Education lobbying rises in Michigan amid changes

Tim Martin:

Teachers’ unions and some other education-related groups in Michigan have increased their spending to lobby state officials in 2011, largely in response to sweeping changes in school policy and budget cuts adopted by the Republican-led state Legislature.
The Michigan Education Association, the state’s largest teachers’ union, reported lobbying expenses of $324,197 for the first seven months of the year, according to state records. The Michigan chapter of the American Federation of Teachers reported expenses of $119,748. That’s a combined increase of about 11% compared with the same period in 2010.
The unions have opposed much of the education-related legislation passed by the Legislature and signed into law by Republican Gov. Rick Snyder so far this year. The changes include making teacher performance the key factor in awarding tenure and deciding layoffs rather than seniority, a law that gives state-appointed emergency managers for school districts and cities more power, and education funding cuts adopted as part of the budget year that began Oct. 1.