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Take action NOW on pension tax and third grade reading law

Feb 01, 2023

Key MEA Legislative Priorities for 2023


From school safety and student mental health to curriculum flexibility and overhauling how public education is paid for in Michigan, there is a long list of pro-education policies to be addressed over the long term. 


MEA’s legislative agenda for the coming years is set by the MEA Legislation Commission, which is preparing its 2023-25 report for consideration later this spring by the MEA Board of Directors.


In the short run however, there are several areas that need immediate attention in Lansing that have been brought up repeatedly by MEA members since the successful 2022 elections.  While far from exhaustive, these are some of the issues that MEA is committed to working on with lawmakers in the coming months.


Student Academic Support

  • Repeal 3rd grade reading retention, shifting focus from punishing students who underperform on standardized tests to supporting their individual literacy needs.
  • Invest proper resources for PreK-3 reading intervention (such as “individual reading plans”), provide educators with professional latitude for assessments, and develop consistent post-4th grade literacy supports to help students get the support they need.
  • Implement supplemental post-pandemic academic support, like district-based tutoring programs, class size reductions and other interventions to drive extra resources to students who need more help.


Evaluation & Testing

  • Fix the teacher evaluation system to make it developmental rather than punitive by removing state testing data, changing “effectiveness” labels, ensuring educator voice in process and providing due process for evaluation appeals.
  • Streamline and minimize assessment requirements to reduce both time spent and high-stakes assigned to standardized testing
  • Take advantage of freedom provided by new federal law by eliminating dated, Michigan-specific requirements around frequency of testing, evaluation requirements and accountability systems.


Collective Bargaining and Job Security Rights

  • Repeal prohibited subjects of bargaining to provide employee voice in the workplace on job placement and security, outsourcing, evaluation, just cause requirements for dismissal, and more.


  • Remove automatic penalties for school employees when working under an expired contract, like step freezes and pass-through of health insurance cost increases.
  • Allow school employees the freedom to allocate their paycheck as they choose, including permitting payroll deduction of union dues like every other public and private worker in Michigan.


Educator Compensation

  • Allow public employers to pay a greater share of health insurance costs (beyond the current 80% or hard cap limitations) to improve school employee take home pay.
  • Repeal the pension tax that reduces the retirement security of school employees and others seniors across Michigan.
  • Work with employers to increase wages for all public education employees, including approving the minimum wage increase ballot measure, which will help drive up take-home pay for lower-wage education support professionals.


Public Education Funding

  • Continue historic investments in early childhood through higher education – including increases to both base funding and equity needs to meet different student needs (from special education and poverty to transportation and program availability for rural schools).
  • Encourage school districts and higher education employers to invest funding increases in employee recruitment and retention efforts.
  • Invest more in ensuring post-secondary learning opportunities – from trade programs to college tuition – are affordable to all students to pursue the jobs our economy needs.


Regarding “right-to-work” repeal

While MEA supports repealing right-to-work for our private-sector union sisters and brothers (including private-sector MEA members), it’s worth noting that a repeal will not apply to the vast majority of MEA members without a reversal of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2018 ruling in Janus v. AFSCME.  You can learn more about the Janus ruling at