Thursday, May 30, 2013

In Bankrupt Michigan School District Teachers Offer to Work for Free

Now That’s What We’re Talking About

This Forum is often critical of teacher’s unions because correctly or incorrectly it often appears that the unions place the welfare and economic well being of their members ahead of educating children.  This is destructive, not only to the children and their parents but to the unions as well.  It is a self defeating strategy.  It is idiotic.  Nobody wins.

So when teachers in the Buena Vista school district in Michigan offered to help the bankrupt system by offering to work for free, this Forum applauds them.  Did they work for free?  Well, no.

The school district asked the state for a bailout, but Michigan officials initially declined, citing various legal obstacles. Teachers offered to work without pay to keep the schools open, but the school board refused, offering their own legal reasons. 

Now we are not sure what those ‘legal reasons’ were, but they had better be darn good ones, because the people citing those legal reasons are not suffering.  The children are suffering, and adults who penalize children for the mistakes of adults are pretty poor specimens of homo sapiens.

And yes Michigan is run by Republicans.  And yes the Governor is a conservative who doesn’t seem to care a whole lot about the problem.

Michigan Senate Democratic Leader Gretchen Whitmer has askedGov. Rick Snyder to provide emergency funds to the district, according to the Detroit News.

Snyder said Thursday he hopes to quickly resolve the financial crisis that caused the small Saginaw County system to lay off employees and close its doors. But the rainy day fund won't be used to bailout Buena Vista schools, Snyder said, because "that's not what the rainy day fund is really intended for."

"There's a lot of discussion going on this topic and I hope we have a resolution," he said. "The most important thing is how do we make sure these kids can finish the school year."

What, you expected that he would help?  C’mon man.


  1. I have some sympathy for the officials who refused to let the teachers work for free. Not paying their wages would probably violate state labor laws, which carry stiff penalties. An agreement that the teachers would work for free and not sue for unpaid wages could be void as contrary to public policy. In other words, it would be a huge headache and liability risk to allow the teachers to work for free. The bottom line is that the teachers should never have to work for free, because responsible government should pay them.

  2. Rich's analysis is exactly what the officials in Michigan have said, but given the fact that there are probably three zillion lawyers in the state of Michigan alone one would think that there is a way around the legal issue.