News Story

No Teacher Evaluations On Halloween ... And Other Odd Union Contract Provisions

Lie detector tests and classroom temperature also among the specific details protected in government union contracts

The classroom temperature can't be above 90 degrees Fahrenheit in the Watervliet Public Schools in Berrien County, according to the teachers' union contract, with one exception — when the temperature outdoors exceeds 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

In the Ann Arbor Public Schools in Washtenaw County, the teachers' union contract states that the administration can't use polygraph machines on its teachers when doing an investigation.

In the Muskegon Public Schools, the teachers' union contract states that teacher evaluations can't be done on Halloween or St. Valentine's Day.

In the Kalamazoo Public Schools, a struggling high school coach could have his or her teaching and coaching jobs on the line if he or she is removed as coach. The teachers' union contract states that if the school board gives specified coaching jobs to a coach, that person has to keep that coaching position for six years or he or she also loses the teaching position. Kalamazoo Public Schools Spokesman Alex Lee said if a coach is let go before the six years is up, he or she is reassigned to a different teaching job within the district.

A review of teachers' union contracts across the state shows the lengths to which the government unions will go to protect certain privileges or perks.

And it highlights what kinds of things Proposal 2 could protect if it is approved by voters next week. Clearly, no subject matter is too small, insignificant or bizarre for government unions to include in a contract.

"If you think this is ludicrous in a collective bargaining contract, wait until it is part of the (state) constitution and there is nothing you can do about it," said Charles Owens, state director of the National Federation of Independent Business.

For example, the Manistee Area Public Schools teachers' union contract states that visitors — such as parents who come to a classroom — are to be told that anything they witness regarding students is strictly confidential and can not be discussed outside the classroom.

In the Royal Oak School District in Oakland County, no teacher can be formally reprimanded in the presence of parents, students or bargaining unit members unless that bargaining member is representing them.

And in the Williamston Community Schools in Ingham County, math skills are a must when reviewing the teacher’s contract. Consider the formula for determining how many leave days a part-time teacher gets (pictured above).

"It's difficult to determine what motivated provisions such as these, but it's unlikely it had anything to do with helping schools better educate students," said Michael Van Beek, education policy director at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. "Regardless of their intent, provisions such as these leave districts more vulnerable to union-led grievances and lawsuits, which divert resources from teaching students to settling labor disputes."


See also:

Teacher Contract Analysis 

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.