* The balloon finally went up in Sault Ste. Marie. The Michigan Education Association (MEA) filed an unfair labor practices complaint against administrators of the Joseph K. Lumsden Bahweting Anishnabe charter school on the local Chippewa reservation. Neither the tribe nor the school has been subtle in expressing displeasure over the decision of the school’s 33 teachers to unionize.
Upon hearing of the union vote, tribal leaders announced they would freeze Bureau of Indian Affairs funding that provides more than half of the school’s operating budget, though school officials say Bahweting will remain open even without that money. Tribal Chairman Aaron Payment threatened to let the school’s charter expire at the end of the year, and then open a new, non-union charter school next year, in which the teachers would be tribal employees on loan to the school.
“The Sault Tribe’s concern is with the union,” said school Superintendent Nick Oshelski. “If the union was to go away, so would the problem: that’s my feeling.”
MEA is understandably upset at this turn of events, and filed charges with the Michigan Employment Relations Commission. MEA organizer David Crim said the situation was reminiscent of “the worst horror stories about anti-union employers from the early days of unionism in our state.”
Oshelski was the only individual named in the complaint. Ironically, Oshelski used to be the vice president of the Sault Area Education Association, a local MEA affiliate.
* It’s closing in on election day in California, and you’re likely to hear a lot of caterwauling about teachers and kids and schools, but very little about the quality of the state’s public education system. Nanette Asimov of the San Francisco Chronicle reports today on California’s scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reading and math tests. She provides an excellent capsulized review of where the state has been, and how years of education reforms and vast quantities of dollars have lifted the state from the bottom of the rankings all the way up to… the bottom of the rankings. A must read.