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Ann Arbor teacher’s union lifts ban on EMU student teachers

Eastern Michigan University
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Eastern Michigan University

Fred Klein says he couldn’t wait to call Eastern Michigan University and tell them the good news.

After two years, the Ann Arbor teacher’s union was ending their boycott on taking EMU student teachers into their classrooms.

That ban was intended to protest EMU’s regents, who authorized the charter of the Education Achievement Authority, a controversial school district in Detroit.

Klein, the vice president of the Ann Arbor teacher’s union, says the student teacher boycott was always a tough call.

“It seemed like we were punishing students, for the actions of the regents and the University itself,” he says. “So we were one of the last districts in Washtenaw County to join the boycott because of that- we didn’t want to punish the students.”

Still, he says, ultimately the union felt it was their only way of getting the regent’s attention, noting the Ann Arbor boycott came into effect starting in the 2014-2015 school year.

But now that EMU’s regents have cut ties with the EAA, the Ann Arbor teacher’s union – as well as several other unions in the area – are lifting their ban EMU student teachers.

“We were very happy to end the boycott, and be able to invite those students from EMU back into our classrooms,” Klein says.

Meanwhile, Mike Sayler is feeling plenty relieved. As Dean of EMU’s College of Education, he says this is going to make his students’ lives a lot easier.

“It was certainly a little bit of a challenge sometimes, to find really good placements for everybody,” he says. “We wanted to make sure we placed students in really good classrooms – not just a classroom where there’s with a warm body they can work with, but strong classrooms. And we were successful in doing that, but my poor staff worked really hard to make that work.”

Sayler says even during the boycotts, EMU was always able to find placements for their 600 student teachers. But he says as calls come in from teachers’ unions that are ending their boycotts, it’s a good feeling.

“Through it all, we could appreciate [the teachers’ unions] position, and we understand it entirely. But we’re very excited now to have the chance to work together in a much closer relationship again, back where we should be. We’re all on the same boat.”

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Kate Wells is a Peabody Award-winning journalist currently covering public health and the COVID-19 pandemic.
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