Privatizing Teaching Jobs In Senate Package

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School districts could hire school teachers through a private company, expanding a privatization program already allowed for lunch workers and bus drivers, under legislation being prepared by the head of the Senate Education Committee.

As part of a significant education reform package sponsored by Senator Phil Pavlov (R-St. Clair), schools could privatize their instructional services, giving district a way to avoid the perceived high-dollar packages pushed by the teacher unions.

"I look at it as offering options," Pavlov said. "If there is something out there that can offer school officials the same options at a lower cost, schools need to take a look at that. It needs to part of the conversation on reform."

Pavlov said he's still ironing out the details on the language of a bill, but it is slated to be part of a package that also includes lifting the cap on state university-chartered public academies and creating a mandatory school of choice program for the state.

The privatization piece would require teachers from a private firm to have all of the same qualifications as current instructors. The difference would be that school districts could take bids for instructional services once an existing contract expires.

Doug Pratt, spokesman for the Michigan Education Association (MEA), called the idea of instructional services a "terrible idea" because it will be turning over school houses to "Wall Street" and out of the hands of qualified teachers.

"What Sen. Pavlov seems to be talking about is handing the education of our children over to the lowest bidder and letting for-profit companies take over our classrooms," Pratt said.

Cost considerations will be on the mind of the company in charge of the teachers, with the over-riding concern being "How can I do this as cheap as possible?" Pratt said.