Emergency Manager disbands public school system in Muskegon Heights, saying that the district will be “all charter” next year

    As you’ll recall, a few weeks ago, I mentioned here that the Philadelphia School District had been disbanded. Well, it looks as though Michigan may have just one-upped them, eliminating public education altogether, at least in one district… A reader of this site, who was, until recently, a teacher in the Detroit public school system, just alerted me to the fact that Don Weatherspoon, the appointed Emergency Manager overseeing the Muskegon Heights School District, has announced that all public school employees are being terminated, and that, next year, the district will be “all charter”… The following clip comes from the Michigan Education Association.

    There will be school in Muskegon Heights this fall, but it will look very different.

    Late last Friday afternoon, Don Weatherspoon, Muskegon Heights’s appointed Emergency Manager (EM), announced his plan to turn the school district into the first charter school district in Michigan. He is taking bids from private companies and is expected to award the job on June 6.

    Earlier in the week, teachers were notified they were being laid off and could reapply for their jobs. Now, however, they’ve been told they are terminated and their jobs sold off to the lowest bidder.

    “Our teachers had no advance knowledge of the Emergency Manager’s plan to convert the school district into a charter school system. We have been left out of the planning process. The staff, students and community are paying the price for the district’s financial mismanagement that they had nothing to do with creating,” said Muskegon Heights EA President Joy Robinson…

    According to MLive, there’s a public meeting scheduled for tomorrow night.

    While it remains to be seen whether or not the people of Muskegon Heights will approve of this radical move away from public education as we know it, it should be noted that, according to articles written in March of this year, the people of Muskegon Height’s were “begging” for an Emergency Manager to be appointed to take over their struggling school district.

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      97 Comments

      1. Edward
        Posted May 29, 2012 at 10:30 pm | Permalink

        And this, my friends, is how it begins.

      2. Posted May 29, 2012 at 11:46 pm | Permalink

        Unbelievable.

      3. Jiggs
        Posted May 30, 2012 at 3:22 am | Permalink

        I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again (and again) … and it’s catching on. This is the first step for the same Company to own the schools, the “local police” and the prisons. If you don’t think this is terrifying, and possible, then you are delusional. IT IS HAPPENING. It is, indeed, how it begins.

      4. EOS
        Posted May 30, 2012 at 4:48 am | Permalink

        This is the inevitable result of every school district that lacks fiscal management. You can’t keep hiring more administrators and caving in to teacher union demands for higher salaries and benefits. 80% of school budgets are personnel costs. More than 90% of newly certified teachers must leave the state to get a job. It is better for the students and the communities to be rid of tenured teachers who show movies and pass out word search puzzles and make excuses each year about dismal MEAP test scores.

      5. Knox
        Posted May 30, 2012 at 5:52 am | Permalink

        Grover Norquist: “I’m not in favor of abolishing the government. I just want to shrink it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.”

        As hard as it is to believe, there are people out there who are celebrating this turn of events.

        This has been the end goal all along. This is not solely about poor fiscal management. This is about defunding the system until the point of collapse, and then pretending as though the only choice left available to us is to pull the plug.

        This is war.

      6. Discipline & Punish
        Posted May 30, 2012 at 6:10 am | Permalink

        Oh but the black folks did it to themselves, like others here have reminded us.

      7. Kristin
        Posted May 30, 2012 at 7:13 am | Permalink

        Shudder.

      8. Posted May 30, 2012 at 7:33 am | Permalink

        EOS, since you know all, please share with us Muskegon Heights failing MEAP scores. And please tell us the names of the tenured teachers who show movies and do word search studies instead of teaching.

      9. roots
        Posted May 30, 2012 at 7:46 am | Permalink

        Very scary.

      10. anonymous
        Posted May 30, 2012 at 8:03 am | Permalink

        I look forward to hearing what happens at tonight’s meeting. The people of Muskegon Heights may have wanted a EM assigned, but I doubt seriously that they wanted this.

      11. EOS
        Posted May 30, 2012 at 8:37 am | Permalink

        wobblie,

        In 2010, 98.8% of the high schools in the state were ranked higher than Muskegon Heights. The MEAP scores are well below average:

        http://www.schooldigger.com/go/MI/schools/2487006170/school.aspx

      12. EOS
        Posted May 30, 2012 at 8:53 am | Permalink

        91% of the students get a free or reduced lunch. The student:teacher ratio is 17:1. Small class size and better nutrition has not helped this student population. More money in this school district isn’t going to help unless they use the money to pay for other kids to take the tests.

      13. Star Child
        Posted May 30, 2012 at 8:53 am | Permalink

        I don’t know what is sadder from the graph EOS linked to… that the school had only about 10% of students that met standards or that the state only had about 50% of students meeting standards?

      14. EOS
        Posted May 30, 2012 at 10:49 am | Permalink

        Star Child,

        Just wait. They’ll soon lower the state standards so that 70 – 90% of students in the state meet the new “passing standard” and then the teachers in Muskegon Heights will claim that their students have improved dramatically.

      15. kjc
        Posted May 30, 2012 at 11:51 am | Permalink

        “It is better for the students and the communities to be rid of tenured teachers who show movies and pass out word search puzzles and make excuses each year about dismal MEAP test scores”

        such a fucking idiot

      16. EOS
        Posted May 30, 2012 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

        So kjc thinks it’s better to retain teachers who would show movies and pass out word search puzzles? It probably would have an initial negative impact on graduation rates if we focused more on academic subjects and required mastery of basic levels.

      17. Dan
        Posted May 30, 2012 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

        from a link via Mark’s link.

        “While other school districts were cutting costs to match their dropping enrollment, Muskegon Heights Public Schools was increasing its spending.”

        “When its enrollment sank 22 percent between 2006-2007 and 2009-2010, the district didn’t respond with an equal drop in spending. As a result, per-pupil expenses increased by 24 percent, according to figures kept by the Muskegon Area Intermediate School District.”

        http://www.mlive.com/news/muskegon/index.ssf/2012/03/how_did_it_happen_muskegon_hei.html

      18. Dan
        Posted May 30, 2012 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

        I guess you guys would prefer this type of management??

        “Why did it take so long? “Because no one wants to have to do it,” Sipka replied.”

        “In 2010, Muskegon Heights’ enrollment was 1,581, a little more than Montague’s 1,457. However, Muskegon Heights was employing 84 teachers, compared to 64 in Montague. Total employees were 273, compared to 159 in Montague.
        Muskegon Heights was the only district to not privatize employees to cut costs. Countywide, those savings were $667,828 for 2007-08 through 2009-10.”

      19. Posted May 30, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

        “Under the plan, the district would no longer be in the practice of educating children. However, the district would keep its projected $14.48 million debt, and the new charter company will start out debt-free and receive state aid payments.”

        EOS and Dan, under your solutions, we get the “best” of both worlds. As tax payers the district still exist so it can tax and pay the 14 million dollar debt. The teachers union gets busted. New teachers are hired at half the pay and no benefits with twice as many students. I just so much love the dog eat dog future you guys like. I suppose for those who think currency speculation is an appropriate investment strategy for the future. This is great.

      20. Posted May 30, 2012 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

        ‘As EM, Weatherspoon has the authority to act as the charter authorizer and appoint the board for the new charter system. He will also decide what building and materials could be offered to the charter company. He says the rest will be “put on the market and gotten rid of.”

        Democracy is just so inefficient, while an EM can “get things done”.

        Dan, I am still waiting for what you think is an appropriate counter balance to the what you have referred to as a “corrupt political/financial system”. I guess you love the EM, and the elimination of Democracy. IF that is the case, why are you not honest and say so.

      21. Dan
        Posted May 30, 2012 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

        Since when do charter teachers not get benefits? I know several charter teachers, and they have similar benefits as union teachers, except 401(k) type investments instead of guaranteed pensions, and they typically don’t get tenure. They get health care, maternity leave, etc.

        Tenure is nonsensical for k-12 teachers anyhow. It’s intended to allow professors to do research with freedom. it is meaningless for k-12 teachers, other than a job guarantee

        and when was the last time you heard of a charter school not being able to find teachers to hire? The one’s i know make more than a living wage, live in nice houses and are able to provide for a family just fine

      22. Dan
        Posted May 30, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

        wobblie,

        i do not “love the EM, and the elimination of Democracy.” But when the school board admits that they were unwilling to make cuts because they didnt want to, someone needs to step in. You ignore the quotes I posted from MH school board. They refused to make cuts, every other school district made cuts. Now they are in budget hell. You don’t see a problem there?

        And my solution to eliminate the corrupt political and financial system is simple. Get the money out of politics. Stop corporate donations to campaigns.

      23. Mr. X
        Posted May 30, 2012 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

        No one is advocating on behalf of fiscal irresponsibility. Clearly, people have to manage their districts responsibly. One would think, however, there are alternatives short of just saying, “Fuck it, let’s blow up the school district and turn our kids over to Haliburton.”

      24. Dan
        Posted May 30, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

        Mr. X,

        But what do you do, when for the last 5 or so years, that district has refused to make cuts simply because no one had the balls, and now is facing $15 mill in debt and huge projected deficits?

        What is the alternative?

        And I love the drama and fear mongering here. Like Haliburton is running schools. There are thousands of charter schools in the country. Many successful ones right here in Washtenaw Co. The are not being taught how to make spy planes, for christs sake.

      25. Posted May 30, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

        Dan, I agree with you about money in campaigns, but it is much deeper than that. While you and EOS have no sympathy for local elected officials who make mistakes (admittedly some times they are overt corrupt). Thus the need for constant vigilance. But influence is purchased in many ways, and what better way to deliver to your friends than through EM’s–unaccountable to anyone but the Governor (?). This link is to an article on how JPMorgan has provided what seems to be preferential treatment to a sitting Senator. You and EOS rail against “entitlements”. But as every common person knows, a fish stinks from the head down.
        check out the link for how the elite have their entitlements.

        http://www.nationofchange.org/jp-morgan-chasesen-mike-lee-short-sale-disgustingly-hypocritical-it-corruption-1338297548

      26. Posted May 30, 2012 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

        Okay, Dan, I gotta disagree with you on this one. I work for an ISD and so I get to go to some charters to be a building consultant. I finally broke down and asked my friend what the salary scale is there. She has the exact same degree as me, and the same number of years experience and she makes $19,000 less than I do. She is in the state pension system, but she has to pay thousand for health care each year.

        On the subject of tenure, do you think it should be abolished for college professors? If not, why not? Why should they be protected more than us?

      27. Posted May 30, 2012 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

        Btw, I heard on the radio that the state is cutting $2,000,000 from the Maxey juvenile detention center budget (and other state run juvie halls) whilst increasing the money allotted to private juvenile centers. Note that the private centers DO NOT have to accept kids who are sentenced there by a judge. In other words, the private centers–if you will–get to cherry pick their prisoners (I presume that the non-selected ones will go to the state centers or, as the reporter implied, adult prisons).

        Does this sound familiar?

      28. Posted May 30, 2012 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

        Dan, I think Mr X was joking when he referenced Haliburton. Personally I don’t think it’s all that far fetched to suggest that there will be greater consolidation in the industry. I just posted something a few days ago about the UK company that owns more than half of the planet’s private security business. That’s how capitalism works. It may not be Haliburton that consolidates this particular industry, but it will be someone.

      29. Dan
        Posted May 30, 2012 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

        first wobblie.

        I am not against entitlements as you say. I have no problem with unemployment coverage, food stamps, and other social safety nets. I am certainly not in favor of corporate tax loopholes and I don’t believe in trickle down voodoo economics.

        I am against union’s forcing unrealistic and unsustainable salaries and benefits.

      30. dragon
        Posted May 30, 2012 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

        from education.ohio

        Since 2008, Akron-based White Hat Management, has collected around $230 million to run charter schools in Ohio. The company has grown into a national chain and reports that it has about 20,000 students across the country.
        But now 10 of its own schools and the state of Ohio are suing, complaining that many White Hat students are failing, and that the company has refused to account for how it has spent the money.
        The dispute between White Hat and Ohio, which is unfolding in court in Franklin County, provides a glimpse of a larger trend: the growing role of private management companies in publicly funded charter schools.
        Contrary to the idea of charters as small, locally run schools, around a third of the schools now pay management companies — which can be either for-profit or nonprofit — to perform many of the most fundamental school services, like hiring and firing staff, developing curricula and disciplining students.
        But while the shortcomings of traditional public schools have received much attention in recent years, a look at the private sector’s efforts to run schools in Ohio, Florida and New York shows that turning things over to a company has created its own set of problems.

      31. Dan
        Posted May 30, 2012 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

        Patti,

        re: charter teacher pay, yes I agree it is certainly less than union pay, but it’s realistic. Wobblie said they get paid “half.” Unless you are making $38k per year, then those is false. The charter teachers I know started around 40k, and with 5-6 years experience are making $50k+

        And yes, the rest of the world pays thousands of dollars per year in health coverage costs. I have what would be considered very favorable health coverage. But since I work in the private sector, I pay $400/month for it, while my employer pays around $1000/month. Thats how the real world works. The fact that for years union members paid nothing or next to nothing towards is EXACTLY the reason you hear so much about legacy costs killing companies/schools/cities.

        again, that is not sustainable. It’s forcing companies/schools/cities to go bankrupt.

        As for the tenure issue, it’s quite simple. Professors are paid to do research, as well as teach. They need academic freedom to develop theories and studies that may not be in line with the commonly accepted theories and ideas. THAT is what tenure is intended to protect. It’s not intended to protect someone from being fired simply because they cost more or stopped caring about their jobs. It has no relevance in k-12 teaching. k-12 teachers arent paid to develop research studies that may dissent and cause controversy.

      32. Dan
        Posted May 30, 2012 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

        Mark,

        I picked up on the sensationalism, but as you said, it’s not really too far out of the ideas in some people’s heads here. This 1984 fear people have is just paranoia to me.

      33. Dan
        Posted May 30, 2012 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

        and i slightly misread your question on tenure Patti, but I think my point is still clear on that. Of course it should not be abolished for professors in higher education. That would limit the growth of discovery and render the sciences useless.

        If there were some staunch republican as president of UofM, and some professor found a way to prove there was no god once and for all, he could be fired without cause if not for tenure (yes, i know it is not possible to disprove creation, just an example)

      34. Posted May 30, 2012 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

        I don’t think it’s too far out, or paranoid, Dan, to suggest that a large, disreputable corporation could one day have a corner on the U.S. education market. It may not be Halliburton, but it’ll be someone. And, whoever it turns out to be, it’s certain that their end goal will be to maximize profits for their shareholders, and not help kinds think creatively and reach their full potential. That’s not how capitalism works. Capitalism is great for some things (when regulations are in place to protect citizens), but education, law enforcement and corrections should never be driven by the desire to generate profit.

      35. Elviscostello
        Posted May 30, 2012 at 7:42 pm | Permalink

        What I always find interesting is the idea of “realistic” pay for teachers. Those who oppose unions, tenure, and current teacher pay use the argument that what teachers make is too much, benefits are too good, and the failing students are the fault of the educational system.
        My wife, with a B.A. In Education with specialties in science and reading, an M.A. In Library Information Systems, and 30 more credits in dealing with difficult students and brain development, and with 10 years in public education makes just over $50000. She’s taken pay cuts, paid in more into health care and retirement, and works harder than she has with a more challenging group of kids with more needs and less parental involvement each year. This year is the first time that my wife has talked about changing careers, as the enjoyment of seeing a child learn a concept, has finally been outweighed by the crap that EOS, and Dan put forth. When did teachers, cops and firefighters become the cause of our fiscal problems? We’re they the ones who crashed the housing market? We’re they the ones who manipulate the stocks, banks, and monetary systems? All they do is try to educate kids, save lives, and raise their families in our communities, without the gates…

      36. Dan
        Posted May 30, 2012 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

        i agree with this “but education, law enforcement and corrections should never be driven by the desire to generate profit.”

        I don’t like that charter schools are for the most part for profit, but they do run on balanced budgets. My ideal middle ground would be for public education to remain state/federally controlled, but with out unions forcing legacy costs that end up destroying districts down the line. It’s not my solution to privatize essential services. But the strong arming of the unions is not really much different than the pocket lining that the corporations do to get tax breaks and earmarks that also arent sustainable.

      37. Dan
        Posted May 30, 2012 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

        “When did teachers, cops and firefighters become the cause of our fiscal problems? We’re they the ones who crashed the housing market? We’re they the ones who manipulate the stocks, banks, and monetary systems?”

        of course not. as noted over the past week of posts, my #1 biggest issue is guaranteed pensions. Thats a ridiculous and unsustainable business practice. Look at Ypsi’s budget and look how much of it goes to “legacy” costs. And BTW, your councilmen and mayor have noted that the police and fire pensions are basically set to double in millage rates in the next 5 years. THAT is the problem.

        It’s not demonizing the workers, it’s demonizing the short sightedness of making unrealistic promises and then unions refusing to renegotiate them even when cities and schools are staring an EFM in the face.

        Why can’t union workers use a 401(k) type system, where they get what they invest in? Why do they get a guaranteed fixed pay, regardless of everyone else having to deal with market fluctuations?

        My 2nd issue is that union people normally pay much much less of towards their health care coverage.

        Both of these ENORMOUSNESS financial advantages are available to union people, while they also typically get paid more in salary and hourly wage.

        again, unsustainable. teacher or any employee should be paid what their “company” can afford to pay them, not what a union demands.

      38. Posted May 30, 2012 at 8:43 pm | Permalink

        Dan, I guess where we disagree is that I tend to dislike the way we (K-12 teachers) are treated as opposed to college professors. I’ve always gone to small schools, so my professors were true teachers–no publish or perish, little if any research. Yet they have always been treated with some sort of reverence that, IMO, they don’t deserve. This may stem from the fact that I had some horrible college teachers and some great public school teachers. I also know that I am rather bitter about how people want to take away our tenure, our money, our rights, our benefits…but largely leave college professors alone. I don’t think YOU do this, but I do think that some do this because college professors tend towards being male while K-12 is very much female dominated. (At least, that is the perception). I think K-12 and 12-16 (if you will) both do important jobs, but I just get angry about how poorly we are treated.

        Further, although I don’t do research, I feel that I need some protection against vindictive parents or administrators. My friend is an elementary school teacher and she is awesomely active in her union. She has never had complaints before, but suddenly has gotten a few from parents who think that her political bent makes her biased towards their kids. So, we can be controversial in our own ways too, and I feel we should have similar job protections. Then again, I think everyone should have a union and some sort of “tenure”, so that’s me :)

        Also, wobblie isn’t too far off on the pay scale…the top of my ISD scale is $76,000 (I am NOWHERE NEAR that so don’t get excited). But charter school teachers tend to top out at about $40k (the schools that I know of, which granted is limited), so it is about half.

      39. EOS
        Posted May 30, 2012 at 11:35 pm | Permalink

        The best way to reform education is to remove all government influence. We did a better job at educating children in the one room schoolhouses than we do today. It costs less than $1000 dollars a year to homeschool a child, and with better outcomes, than we get by spending $10,000-15,000 a year for public education.

      40. Posted May 31, 2012 at 6:06 am | Permalink

        EOS and Dan are only concerned about money. And people who think that tenure in higher education is not under attack are simply not paying attention to what is happening at our colleges and universities. I have engaged with Dan in a long discussion about pensions and 401k’s. Bottom line I got from that discussion was, Dan does not care how his money is invested as long as it makes high returns. 401k’s and the need to force everyone into them is one of our problems. We have fewer and fewer pension funds engaging in long term economic decision making. Instead we have more and more financial planners making fees off individuals like Dan and me. Since our future is now more and more invested in high risk, speculative financial ventures, we have greater and greater volatility in our economy. Dan and EOS evidently only want an America that works for the privileged and the smart. In order to increase their odds of being successful, dumbing down the potential competition is essential–thus the war on education and teachers.

      41. Dan
        Posted May 31, 2012 at 6:52 am | Permalink

        good god wobblie. get a grip.

        I am not “only interested in money.” But if I want to not be working when I’m 75, and enjoy my retirement, then I certainly need to think about where my money is invested.

        You claimed that your 401(k) mutual funds arent returning shit, and I pointed you to 4 or 5 that have returned 6-11% during the biggest economic decline in almost a century. You call them high risk. You somehow think it is day trading. These are MUTUAL FUNDS, diversified in hundreds of assets. The one you love to bash that returned 8%, is rated by Morningstar as “Below Average Risk” and “High Return.” You dont have to be smart and privileged to understand that. You somehow think this is me sitting around looking at what stocks I think will go up or shit like that. These are billion dollar firms being paid to invest money wisely LONG TERM.

        “The investment seeks long-term growth of capital. The fund invests primarily in a diversified portfolio of publicly traded common stocks of U.S. companies”

        This isnt me deciding to invest in Facebook IPO and then selling it in a week in hopes to make a profit. god.

        Sorry that some of us choose to invest in things that make money. You are welcome to buy savings bonds, but dont demonize me for investing in mutual funds that invest in products all over the commercial and industrial spectrum.

        I find it ludicrous that people think when you retire, you should be guaranteed some fixed amount, until you die. If you want to retire comfortably, it’s not hard. You invest in mutual funds early and often. If you want all low risk ones, then you can do that. When I get closer to retirement, then I will switch to lower risk ones (even though half of my funds are below average risk right now)

      42. EOS
        Posted May 31, 2012 at 7:01 am | Permalink

        The public education system is what has been “dumbed down”. More emphasis is placed liberal ideology than any academic subject. The schools are more concerned with self esteem than with academic content. In a couple generations time we have fallen to record lows in academic achievement while soaring in self esteem, all while spending record amounts of taxpayer funds. Many districts are more concerned with closing the gap between demographic groups than with encouraging each student to achieve their maximum potential. The easy route to equal outcomes is to restrict the educational opportunities of the higher achievers. Kids are encouraged to explore all types of sexual activities and provided access to abortions without parental notification. 2 + 2 is no longer 4, but subject to group discussions about how one might approach the concept. Heaven help the teacher or peer who chastises another for promoting the “wrong” answer. I want America to work for those who put forth effort, who stay away from drugs and crime, and who treat others with kindness and respect.

      43. roots
        Posted May 31, 2012 at 7:40 am | Permalink

        Bah.

      44. Posted May 31, 2012 at 9:00 am | Permalink

        Dan says: I find it ludicrous that people think when you retire, you should be guaranteed some fixed amount, until you die. If you want to retire comfortably, it’s not hard.

        Whoa, I think this is the fundamental difference in mindsets between folks. I do not find it ludicrous (hey, remember that rapper named Ludikris or something?) at all and I do not find it “not hard” to invest. Tell my parents in DPS that it’s “not hard” when they make $8 per hour on the cancer fundraising hotline and their spouse makes $7 per hour as a Walmart greeter. Tell my former parapro who makes $13/hour at his job (of 20 years).

        A response (and not saying it’s yours, Dan) is that they should have made better choices and I think that is really at the crux of some of this…some folks (again Dan, I totally respect you and am not saying you think this…you present your arguments well and respectfully; I just don’t agree :)) think that people just need to make better choices, pull themselves up by their bootstraps and so on. And that just isn’t possible for much of the country.

        When I taught government in adult ed (can you believe they let me? Tis true :)), I gave this example when a student inevitably asked why everyone didn’t just go to college, go to med/law/MBA school and make a fortune. Here is my personal story: one of my best friends in college was also in my sorority (Chi Omega represent bitches). She and I had pretty similar backgrounds–middle class (her parents were cops, my dad was at Chrysler), small families (she had one sister, I’m the only child), good schools (she went to private and I went to a great public school). We both wanted to be lawyers. She majored in Psychology & English (fine majors for law school) and I majored in Political Science and Communications. We were both on the pre-law track at school.

        She lived in Detroit with her mom and worked in Southfield during the summer. She had to take a bus to work and had to ride it home at night. One awful night, she got–excuse my language–the holy living shit raped out of her and she could have been killed. It completely wrecked her life. She dropped out of college, broke up with a long term boyfriend, disappeared for awhile. She resurfaced, ended up getting married to that boyfriend, but never returned to college and got low paying jobs. Then she got breast cancer and dealt with that for about 5 years (I think she just passed her 7 or 8 year cancer free mark).

        She is married, no kids (b/c of the cancer issue) and in a rather crappy receptionist job. What would you say to her, I’d ask my college kids. To buck up, get over the rape and get her ass back to school and be a lawyer? Sure, some people can do that, but I know I couldn’t have.

        Can my friend find it “not hard” to save for retirement? Her husband is a cop and they have a house and he has a kid from his first marriage. I don’t know the answer, but I’d ask that folks remember stories like this when they think that things are so easy.

        Sorry, got off topic a bit but as you can tell, I’ve told this story a lot and I hope that it resonates with some people.

        Dan, are you going to the Corner tonight? Please say hi if you do.

      45. Dan
        Posted May 31, 2012 at 9:21 am | Permalink

        Patti,

        I’m certainly not a “suck it up and make better decisions” kind of person. I realize I probably come off as such on this blog, because there are so many coinciding ideals with people and only a handful of people that disagree on things. But I’ve tried to be clear, pretty much the only conservative thing about me is re: unions. And again, it all goes back to what companies can afford to pay, and what unions force them to pay, and how we are seeing that all play out with legacy costs destroying Ypsi’s budget, Ypsi schools, Muskegon Heights schools, the prison system, etc.

        Promising pensions for life just isnt realistic.

        I realize many people make very little, and many have to support families on very little. We have safety nets for those people.

        I got into it with wobblie re: pensions vs 401(k)s, and that was not meant to be about how everyone can easily retire with 3 million in the bank. It was about how everyone that works in the private sector manages to retire on their own investments (many with employer contributions to those investments). If they invest in a long term attitude, they can have a comfortable retirement without crippling the company they work for down the line.

      46. Dan
        Posted May 31, 2012 at 9:22 am | Permalink

        and no, I can not make it to the Corner tonight, I have to work late.

      47. Thom Elliott
        Posted May 31, 2012 at 9:43 am | Permalink

        Amazing. How it could possibly be claimed our industrial jails for children are liberal indoctrination centers for big govt where nothing is done but watch movies and pass out busywork sheets is got to be one of the most far flung and outrageous claims that I have yet seen from this slander spitting racist with antisocial personality disorder. I am frankly stunned anyone would debate the merits of his bullshit claims. Of course he wants nothing but home schooling/charter schools, he wants a religious/totalitarian anti-welfair state run by antisocial and racist technocrats where women have no rights and children are in the coal mine.

      48. kjc
        Posted May 31, 2012 at 9:49 am | Permalink

        “if I want to not be working when I’m 75, and enjoy my retirement”

        where is this in the constitution?

      49. EOS
        Posted May 31, 2012 at 10:14 am | Permalink

        Gee Thom,

        I don’t think your rant was very kind or respectful or reality based.

      50. Posted May 31, 2012 at 10:17 am | Permalink

        Dan, that sucks that you can’t be there! Like I said, I don’t agree with some of what you say, but I think you say it respectfully which is hard to do.

        By the way, you fuckers made me dream of Dick Cheney last night with all of your talk about Haliburton. He popped up in a dream that I had. He did this a few years ago, the worst one being when he popped up in a school dream I had…he was sitting in the front row and when I looked at him, he winked at me. It was quite traumatic.

      51. Thom Elliott
        Posted May 31, 2012 at 10:43 am | Permalink

        Gee EOS, you said a great pile of bullshit you couldn’t possibly know in a huge bulloxy strawman that made me want to vomit. I want to know how you came to know that bullshit about democratic discussion of arithmetic sums, or how public education somehow celebrates and encourages abortion. Sorry if I sound unkind, your slander is fucking outrageous, and reading it makes me cringe with angst. I am not a fan of our school system, I view it along with nearly everything else in our deranged society as a failure, but that failure is due to decades of corruption and nihilism, not the bullshit you make up to suit your fascist agenda.

      52. EOS
        Posted May 31, 2012 at 10:52 am | Permalink

        Yeah Thom,

        Ask Patty how Math is taught today – with calculators and discussion groups. And the children whose parents are concerned enough to monitor their kids education watch Khan videos online to learn what is no longer taught in schools.

        http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7379221n

      53. Dan
        Posted May 31, 2012 at 11:55 am | Permalink

        kjc,

        What does the Constitution have to do with my personal financial aspirations? I was talking about my dream of retiring at a reasonable age, with enough money invested where I can travel and maybe see the things I didnt have time or money to when I was working, and not have to worry about counting pennies. Those are some of my goals. Thats why I choose to invest part of my income in tax deferred retirement accounts, the ones that I feel will pay off the best in the long run.

        I never insinuated it was an entitlement or a right. But for me to achieve those goals, I need to invest wisely. And at my current age, I can afford to invest in risky more volatile funds. If they lose 10% this year, I’m ok with that, because in the long run, they pay off.

        But back to the EFM in schools. Again, I’m not saying this is ideal or that it should be anyone’s goal. But when a district refuses to acknowledge the economical realities of the world (such as MH has admitted to), someone needs to step in and save the school district. Isn’t it much better for the kids to be in schools that can provide more services, because they aren’t burdened by crushing debt brought on by mismanagement?

      54. Tommy
        Posted May 31, 2012 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

        Yes, EOS alternative ways of learning and teaching do exist. You might want to see the more detailed piece on the Khan academy that was done on 60 Minutes a few months back – it was very good. Seems to work well with the well to do suburbanites and districts who a) have computers, b) have high speed internet connections, c) are in districts that have an educated populace, d) have kids who come to school not having to be worried about eating a meal, getting shot or raped, and maybe having heat for their homes, e) are willing to have their staff get trained on these new methods, standards, etc.

        Nothing is as easy as you seem to make it out to be.

      55. Dan
        Posted May 31, 2012 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

        Patti,

        You sure Cheney was winking at you, are looking through the sights of his shotgun? ;)

      56. mark k
        Posted May 31, 2012 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

        Thom why are you so angry all the time, dam Dude take a walk in the fucking park, find a woman or do some drugs. But lighten up.

      57. Posted May 31, 2012 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

        So I am one of 3 people in Michigan who work with teachers at charter schools and do extensive research on this silver bullet called the charter school movement. And let me say, as much as I wish it was the answer- that it would solve all the problems of accountability, corruption, failing test scores, dropout rates, communities crumbling that we have seen for years in traditional public schools (oh course not the ones in richer, more affluent predominately white communities)—- it honestly doesn’t.

        Before I go on, I openly offer my time to whoever wants to learn about how this all works in the next few weeks. It is really interesting, pretty sad, and extremely frustrating, but REALLY necessary to understand because charter schools will replace traditional public schools almost completely in the next 5-10 years.

        Yes there are some charter schools that are doing well– doing cool alternative things (a small percentage) and making the ‘grade’ (a larger percentage, but still very small)– but the vast majority are performing as poorly or worse than their traditional public school counterparts.
        Charter schools have major accountability issues re: the quality of education that is being provided & fiscal responsibility. If you think the checks and balances are broken in public schools, it is worse by far in charter schools. For example- Educational Management Organizations (EMOs) (for-profit companies/a few non-profit ones that the charter school board hires contractually to run the school) take 15-25% of the per pupil allowance (tax payer $$) as a management fee (this is not the money they use to run the school or pay teachers or anything logistical- it is profit) then are given the rest to ‘run’ the school which is defined eventually in one or two sentences in the contract between the board and the EMO that says that the EMO basically can do whatever they want with the money and the board has little or no say. In most cases the board doesn’t even function as the accountability mechanism it is supposed to be. The majority of boards are stacked by EMOs and their authorizers who also make 4% of the per pupil allowance for authorizing the school.
        Annual Teacher Turnover is between 40% and 70%… yes annually.

        Teacher salary is usually around 25k and 40k (teachers with 4-12 years of experience, most with master’s)

        Charter CEOs are usually making 6 figures. This doesn’t even count the un-godly amount of double-dipping that happens (remember that 10-25% management fee? usually admin are both owners of the EMO and admin of the school. fun, right? Oh and also they often own the building that the school is using- which means that they pay themselves for the use of the building– that is a lot of money)

        Charter schools could work, but it is a crazy free-for- all right now that doesn’t address any of the issues that we are upset with in re: to public schools… sad face :(

        And that is only the tip of the ice berg. I could go on for days with pros and cons… but it is mostly cons that are worse than the cons we have seen in traditional public schools.

        Let’s have an ypsi charter school governance workshop. It will be fun.

      58. EOS
        Posted May 31, 2012 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

        The Khan method works well with untrained mothers who take their children to public libraries for free Internet access. This isn’t a new method, but a return to the traditional content based teaching that once was the norm. It is that easy.

      59. Dan
        Posted May 31, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

        EOS,

        If you do indeed homeschool any kids you might have, what do you do to incorporate them into a normal society.

        I’ve known 4 or 5 home schooled kids in my life. Not one of them was fit to live on their own and lead a normal life. It was almost like they were autistic.

      60. Lynne
        Posted May 31, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

        Dan is correct about health care costs hurting the public sector. But he’s ignoring that such costs are hurting the private sector too. This has nothing to do with unions. The real problem there is that in our system, health care is tied to employment when it really should not be. The only solution is a single payer socialized system similar to what other countries have.

      61. John Galt
        Posted May 31, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

        I agree. We should get rid of public schools, and, instead, direct parents to take their children to their local libraries (the ones that haven’t already been closed), where they can watch Khan Academy videos.

      62. Dan
        Posted May 31, 2012 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

        Lynne,

        I totally agree about health care cost being ridiculous (and think we should have a single payer), but that wasn’t really my main complaint. As I mentioned somewhere way up above, I pay roughly $400/month for health care, and I’m in my late 20s with no kids, and my wife and i maybe go to the doctor’s 3 times each a year. My employer pays well over twice of what I pay towards my premium.

        We certainly need to do something about that.

        My main complaint about the unions was that they force unrealistic pensions, wages, and yes, health care coverage on companies, schools, cities, etc. These entities simple cant afford to pay the union demands. You’re watching schools and cities crumble and fall into EFM control because unions wont back off and put employees on a market based system. That’s all I’m saying.

      63. Lynne
        Posted May 31, 2012 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

        Dan, No one forces management to accept the union demands. Seriously. And trust me, labor relations was often a big topic at the dinner table in the household where I grew up. You could say that my father is an expert in public sector labor relations. I think you are vilifying unions way more than they deserve, frankly. It isn’t unions that have caused the current problems. It is management and a state system that doesn’t take into account the fact that poor districts need more resources than rich ones. And I say this as someone who always heard things from the management side of the negotiations.

      64. Dan
        Posted May 31, 2012 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

        Lynne,

        Unions are just as culpable in the fraudulent political/economic machine as Koch et al. They have enormous power. And thats the problem with both of those sides. Too much political power in special interests.

        But I digress. Sure poor districts need more help, but without the unions and special interests having their hand in everything, it doesnt matter. Any money that DPS was getting was being funneled to golden handshake contracts. The story is the same everywhere. Like i said, get the money out of politics, from both sides of the aisle.

      65. Posted May 31, 2012 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

        Dan,
        I am still waiting for you to tell me what counter point you would have to hold our corrupt political economy accountable. You want to hold unions culpable for the collapse of our schools and other institutions. Unions, are by law required to be democratic. Unions, are the most regulated public entities in our country. Unlike government and private industry, corrupt union officials are regularly held accountable (get thrown out of office, thrown in jail, fined etc–corrupt unions get put under government receivership). If we had the same level of democracy and accountability in our society which exist within the union movement the banksters and their enablers which have drowned our country in corruption would have been held accountable. Unions regularly give back economic concessions, when the powers they are negotiating with open the books and demonstrate the economic necessity. It is only when the powers that be refuse to be honest about the financial situation involving the enterprise that the unions dig in and demand openness. You need to pay attention to the content of union negotiations to understand what drives the results. Frequently Business and government would rather “buy” off the workers rather than disclosing the true financial state of an enterprise to its workers (and thus the public). Transparency and openness are the true friends of liberty, freedom, and the pursuit of happiness.
        The real problems with pensions, is the ability of the enterprise to negotiate and promise a pension, and then not fund it fully. I am sure you understand that if the enterprise fully funded pensions they promised, we would not be having this problem. But since it is possible to underfund pensions, eventually the piper must be paid (thus some of today’s problems).
        By the way, every other democratic industrial country provides all citizens with a much better social security old age system than ours. They do not face the same problems that Dan and I have, wanting to retire by the time we are 75.

      66. Dan
        Posted May 31, 2012 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

        wobblie,

        what part of “And my solution to eliminate the corrupt political and financial system is simple. Get the money out of politics. Stop corporate donations to campaigns.” did you not understand?

        those monies also come from unions, ya know.

      67. Dan
        Posted May 31, 2012 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

        and of course this is the problem. “The real problems with pensions, is the ability of the enterprise to negotiate and promise a pension, and then not fund it fully.”

        thats blatantly obvious. And even when they claim it is “fully funded” that is based on the current market. Again, the future of the pension depends on what the market is in 3, 5, 10 years etc. THATS the problem.

        that kind of shit doesnt happen with a 401(k) type vehicle. You’re payout is what you earned in investment, not what some idiot 20 years ago promised you.

        why am I the only one seeing the problem here?

      68. Lynne
        Posted May 31, 2012 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

        I still don’t even know why you think unions are so powerful. Do you think that a math teacher with a masters degree in math who earns 80k year plus really nice benefits is overpaid? Do you even understand that the nature of the benefits isn’t important as what the total compensation package is? Pension (fully funded) or 401(k) should cost the same to the employer. If a union negotiates a better health care plan, they take a hit in wages.

        So ok. Think total compensation. When you add the salary and benefits up, let’s say that the teacher with the $80k salary is being compensated $150,000 a year. Seems like a lot right? But what is that teacher worth on the labor market? People with advanced degrees in things like math can make over $200,000 a year without even counting the benefits.

        Now you could make the argument that we don’t need people with qualifications teaching our children but I would disagree and so would a lot of people. People who vote for school boards. The people who negotiate with the teacher unions also have an incentive to keep teacher’s total compensation packages competitive.

      69. EOS
        Posted May 31, 2012 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

        I know hundreds of home-schooled kids and they are far better educated and more involved in the community than their public school peers. There are home school co-ops, where families who home-school work together to teach specialized subjects. One parent teaches science, another math, etc. The students have social activities and sports. Many home-schooled teens are involved in substantial volunteer work in their community and their churches, with far more daily interaction with adults than most children. Home-schooled kids spend less time on classwork, because they get individualized instruction, work at their own pace, and move on only after they have mastered the material. There isn’t the constant interruption for disciplining misbehavior nor the negative environment of drugs and violence found in many public schools. Parents purchase curricula to teach a wide variety of advanced subjects. Many of the home-schooled kids I know have read a significant number of classic literature volumes, study foreign languages, build computers and electronics/robotics, and develop high skill levels in many different areas such as art and dance. More and more science fairs and spelling bees are won each year by the small percentage of home-schooled students. As I have shared on this site before, on average, home-schooled kids test very high on standardized tests and have no difficulty gaining admission to college and succeeding in future academic pursuits. There is no teacher better able to engage and motivate a student than a parent who loves and cares for that child and has a personal interest in seeing them succeed.

      70. Maria
        Posted May 31, 2012 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

        Yeah, that’s kind of an idealized picture of homeschooling. I bet those kids wouldn’t mind taking a twirl at going to school, riding a yellow school bus, passing notes in class, eating school lunches, being part of a school play, and well, you get the idea, although they probably can’t tell their parents that.

      71. missypsi
        Posted May 31, 2012 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

        Dear EOS,
        As a parent with children in the district, I think I can say that your description of public schools does not bear any resemblance to what happens in Ypsi schools. Do you have children in the public schools? Do you spend EVERY DAY there as I do? If not, you have no basis to make false claims about our schools and what happens there. I have seen many dedicated teachers, working in abysmal conditions (paying for everything from school supplies to snacks out of pocket), make a huge difference in our childrens’ lives. I deeply respect what they are doing and I think we should do as much as we can to support them, not UNDERMINE their efforts. Your fundamental lack of respect for working people who sacrifice much, and for this shared enterprise that we call public education, is shameful. I am not insulting you personally, just the narrowed vision of your ideology, which leads you to make claims about spaces, places, and people you clearly know nothing about.

      72. EOS
        Posted May 31, 2012 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

        missypsi,

        I do not doubt that there are many hard-working, caring individuals in the Ypsi district and a few success stories among the students. But as you, yourself, stated in your post, they are working in abysmal conditions. And as the test scores show, whatever they are doing is not helping the majority learn the academic subjects. And this is in spite of low enrollment in the district and record levels of funding per student. I know what is being taught in the colleges of education, I’ve been in the classrooms, and I am a Michigan certified secondary teacher. I do know something and that is the current system is failing our children and needs drastic change.

      73. Posted June 1, 2012 at 6:04 am | Permalink

        Dan, your solution seems to be unconstitutional. see Citizens United. What is your next solution?

      74. Greg Pratt
        Posted June 1, 2012 at 6:42 am | Permalink

        I second Adrienne’s suggestion (Ypsi Charter School governance workshop).

        ACNB: you make me proud to have been your co-worker!

        We have to be careful to ignore “foul balls.”

        This thread is one of the best I’ve read so far.

      75. Dan
        Posted June 1, 2012 at 7:32 am | Permalink

        Lynne,

        “People with advanced degrees in things like math can make over $200,000 a year without even counting the benefits.”

        Where?

      76. Dan
        Posted June 1, 2012 at 7:32 am | Permalink

        wobblie,

        what was your solution again?

      77. Greg Pratt
        Posted June 1, 2012 at 7:44 am | Permalink

        Dan, you are correct. “These monies come from unions too”

        Question: What is the power of union money relative to corporate money-power these days?

      78. Greg Pratt
        Posted June 1, 2012 at 7:55 am | Permalink

        I’d like to echo Adrienne’s recommendation above again.

        Let me answer your question Dan (tip of hat to Fellow Worker, wobblie).

        “What is [a] solution?”

        I think the answer is not that some small group of smart privileged elites figure this out, but instead, that we take it upon ourselves to work together. Share ideas and, dare I say, design, build and implement our own public school system.

        We can start with the charter workshop Adrienne suggests and go from there.

        Let me make this into a fine point: the solution is not plan we come up with today or in the near future, but the ***process*** by which we come to the plan we will implement today or in the near future.

        What is the ***process*** I would advocate for?

        Why, participatory democratic planning of course!

      79. Dan
        Posted June 1, 2012 at 8:02 am | Permalink

        Greg,

        Your solution sounds a lot like EOS group home schooling idea.

      80. Greg Pratt
        Posted June 1, 2012 at 8:04 am | Permalink

        And Dan sends one behind the plate and into the stands!

        Next batter.

      81. Greg Pratt
        Posted June 1, 2012 at 8:09 am | Permalink

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aWoFqbYBo6M

      82. Thom Elliott
        Posted June 1, 2012 at 8:17 am | Permalink

        I want to know why EOS knows “hundreds of home schooled” children. What does ‘know’ in this context mean? What kind of underground fascist militia shit are you involved in that you know ‘hundreds’ of radical rightwing broods that are more qualified to teach then teachers? There are ‘hundreds’ of these fascist rightwing terror cells in this area? What are you and your hundreds of autistic gun worshipping holocost-denying apocalyptic cult members planning? Should I start planning for a Hutaree style race war anytime soon?

      83. Thom Elliott
        Posted June 1, 2012 at 8:26 am | Permalink

        Frankly I haven’t met many quiverfull breeders of more white babies for the fatherland types (because I am not a racist gun nut equivalent to the Taliban), but I can’t imagine they know more about, say, physics, then a teacher who specialized in it? That these people are allowed to brainwash their children with racism, religious zelotry etc and deprive them of childhood socialization is beyond me. It should be called what it is; child abuse.

      84. Lynne
        Posted June 1, 2012 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

        @Dan. Well, I figured that since I was using the top end of the salary scale in my teacher example (e.g. 80k), I might was well use the top end of the salary scale in my mathematician example and based it on the salaries of people I know who have advanced degrees in math who are also top end earners. But even if you compare average salaries, you’ll find they are comparable. Even if they weren’t, there is more to being a teacher than just skills in the subject being taught. I am still curious about why you think teachers are overpaid? Don’t forget to include non-compensatory wage differentials into your analysis. Private and Charter schools cherry pick their students and tend to offer teachers smaller classroom sizes so if you are about to compare public school vs private school teacher salaries, you should know that you aren’t comparing apples to apples. So why do you think teachers are overpaid?

      85. Lynne
        Posted June 1, 2012 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

        Re Homeschooling – FWIW, I have known some people who have chosen to home school their children and their kids are fine. But one thing to consider is that the single biggest predictor of a child’s academic success is the education level of his/her parents. The people I have known who have home schooled have been well educated upper middle class people. Most likely their children would have done fine no matter how they were schooled. Homeschooling is an option but because it requires a parent to stay home with the kids, it tends to be limited to those who can afford to do that.

      86. Dan
        Posted June 1, 2012 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

        I dont necessarily think teachers are overpaid. I think that unions shouldnt force salary and benefit packages onto school districts that end up with EFM’s because they cant sustain union demands. Or when schools have to hire less teachers (thus increasing class size) because the have to pay union demands.

      87. Dan
        Posted June 1, 2012 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

        And I also find it hard to believe that any mathematician is pulling in 200k

        http://swz.salary.com/SalaryWizard/Mathematician-Salary-Details-Ann-Arbor-MI.aspx

        http://swz.salary.com/SalaryWizard/Assoc-Professor-Mathematics-Salary-Details.aspx

        meanwhile, teachers make this, working about 9 months of the year.

        http://swz.salary.com/SalaryWizard/high-school-teacher-Salary-Details.aspx

        (and please, go on about how teachers work in their spare time, as if professors or pretty much any other salaried professional doesnt)

      88. Burt Reynolds
        Posted June 1, 2012 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

        I come from a family of home schooled kids, i.e. all of my cousins. Probably 10-12 kids. My sister and I attended public school. I have no idea how our test scores compared to theirs, but I do know my sister and I are college educated and semi-successful. I think one of my cousins attended college. The rest all lived at home into their 20′s. My aunts and uncles were all educated. Home schooled kids are simply not as well adjusted as public school kids. Grades are great, but if you can’t function at a normal level in society, it makes little difference. I really don’t feel I am painting with a broad stroke when I make this statement either.

      89. Lynne
        Posted June 1, 2012 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

        Except that unions don’t force salary and benefit packets onto school districts. Do you think they show up for contract negotiations with guns or what? You are blaming unions for things that quite simply are not their fault.

      90. Dan
        Posted June 1, 2012 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

        seriously Lynne? Seriously?

        Unions have no power, eh? Then why do they exist?

      91. Elvis costello
        Posted June 1, 2012 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

        Dan, they exist because of freedom. They exist because we have the right, or used to, to freely associate, to join together in common cause, to work as a group to better our lives and those of our families. I’m sure that in the free market utopia, we’d have all the jobs we need. Of course, the wages would be on par with China and Vietnam. What a fantastic country we would then live in…

      92. dirtgrain
        Posted June 1, 2012 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

        Many years ago, Engler and his accomplices made teacher strikes illegal. Tenure has been trashed by Snyder and friends. Laws have been passed to reduce the political influence of unions. What power do teacher unions in Michigan have today?

      93. Posted June 2, 2012 at 6:13 am | Permalink

        Dan, what union forced GM to give these nice pensions to its salary workers?

        http://www.freep.com/article/20120602/BUSINESS01/206020425/Take-a-GM-pension-or-lump-sum-Do-the-math?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE

        My solution to the problem is powerful popular democratic organizations that can confront the greedy plutocrats on some form equal basis. The only organizations that fit this bill are labor unions. And as their strength has declined so has our ability to hold the corrupt political financial system accountable declined. As you frequently point out, you are young and are willing to take risk. So you evidently have not experienced much in your own life about the duplicity and rapaciousness of the powers that be. Those of us who have been repeatedly lied to and manipulated have learned that solidarity with out fellow workers on the job and in our communities is the way in which we can demand accountability.

        by the way do you think the unions demand for pensions, say at GM, had anything to do with the sweet pensions the managers were giving themselves and the salaried workers?

      94. Interrobang
        Posted June 2, 2012 at 11:59 pm | Permalink

        Dan, you do know that people with math degrees often don’t work as mathematicians, right? A lot of people with math degrees work in finance (they’re the ones who invented those funky derivatives that got us all in trouble), IT, or insurance (as actuaries), or in statistics-heavy professions. And yes, it’s very possible to pull down far more than what a mathematician or a teacher makes with an advanced degree in math if you’re working at a brokerage or crunching actuarial tables for Blue Cross, ferchrissakes. I work at an IT company that sells software and services to pay-tv providers, and three or four of my colleagues have math degrees; most of the rest have engineering degrees.

        Probably the most specialised math-major job that you wouldn’t think of as being math is as a professional sabermetrician, and those guys (all like 100 of them in North America) pull down huge paycheques (did you miss “Moneyball”?).

        You’re either dumb, an inflexible thinker, or you’re just disingenuous.

      95. Wanda Leverette
        Posted June 4, 2012 at 8:41 am | Permalink

        Traditional public schools accepts everyone and teachers can motivate even the disinterested with some concern and Agape Love. Charter schools do not accept any and everyone in their schools, an application process is usually involved, which involved parents complete. If you don’t have parents involved, where will those children go to school? I believe the plan is to select who will make it into universities and the workforce and who will not. If you have “parents” who are not involved, and who don’t insist you go to school, you won’t. So where will you go as you age when you are unemployable?? Let’s build more jails so we have a place to house them. Charter schools feed into that mentality because most charter schools Select who attends, they put out those with behavior roblems and disenfranchise those with IEPs by not honoring the legal document by providing additional neccesary serices. This charter method will work for those who are “selected”, children with uninvolved parents, children with disabilities, children deemed unteachable will not be included. If that’s not the direction We the People choose to go in, we need to Stand Up and Say So! We as concerned citizens for education need to join forces and rise like the Phoenix, letting our current administration Know that our vote is tied to an education plan that works for all children in all communities regardless of money, positions or culture. We should want quality education for All. People like Clarence Thomas..or even Bill Clinton would never make it from being dirt poor to a seat on the Supreme Court or President if it wasn’t for public school education that’s available for All children, regardless of circumstance. With the current attitude, those positions should be for those from wealthy families with power. What’s painful to watch is professionals who have dedicated their working careers to a system that will not protect them from financial disaster. When you are laid off, you are eligible to collect unemployment benefits, when you are fired, you are not. The politicians in control are very aware of what they are doing when they make decisions such as what is occurring in Muskegon Hts. To teachers in other districts in Michigan and elsewhere; with the cuts in education and tax bases across the country, with less money made available and school districts falling into debt, No school district is exempt from the same fate. We need to take ACTION. Those in power whose goal is to destroy public education, then redesign it to suit their need to have a more defined class differentiation are moving towards Their goal, We the People Must collectively take action and state what We want our schools to look like, demand the type of changes in reform that actually benefits our children and our communities. We must organize , we must take our to D.C. and set our requirements on the table and stand until we are heard. This is more than about parents, it’s about teachers and the community joining together for a common cause.

      96. Jesse
        Posted January 21, 2013 at 6:28 am | Permalink

        The teacher turnover numbers at charters is ridiculous. If I’m not mistaken, it’s something like 25% a year. As you can imagine, this makes it incredibly difficult to establish continuity at a school, and to build a lasting culture. I feel sorry for the kids that are having to live through this right wing experiment.

      97. PF
        Posted February 7, 2013 at 7:22 am | Permalink

        Do we know how this has played out? Do we know what kind of teacher turnover they’re seeing? I’ve read before that many charters see a 25% turnover per year. How can that be conducive to teaching children?

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      1. [...] in favor of an “all charter” system. And, if you don’t think it can happen, just ask the folks of Muskegon Heights.Here, while we’re on the subject of what a “no” vote would mean in November, is [...]

      2. [...] do, let’s not keep putting unaccountable officials in positions where they can, for instance, demand that all public schools be closed in favor of for-profit charter schools (as has happened in Muskegon Heights), or sell public land to corporations for pennies on the [...]

      3. […] where the Governor-appointed Emergency Manager determined that, in an effort to save money, they’d eliminate public education altogether, replacing it with an an all-charter system. As Democratic candidate for Governor Mark Schauer told […]

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