Note: The views of the Michigan Association of School Boards, as referenced below, are not the official position of Northville Public Schools Board of Education.
Proposal 2, also known as the Protect Our Jobs proposal, is on the November ballot and has caused a big stir locally and around the state.
Northville school board appointee Matthew Wilk is the director of a group called Vote No on Two which was launched this week. It opposes the union-backed ballot measure, which would constitutionally protect collective bargaining, among other union-friendly provisions. The Northville Education Association teachers' union has advocated for passage of Proposal 2.
Wilk is one of five candidates seeking election to the board in November. There are three open seats.
“We founded this campaign after hearing how Proposal 2 would devastate local school districts,” Wilk said in a press release. “In an era of decreased funding, the union’s power grab only ensures that our children will face larger class sizes and a poorer education.”
Wilk said that in Northville, 10 new teachers were hired using monies saved from legislative pension reforms. He said that if Proposal 2 successfully passes, overriding the pension changes, those teachers could lose their jobs resulting in increased class sizes.
Vote No on Two launched this week
"We're not in the pocket of special interests," he said, adding that he's "trying to get a message out about the unintended consequences of Proposal 2."
On its web page, the group describes itself as "a grassroots group of citizens who are concerned this union power grab will destroy our schools, decimate local budgets, and ultimately increase our taxes. Let’s do what we can to preserve the progress we’ve made in the State of Michigan in the last two years."
Wilk said the group is among others that have publicly opposed Proposal 2, including the Michigan Association of School Boards and the Michigan Association of Secondary School Principals.
Teachers' union fights for passage of Prop 2
The Northville Education Association (NEA), the district's teachers' union, backs Proposal 2.
NEA president Nick Nugent said in an interview with Northville Patch that he was disappointed to hear a school board candidate was involved with the group.
"I had no idea (Wilk) was involved in that. It saddens me a little bit," Nugent said. "The board is there to negotiate with all of its employees. It surprises me that he would be involved with that. He seems pro-teachers."
Wilk maintains that he is on the teachers' side when it comes to finding quality instructors and reducing class sizes.
"Teachers are not compensated enough," he said, adding that his parents were educators. Changes must be made to the amount districts pay into salary, benefits and retirement to help districts cope with state funding cuts, Wilk said.
The NEA has been talking to voters about the group's position on Proposal 2 and that has been received well, Nugent said.
"Most people are very, very responsive to us and what’s going on," Nugent said. "We talk about what collective bargaining is and that it's a fundamental right. That’s why we’re pushing so hard for Prop 2."
He added that collective bargaining rights for teachers directly affect class size and that the NEA has pushed for lower class sizes in negotiations. He said if Prop 2 fails, teachers' power to lobby for such things will be diminished.
"One thing about collective bargaining is it gives workers a voice, benefits, fair wages and (good) working conditions. Our working conditions are kids' learning conditions," Nugent said.
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