Appreciation Week by NEA.

All of our active members, no matter what their job description, are heroes every day, but especially during the past 14 months for helping students, families, communities and each other navigate the myriad of challenges that have resulted from COVID-19.

Take a little bit of time this week to thank educators for their tireless efforts. Bring some treats to a school bus garage. Write a note of appreciation to local association leaders in the district where you worked and ask that it be distributed to members. Treat a couple of former colleagues who are still active members for coffee or Happy Hour, or bring a meal to them.

Click on the link below for some more ideas:


Whitmer Outlines Urgent Priorities in MEA RA Speech

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer spoke to delegates at the virtual MEA Representative Assembly last weekend about a variety of pressing issues on which educators need to make their voices heard.


Whitmer said billions in federal relief dollars for public schools in Michigan represent a can’t-be-missed, once-in-a-generation opportunity to invest in our state’s children and system of education.  But first, the Republican-controlled Legislature must release the aid sent by Congress, and making that happen should be everyone’s priority. “I’ve made my priorities on how to spend that money clear: It’s investing in our people, in the education of our kids and skills of our workers, putting it toward small businesses and families and investments in our mutual future,” Whitmer said.

In contrast, she noted, the GOP leadership has entangled the money in political fights – by tying the federal funding for schools to their proposals to get rid of executive powers that Whitmer has used to protect lives during the public health crisis.

“The federal government has sent us these resources, and legislators need us to give it to our students and our schools and our educators,” she said. “We’ve got a chance to make a once-in-a-lifetime investment in our kids and their learning and growth and your profession. We can’t afford to waste this opportunity.

“We’re going to need your help to encourage lawmakers in the legislature to get these federal funds out the door so they can support our schools.”

The Legislature still has $841 million in federal COVID relief funding from December to send out to schools – and the recently-passed American Rescue Plan contained another $3.7 billion for Michigan schools that needs to be distributed over the months to come.


Whitmer praised educators for “leading the way for our state” in getting vaccinated beginning in January when she prioritized K-12 school employees for the shots. She cited an MEA survey in early April that showed nearly 90 percent of members were fully or partially vaccinated.

“Prioritizing educators in the vaccination drive was really important to me as your governor, as your friend, as your ally, and also as a parent. I want to thank you for doing your part to protect yourself and your family and our communities from COVID. “Now to hit our goal of 70% vaccination rates, you’re posting online and talking to your neighbors and friends. Encouraging people to get vaccinated is really important because I know the community trusts their educators, and as usual, you’re leading the way for our state.”

To learn more about the public vaccination effort, including where shots can be obtained,




Testing Accountability

Whitmer noted she has included educator voices at every planning step of the pandemic, including now with appointments of MEA President Paula Herbart and member Greg Talberg – a high school teacher in Howell – to the Student Recovery Advisory Council, which is developing recommendations.


The governor said she would continue to join MEA members in pressing for legislative changes to remove student test scores from teacher evaluations and school districts’ A-F accountability grades, and to prevent third graders from being retained based on M-STEP results amid the pandemic.


“Given that data we will receive from state assessments won’t give us insight and will be unrepresentative of what’s really happening, no student or educator should be penalized based on test results this year.”


Please join MEA’s CALL TO ACTION on these issues today!


Delegates participate in Annual Meeting, Representative Assembly


Thanks to Zoom and Administrative Assistant Lisa Fox, the first Virtual MEA-Retired Annual Meeting happened Tuesday, April 6. Despite a few technical glitches, the meeting allowed the event to happen for the first time in two years. Bonnie Urlaub and Connie Boylan were re-elected by acclamation as MAHE Representative and ESP Alternate to the Board respectively. Delegates elected 12 MEA-PAC

Council representatives in an online election prior to the meeting, and in an online election held April 12, they approved the 2021-2022 budget and re-elected Jim Sparapani as ESP Board Member.


Nearly 400 delegates, including 32 MEA-Retired members, were part of the Virtual MEA Representative Assembly held Friday evening and Saturday, April 23-24. Delegates approved the proposed 2021-2022 MEA Budget, re-elected Marcia Mackey and Alfonso Salais to three-year terms and Anthony Pennock to the NEA Board for a two-year term on the NEA Board of Directors.



Sarah Says: From NEA-Retired President Sarah Borgman


“Under it; over it; around it or through it. Nothing will stop me from doing it!” 


 I just love that philosophy, and isn’t that what we’ve been doing for nearly a year and a half now?  When I was graduated from high school, our theme plastered on everything was “This Far and Farther”--- same thing, right? Spring gives us an extra boost with sunshine, flowers, and today, right outside my window birds are singing as though it’s a new skill. Nevertheless, the reality of the to-do list looms, and we must move on. Perhaps an extra burst of spring energy will help, but nothing beats

goals and strategies to accomplish that eternal list. I love to cross things off, but I can’t cheat when it’s written down as a reminder. “Just do it,” I say, and with a little effort, and sometimes a lot of effort and time, it all gets done! May your spring energy see you through your list as we continue together to move the work of NEA Retired forward!





Federal COVID funding approved by Legislature – with many strings attached

Mar 08, 2021

MEA.ORG March 4, 2021
"This week, the Legislature has finally approved distribution of federal COVID relief funding passed by Congress in December – but not without adding new conditions to the funds and continuing political gamesmanship with the Governor over public health responses during the pandemic.

Without any negotiation with the Governor’s office, HB 4048 was amended and passed by both the House and Senate.  MEA has developed a listing of district-by-district estimated additional funding based on the provisions in this bill, which does the following:

  • Allocates $650 million from federal COVID relief (distributed to districts via the federal Title 1 formula designed to promote equity for districts with greater poverty) without any additional strings.
  • Another $840 million of those funds would be distributed (again via Title 1 formula) if the Governor signs HB 4049 (which would limit gubernatorial epidemic powers around school closure and athletics – this is the tie-bar MEA has previously opposed).
  • For districts that would get less than $450 per pupil from the above, another $136 million in state funds has been appropriated to increase per pupil funding to that level if the district offers at least 20 hours of in-person learning per week by March 22. (NOTE: MEA lobbyists are working to get a clear understanding about how this language impacts districts operating under hybrid schedules, which may not be known until we get an interpretation from the Michigan Department of Education.)

In addition, the bill allocates more than $150 million in funding for various remediation services, like summer programs, credit recovery programs, before- and after-school programs, additional summer school staffing funding, and reading/math benchmark assessments.  MEA is analyzing the bill to provide local associations more information about the uses and impacts of this funding.  However, one specific item MEA has been opposing throughout this process is a $10 million “voucher-style” program that would reimburse parents or legal guardians $50 per student for costs incurred by participation in summer or credit recovery programs – these funds should be added to resources for districts to provide needed services.

Next, these bills head to Gov. Whitmer for her consideration – MEA is working closely with the governor’s office as she balances the need for federal funds to be allocated with concerns about public health amidst the pandemic."


Feb 24, 2021 2021 | Measuring the Economic Impact of DB Pension Expenditures

"A new report finds that economic gains attributable to private and public sector defined benefit (DB) pensions in the U.S. are substantial. Retiree spending of pension benefits in 2018 generated $1.3 trillion in total economic output, supporting nearly seven million jobs across the nation. Pension spending also added nearly $192 billion to government coffers at the federal, state and local levels."

Here is the economic impact of Michigan Pensions

A recent report from the National Institute on Retirement Security found the economic impact of defined benefit pensions support a significant amount of economic activity in the state of Michigan.  Pension benefits received by retirees are spent in the local community.  This spending ripples through the economy, as one person’s spending becomes another person’s income, creating a multiplier effect.  In 2018, expenditures stemming from State and local pensions in Michigan supported:

• 81,593 jobs that paid $4.2 billion in wages and salaries.

• $13.2 billion in total economic output.

• $2.1 billion in federal, State, and local tax revenue.

Each dollar paid out in pension benefits supported $1.48 in total economic activity in Michigan.  Each dollar “invested” by Michigan taxpayers in these pension plans supported $5.62 in total economic activity in the State.

The average pension benefit received was $1,924 per month or $23,090 per year.  These modest benefits provide retired teachers, public safety personnel, State employees, and others who served the public during their working careers income to meet basic needs in retirement.  Between 1993 and 2018, 26.35 percent of Michigan’s pension fund receipts came from employer contributions, 7.16 percent from employee contributions, and 66.49 percent from investment earnings.  Earnings on investments and employee contributions – not taxpayer based contributions – have historically made up the bulk of pension fund receipts."

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