Ypsi School Closings, part III

After my last post on this subject, I had a few more questions. Following are the answers from Maria Cotera and Jason Wright, leaders of the newly-formed Ypsilanti Public Schools Alliance.

MARK: Have you seen any indication from the teachers that they might be receptive to a pay cut? I’ve yet to confirm this, but I’ve heard from multiple sources that our teachers are presently the best paid in the county. And, I believe their contract is up for renegotiation. With school closures looming, and our economy faltering, one would suspect that they might be receptive to the idea of a modest pay cut, in order to save the community schools presently on the chopping block. Assuming they would be, do you have any idea how much, say a 5% cut across the board, would save the School District?

JASON: No, there has been no indication so far that the teachers’ union would be willing to take a pay cut. I think that the union has negotiations with the administration coming up, and we are hopeful that they will do something creative not only to help save our schools, but more importantly to prevent massive teacher layoffs. At over 80% of the budget (with the remainder of the budget already largely squeezed out), this is where most cuts will come, one way or another. Teachers didn’t cause this crisis, but sadly, they are the only ones who might head it off. If they do end up making any concessions, I certainly believe that those concessions should be temporary. Every effort must be made to bring about the necessary political pressure to restore state funding to adequate levels to insure that our teachers are very well paid, as they should be.

(Sorry to stretch this out, but I think a reminder is in order: any savings from closing schools are relatively minor, and certain to be short-lived, as closed schools will lead to defections and enrollment declines. Even the administration estimates losing 50 students as a direct result of closures, which translates into approximately what they estimate saving by closing an elementary school. We believe that this could in short order be much worse, and that further declining enrollments and revenues will cause, among other things, guess what: more teacher layoffs. If this sounds like a crazy approach, it’s because it is. But the administration can’t impose pay cuts for teachers, so they can only lay off teachers to cut costs. Another important reminder: class sizes will go up to legally allowed sizes whether schools are closed or not. This is important, because a lot of people seem to have the mistaken idea that closing schools is somehow an alternative to teacher layoffs and larger class sizes, but this is simply not the case.)

As for your question about how well Ypsi teachers are paid, my understanding is that Ypsi teachers are paid similarly to other Washtenaw county teachers, who are in fact some of the highest paid in the state. It is also true that Michigan teachers are some of the highest paid in the country (ranking from 4 to 8 in the rankings, according to Google). Also, the deficits that Ypsi schools started running that are the direct cause of the current crisis coincide with a pay increase that was given to the teachers 5 years back. Again, I want to stress that I don’t think that Ypsi teachers are paid too much, they could never be paid “too much” for doing the important job that they do: teaching the next generation; but the problem is that they are paid more than we can afford to pay them. And yes, as many people will point out, Michigan’s economy ranks near the bottom in the country, and our county is hurting along with the rest of the state, as more and more folks are laid off and forced to accept salary cuts.

So, as for specifics, I wouldn’t even venture a guess. Indications so far are not encouraging, but I remain hopeful that the union would have some interest in spreading out the pain among its membership with an across the board temporary pay cut, until we can turn our financial situation around. What we’re really worried about, is that the leadership does not understand that closing one elementary school and laying off 40 teachers will have a cascading effect, leading to declines in enrollments and, eventually more school closings and layoffs. This is what happened after they closed Ardis and George, and it will happen again (the past is prologue). Ultimately, the administration’s strategy is killing the district by a thousand cuts, and all for a tiny savings that will evaporate entirely if just 60 students leave the district as a result of the expanded class sizes and contracted choices. If the union leadership sits back and allows schools to close as they appear ready to do, then they will be contributing to this, and, in the end, they will be as responsible for any future layoffs as is the administration. We fear that Ypsi schools are near a tipping point, where layoffs and closures are part of a vicious cycle leading to, basically, a failing school system. That would be a tragedy.

I also think that it is important here to mention the threat posed by charter schools to unionized teachers. As probably most of your readers know, charter schools are not required to hire union teachers, and pay significantly less than traditional public schools. But charter schools are also public schools, in that they receive the same per student allotment from the state. Many of your readers probably also know that many advocates of charter schools are rather excited about the threat that charter schools pose to teachers’ unions, and many would love to see the gains made by teachers’ unions undercut. I suspect that here in Michigan, declining funding for public schools is likely related to strategic political efforts to undermine teachers’ unions. Many fans of charter schools see them as a great way to achieve that. Again, I don’t think teachers are overpaid, but there are definitely people out there who do, and who see charter schools as a way to address this.

MARK: Do we know how much enrollment decreased during the last round of cuts, when we lost our last two neighborhood elementary schools; George and Ardis?

MARIA: We do know how much enrollment declined each year, and it looks like there was a significant drop the year those were closed. It would be hard to say precisely what causes enrollment declines, but I don’t think that anyone would dispute that closing schools does in fact lead to declines in enrollment. It is a shame that we don’t have better information about why enrolments decline. You can look at how many kids are in the district, but that doesn’t tell you anything about why the parents of some of them are opting out. I would suggest that this is critical information, and that we should be gathering it, and adapting to what we learn. I don’t know what the enrollment/capacity breakdowns looked like then, but I know what they look like now: contrary to the misperception that doesn’t seem to go away, we have very little excess capacity in our elementary schools, which is why the closure plans proposed thus far involve shuffling grades and crowding schools. And stepping down to three or two elementary schools effectively means an end to choice for parents about what school their child attends. It’s important to point out that though the administration has implied that this is a choice between closing schools, or retaining “small” class sizes. This is a complete fiction. In fact, as the superintendent pointed out in our meeting with him yesterday, school consolidation is one way to MAXIMIZE student teacher ratios. Indeed we are looking to a future of 29 or 30 to 1 class sizes across the district under their proposed plan. Another significant factor here is that our declining enrollments have in recent years been offset by increases in school of choice kids coming from outside the district. I am very concerned that further closures, along with all the layoffs, will impact this trend, as Ypsi schools look less like a safe haven, relative to, for example Willow Run.

MARK: How seriously are people discussing the prospect of opening a new charter school? Are there instances that you know of where communities in Michigan have purchased or leased property back from their school districts in order to do something like that? I have no background with charter schools, but I have to imagine that their teachers make considerably less than their public school counterparts. Given that, is it likely that we could transition any of our best teachers from one to the other?

JASON: Even folks that consider themselves die-hard public schools supporters such as myself will start to consider options. If parents feel like the quality of education for their kids is suffering from collateral damage as the unions and administration fight it out, I can’t say I blame them. We should support our public schools, but we need them to deliver, and delivering is not laying off teachers and closing schools that are over 80% capacity.

I already mentioned the fact that charter schools are non-union and generally pay less. That doesn’t mean, however, that those teachers are inferior. More and more, it looks like teachers will be looking for work where they can. When the layoffs come, the youngest get laid off first. And what these teachers might lack in years they often make up in energy, and they are some of the best teachers around. Chapelle lost one such teacher already to mid-year layoffs. This was a terrible loss for our kids, and he is sorely missed.

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36 Comments

  1. Posted February 14, 2010 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

    I agree with Maria re: charter schools. I would also like to point out that charter schools tend to cherry pick their students, especially those that brag about 100% college attendance rates and so on. I teach in Detroit (and, for the record, therefore in a low paid district & just got a $5,000 year cut–well, they are in theory putting the money aside for us, but I will believe it when I see it) and the charter schools there are notorious for taking all comers…until the day after Count Day. Then the behavior problems, the special ed kids, and so on, are shown the door. I’m sure there are decent charters out there, but I haven’t seen any personally.

    I tend to get in trouble when I say this, but I will say it anyway…I have never known a teacher who wanted to teach at a charter. I know that teachers who are there are usually wonderful, but I have personally never known anyone who actually set out to teach there. There is such a glut of teachers though that even a charter job is sought after.

    I think Maria hit the nail on the head though re: the underfunding of our schools as a way to dismantle the unions. There are just a helluva lot of folks out there who hate to see us make any money. All of us womenfolk*, getting more than a living wage?? Drives them nuts.
    (*I realize that there are many awesome guy teachers, but the majority is still women…at least in my district)

  2. Posted February 14, 2010 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

    David Jesse has compiled all of the county teacher contracts here: http://www.annarbor.com/news/teachers-union-contracts/

    Ypsilanti school teachers are certainly not at the top. Obviously it depends on how you count various additions and costs, but both the bottom and top of the steps are lower than the Ann Arbor salary steps (in the case of the top, much lower). Ann Arbor News articles from the mid-2000s suggest that Ypsilanti was one of the bottom 3 in the county in compensation.

  3. elviscostello
    Posted February 14, 2010 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

    Teacher Patti is absolutely right. Check out the students at a charter school until count day. Then the “problem kids”, those who have special needs, etc…miraculously return to the public schools. Try getting your child with an IEP into a charter school and get the services public schools provide. It’s apples and oranges and comparing public schools where ALL children get in, no matter how severe the disability, behavior issues, or lack of parental support, and the charter schools, who have parents who are engaged in the education of their kids is completely unfair to the public schools.

  4. Posted February 14, 2010 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for the facts on teacher pay, Ruth. I’d heard from a few people that our teachers were, on average, paid better than their counterparts across the county. It’s good to have the real data.

    As for the Republicans, they’d like to see nothing better than to crush the nation’s public school teachers and trial lawyers. They both give a great deal to Democratic candidates and they both have powerful voices. Of the two, though, teachers are far more insidious, as they indoctrinate our kids into Socialism. The right would like nothing better than to have a nation full of conservative religious charter schools in the place of today’s public school system. And, the way things are going, it looks like they might be getting their way.

    One question on Charters… How much do they get per student, per year? And is that exactly the same as what public schools would receive, if they were to enroll that same student?

  5. elviscostello
    Posted February 14, 2010 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

    Mark, here are the school per pupil funding numbers you asked for. The first number is what they received in 2008, second number is what they were supposed to receive in 2009. Some of the charters get more than public schools per pupil, which surprised me. I’m not sure why. I know Ann Arbor gets much more as they were a “hold harmless” district when Prop A passed, allowing them to continue their funding levels. The intent was that the gap would close as schools like Ann Arbor would get smaller increases and schools like Lincoln and Milan would “catch up”. hasn’t happened, as every time they tried in Lansing, the “hold harmless” schools went nuts and the State Government backed off.

    Ann Arbor $9,667 $9,723
    Ann Arbor Learning Community $7,475 $7,580
    Central Academy $7,475 $7,580
    Chelsea $7,547 $7,650
    Dexter Community $7,843 $7,938
    Eastern Washtenaw Multicultural Academy $7,475 $7,580
    Fortis Academy $7,475 $7,580
    Honey Creek Community School $7,475 $7,580
    Lincoln Consolidated $7,204 $7,316
    Manchester $7,406 $7,513
    Milan $7,204 $7,316
    Ypsilanti $7,890 $7,983
    Saline $7,540 $7,643
    South Arbor Charter Academy $7,204 $7,316
    Victory Academy Charter School $7,475 $7,580
    Washtenaw Technical Middle College $7,475 $7,580
    Whitmore Lake $7,204 $7,316
    Willow Run $7,743 $7,840

  6. Posted February 14, 2010 at 8:26 pm | Permalink

    The Free Press has a funding database for all schools in the state, including charters. Found here: http://www.freep.com/article/20091009/NEWS06/91009050/Database–Spending-cuts-by-district

    It shows the funding before the spending cuts were approved, at which point the charters were getting $7580. A few of the local school districts get less (Lincoln, Milan), most get a little more (Ypsilanti, Chelsea), Ann Arbor as a hold harmless district gets a lot more. BUT–Charters have to pay for building and technology costs within that money, and districts can levy additional funds for that, so in general charters have less available to spend per pupil.

  7. Posted February 14, 2010 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for these numbers.

  8. YpsiSchoolDad
    Posted February 14, 2010 at 10:53 pm | Permalink

    Maria/Jason,

    Has anyone FOIAed the salaries of school administration and teachers yet? It would seem like reasonable and highly relevant information to have. Frankly, I’ve always supported the teacher unions, but if they are unwilling to make even modest concessions given what many of us are going through, I fear I will be making a rather vocal 180 degree turn. Thanks!

  9. Kim
    Posted February 15, 2010 at 11:09 am | Permalink

    Do you have to FOIA administration pay? Isn’t it readily available? Has anyone asked the School Board for it?

  10. Meta
    Posted February 15, 2010 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    Ann Arbor is asking their city employees to take pay cuts across the board.

    http://www.annarbor.com/news/roger-fraser-asked-to-take-a-pay-cut-by-ann-arbor-city-council/

  11. Curt Waugh
    Posted February 15, 2010 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    Jason, that was quite a beautiful dance you did up there around the fact that the only way we’re going to save our schools is if the teachers take a pay cut. We have the worst economy in the nation and our teachers are in the top ten (maybe top five) in pay?! That’s madness. How can any of these folks look you in the face and justify that? Hey, I want everybody to be rich, but it ain’t gonna happen right now.

    And before anybody pops a gasket – TEACHERS and ADMINSTRATORS and ALL EMPLOYEES. A sample: Everybody who makes more than $50k per year take a 10% cut. Everybody who makes less than $50k take a 5% cut.

    When you let the numbers tell the story (rather than get politcal or talk about union busting or some other meaningless crap), this stuff is easy. We can chatter on all day about this polital party or that one or overall funding or what have you. None of it matters. “This is how much money we have and this is how we intend to spend it,” is the only thing that matters. Everything else is for another day.

    Focus, people!

  12. kjc
    Posted February 15, 2010 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

    http://www.annarbor.com/news/ypsilanti-public-schools-contract-negotiations-heat-up/

  13. rose
    Posted February 16, 2010 at 6:52 am | Permalink

    Teacher Pattie is very correct about how charters handle high needs kids, but the biggest problem plaguing a charter is the reason for existence in the first place.
    If the school is for profit, well, then it exists for profit. If it doesn’t, the charters don’t have the infrastructure or the know how, experience to navigate the problems of running a school without good rules. They often feel like your on a boat with different people taking the wheel. Many charters are wildly unregulated, so things can be very bad and no one is around to stop the insanity. The staff feels and will argue that you chose to bring your child there, so you’d better chose something else if you don’t like what is going on.
    I do think that now there’s better staff in a charter, because the economy is so bad, but there are a lot of people hiding out in charter schools who would simply be unemployable somewhere else, administrators, teachers, ancillary staff etc.
    I think what is happening in charters will be the coming scandal of the next decade. At least in public schools, things are dysfunctional, but they get disclosed, and that transparency is important.

  14. BillAA
    Posted February 16, 2010 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    would be nice if aa and ypsi could develop a rule or code that forbids charters from entering. i’m ashamed in many ways to have advocated for obama’s election, now that he via duncan is threatening states a lack of funding if they put any caps on charters. anyone who has read thoroughly can see that charters will kneecap public education by unchecked capitalist competition. it is also a way the obama administration can further weaken trade unions and the benefits they struggle to guarantee.

    an analogy. “why is that small corner store having a hard time staying in business? let’s help it get better by putting a supermarket across the street, so it will be forced to compete. and let’s make sure the supermarket management is anti-labor, and they don’t have to account for their spending or profits.”

  15. AA4GOD
    Posted February 16, 2010 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    Might not be a bad idea if some Ypsilanti schools closed and instead you got some high class charters, if so the enrollment at Green Hills and Emersen would drop

  16. Woody Lefurge
    Posted February 16, 2010 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    I think a matter of clarification on charter schools would be useful. Not all, or even most, charter schools are for-profit. There are non-profit charters as well as public charters sponsored by school districts.

    St. Clair County Learning Academy is an example of a public charter school that focuses entirely on high-risk students (those in the family court system) and has been extremely successful in its innovative approach.

    In the best case scenarios, charter schools are motivated not by profit, but by the the ability to apply creative, groundbreaking educational practices that would be impossible or highly restricted by the unfortunate resistance to change found in too many traditional settings.

    In short “charter” does not equal “for profit.”

  17. Ypsi4godssake
    Posted February 16, 2010 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    “high class charters”? Isn’t that an oxymoron?
    Charters are not the answer. People, not the business sector, need to take back their public schools. For too long we, as a community, have been ignoring the health of our public schools, and now they are in crisis. The administration and the YEA are locked in a battle over what? A decaying, underfunded, and ignored system, that their fight will surely damage even more. The Board of Education is our elected body, we need to get them to step up and represent US. They need to tell the administration that they cannot convert our children’s education into numbers and abstractions. Someone said earlier that these guys in the central office had all been here less than five years (Houle and Martin less than a year), and one of them is applying to other jobs. Do they care about Ypsi and its children? Does the YEA president? So, do we sit back and let them (and their power struggles, career plans, and resume padding), run our schools into the ground? Go to the meeting tonight (at 7:00 at Ypsi high), and take back what is OURS.

  18. Sandra
    Posted February 16, 2010 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    Woody: 72 percent of Michigan’s charter schools are run by EMOs.

    “Michigan is no stranger to the effects of competition. The auto industry was forced to adjust to an onslaught of foreign competition in the 70s and 80s. Now, Michigan’s public schools face their own competition in the form of public charter schools. Since 1993, when Michigan became one of the first states in the nation to enact charter legislation, the number of charter schools has grown exponentially in the state. Today Michigan has 230 charter schools that serve nearly 100,000 students, or more than 5 percent of the student population. Some of the state’s charter schools are excellent and have provided more educational choices for Michigan families. But charter schooling is controversial in Michigan. Opponents are critical of the dominant role that for-profit educational management organizations (EMOs) play in Michigan’s charter schools. EMOs, some of which have been plagued by allegations of corruption and profiteering, run nearly 75 percent of charter schools in Michigan. Nationally, only one in four charter schools is run by an EMO.”

  19. rose
    Posted February 16, 2010 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    Naming one charter that is reportedly doing well is not reason to support them…especially with at risk kids, so what’s the control measured against?
    Charters are meant to compete directly and provide more than just competition, they want to be new next system..but for profit? with kids? How different is that then what the union wants? At least the union gets checked by the administrators and BOE’s?
    If Obama wants to promote charters, they need much more oversight and regulation…
    otherwise people are just sneaking around, taking things where they can get them…

  20. Posted February 16, 2010 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    I teach in Detroit, where many charters are for profit. I can’t speak to Washtenaw County, though. I fully believe that eventually, we will be the Detroit Board of Special Education, serving the neediest kids with the most severe disabilities and with much less money and fewer resources. My parapro suggested this years ago and I laughed him off, but now I kinda believe him.

    TeacherPatti can’t abide for-profit schools. I can’t necessarily put into words why this is but it makes my stomach hurt when I think about the CEOs, BODs and administrators throwing their money on the floor and rolling in it while teachers struggle along at $20,000/year.

    As for the across the board pay cuts…I guess I could live with that. I make more than $50k and took what amounts to a 10% pay cut and I’m living with it. I’m married and have a financially stable dad, so we are making it. But not everyone could.

  21. Woody Lefurge
    Posted February 16, 2010 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    “Naming one charter that is reportedly doing well is not reason to support them.”

    You’re right, it is a reason to support that particular, district sponsored charter.

    I don’t think my point should be that controversial. I’m simply suggesting that it is as unreasonable to point at failing charters and then make blanket generalizations about the whole as it is to point a failing public school and make blanket generalizations about the system. We obviously shouldn’t abandon the public school system because some have been “plagued by allegations of corruption and profiteering.”

    Sandra’s correct that Michigan is one of the states where EMOs are greatly out of balance. This is because Michigan put a cap on the number of university sponsored charters. If you want to see more innovative, high quality charters, then remove that limit.

  22. Sandra
    Posted February 16, 2010 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    Hi Woody,
    I appreciate your optimism. I only ask that you take a moment to think about what free market capitalism has done to so much else in our society. Not much good, and, one could argue, a whole lot of bad, when it comes to human rights, localism, equitable pay, benefits, orgranized labor, to name a few things. You can imagine there are a great many corporations, foundations, and private interests – many of them conservative – that are just waiting for a chance to get a piece of the pie. And you can bet, I wager, that minorities and children from low income families, won’t be the first groups that profit charters will seek to take care of.
    If your kids are in a charter, consider either putting them in a private school, or bringing them back home to Ypsi, and becoming involved in your public school. The latter would be the very best for our community. And chances are it would give you much pride.
    There are at least two profit charter corporations that want very much to come into Ypsi. It’s really important that we send the message that Ypsi is not open to them, at least not now.

  23. rose
    Posted February 16, 2010 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    Charters are plagued by problems, big problems, and those problems are grossly underreported.
    For profit schools approach immoral as a concept, and will be inclined to remove the child that ruins the profit line.
    Non for profit are plagued by administrative difficulties, money troubles, and the idea of what they really stand for. They muddle along, with kids coming and going through the system, not really delivering what they even wish for.
    Careful what you wish for, for might actually achieve it someday.

  24. Maria
    Posted February 16, 2010 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

    I think its important to point out that the vastly preferable solution is to keep Chapelle and Adams open, and to build enrollments at Adams. Chapelle, Estabrook, and Erickson are currently at capacity (notwithstanding the Central Office claims). Chapelle and Adams both have the potential to become GREAT small sized schools with all sorts of special programs (Montessori, Spanish Immersion, Community engaged curriculum). Indeed Chapelle, in our opinion, is already a GREAT school, and the new principal at Adams seems terrific and committed. So lets keep them, and get the community to work with them. They both have creative leadership and great teachers, who are willing to work with the community to design creative educational offerings for Ypsi’s children. Lets focus on building up those schools, they have so much to offer our community.

  25. Curt Waugh
    Posted February 16, 2010 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

    The biggest problem as I see it with for-profit elementary schools is that its return on investment takes a lifetime, but profit must be seen in real-time. That’s why taxes make so much more sense. We all pay them for a lifetime in an attempt to get a lifetime return from them. We pay for a healthy society as much as anything. (Seems like good bang for the buck. Much better than the military machine, anyway. That’s certainly not returned a damn thing to us of late.)

    Otherwise, we’re left with the higher education model which only works because they are so selective and the return is shorter. A person can take a loan, pay for college and expect some reasonable return in a relatively short time. Not so with elementary ed. Not so with special needs students. There is simply no profit to be had with special needs students. Where are they going to return it? The for-profit model simply breaks down there, but the healthy society model need not.

    And that’s really the thing about all the profit models that nobody wants to address. Profit is selective. Profit is exclusionary. Profit is for the few. Nobody would argue that everybody must have a car, so the profit model works great there. It’s cutthroat. It’s brutal. There are LOSERS. But education must be for everybody or it doesn’t work very well. I have yet to see anybody properly address this issue except to say something vague about how the “power of the market” will fix everything. Sounds like a bunch of simplistic jingoism to me.

    That said, time for everybody at YPS to take a pay cut. There is no other reasonable solution. Early buy-outs, the union position, will only lead to the same problem down the road (and a sweetheart deal for the early retirees). And temporary cuts are ridiculous. We need to back the pay scale down and start over. Time to live with the economic realities of our state. Keep the schools open!

  26. Woody Lefurge
    Posted February 16, 2010 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

    Just to be clear, I’m not promoting for-profit charters. I’m just pointing out that there are successful, public charters sponsored by respected educational institutions and the local school districts themselves.

    I’ve heard many good things about the Ann Arbor Learning Community, for example. (http://www.annarborlearningcommunity.org/)

    I think Ypsi would benefit from having a public charter like that within its bounds. Here’s an idea. IF they close Chapelle, reopen it immediately as an ISD sponsored charter. It would give it off the books, capture all those students who would otherwise head west, and give free range to the type of creative programs parents there are working for.

    The thing that pushes me to keep an open mind about charters is the fact that it does give parents who can’t afford A2 Greenhills and the like an alternative. I know a lot of low income parents that have been grateful for the option that has previously been afforded the more affluent.

    But there’s more important matters at hand. Like that meeting that you parents are attending right now. I sincerely hope it’s a step towards a positive solution!

  27. rose
    Posted February 16, 2010 at 9:22 pm | Permalink

    AALC is at best a mixed bag…Lots of people have passed through those doors, came, stayed a while and left displeased..
    Charters are bait for those who wanted school vouchers, but the accountability problems at a charter are huge, and it’s the kids who suffer. Some of that lack of accountability won’t officially show up for years until those kids, do or don’t graduate.
    However, if the government put real oversight into these schools, and removed the for profits, now it might not be such a bad idea

  28. Gary Turner
    Posted February 17, 2010 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    We did not want school vouchers, and our children go to AALC. We go there because we live in depot town, and the ypsi shools are not stable environments. If we had put our kids in ypsi schools we would possibly be looking at changing schools two or three times in five years. The public school system was supposed to give us equal access to education, but tell me the AA school district is equal to the Ypsi school district. If it wasn’t for the charter school option we would have moved out of Ypsi ten years ago when we started our family. I would argue that AALC kept me in Ypsi, because we love living in depot town, and my children are at a stable and small school. We will engage Ypsi schools as soon as they give us the perception that they are stable and healthy environments. Right now they are sending out the worst message ever.

  29. Curt Waugh
    Posted February 17, 2010 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    Part IV — Now what the hell do we do?

    http://www.annarbor.com/news/ypsilanti-school-board-parents-agree-district-needs-vision-for-the-future/

  30. Kim
    Posted February 17, 2010 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

    What a cluster fuck that meeting sounds like, with people on the stage saying that they don’t know why they’re even there. Maria IMHO was right when she said that it should have been school administrators up there. It’s their plan, not the Board’s, and they should defend it, not the Board that’s going to vote on it.

  31. Sandra
    Posted February 17, 2010 at 9:17 pm | Permalink

    Would someone take a moment to explain how the teachers’ union convenes to discuss these issues/vote on them/consider options, and so forth? I presume the union leader doesn’t make the decisions, but polls members?

    Better yet, can a member of the union speak here, either named or anonymous? That would be a wonderful addition to the discussion.

    Certainly there are members of the union who don’t want schools closed, while there are also members who prioritize keeping salaries as is?

  32. degutails
    Posted February 18, 2010 at 11:03 am | Permalink

    Gary – I teach at a private school in Ann Arbor, and I work with many professionals and families from the Ann Arbor Public Schools, and it’s a mixed bag, just like anything else. I personally prefer Ypsi Public, and wouldn’t put my children in AAPS or anywhere else unless absolutely necessary. I have found Ypsi schools to be stable (this year’s drama being the exception) and extraordinarily flexible and willing to work with parents and students as individuals. They have their problems too – and, if we’ve all learned nothing else, it’s that everywhere has their problems – but for our four children they’ve been very much the best choice. I looked at private schools for my kids at first and have had a lot of contact with charters, as well as AAPS and other county school districts, and I have not found anything to make me regret my decision to go with YPS. My children have high test scores, are treated as individuals with gifts, and have been mentored by the YPS teachers and staff. I could not ask for a better educational experience for them.

    Meredith

  33. Maria Cotera
    Posted February 18, 2010 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

    I second Meredith’s opinion of Ypsi schools. My daughter has had great time at Chapelle elementary, where she is treated as an individual, and always accorded a level of respect for that individuality. Her teacher brilliantly preforms under increasingly strained circumstances, and the principal, Mr. Guillen, has been willing to entertain all of our ideas for getting the community more involved in the schools. It has been a wonderful experience, which is why we think Chapelle is worth fighting for.

  34. Phelps
    Posted February 24, 2010 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

    An interesting discussion on a proposed school closing in Rhode Island.

    http://www.metafilter.com/89492/An-education-turnaround

  35. Gloria
    Posted March 16, 2010 at 8:38 am | Permalink

    Big surprise. A consultant brought in by the Ypsi teacher’s union says the problem isn’t teacher pay.

    The following comes from AnnArbor.com:

    A financial analyst brought in by the Ypsilanti Public Schools’ teachers union Monday night blamed much of the district’s financial woes on non-instructional spending.

    Arch Lewis, a financial analyst with the Michigan Education Association, said expenditures on teachers’ salaries and benefits have mostly stayed the same in the past five years, while spending on other areas has gone up.

    “It’s not education expenditures that’s causing the problem,” Lewis told the crowd of about 50 people gathered at Ypsilanti High School. “If the district is experiencing financial difficulty, it must be from something else.”

    http://www.annarbor.com/news/financial-analyst-says-non-educational-spending-is-problem-at-ypsilanti-schools-administration-disag/

  36. Alice
    Posted March 16, 2010 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    Have they started negotiations yet on the new contract for Ypsi teachers? If so, has there been any sign that they might accept less in order to keep schools open and save jobs?

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