Masks, school updates, a helicopter runs for Senate. Paula Herbart of MEA is guest

July 20, 2020

Michigan Policast for Monday, July 20, 2020

  In this episode:

  • Izzo and Harbaugh: Mask Up Michigan!
  • Opening and closing Michigan's schools
  • MEA President Paula Herbart
  • What John James didn't say, this time with Army porn
  • Political notes
  • Ad of the week
  • Remembering John Lewis
  • Transcript

Featured image: From left to right: Suzy Merchant, Kim Barnes Arico, Gov. Whitmer, Lt. Gov. Gilchrist, Tom Izzo and Dr. Joneigh Khaldun | Governor Whitmer’s Communications Office

Jump to:

Izzo and Harbaugh: Mask Up Michigan!




Opening and closing Michigan's schools

MEA President Paula Herbart

'#COVID19 highlighted the gross inequities we have in our poor communities, whether they're rural, suburban, or inner city, our poor communities and poor families aren't limited just to one area in the state.' ~@PaulaMEAPres #K12Click To Tweet
'32% of our membership, including classroom educators and support professionals, said that they are considering or have decided to leave their work in #publicschools.. this could be overwhelming to the system' ~@PaulaMEAPres Click To Tweet

What John James didn't say, this time with Army porn

'Many Michigan voters aren’t drawn to Mr. James, in no small part because of what he isn’t saying.' @nytimes @michpoligal @jwpetersNYT @JohnJamesReveal Click To Tweet
'James has refused to utter anything but the most gentle and equivocating criticism of Trump, sticking to a playbook that he hopes will keep Michigan’s white, Trump-supporting conservatives from turning against him. Click To Tweet
John James' focus on fundraising hasn't helped him in the polls. He still trails @SenGaryPeters in all polls since March and is not closing that gap. @RealClearNews @JohnJamesReveal Click To Tweet
'Co-pilots, you have your orders!' A short story in which a helicopter names James runs for Senate. @JohnJamesReveal To Tweet


Political notes


Ad of the week



Whenever he opens his mouth, it isn't that Don Jr. is so much speaking, as spewing hate and conspiracy garbage from his face in failed effort to win his daddy's praise while demeaning the intelligence of Americans. Everything Don Jr. says is a projection to cover up the criminal activity he and his family engage in on a daily basis.

Remembering John Lewis




Walt Sorg  00:00

The presenting underwriter of the Michigan Policast is progress Michigan, providing a strong, credible voice that holds public officials and governments accountable and assists the promotion of progressive ideas.


Walt Sorg  00:15

We begin today's podcast remembering a man who lived those values in life to change the nation.


John Lewis  00:21

When we visit Montgomery, visit Tuskegee, visit Birmingham, I saw those signs instead of white men, colored men, white women, colored women, white waiting, colored waiting. As a young child, I tasted the bitter fruits of segregation and racial discrimination, and I didn't like it. I've asked my mother, my father, my grandparents, my great grandparents, why segregation, why racial discrimination and they were saying that's the way it is. Don't get in the way don't get in trouble. But one day in 1955 at the age of 15, in the 10th grade, I heard about Rosa Parks.  I've heard Dr. King's speaking on our radio, the leadership of Dr. King. His words. The action of Rosa Parks inspired me to find a way to get in the way. I got in trouble. It was good trouble. It was necessary trouble. … I have a feeling that here today. We are too quiet. We are too quiet. We need to make some noise. We need to find a way to get in the way we need to find a way getting good trouble. Necessary trouble.


Walt Sorg  01:42

we'll hear more from John Lewis at the end of today's Michigan Policast I'm Walt Sorg, also on the pod today of course it's COVID-19 and Michigan's rising infection rate, mask orders opening schools and repairing the economic damage. Our guest this week is the president of the Michigan Education Association, Paula Herbart


Christine Barry  02:01

I’m Christine Barry. Tom Izzo and Jim Harbaugh are in Justin Amash is officially out. And john James continues to run a Seinfeld campaign. It's a campaign about nothing. We'll also have our political ad of the week. But we begin as we do just about every week with the latest from those leading the fight against the pandemic, a group that definitely doesn't include Donald Trump.


Gretchen Whitmer  02:26

If the majority of us mask up, if all of us mask up, every kid will be in school this fall. If everyone masks up, we're gonna see our numbers plummet and our economy is going to get stronger. If everyone masks up, we'll move the whole state in the phase five and reengage in a way that will be the envy of every other state in the nation.


Christine Barry  02:47

Governor Whitmer focus this week on encouraging all of us to do the one thing that's been shown to make a huge difference in preventing infections.


Gretchen Whitmer  02:54

I can tell you right now that the people of Florida are in the midst of what is the worst experience with COVID-19. And that could be us in a matter of weeks. If we don't take this seriously right now, I've given the economic reasons for masking up, I've given the health reasons for masking up. It's the simple act of wearing a piece of cloth on your face when you're in a public space, or when you're outside but in a crowded space, that's it.


Walt Sorg  03:22

To help get the message across the administration brought in the highest paid public employees in Michigan, the football and basketball coaches at MSU and U of M. None of them is known as a political activist. I've personally known MSU's Hall of Fame Basketball Coach Tom Izzo for more than 30 years. And I can tell you, Tom absolutely hates politics, but he was in the governor's office, speaking on behalf of his fellow coaches, and even taking a very subtle shot at the president.


Tom Izzo  03:48

I thought about leading by example. I kind of hate the phrase, although there's some people that don't lead at all by example, right now, that bothers me a lot. But leading by example means you do the right thing. As leaders, we have to bring people with us. We just can't expect that they're gonna see what we're doing. We've got to bring them with us. And so, with that being said, I decided to step out. The bottom line is that's all mask up for Michigan and show this country the state that really does work together


Walt Sorg  04:19

Izzo is joined on a television public service announcement by Michigan's football coach Jim Harbaugh, basketball head coaches Juwan Howard and Kim Arico, MSU football coach, Mel Tucker, and MSU women's basketball coach Susie Merchant.


MSU UM Political Ad  04:33

As rivals, we don't always see eye to eye, like who scored the best recruits, Who's gonna beat who, and whether we were green, or blue.  One thing we can all agree on, do help stop the spread of COVID-19 wear a mask, wear a mask, wear a mask, wear a mask, wear a mask.  The ball’s in your court Michigan.


Christine Barry  05:03

Well, the governor beefed up her executive order to make it clear that retailers had an obligation to require masks or provide alternative means of shopping for those with legitimate medical reasons for not wearing a mask.


Walt Sorg  05:16

You know, Chris showed a lot of that a lot of people but some people were using the ADA, Americans with Disabilities act as a Dodge for not requiring mask and their businesses saying basically we don't have a right between that and HIPAA to ask our customers about their medical conditions. We've got to take their word for all of that. And the governor just beefed up the executive order say look at if they say they've got a medical condition, provide them with an alternative curbside service delivery, something like that. If it's a situation where there is no viable alternative, then you have to let them in the store. But also they had to make it clear in the National Federation of retailers did the same thing. And that is to tell businesses you do not have to admit a customer. If they come in and they don't abide by health regulations as set up by the state set up by your store. You can ask them to leave and it if they don't, they are trespassing.


Christine Barry  06:02

This isn't unique in that it, there's a burden on a business to at least in the retail space, there's a burden on a business to follow a state law that gets employees into uncomfortable situations. When I worked in convenience stores back when I was in college, I had to card everybody. And even if they were of age, you couldn't sell liquor to somebody who was already intoxicated. That wasn't comfortable. But we do it because there's a public health risk there. This to me, while I think it's a rough thing for retailers and other businesses to go through. It's not something that we need to be so divided on. It's just the responsibility of the retailer at this point in time.


Walt Sorg  06:47

There's a great column in the Washington Post's on Sunday is a first-person account of a clerk in a convenience store down in North Carolina is on the intercoastal so they get a lot of Interstate traffic in the store. Talking about the problems of a $10 an hour clerk trying to enforce this law and the reluctance they've run into. It reminds me a little bit of the situation we had in this state 35 years ago, when we had a state law enacted require use of seatbelts. There was a huge pushback on that. And initially, the compliance was very, very low. The big difference, though, between that law and the governor's regulation, well, there's two first of all, a lot of people say, well, it's not the law. It's just something she said, Well, it's a law because it's something implementing a state law and there are penalties attached to it. But also, the seatbelt law is to protect you. So if you were in an accident you wearing a seatbelt was going to save you is going to prevent greater injury or perhaps prevent death. The thing with the mask is it's about you protecting other people as much as protecting yourself. In fact, more so than protecting yourself and some people just don't seem to give a rat's ass.


Christine Barry  07:55

I think they believe that it's about protecting them and you have a lot of people saying They're in charge of their own health care for they won't wear a mask. That is backwards. The mask is there to protect other people like you said. And you know another thing that I'll add big going back to your seatbelt comparison is that at the time that that seatbelt law came into effect, you also had a huge public safety campaign around it. Now, when we're looking at wearing masks, we can't even get the federal government to support it really.


Walt Sorg  08:30

Yeah. And also with the seat belts, we enforced it at the local level with the seat belts, police could pull you over for not wearing a seatbelt. And they did and they do about tickets. Now we've had a lot of sheriffs saying we're not going to go out of our way to enforce this. We're not going to hand out tickets, most Sheriffs are at least say that if there's a trespassing and plate as a result of this requirement that they will enforce that but then you're getting into a public safety issue. Part of that too is resources. I can understand that with some sheriff's they simply don't have the resources to be dealing with something that's basically a non-criminal misdemeanor.


Christine Barry  09:00

Well, I get that too. A lot of sheriff's departments aren't going to be able to respond to every call. somebody's not wearing a mask. I mean, come on. I don't think that as a community, you want your Sheriff doing that anyway, because it just takes them away from other work. The issue with the sheriff's is that they're out there beating their chest saying that they're not going to do it. They're openly defiant about it, which, unfortunately is encouraging other people to be openly defiant. When all they really have to do is say, for mask issues, please call the state police.


Walt Sorg  09:34

And this isn't just Whitmer thing half the states now have mask orders mandatory mask orders, and the numbers are growing. deep red states like Arkansas and Alabama now have mandatory wearing masks in public and the United States is really unique in these orders being wildly controversial. Two people have been killed in Michigan as a result of arguments over mask one of the early in the pandemic in Flint and the other just in the last week is the result of an argument in Lansing, I've had some really strange experience with the hatred in the last few days. It hasn't gone to violence, but it's mind blowing. I decided to set up a Facebook group that which would simply report in which businesses were in, we're not enforcing the mass requirements. And this predates the governor's most recent executive order. And you can't believe the number of people that have gotten on there as trolls and are just, I've been called a Nazi, a communist. I've been accused of having female body parts, among other things, and we are snowflakes and sheep. And it is we've actually we've got about 600 people that have joined the group so far that are still in it. We have blocked another 250 people. And this is just supposed to be a local group, although we've had people sign up for it from all across the Lower Peninsula. But I'm, I'm fascinated with the results of the things that you see on there. Of course, the sexist crap that has thrown in the governor's way and it's pretty mind blowing. It hasn't gotten too violent, yet. But I've been worried about I have reported some hate speech to Facebook on several comments that have appeared either in my messages or have appeared online. We've got one organized effort by a group to trash us. They've been posting them a meme all across Facebook calling on people to give us a hard time.


Christine Barry  11:17

Oh, yeah, you know, I got into a spat with. I don't know, a good little patriot. The other day on Twitter. I think what I'll do is I'll make a PDF of the thread because it's so bizarre, but the governor had posted that video of Bill Nye saying why you should wear a mask and I retweeted it. And this was several days ago. And


Walt Sorg  11:36

Oh Bill Nye, he's a he's a noted communist, a tool of George Soros


Christine Barry  11:39

well, and he's not even a scientist Walt, for crying out loud. And that's the kind of that argument I think, was we shouldn't be listening to Bill Nye for public health policy. I'm not really sure the problem was. But then he immediately went into asking me if I was as dumb as I was ugly, and I mean it just kept going on and on. And the memes were there and everything. And I was I was laughing at him because it's to be honest with you, it's almost impossible to hurt my feelings on the internet just can't be done. So I'm having fun with this guy. And I'm posting you know, Bill Nye explaining gravity and explaining volcanoes and stuff and he's just getting mattered matter. Then he goes away, and he tells people to come over and harass me because I reported him, which I didn't do. I mean, it was bizarre. And it's not an isolated incident. I know. It's not even that extraordinary on Twitter, but over a video about masks. And the whole thing was if you're a sheep and you're stupid, you'll wear your mask.


Walt Sorg  12:39

You can't believe Bill Nye the Science Guy. You should be listening to Chuck Woolery. He's the he's the damn expert.


Christine Barry  12:45

I didn't even think about that. That's a good one.


Walt Sorg  12:47

Yeah, Kanye for president too, may it rest in peace.


Christine Barry  12:51

Well, okay, adding fuel to this fire. Republican state representative john Riley is developing a bill to prohibit local governments from imposing mask requirements and there are a couple of interesting things he said he had he had put this up on Facebook, the statement that we're looking at now. And it's a three-paragraph statement. We'll have it in the show notes. But one of the things he said is that people have a fundamental freedom and responsibility for their own health and a right to not be humiliated and suffocated. Walt, that's ridiculous. And it's not ridiculous that you have responsibility for your own health or anything like that. It's ridiculous in that he's applying it to a mask. Right? It's their own health. We just talked about how the masks were for the health of the were for the good of the community, not just you. He's loaded that up with language that assumes wearing a mask is going to humiliate and suffocate you. That's terrible.


Walt Sorg  13:48

It's ridiculous. I'm really tempted. If they ever have a hearing, if he introduces it as a bill, and they have a public hearing on it. I seriously will consider going down to the Capitol wearing a mask and taking off my shirt. While I testify, as he says it's a massive infringement on individual liberty to require me to wear a shirt.


Christine Barry  14:06

I mean, you should just just go down there in your britches. I mean, no, you should go full on liberty.


Walt Sorg  14:12

Yeah, just go full Borat I wouldn't want to see that. Perhaps the most important development though this week in the whole mask argument, a bunch of the nation's biggest retailers are taking the lead where Donald Trump refuses to. They are announcing mandatory mask usage in their stores and they're enforcing it to among those on the list Walmart and Sam's Club which takes care of most of Trump America right there. Home Depot which takes care of the rest of them Starbucks, CVS, pharmacies, target Kroger, Kohl's and Best Buy. And in Michigan the biggest retailer in the state Meijer has started requiring mascot all customers effective immediately. And I commend all of them and hopes what from what I've seen so far they really are enforcing it buyers got people at the doors Walmart's been doing it for a while Costco has been doing it for a while. And I think that's it's a really good development, because if they set the tone doesn't really matter what Trump does anymore.


Christine Barry  15:10

Yeah, but to be fair, these are big companies that can afford to lose one or two people. They already had systems in place to help people with curbside pickup or possibly order online and get it delivered or, or whatever. So it's a little bit easier for them, but because they are so big, I really think that is a very good step forward for Michigan.


Walt Sorg  15:33

You also have Hillsdale College, which is the notoriously independent private conservative School of Michigan, they decided to hell with state restrictions. So they had an in person graduation ceremony that was in direct violation of the executive order in terms of crowd size. To their credit, they did an awful lot to make it as safe as possible. They did practice social distancing. They did have masks they told their students not to mingle with each other. They did everything right, but at the same time, they kind of gave the finger to the governor


Christine Barry  15:59

You have to understand the thing about Hillsdale is that because they're a bunch of conservative Christians, they're big on these traditions. They're big on emotions. And commencement in particular is an important part of anchoring a graduate's emotions to their school. So if you want these people to walk out of there and carry Hillsdale College and that ideology out into the world with them, Commencement is a big part of that. Now, I didn't really have that big of an issue with an outdoor commencement where everyone was social distancing, it was clear that they did take a lot of precautions. Even if the commencement had been moved indoors, it looked like they would have been following really good procedures to protect people. But that's not the issue. The issue is that people from all around the country came to see their graduate. And for three days, they had parties and dinners and cocktails and visiting, and they were in the community and you know, these are people from all over the country, from hotspots.


Walt Sorg  16:54

It's also a messaging that obeying state laws and regulations is optional. And that I think is very  Dangerous at a time when we are in fact facing a national emergency to have people deciding which laws and which regulations they're going to follow and which ones they don't have to follow. Got an interesting challenge, though, coming up in two weeks for the governor at least involving the governor. There's a memorial service scheduled for the first week of august up at the Interlochen Center for the Arts and an outdoor pavilion for former governor William Milliken. Now, I can guarantee if we didn't have this pandemic, there would be thousands up there, I'd be up there, I'm not going to be able to go because of the pandemic. I simply am not willing to take the risk. Now their outdoor pavilion has a seating capacity of 4000. It is a ticketed event. And it looks like they're taking extensive precautions for temperature check social distancing, and of course, the mandatory wearing of face masks. The crowd size limit in that part of the state is 500 unless the governor changes her executive order, which of course would move Michigan Republicans to DEF CON level five. She is the lead speaker at the event, which is no accident one she is of course the governor of Michigan which makes it appropriate and to Her father worked for governor Milliken. And she thinks the world I know just from talking with the governor over the years she adored bill Milliken. And a lot of what she does is modeled after the way he behaved himself. So we'll see how that develops.


Christine Barry  18:13

Yeah, we talked a few weeks ago about Bill Milliken. And it's definitely appropriate to have a nice, a nice service for him. So I hope that goes well.


Walt Sorg  18:22

Yeah, it was actually postponed as a result because of the pandemic. It was originally going to be held much earlier. But and like, I wish I could be up there. If nothing else was going to be a convention of all political hacks like me.


Christine Barry  18:34

yeah you would enjoy that wouldn't you?


Walt Sorg  18:35

Yeah, we would. We would. In fact, a lot of the people a lot of my closest friends are going to be up there even though it is kind of dangerous. First of all, folks.


Christine Barry  18:43

Well, the other major debate is over the opening of schools and we didn't talk last week about the fact that Trump demands that all schools be open in the fall, White House propaganda minister, Kayleigh McEnany made it very clear that the President apparently flunked high school science


Kaleigh McEnany  18:59

at the present has said unmistakably that he wants schools to open and I was just in the Oval talking to him about that. And when he says open, he means open and full kids being able to attend each and every day at their school. The science should not stand in the way of this. And as Dr. Scott Atlas said, I thought this was a good quote, of course, we can do it everyone else in the Western world, our peer nations are doing it. We are the outlier here.


Walt Sorg  19:24

He's right about that. We are the outliers.


Christine Barry  19:26

I don't think we have any peer nations anymore.


Walt Sorg  19:28

No, Brazil, Brazil and India.


Christine Barry  19:31

Oh, my God. Well, Vice President Pence said of CDC health guidelines for school safety. We don't want federal guidance to be a reason why schools don't reopen.


Walt Sorg  19:41

And then you've got the brilliant john kennedy of Louisiana. How about him?


Christine Barry  19:44

Yeah, telling us that opponents of opening schools in the fall can kiss his ass. And you know what, that in particular didn't bother me. I'm sure that people say that kind of thing all the time. And the standard is so low for politicians. Now. It doesn't really bother me. It's not unbecoming. But what he said was that people want to keep schools closed to influence the election and that kids were being used as a pawn. And that's the part that bothers me. Because not only is it not true, but because these high-profile people are saying that it gets out into these communities, and then people believe it. And that is not the case at all. And I can tell you, only for my school board, and I, I wouldn't, I'm not even speaking for my school board, officially. But I can tell you that is not what happens at school boards. At the local levels. It doesn't matter if you're a Democrat or Republican or non affiliated doesn't matter. We are doing the work that we need to do to serve the community. We want the kids back in school, but we also want everyone safe. And we want the families to be back at their normal and we still have to keep people safe. So it is kind of an insult when people say that it's a political issue because it's not at the local level. Our Superintendents, our administrators, our teachers are working very hard as are our school boards to make sure we can do that safely.


Walt Sorg  21:06

And what bothered me about Kennedy statement was he represents supposedly the state of Louisiana, which right now is in the center of the pandemic, the ICU is in both New Orleans and Baton Rouge are just about full. It is one of the Louisiana's got one of the highest rates in the nation right now. But he needs to start representing his people. One other outrage that I just became aware of recently, the State House and Senate Education committees had a hearing last Wednesday to discuss this whole situation of schools. And they didn't bother to invite any teachers or teacher unions to testify.


Christine Barry  21:39

No, they don't want to hear from teachers. Because if you hear from a teacher, you're going to hear about classroom issues.


Walt Sorg  21:47

Meanwhile, in the real world, the Lansing school district has become the first in Michigan to officially tell Trump to take a hike. Lansing's 11,000 students will begin the year with online classes. Detroit has a lawsuit going on right now. Which some parents are using to try to stop in person classes? Will others follow? What are teachers thinking about all of this? Prior to Lansing's announcement, I talked with Paula Herbert who is the president of the Michigan Education Association. They represent 150,000 members who work in public schools across the nation. I noticed as we started our chat that Nolan Finley, the conservative editorial page editor of The Detroit News, as scornfully said that the governor's decision on schools would be heavily influenced by the Michigan Education Association.


Walt Sorg  22:31

I find it rather intriguing actually, The Detroit News took on the governor for listening to the MEA for advice on whether or not to open the schools seems to be your members should have something to say about it.


Paula Herbart  22:42

I'm in agreement with that, you know, we advise the governor on certain policies regarding education and of course, also labor issues within the state. But when you're talking about whether or not to open schools, you should listen to two experts number one classroom educators and number two health experts and we're no less professional or experts in our area than health professionals are when it comes to entomology and infectious disease and those types of things. So why wouldn't she go and seek expert advice?


Walt Sorg  23:16

Okay now in the last week has been announced that some of the largest school districts in the hotspots are not going to be opening this fall, which is no surprise, Los Angeles, San Diego being the the two largest. What about Michigan though? We seem to have done a pretty good job controlling spread of the coronavirus. Are we in a position to reopen the schools in person this fall?


Paula Herbart  23:36

I think that there definitely are some areas in Michigan where they're ready to open up and have students returned to school buildings. We have some areas that are considered to be in phase four moving into phase five, which is pretty good on the scale from one to six in terms of how we are doing health wise, but we still have question critically hot areas in Michigan, in the Detroit Metropolitan area specifically, but there are other metropolitan areas like Grand Rapids Kalamazoo, where it may not be feasible for them to open up, they may be in phase three, which means that's remote learning. phase four can be face to face with very strict physical distancing, and facial coverings, etc, cleaning protocols. So it it's going to depend on where you live in Michigan, whether or not you can return to face to face learning in physical buildings.


Walt Sorg  24:36

There's also the divide between school facilities, there are some really old school buildings that are going to be much more challenging. Are we going to have still another divide between the rich districts and the poor districts this fall?


Paula Herbart  24:48

I think that if COVID-19 did anything it shone a bright spotlight on the fact of the gross inequities we have in our poor communities, whether they're rural, suburban, or inner city, their poor communities and poor families aren't limited just to one area in the state, they're all over. And they need help, you know, the infrastructure of schools has deteriorated at a rapid rate very similar to what the roads it doesn't happen overnight. We have buildings that are 70 years old, 80 years old, 100 years old, some are considered historical buildings. And when you do anything to those systems, then you have to, if they're landmark historical, then you have to do the extra bio, which is very costly to ensure that the historical integrity of those buildings are not destroyed. And that makes it very difficult to do any kind of updating.


Walt Sorg  25:46

There's also the challenges that are aren't directly related to educating the kids would still fall in there getting kids to school, especially in rural areas, where they've got to ride a bus or in areas where internet connection are unavailable or poor, either because they can't afford them or because again, in rural areas, they simply don't have the internet. How are we going to deal with that?


Paula Herbart  26:09

Right? The infrastructure is not there. So the lieutenant governor has done an incredible job in reaching out not only to broadband companies that supply perhaps hotspots in jetpacks for students, but also in providing one on one devices for connectivity. But as you said, you have to have the kind of activity first before you can ever use a device. And busing is an issue. You know, in the executive order and the roadmap to the return to school. The governor is very clear that regardless of your age, you must be wearing a facial covering if you're on a bus, and we have some students in rural areas that are on buses, 45 minutes to an hour long to get to a school building. That is complicated. And unfortunately, we don't have any set is finding answers to those problems except to say you are required to wear a facial covering the bus drivers going to have to be responsible to monitor that as best they can while still ensuring that the road safeties are followed and that students are following safety protocols within the bus otherwise, but that's part of the conundrum here.


Walt Sorg  27:23

The biggest problem is the human capital that is required. And you've just completed a survey of your members, which is not very encouraging.


Paula Herbart  27:32

Yes, I'm about 32% of our membership, which includes classroom educators and support education support professionals. 32% of them said that they are considering or have decided to leave their work in public schools. And when you're talking about teachers while we need all kinds of public school employees bus drivers kitchen Workers, para educators etc. to lose potentially 25 to 30% of educators in the classroom when we already have a huge shortage of educators in Michigan could be overwhelming to the system.


Walt Sorg  28:18

We sat and watched in wonderment is Betsy DeVos went on national television a week ago to talk about the administration's really lack of plans for the schools other than the schools must be opened. What does the federal government need to do to make it happen so that as many schools as possible do open


Paula Herbart  28:37

Well the senate needs to pass the heroes act that the house has already bipartisanly passed and moved on to the Senate. It would supplement school aid budgets across this country to fill in the gap for the economic loss that has happened across this country, particularly in Michigan, it would fill that 1.3 billion dollars that we anticipate to be our shortfall for the school aid fund come to 2020 2021 school year, heroes that covers that. And then some Senator Stabenow has an even another supplemental bill that helps fill that gap even more, whether or not she can get her colleagues to pass those funds. You know, we've bailed out car companies and we've bailed out Air Line companies in time of need, right? Because we understand that the economy needs to grow and we need to keep people employed. we've ensured that there has been, you know, a safety nets for unemployment for small businesses for big businesses. Shouldn't we provide safety nets for our education system, which you know, provides for future economic growth and future entrepreneurs and educators in all of that It just seems counterintuitive that you would provide for businesses and not provide for it, or children and learning. It's we have to stand up and say that we value what these students need and deserve to be accomplished in their future lives.


Walt Sorg  30:19

I know from talking with family members who are school teachers that they've literally had minutes to prepare for distance learning during the spring. Now they've had some time to prepare, but they don't know what they're preparing for. What are teachers in Michigan doing to get ready for the unknown?


Paula Herbart  30:38

Well, we're we've been providing professional development supports through MEA. If you're a member to ensure that if you need more expertise in using digital platforms to help put your curriculum up to interact with your students that you can do that many of our members across the state are doing those sorts of things. They're developing of Remote learning curriculum, they're developing packets in case we can't go back to physical buildings. Many of our members have been asked to serve on district plan developments for the future, reopening of school buildings, how that would happen, what it will look like. And so they've been busy, very busy all summer long. And it's our hope that our educators in the classroom that are imparting their years and years of experience in teaching children have that same opportunity to weigh in on how best to do it in the fall, whether it's remote learning or whether it's person to person with very stringent guidelines from the governor's office, we know best, what will work with students and it's our hope that we're a part of all of those conversations. As we prepare for the fall. they relied on educators, like you said when we turned on a dime to ensure that students got what they need. Did March, April, May and June. And hopefully they'll continue to rely on us to be that voice of experts as we prepare for the fall,


Walt Sorg  32:09

given that there are no good solutions, only less bad solutions, how long is it going to take for this generation of kids to recover from what we're going through write down?


Paula Herbart  32:20

Well, I think one of the things that we have to identify is that if a generation of students fall's behind in some way, that we do everything that we can, to not only just provide the monies that we need for what we're used to, but that we're actually doubling down on monies to provide social emotional supports counselors, social workers, school nurses, as we enter in, maybe we need to look at enlisting our student teachers in the same way that they enlisted medical students and student nurses during the pandemic if it's important to ensure For the health and safety of people, once they've contracted COVID, isn't it just as important to support those who will be helping these students not only learn throughout COVID, but perhaps be the problem solvers in the future, we have to make sure that we have enough on support so that the losses minimalized. Just like we're looking at mitigating the disease, we need to mitigate the loss of learning. And the only way that we can do that is to invest in strong education funding to ensure that we have equity and that we are making those gains to support them in ways that we wouldn't have anticipated earlier on, like supporting those who have lost people to COVID-19 supporting those students who have less than and don't have a way to make up those losses that we're really investing heavily in those areas to ensure that they get everything that they need to catch up as opposed to just say, well they fall behind, but Everybody did. So I guess that's okay. That's not acceptable. We need to catch those kids up and we need to find ways, but that costs money and we have to invest in those just like we invest in companies.


Walt Sorg  34:10

Paul Herbert from the MEA, thank you so much for joining us on the podcast. Be well and Godspeed to your members.


Christine Barry  34:16

Thank you. Well, I appreciate it. On the political front senator Debbie Stabenow has introduced legislation, co sponsored by Louisiana Republican bill Cassidy to provide schools with the extra money they need to make in person teaching safer.


Debbie Stabenow  34:30

Our kids need to be gone back to school, but we've got to make sure that they are safe, that teachers are safe, custodians, bus drivers, everyone involved in our children's education are safe and also that they then are in a position where they not they are not bringing home the virus to their families as well.


Christine Barry  34:53

And this is broad support from teachers and superintendents and boards of education. Her cosponsor senator Cassidy is also a medical doctor.


Walt Sorg  35:05

And from the same state as john kennedy, which I find intriguing as well. And Vice President Biden has countered the administration's position. He issued a statement calling for national guidelines with for local decision making on the opening of schools, which makes a lot more sense than what the President has been saying.


Walt Sorg  35:26

We've had a lot of fun for the last few weeks reporting on the strangely issue free campaigning on the part of US Senate hopeful john James. Well, Senator Gary Peters combines ongoing legislative action and proposals with future initiatives as well as actually doing interviews. We had him on the pod last week, James has been mostly silent on issues beyond a few platitudes. At the top of the pod. Christina referred to his campaign as a Seinfeld style campaign. It's a campaign about nothing. This week, let's go into that a little deeper. James latest digital ad to me says it all about us campaign. It's a combination of image building with absolutely no substance. It's a 90-second ad called rules of engagement. And it's right out of the video game Call of Duty.


John James  36:13

When I graduated from West Point in 2004, that was the hardest thing I've ever done in my life up until that point, then came Ranger School. And after that, learning how to fly an Apache helicopter, and then actually learning how to fly Apache helicopter while defending American lives and fighting terrorists while they shot at us. Before I let every mission, I gave a brief. Here's what we're up against this time. Sure our rules of engagement. First, we're going to campaign for every vote, Republican, Democrat, independent, female, male, old, young, every skin color, every ethnicity rich, poor, and in between. Every vote matters to me, from south of Detroit, to the up from Flint to Grand Rapids. We're going to compete for every vote because every voice matters now We're gonna work hard, we're going to give our all because it is possible to do well and do good. At the same time in America. We're going to live by the code of faith and family, God and country and service before self. We're going to do something different politics will speak the truth, we're going to stick to our principles, no matter how ugly it gets. Lastly, and keep this in mind every day. It's okay to hate politics. Trust me. I understand that this country is worth fighting for Michigan is worth fighting for. And I've done both while being shot at in the desert. But this is a different battle. This is a battle of ideas, and it's crucial for our futures. copilots, you have your orders.  i'm john James. Let's fly.


Walt Sorg  37:46

Okay, Christy, your evaluation and try to use that use a whole lot of foul language.


Christine Barry  37:51

Did you know that john James flew helicopters in the army.


Walt Sorg  37:55

No shit Sherlock


Christine Barry  37:56

I had no idea that that was the only message of that ad. And he started out by saying I'm sure he has an honorable record that he can be proud of. I'm not questioning that at all. But military service is not a political tool. It's not supposed to be. And in this ad, you would think that a helicopter named James was running for Senate. I mean, that's just all there is here.


Walt Sorg  38:18

He has helicopters in his logo.


Christine Barry  38:20

Yeah, yeah. His logo is like a patch, you know, a military patch. And then it's got his name, a flag and a helicopter. Good Lord, as you heard in the, in the audio, he's talking about rules of engagement. And this is what I really want to go through because this actually does tell me something. Walt, his first rule of engagement, we're going to campaign for every vote and he he's very specific, every region of the state, every ethnicity, every skin color, blah, blah, blah. He's gonna compete for it because and he says every voice matters. But he has proven over and over that despite being black despite being subject to racial profiling. himself, he will not criticize Trump. And there's an article in The New York Times that comes right out and asks, What defines john James first being black or being a republican? So, is he really competing for every vote when he won't even criticize Donald Trump's racism out loud, or Donald Trump on racial politics? If you want to put it more softly, he won't do that out loud, at the safest time in world history to do it. He won't ask that question out loud. That's rule of engagement. Number one that he's already completely violated.


Walt Sorg  39:36

Rule two is work hard. Give your all. He's working hard to be interviewed on Fox, and he's working real hard to raise money. He's done a very good job of that. But in terms of actually engaging with Michigan voters beyond the fox bubble is just as non existent. He's done virtually no interviews, and the few he's done have been with very conservative media general media hardly ever hear from him. But for crying out loud, he could do more TV interviews he could talk to regular newspapers, but he refuses to do that.


Christine Barry  40:03

On the note of fundraising, he's he's made a big deal of the fact and so has the, the media in the Republican Party made a big deal of the fact that he's been out raising Gary Peters. But Gary Peters has still had a solid lead over him every time. You've looked at the polls, so that money isn't translating. It's it's into votes for him.


Christine Barry  40:25

Number three, speak the truth No matter how ugly it gets. And this part you should pay attention to Walt because of the ugly truths that have already been spoken in his campaign. He's called the ACA and abomination. He said, there's no point to calling out racism just like I said before, and here's something interesting that I think it's interesting. He says, we're going to live by the code of faith and family, God and country. And when you take those phrases, though, those mean different things to different people. 24% People in Michigan identify as either atheist or agnostic. And when you talk about faith and family, God and country, you get a lot of eye rolling from that crowd, because they're so sick of having religion and division based on religion in our politics. I don't think that's a good look, but he is running for the Republican Party. So, again, though, which votes are we really competing for back to point number one?


Walt Sorg  41:26

Okay, then the fourth point, this is a battle of ideas. That's hilarious because he hasn't offered any ideas. You look at his website, and it is issue free. It's all about hey, this is Judge James, a helicopter pilot of a war hero. I started a business send me money. That's his website,


Christine Barry  41:42

but he has fully embraced the Trump campaign. I think it was Don Jr. said that john James was 100% on board with Trump's agenda. James himself said he was 2,000% behind Trump. And we know if Trump wins, then the john James being a good little soldier will follow the orders of his commander in chief and if a democrat wins, john James will view the commander in chief as an enemy, because it's clear from this ad from his entire campaign from his branding. This ad in particular full of Apache helicopters and people in uniforms and all kinds of military words, that john James is thinking not about ideas, because thinking is not about ideas. His thinking is about missions. It's about procedure. It's about obedience. And that's it, he is us versus them. And in an us versus them world, you can't heal people, you can't bring people back together. He's not on a peacekeeping mission, or a healing mission. And, you know, I gotta tell you something else that really bothers me about the way that he's running his campaign is that, you know, we are in a multi generation conflict right now, over in the Middle East, we're still counting casualties. We're seeing traumatic brain injuries, life changing injuries, and many of the veterans who returned home suffered post traumatic stress disorder and you see that how it affects them for the rest of Their lives in housing, employment in their relationships, these folks are damaged. This guy's running war ads. That, to me is the worst part about this guy.


Walt Sorg  43:09

Even when he speaks all we hear from john James is I'm a war hero, a successful businessman and a swell guy followed by


Walt Sorg  43:26

other political notes this week, the state court of appeals has turned down a lawsuit, which would have all mailed ballots count in November if they were postmarked by Election Day. The court decided that ballots have to be received by local clerks no later than Election Day, and that wasn't changed by the passage of proposal three in 2018. The decision will likely be appealed to the state supreme court with service slowdowns at the post office. This could be a really important issue in November. As a partial response Wayne County has appropriated money to play 60 secure ballot collection canisters throughout the county. So if People can conveniently drop off their absentee ballots instead of mailing them and be assured that they are collected in time, which is a very good move. That's how they do it in Colorado, which has all mailed in elections. And Washington does it the same way as well. It's a very convenient way to do it. You know, you're on your way to the post office or you're on your way to the library or whatever. Or just picking up groceries and stuff in a canister and you drop off your belt.


Christine Barry  44:21

Well, Congressman Justin Amash will not run for reelection. He announced it a couple days ago, I think. He said that he loves serving. he appreciated the trust that was put in him and it was his choice, but he will miss serving. So what does that do for us? Walt,


Walt Sorg  44:40

it makes that district very competitive. I think it was anyway, Hillary Scholten is the Democratic nominee by default. And it will probably be Peter Meyer on the Republican side who will have unlimited access to money, given his family ties is the grandson of Fred Meyer, and all their rich friends in Grand Rapids. But the polling in the district is very Very tight, and that district could be decided by the top of the ticket. And right now with Joe Biden doing so well in Michigan as well as across the nation. That's a district that everybody's watching to see as a possible flip along with the district next door with john hoadley. Trying to knock Fred Upton out of Congress after three decades.


Walt Sorg  45:18

Time now for our weekly political attack ad of the week. It was a tough competition. Runners Up include law and order from the Lincoln project, which lampoon's Donald Trump's claim to be the law and order president while at the same time running the most corrupt administration in US history. And another runner up a Lincoln project Ed called try something new which congratulates purchase Ivonne ca for her tone deaf advice for unemployed Americans doesn't even get into her new fondness for beans. But our winner this week comes from the folks at the Midas touch a profile of Donald Trump which is conveniently narrated by DJ Tj himself, Donald J. Trump Jr. It is hilarious.


Donald Trump Jr  45:59

The guy He doesn't know what he's doing. It's gross negligence, and honestly, it's worse. It's just sheer incompetence.


Donald Trump  46:07

I think we're going to be very good with the Coronavirus. I think that at some point that's going to sort of just disappear I hope


Speaker  46:14

nation's death toll now tops 135,000


Donald Trump Jr  46:18

there's no enthusiasm he can't get people to show up a rally. They don't want him on the stump. Honestly, they don't even want him on a teleprompter because he can't even get that right.


Donald Trump  46:25

They deliberately swept and swept in you know that sweeping an anomaly. Really an anomaly this


Donald Trump Jr  46:33

this guy is the epitome of the swamp


Speaker  46:35

President Trump's pardons to most are white collar criminals with personal or financial ties to the President,


Donald Trump Jr  46:40

whether it's the brother whether it's the sister the entire family has enriched themselves,


Speaker  46:45

the Chinese government awarded Ivanka seven new trademarks


Donald Trump Jr  46:48

so they can say one thing do the other and never get called on it. It's asinine.


Christine Barry  46:54

Well, we are all done for this week. For more information on today's subjects head on over to our website. It's Michigan Policast calm, we have links, tweets, photos, all that good stuff.


Walt Sorg  47:05

As always, we welcome your comments. Well, for the most part, email us at EMI, or reach out through the Michigan Policast pages on Facebook or on the Twitter.


Christine Barry  47:16

We'll be back next week with another thrill packed episode of the Michigan podcast. And we conclude this week with some words from man who at the time was 23 years old, John Lewis, speaking at the March on Washington in 1963. Two years later, he would be standing next to President Lyndon Johnson, as the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was signed into law, the direct result of the work of the Civil Rights Movement led by people like King and John Lewis.


John Lewis  47:43

We march today for Jobs and Freedom. We have nothing to be proud of. And allow brothers will not hear what they're receiving starvation wages are nowhere just at all Be patient and wait. We are not. We do not want our freedom gradually, but we want to be free now.



The time will come. We will not confine our march into Washington Trump were marched through the streets of Jackson. Two districts are Danville districts like Hey,



wake up and wake up for we cannot stop and we will not and cannot be patient.

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