State governments flex their muscles

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Other school districts may want to emulate Chicago and Baltimore's proactive personnel strategies. Infuriated by a growing number of teachers breaking their contracts during the school year, the Arizona State Board of Education recently approved new penalties for teachers who resign in the middle of their contract terms without the districts' approval. The new law specifically targets teachers who terminate their contract after finding a better job. Violators will risk suspension of their teaching certificates.

While using a heavy stick may be appropriate at times, the action is so encumbered by red tape as to guarantee it won't get enforced. Teachers will be granted up to four appeals before accepting their suspension.

After last month's strike in Detroit, Michigan State Rep. Phil Pavlov has now introduced a bill to add teeth to the state's existing no-strike law. HB 6528 would speed up the fining process and shorten the amount of time (from 60 to seven days) that the Michigan Employment Relations Commission has to wait before formally declaring what teacher unions may be terming a "walkout" an actual strike. In addition, it would change the law to allow parents, not just a school district, to report a teacher strike to the Commission.

In the recent Detroit debacle, the school district never even filed a strike complaint with the commission. Avoiding the fines that come with a strike, the union was careful never to call their simultaneous "walk-out" of 7,000 of its members a strike.

Pavlov's proposal is just good common sense: if it looks like a strike and smells like a strike, it must be a strike.