State Rep David Rutledge warns Ypsi School Board that a Snyder czar is on the way

We’ve discussed it to death here on the site, and I’m not sure how much new ground there is to cover, but our local Representative in the Michigan House, David Rutledge, warned members of the Ypsi School Board yesterday that, unless they found a way to balance their budget, and fast, the Governor was going to summarily dismiss them, and appoint one of his non-elected emergency financial managers (czar) in their place, to go about the business of selling school assets, breaking contracts with teachers, eliminating popular programs, and ratcheting up class size as much as humanly possibly. As we’ve discussed here before, there is no guarantee that financial managers assigned to take over Michigan school districts have even a rudimentary appreciation for K-12 education, let alone relevant degrees. And, to make matters worse, these people are rarely from the communities they’re inflicted upon. What’s more, from what I can tell, they’re generally African American, making the racism behind the fact that these are primarily minority schools being taken over, all the more difficult to prove and rally people around. It’s insidious, and, lest anyone think differently, it’s all about destroying the public schools that made our country great, and the teachers’ unions that they support. The Republicans will call it something great and democratic-sounding, like “school choice,” but it has nothing to do with helping kids – especially disadvantaged, inner city kids – to become better educated… But I’ll leave my ranting at that for the moment.

Here’s a clip from

When speaking to the Ypsilanti school board Monday, state Rep. David Rutledge issued a warning to trustees and district leaders: Get the district on solid financial footing or face installation of an emergency manager by the state.

Rutledge (D-Ypsilanti) has two school districts in his district facing the possibility of having an emergency manager appointed by Michigan officials, as Willow Run Community Schools is another district on the list of 23 school districts that could face a state takeover.

Rutledge said Ypsilanti school leaders needed to come together and find a way to bring the district out of debt, or else someone else will do it for them.

“I just want, at this point, to emphasize to you as a policy making board … that this is at the point that it is beyond serious,” Rutledge said. “We’re at the point where unless in the short-term we can collectively find a way of impacting in a positive way, meaning to reduce the outstanding indebtedness, you will have in your presence a person that’s not identified yet that will be an emergency manager, managing the affairs of this district”…

Rutledge said he had met with superintendent Dedrick Martin for a considerable amount of time earlier Monday discussing the district’s issues.

The warning from Rutledge sparked a statement of defiance from trustee Andy Fanta.

Fanta asked board president David Bates to provide trustees with a list of all the school districts in the state who could have an emergency manager installed. He said it was time to fight back with legal action against the state.

“It’s time to play hardball and we have to communicate with each other,” Fanta said. “That’s just the tip of the iceberg. It goes to a fundamental principle as to who are all are as Americans, whether do we believe in the democratic process or whether we’re going to follow this model of a czar”…

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  1. tommy
    Posted May 10, 2011 at 8:58 pm | Permalink

    Mark – you need to read this

    Puts it all in the proper perspective. I bet you already read his blog!

  2. karen
    Posted May 10, 2011 at 11:16 pm | Permalink

    Mark’s right. Ypsilanti schools are shitty. Otherwise people like myself, Mark, and most of my neighbors wouldn’t send our children to private schools.

  3. Glen S.
    Posted May 11, 2011 at 6:05 am | Permalink

    I’m not entirely sure this rather sketchy Ann piece adequately captured the tone of Rutledge’s remarks — but if so, I’ve got to ask:

    Why is our supposedly Democratic State Representative holding a community forum to “warn” our our local school districts to fall in line, and start doing Snyder and the Republicans’ dirty work for them?

    Instead, shouldn’t he be warning our local school districts (and parents, and and everyone else) about how the real agenda here is to weaken, or even eliminate, free, public education in Michigan — to the benefit of private religious schools and FOR PROFIT charter schools — many of which are owned and run by some of the Republicans’ largest campaign contributors?

    At the very least, shouldn’t he be encouraging local school districts (and parents, and citizens) to organize to fight back against this unprecedented attack on our schools and communities?

  4. Edward
    Posted May 11, 2011 at 6:11 am | Permalink

    Reading between the lines, was Rutledge urging our school districts to merge? That’s the sense that I got from the article.

  5. wetdolphinmissile
    Posted May 11, 2011 at 6:24 am | Permalink

    “Mark’s right. Ypsilanti schools are shitty. ” I did not read that Mark said that….not that he is an authority on schools…@ Karen-YPS are not shitty any more than this blog is white…you don’t know about what you are talking about. I am sick of people throwing stones at YPS. Go to any one of the elementary schools and actually observe or participate in their activities. Research states that there is more difference between classrooms within a school than between schools. It is the classroom teacher that matters and there are good and bad teachers in every school. You are wrong and you are worse than spreading misery about ypsi, sickening…

  6. Mr. X
    Posted May 11, 2011 at 7:30 am | Permalink

    This is a great time to be a black Republican accountant in Michigan.

  7. Brainless
    Posted May 11, 2011 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    Mark absolutely thinks that Ypsi schools are shitty or he’d send his kid there rather than spend a fortune on private school. There’s nothing wrong with that, but for fuck’s sake, stop trying to spin everything. It’s not a fucking political decision. Just be honest. His actions speak for themselves.

  8. maria c.
    Posted May 11, 2011 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    Ummm… As someone with a child in Ypsi schools, I find Karen’s comment deeply offensive. Not only is it plainly wrong, but it is also cynical, selfish, and silly. I could afford to send my kid elsewhere, but I don’t, why? Because I think that public schools are our last great workshop for DEMOCRACY, and that what happens there matters. Its bad enough that we earn street cred for living in Ypsi (soooo much better/cooler than Ann Arbor, yada, yada, yada) while refusing to commit wholly and completely to shaping our community in all of its dimensions (this is a form of cultural vampirism), but to actively denigrate the schools where MOST children in Ypsi find real joy, is just, well, disgusting. And by the way, the above is not a condemnation of this blog, its writer, or any of the people who so faithfully contribute to it. Mark has been very conscientious about staying on top of the Ypsi school issue, which sets a great example for the rest of us. As I have always said, we all need to care about this issue, whatever our personal decisions regarding our children are (which after all, are private, KAREN). If we don’t work together on this, things will never improve for Ypsi’s children.

  9. Posted May 11, 2011 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    Rep. Rutledge did exactly the right thing in warning the Ypsilanti school board that they are “on the list” of school districts that could potentially be subject to an emergency financial manager. He ought to be commended for his action, rather than what Glen S. always seems to be doing when he posts something here.

    Personally, I don’t believe that YPSD will end up with an EFM running things, unless the school board and teacher’s union fail to take the hint and get personnel costs under control. Some positive changes related to cost have been made, but they are not enough to resolve the budget deficit and put the district back in the black.

    I believe that we have the right management in place already, they just need the tools to be successful and a school board with the fortified backbone to support them when the union put the screws to them to cave in….

    Much more needs to be done, some of which will necessitate a complete change in focus for the district and union leaders. School districts exist to educate children, not to provide permanent employment and cradle-to-grave benefits. How best to educate each child is the question – and the answer for a growing number of students may lie outside of the “traditional” bricks and mortar, labor-intensive infrastructure that costs the district so much.

  10. Comobort
    Posted May 11, 2011 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    If there’s any school suckage going on, it isn’t the fault of teachers. It’s our elected officials that are making it happen. Not even the best intentioned teacher can teach in environments like the ones we’re creating. And we’re going to see more and more of them start cracking, like that guy just recently in Canton.

  11. dragon
    Posted May 11, 2011 at 11:43 am | Permalink

    not to provide permanent employment and cradle-to-grave benefits

    Could you explain the cradle part of this statement? Or is this just another focus tested buzzword to keep the teatarded rubes fired up. It certainly makes it very difficult to take anything you say seriously.

    Unless you have discovered that not only are babies active day traders they are also teaching our children.

  12. John Galt
    Posted May 11, 2011 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    I’m tried of repeating myself. I thought that we’d covered this. What children need are opportunities for employment. Government just needs to get out of the way. The rest will work its way out. Those who come from strong moral families (who are thereby successful) will go to school and get educations. Those who have less to offer intellectually will make their way to brothels and coal mines, where their small hands and resilient natures will make them valuable commodities. God has a plan for each of us. We just need to allow it to bloom, like a beautiful flower.

  13. Brandon
    Posted May 11, 2011 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    Whatever your political beliefs, Rutledge was right to warm the district that an EFM could be on the way.

    Sadly, the response he got from at least one board member was not encouraging. If Fanta wants to play hardball, he’s just going to get the district involved in a long piece of expensive litigation, rather than take affirmative steps to resolve the district’s financial problems and avoid having a state takeover.

    I find it hard to believe Fanta’s strategy would be successful.

  14. Brainless
    Posted May 11, 2011 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    Comobort I call “bullshit” on your comment. All studies and everybody who knows anything about anything will tell you that that parents are the single most important factor in schooling. Not all problems nor all solutions are political.

  15. LaidOffTeacherPatti
    Posted May 11, 2011 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

    Hey, we have a guy from GM coming into DPS after Bobb fucks our contract and leaves without even an “I’ll call you later” or cab money on the dresser.

    PS: We find out next Tuesday what plans he has in store for us….

  16. LaidOffTeacherPatti
    Posted May 11, 2011 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

    Brainless, yes. I was thinking about this yesterday when I was pondering how so many of our students simply lack the prior knowledge that I (and probably you) had. My parents talked to me, read to me, taught me to read and count before I went to school and so many kids (everywhere esp. those in inner cities–this is sad but true) simply don’t have that. Either their parents are illiterate themselves, or not around, or out at the bar trying to find the next guy to have a baby by or they simply don’t care and figure the schools will teach their kids…it’s almost like school has to start at birth for some kids :(

  17. Posted May 11, 2011 at 10:03 pm | Permalink

    It’s amazing to me that so many people here seem to know where my daughter goes to school, as I’ve never mentioned it. I guess that’s one of the joys of living in a small town, though, right?

    For what it’s worth, there’s a reason that I don’t mention her school on the site, and it has nothing to do with embarrassment. I’m comfortable with our decision and feel that I’m doing the right thing for my daughter. Sure, there’s guilt, but I’ve got guilt about a lot of stuff. The reason I don’t talk about where she goes to school is because I care about her, and don’t want her to ever come in contact with some of the people I meet online, a small number of whom have made statements in the past that have given me cause for concern. Anyway, I didn’t realize, nine or so years ago, when I started this site, that I’d have a daughter. If I had, I probably wouldn’t have named the site But, I was young and stupid, and welcomed the attention, not all of which, as you might guess, has been positive. So, I try as best I can to compartmentalize. I don’t post a lot of family photos anymore – at least ones in focus – and I don’t write about, for instance, where my daughter goes to school. I hope that people respect that.

    As for my decision to send her to a private school, it was difficult. It was probably the most difficult decision that I have ever made in my life. I agonized over it more than I did the decision to get married, or, for that matter, even the decision to have a daughter in the first place. I’d always imagined that I’d send my kid, if I had one, to public school, and the thought of not doing that, when push came to shove, was a lot for me to deal with. If you know me at all, you know the decision wasn’t one I entered into lightly. Linette and I visited about half a dozen schools, talked with teachers, consulted with friends, and did our due diligence. And, in the process, we met a lot of great teachers, and saw a lot of great kids.

    The decision, at least for me, had to do with the kind of environment I wanted for her. While a lot of the schools we considered had great teachers, the one we chose had great teachers that actually had the time and resources they needed to do what they loved in a significant and thoughtful way. There were no tests. Class sizes were small. And the teachers, it became clear, got to know the kids and their personalities at a level to which I hadn’t been accustomed to. Maybe my own personal experience colored things, but the care the teachers showed for the kids resonated with me. While I’d certainly had good public school teachers as as kid, as I’d traveled around the United States with my family, I can think of very of few that really took the time to get to know me, what I cared about, and what motivated me. And I wanted that for Clementine. So, when we found a school where that seemed to be the case, we applied. The tuition was a hell of a lot, but we were told that they’d take our income into account, so we hoped for the best. And, when we found how how much we’d be paying, and that we’d still be able to keep the lights on at home, we decided to do it. It would mean not taking vacations quite so often, or buying some of the things that we coveted, but we made a choice to invest in our daughter’s early years. It also meant not saving a dime for her college.

    I should add that we also don’t imagine that we’ll be able to do it forever. At some point, I’m almost certain, we’ll make the jump back to public school, but, for now, I think we’re doing the right thing for our daughter.

    As for our public schools and whether or not, as Karen Maurer suggests, I think they’re “shitty”… I do not. I think we’ve got good kids, and good teachers, who are trying their damndest to impart skills under unbelievably difficult circumstances. Like it or not, the trend is toward bigger classrooms and more standardized testing. And I chose to opt out of that for as long as possible, in hopes that the experience of being around kids who were given the freedom to explore things they found of interest, would have a lasting impact. And, I should stress, this isn’t to say that Clementine’s friends in public school won’t turn out just fine. I’m sure they will. They’re bright, and have engaged parents, which is probably close to %80 of the battle.

    I think it’s also worth noting that, although our daughter is out of the system for the time being, I haven’t 1) complained about my taxes going toward public education, 2) asked for vouchers, or 3) given up fighting on behalf of our public schools. Public schools, as I’ve stated here hundreds of times, are vitally important, and they’re being systematically destroyed by Republican lawmakers. I’d love nothing better than to raise taxes, pay teachers better, give them smaller classes, and leave them the hell alone to teach like they want to teach. Unfortunately, we aren’t there now. And I’ve found a balance that I can live with. I’m sure that others may find fault with it, but it works for me.

  18. Andrew Jason Clock
    Posted May 11, 2011 at 10:59 pm | Permalink

    What’s wrong with private schools anyway? You make the sacrifice to pay tuition and you pay taxes to fund education. Its been that way for a long, long time. What’s changed now is there are privately owned schools being allowed to siphon off funding from public schools. That’s just crazy.

    I went to Catholic school, and while I didn’t have the opportunity to take the variety of classes (no auto shop, home ec, limited arts, ect.) I certainly got more attention from my teachers, and pretty much everyone in the school. I’m pretty sure every staff member, from the principal to the janitor, knew the names of every student. My parents sacrificed a whole lot to give us that education, and I realize that more and more as they move into retirement and can now afford some of those things they sacrificed when we were kids.

    When I was a kid, I don’t think there was a huge difference between public and private schools in way of individual class (room) size. There certainly was a differences in over-all attendance (something like 4-1 or higher) but class sizes were within 8-10 students. Now that’s not true at all. If you are willing (and can afford) to pay extra to be sure that your kid is getting personal attention, then good on you.

    I’m all for private education, but it should be just that. No public money involved.

    And its too bad that it seems to come down to this on every issue in the city. Where we just have to start name calling and backbiting, accusing and defending. Its exhausting, and sure as hell isn’t limited to the internet. Can’t we just stick to the issue at least, even if we have to have an argument about every fucking thing?

  19. LaidOffTeacherPatti
    Posted May 12, 2011 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    FWIW, I’d rather see kids go private than charter…like Andrew said, it should be PRIVATE with no public monies.

    Then again, I long for the days of a public school in every neighborhood, no charters with the private option if parents prefer that…like when I grew up. Our district had plenty of money and I got a great education (and I now know that my teachers were well paid…they seemed happy but maybe it was just ‘cuz they could smoke and drink in the lounge).

  20. Mr. X
    Posted May 12, 2011 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

    I demand that you move this to the front page. I want name calling and backbiting.

  21. Ale Roka
    Posted May 12, 2011 at 10:44 pm | Permalink

    The worst thing about this wonderful blog is it takes 948 thoughtful and intelligent words to respond to every 23 of ignorant anger.

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