Public Education Finance Act of 2013… a bold gambit to dismantle public education in Michigan once and for all

    Saying “I’ve never considered myself a conspiracy theorist—until now,” Rob Glass, the Superintendent of the Bloomfield Hills School District, sent a letter out to parents in his district yesterday, outlining the education reform plans unveiled last week by Michigan Governor Rick Snyder. “This package of bills,” said Glass, “is the latest in a yearlong barrage of ideologically-driven bills designed to weaken and defund locally-controlled public education, handing scarce taxpayer dollars over to for-profit entities operating under a different set of rules.”

    The 302-page legislative package, which you can download by clicking here, was drafted by Lansing lawyer Richard McLellan, a former official in the administration of Republican Governor John Engler, and the cofounder of the Koch Brothers-funded think tank, the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. (To give you an idea as to where they are ideologically, we have the Mackinac Center to thank for the concept of financial martial law.) McLellan, who has long been a proponent of implementing a school voucher system in Michigan, which would channel public money into the coffers of private, for-profit schools, had been given the task last year by Snyder to rewrite the State’s 33-year-old School Aid Act, which is essentially the blueprint that dictates how our public schools are funded. Here, in the words of Superintendent Glass, is an explanation of what McLellan, through his prestigious-sounding new organization – the Oxford Foundation – has come up with.

    House Bill 6004 and Senate Bill 1358- Would expand a separate and statewide school district (the Education Achievement Authority of Michigan or EAA) overseen by a governor-appointed chancellor and functioning outside the authority of the State Board of Education or state school superintendent. These schools are exempt from the same laws and quality measures of community-governed public schools. The EAA can seize unused school buildings (built and financed by local taxpayers) and force sale or lease to charter, non-public or EAA schools.

    House Bill 5923- Creates several new forms of charter and online schools with no limit on the number. Bundled with HB 6004/SB1358, many of these schools could be created by the EAA. Public schools are not allowed to create these new schools unless they charter them. Selective enrollment/dis-enrollment policies will likely lead to greater segregation in our public schools. This bill creates new schools without changing the overall funding available, further diluting resources for community-governed public schools.

    Senate Bill 620- Known as the ‘Parent Trigger’ bill, this would allow the lowest achieving 5% of schools to be converted to a charter school while allowing parents or teachers to petition for the desired reform model. This bill… disenfranchises voters, ends their local control, and unconstitutionally hands taxpayer-owned property over to for-profit companies. Characterized as parent-empowerment, this bill does little to develop deep, community-wide parent engagement and organization.

    So, this legislation, if passed, would essentially create a parallel, for-profit education system, right alongside the Michigan public school system, unanswerable to anyone, save for an appointee of the Governor. There would be no accountability to the State Board of Education of the State Superintendent of Schools. And, as Glass points out, these for-profit entities would be able, like parasites, to take over our vacated public school facilities, which had been constructed with taxpayer dollars, for pennies on the dollar.

    And the idea, it would seem, is to force this legislation through the Republican controlled House and Senate now, during the lame duck session, before the new legislative class makes their way to Lansing… which doesn’t leave us much time to get organized. (I believe I’ve heard that we have about two weeks before this would come to a vote.)

    Here, in the interest of fairness, is how McLellan, through the Oxford Foundation, is positioning the legislation.

    …The new Michigan Public Education Finance Act of 2013 is aimed at creating a public education funding system that allows a student to learn “Any Time, Any Place, Any Way and Any Pace,” and create the path toward more robust performance-based funding. Below are five major concepts included in the draft.

    1. Removal of District “Ownership” of a Student. A student will be allowed to take a course, multiple courses or the student’s entire bundled education package from any public education district in the state. A local school district will maintain its ability to determine whether to participate in open enrollment.

    2. Creation of Online Learning Options with Performance Funding. Technology is changing the delivery of instruction to students. A student will be allowed to access instruction from across the state using advancing technology. The district providing the online course will immediately receive public funding, based on performance measures. Again, a district will not limit a student’s choices.

    3. Funding will truly follow the Student. Under the current model, a school receives 90% of its state general education funding based on where a student sits on the first Wednesday in October. We create a dynamic system, where the funding will actually follow the student. 15 other states are already using the Average Daily Membership method for allocating funds.

    4. Framework for Performance-based Funding for all courses. We are setting the framework for the full implementation of computer-adaptive student growth and assessment tools that are on the horizon. We are maintaining the current growth funding incentives for the next fiscal year until the Smarter Balanced assessment and the recommendations from the Michigan Council on Educator Effectiveness are complete.

    5. Early Graduation Scholarships. We are creating an incentive for students – who are ready – to graduate early. $2,500 will be available for each semester a student graduates early. Let’s help those students who are ready to graduate.

    So, if I’m reading this correctly, not only will our students be incentivized to leave school early, thus lessening the burden on Michigan tax payers, but they’ll also be able to complete their coursework from home, having used Michigan taxpayer dollars to purchase online modules of questionable educational value from the likes of Mike Huckabee… Sounds like a great plan, doesn’t it?

    Michigan Senate Democratic Leader Gretchen Whitmer, who, along with other Democrats, had proposed a competing plan called Michigan 2020, apparently doesn’t buy the bullshit line about how this is being done to help children. She took to Daily Kos almost immediately after the Governor’s plan became public, and shared the following thoughts.

    …(W)hile so many of us advocate for the need to reinvest in our schools throughout the state and provide each and every student with a world class education, Governor Snyder, the so-called tough “nerd”, has taken the opposite approach. He has pushed through budgets over the past two years that have raided nearly $2 billion from our schools and used it instead to provide tax handouts to big corporations without the promise of a single job being created. He has blamed teachers for poor performing schools while gutting the funding needed to keep our schools competitive and made it more and more difficult for students to achieve the success necessary to compete in a rapidly changing global job market.

    Yesterday, Governor Snyder released the latest and most offensive step in his anti-education agenda in the form of a proposed overhaul of Michigan’s school aid funding. The deeply flawed plan would end public education as we know it in Michigan by enacting nearly the same voucher system that Michigan voters overwhelmingly rejected in 2000. It would create fiscal uncertainty for every single school in the state and only succeed in lining the pockets of the CEOs running for-profit corporate schools.

    It isn’t a plan that looks forward, it’s one that only looks back on previous attempts by out-of-state interests to profit off of Michigan’s students. It’s a plan that says the education of our children is better left to the corporate accountants at “Schools, Inc.” than it is with the teachers in our classrooms. It’s nothing short of a disaster waiting to happen and one that I find simply offensive as both a legislator and as a mother of two young girls…

    So, here’s how this trick apparently works, for those of you in other states who would like to attempt something similar… You defund education to the point of collapse, and, then, pointing to the inevitable failure, you make the case that the only option left available is to essentially hand the whole thing over to corporate America. And you bring in an anti-public education operative with ties to ALEC and the Koch Brothers, hiding behind the facade of a pro-education foundation with “Oxford” in its name, so that it sounds super smart, to draft the whole thing. Then, you announce it right before the Thanksgiving break, knowing that no one will take notice. Evil and brilliant, right?

    The problem is, people in Michigan, who already voted down the idea of school vouchers in 2000, are taking notice, and the momentum against Snyder is beginning to build as more and more superintendents are stepping up to inform families in their districts. Following, as an illustration of the fact that the people are beginning to line up against Synder on this, is a clip from the recent editorial in the Detroit Free Press.

    Lame-duck legislative sessions are typically the devil’s cauldron, filled with a steaming heap of cowardly and ill-thought-out legislation that wouldn’t have a prayer of passing if citizens (or even lawmakers) were paying much attention.

    This year is no different, with the Republican majorities in both chambers weighing serious, sweeping structural changes to public education in a hurried and haphazard fashion. Certainly, the goal of this sloppy legislation isn’t to improve schooling (you’d need a far more careful approach to do that) so what’s the motive? Likely, it’s ideology — which is often the enemy of improved outcomes…

    There’s no question that Michigan could use more innovation in education, and open minds about school finance and governance are going to be a prerequisite in the ongoing conversation about change. But in a host of bills that hadn’t seen the light of day until after the Nov. 6 election, the Legislature is poised to ram through reforms that really ought to be discussed and debated in a much broader context, and probably over a much longer period of time.

    And much of what’s being proposed looks a lot like McLellan’s voucher system, just by another name.

    The legislation being debated would essentially open up the state to creation of an unlimited number of schools run by for-profit charter outfits, businesses, universities and just about anyone else, with the use of money that now funds public school districts. Even the newly created Education Achievement Authority, which debuted this year as a special district for chronically low-performing schools, would gain sweeping power to create new schools under one of the bills being considered.

    The idea behind them is principally to introduce more market competition for public schools, and to allow for more innovation.

    Neither is a bad idea.

    But, as crafted, these bills would not have these new schools face the kind of oversight — standard-setting and enforcement — that the state has been inching toward implementing for other public schools.

    This has been a running problem with the efforts to expand charter schools since Snyder was elected in 2010; advocates believe the market for independent schools is self-regulating, and that bad charters will close because Michigan families won’t choose them.

    The problem is that, in practice, that hasn’t happened in the most robust charter market in the state, Detroit, where scores of middling or even awful charters stay open year after year, providing no better education than their public school counterparts…

    Assuming you agree, there are a few things you can do immediately. On one end of the spectrum, there’s civil disobedience. And, on the other, there are petitions. Here, for those of you who’d prefer not to chain yourselves up to the fence surrounding the Governor’s gated community, or protest at a local for-profit charter school, is a link to a petition, which, as of right now, already has over 11,000 signatures. Here’s what it says.

    “Do not continue to promote the passage of HB 6004 or any other legislation that replaces locally elected representatives of the people with unelected State appointed bureaucrats. We do not want the education of our children privatized and our tax dollars and local school buildings turned over to for-profit corporations.”

    [note: The Lansing Democrats have now rolled out a petition of their own, and I suspect that, if you sign it, and give them your contact information, they'll keep you updated.]

    And, once you share this post with your friends, you could also write to your representatives in the Michigan House and Senate, and tell them that you’re adamantly against Michigan State Senate bills 1358 and 620, and Michigan State House bill 6004 and 5923. And, while you’re at it, you could write to the Governor as well. Here’s his contact information.

    Governor Rick Snyder
    P.O. Box 30013
    Lansing, Michigan 48909
    Phone: (517) 373-3400
    Email: click here

    UPDATE: Oakland Schools Superintendent Dr. Vickie L. Markavitch weighs in….

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      38 Comments

      1. Dirtgrain
        Posted November 30, 2012 at 5:33 am | Permalink

        The cognitive dissonance for Republicans and Libertarians: this is a big government move against local control (just as the financial manager scenario is). How can we wake up our Republican and Libertarian brothers and sisters? They have to be made aware of how this is defying their core ideology (unless Snyder and his group are going to openly promote this as a way to destroy public schools entirely).

        What has happened to our communities with all this choice and student movement? We need some information on the cost of it so far. The neighborhood school is dying as a concept. Is that really such a good thing?

      2. Edward
        Posted November 30, 2012 at 5:37 am | Permalink

        The Republicans will not be happy until teaching is no longer a profession, but a job that pays less than 10 dollars an hour. They honestly believe, I think, that all teachers do is read from textbooks, and that anyone can do it. They don’t realize that it’s the most important career there is.

      3. Posted November 30, 2012 at 6:06 am | Permalink

        I am heartened by the fact that the Supers of Bloomfield & Birmingham spoke up on this. I hope that rich parents can put the pressure on their rich, Repub legislators on this one. Until now, this sort of takeover bullshit has been focused on low income/non-white schools and few gave a shit. (I mean, WE gave a shit but we are awesome). That sort of pressure might be what we need.

        I am glad that people see what they are doing in trying to make money off of our kids’ backs. And the former lawyer/capitalist/ThroughTheLookingGlassTeacherPatti in me says, “Sure. Money to be made, right?” But the teacher in me–the *human* in me–wants to know this:

        How do you make money off of the kids I’ve worked with? The kid who is deaf-blind and needs OT, PT, speech language, two special ed teachers and a one to one aide? The kid who was beaten so bad by her birth family that she was brain damaged (or her brother who was raped and hung on a coat rack on night)? The kid who has had three brain surgeries to fix his tumors and he can’t see or remember much? The kid who is a victim of incest and has a disease that has gradually made him unable to speak or see very well? The kid who was born missing part of her brain and has the mentality of a 1 year old but she is 14 and needs a one to one aide because she freaks out, pulls her clothes off and takes a shit in the middle of the gym? The kid who was raped and sodomized so badly that she needs nursing care in her cognitively impaired classroom? The kids who are in wheelchairs, can’t speak too well, are low vision, can’t hear, see letters backwards, see numbers backwards, who can’t sit still, who are discipline problems, who haven’t eaten in two days or who just need some extra help?

        You don’t make a profit on them. So where do they go? Back home, back to institutions or to public schools that will have even less than we do now. Who the hell is speaking out for these kids?

      4. Thom Elliott
        Posted November 30, 2012 at 8:01 am | Permalink

        Where do they go Patti?? To prison! Children with LD are 4X more likely to go to prison then typically developing, children with LD who drop out are 6X. Children not reading at grade level in 3rd grade have 80% chance of dropping out of highschool. 60% of federal inmates have literacy deficits, literacy/speech language deficits lead to problems communicating, which lead to externaling behaviors, which eventually lead to crime. I think instead of just murdering public schools, this is about making sure the prison industrial complex has enough business in perpetuity, and that is how they turn a profit on them.

      5. Demetrius
        Posted November 30, 2012 at 8:11 am | Permalink

        If this happens, here’s a preview of what “public” education in Michigan may look like soon:

        http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2012/07/photos-evangelical-curricula-louisiana-tax-dollars

      6. Jean Henry
        Posted November 30, 2012 at 8:25 am | Permalink

        That these guys believe in their solutions is more scary to me than the fantasy (or rhetorical flourish?) that they are really interested in increasing the prison population. I don’t argue that that may be the effect of this– just that these guys have any idea that will be the effect. If you imply malicious intent rather than malicious effect in your letters and emails (which I hope you all are writing), your comments will be ignored. No one will hear what you say. I have no doubt they see this as a simple numbers solution. They believe themselves practical– and you emotional and irrational. Don;t play into that. Please tailor your arguments to what works and doesn’t work, rather than tossing off accusations. I’m very concerned that our inflammatory rhetoric on the left alienates those we most want government to serve and those we most need to listen to us. I’m angry and upset too, but it has become an ugly, and mostly self-serving habit.

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

        As long as parents keep sending their children to private schools, this problem is going to continue. We need to pressure Lansing, but we need to convince our friends and neighbors they should send their children to public schools. The best way to save the public school system is to get involved.

      8. anon
        Posted November 30, 2012 at 8:33 am | Permalink

        i read they’re doing this in response to our “aggressive” repeal of the PA4 legislation. snyder said something like, “you should have known that forcing PA4 onto the ballot would create the grounds for a fight.” something like that.

      9. anon
        Posted November 30, 2012 at 8:35 am | Permalink

        dennis, faulty logic. draconian legislation isn’t the fault of parents in working class areas.

        i’d argue it’s the fault of Christians.

      10. Thom Elliott
        Posted November 30, 2012 at 8:48 am | Permalink

        Fantesy?? Jean, I urge you to look into the research and the correllations between literacy deficits and incarceration! These are the contemporary outcomes for learning disabled highschool dropouts! And Synder KNOWS! Prison labor and prison construction are a LUCRATIVE business you can’t outsource!

      11. Mr. X
        Posted November 30, 2012 at 9:40 am | Permalink

        I think it’s pretty simple. They believe in low taxes, and they don’t believe that hard working people should be paying to educate the children of welfare queens. It’s a recipe for disaster, but there it is. If they were smart, they’d be investing heavily in urban areas, in hopes of breaking the cycle of poverty. The truth is, though, they don’t care. They don’t go to Detroit. They’ve written it off. And they won’t care until the problem seeps into their gated enclaves, which it eventually will. It’s extremely shortsighted, and it spells the death of our nation, which became great thanks to a dedication to strong public education. As for private schools, I think we’ve covered this before. Those parents still pay taxes, the same as everyone else, and that money still goes to the public schools. The schools get the money, and the don’t have to educate the child, meaning that there are more resources for those who are in the system. I don’t think that’s a bad thing. Charters, on the other hand, take money that would otherwise go to public schools. Yes, though, the system would be better if everyone sent their kids to public school, like in Finland. I don’t see how we’re going to get there, though.

      12. facebook watcher
        Posted November 30, 2012 at 9:54 am | Permalink

        Local Representative Jeff Irwin posted a few resources this morning.

        Interested in learning more about the flurry of changes proposed for the organization and financing of k-12 education? Here are a couple of great local resources that charactize the issues quite well with a special focus on Ann Arbor:

        http://k12christinestead.com/

        http://a2schoolsmuse.blogspot.com/

      13. Demetrius
        Posted November 30, 2012 at 10:01 am | Permalink

        “The schools get the money, and the don’t have to educate the child, meaning that there are more resources for those who are in the system. I don’t think that’s a bad thing. ”

        True, but isn’t it possible that involvement (support) may be even more important than dollars?

        By their very nature, parents who send their kids to private schools are likelier to have higher incomes and education levels, along with resources and life-skills that are necessary to foster their kids’ success.

        If, instead, all of those parents were more actively involved in their public schools — running for school board, joining the PTA, etc. — I wonder how much difference it might make.

      14. Demetrius
        Posted November 30, 2012 at 10:05 am | Permalink

        Having said that … just want to add that I’m not criticizing parents for making what they feel are the best decisions for their own children (who can blame them?) — just suggesting that the collective outcome of those individual decisions may have unintended, negative consequences.

      15. Mr. X
        Posted November 30, 2012 at 10:14 am | Permalink

        Absolutely, Demetrius. The schools would be better if all local, engaged parents participated. I don’t disagree. Unfortunately, after years of neglect and defunding, many parents have made a choice to remove their children. I find it hard to fault them for this, given the circumstances. I believe there are others far more deserving of blame than parents trying to do the best things for their children, and often going into debt to do so.

      16. Posted November 30, 2012 at 10:17 am | Permalink

        I worked for the City of A2 for a long time, the last years under the direction of Roger Fraser, who is now Snyder’s Emergency Manager administrator.

        Much of what I read and see about how Snyder is “reorganizing” the State govt seems to come from Fraser’s playbook.

        It’s the story of the frog in the pot of water on the burner. It’ll be a done deal before anyone knows what’s happening all while we’re told “it’s the new reality, get used to it” and Don’t worry it’ll be fine when we’re done. By that time it’s too late and too costly to undo. It’s legislative legerdemain at it’s worst.

      17. Demetrius
        Posted November 30, 2012 at 10:28 am | Permalink

        @ Mr. X.

        Agree. (see above)

      18. Oliver Hou
        Posted November 30, 2012 at 10:30 am | Permalink

        One more thing to consider. What happens when we start attacking people in our community that have children in private school? Do they put their kids in Ypsi public schools, or do they move to Ann Arbor, where the public schools are thought to be better? And, if that happens, are we any better off as a community, without their tax dollars, and whatever other contributions they may make? Also, I think it’s foolish to suggest that somehow everything would be better with these “engaged” parents. To suggests as much obscures the real issues. Furthermore, it suggests that the parents there now are not engaged.

      19. anonymous
        Posted November 30, 2012 at 10:33 am | Permalink

        Would homeschoolers, under this new system, have their tax dollars, which would have normally gone to the public school system, returned to them?

        If that’s the case, wouldn’t a lot of people just keep their kids home to save the money?

      20. Eel
        Posted November 30, 2012 at 11:23 am | Permalink

        You have to give it to the Republicans. They don’t give up. They’ve been working on this for the past 20+ years. Engler set it in motion, and it’s not at all surprising to see that one of his henchmen is involved here. This has been the endgame forever, and they won’t stop. It’s like we’re being pursued by the Terminator. I would have thought, after the vote against the Emergency Manager law, that they might chill out for a while, but no such luck. They’re right back at it.

      21. anon
        Posted November 30, 2012 at 11:28 am | Permalink

        @eel

        “I would have thought, after the vote against the Emergency Manager law, that they might chill out for a while, but no such luck.”

        i believe this lame duck fuckery is in direct response to our vote against PA4.

      22. Posted November 30, 2012 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

        anonymous,
        I believe that students can take their tax money to their homeschooling parents under these laws. To me, this opens up cans of worms including the horrible thought of parents keeping their kids home just to get the money. I remember kids in Detroit being kept home to babysit younger siblings or because parents didn’t want to deal with CPS being called or parents were not there or too lazy/stoned to get their kids up. In Michigan, all you have to do is tell the truant officer you are homeschooling and there is nothing more to be done–no tests, no lesson plans, no papers and you can even give them your Avon Barksdale Certificate of Diploma when the kids turn 18. I can definitely think of a few of my old parents who would keep the kids home (for reasons stated above and more) to collect that extra money from the state….

      23. Posted November 30, 2012 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

        Eel, I agree…you have to give it up for them. They make the Cylons (in the reimagined BSG) look slow & unmotivated.

      24. anon
        Posted November 30, 2012 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

        Dear _________________,

        Thank you for recently contacting the Executive Office of Governor Rick Snyder regarding education in the state of Michigan. Governor Snyder appreciates your valuable input and has asked that I respond directly on his behalf.

        To address the link between Michigan’s economy and the quality of Michigan’s public schools, Governor Snyder sought to address the state’s Persistently Lowest Achieving schools in his education agenda – currently designated as Priority Schools by Michigan Department of Education. These are schools that are persistently low achieving and regularly in the bottom 5% of student achievement. Michigan started ranking schools under the School Improvement Grant three years ago, and then refined it for the state Persistently Lowest Achieving legislation and federal Elementary Secondary Education Act flexibility. For years, the lowest achieving schools have been identified without the tools to do anything about it. The Education Achievement Authority is that tool.

        The goal of the Education Achievement Authority of Michigan (EAA) is that all students should have access to a quality education and successfully complete their K-12 educational experience career and be college ready. One of the principal objectives of the EAA is to transform public education from a one-size fits all model.

        The EAA’s approach to teaching is to institute a system known as student centered learning. In student centered learning, they test each student individually to determine their achievement level in each subject. They then develop a unique education plan for each individual student, working with that student at their individual level. In student centered learning, no longer are students moved on just because they have spent nine months sitting in a chair. They move on when they master a particular subject. Students no longer identify themselves in grades based on their age, but by their achievement level in various subjects.

        All EAA direct-run schools use a cutting edge, digital learning platform that allows teachers to provide a personalized learning experience to each student. Each student is empowered to own and navigate her own learning path. The EAA is dedicating both public and private resources to building a new learning platform to give kids who simply have not had a chance an opportunity for a bright future.

        Again, thank you for contacting the Governor’s office. Should you have further questions or comments regarding this or any other state-related matter, please do not hesitate to contact this office if there is anything we can be doing for you.

        Sincerely,

        Melanie Ellison
        Constituent Services Division
        Executive Office of the Governor, Rick Snyder
        O: 517-335-7858

      25. Elf
        Posted November 30, 2012 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

        I’ll reevaluate my thoughts on this once I hear that everyone in Snyder’s administration with children is participating is this system.

      26. Posted November 30, 2012 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

        We’re all on board with this proposed legislation.

      27. A2 Superintendent
        Posted November 30, 2012 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

        Dear Ann Arbor Parents and Citizens:
        As Superintendent of the Ann Arbor Public Schools, I want you to be aware that as our district and others across the state continue to face enormous fiscal challenges, three bills are being rushed through the legislature that will have significant impact on the future of local public education. The bills are:

        A. House Bill 6004 and Senate Bill 1358

        These two bills will establish an Education Achievement Authority (EAA) in Michigan that would operate entirely outside the authority of the State Superintendent of Schools and the State Board of Education. Funding would go directly to the EAA district without any oversight from the legislature. The bills are clear that this new government-run statewide “super district” has the ability to take any school in the state into the new EAA district. These schools could then specify which students they would serve. The EAA can seize unused school buildings built and financed by local taxpayers and force sale or lease to charter, non-public or EAA schools. These bills completely bypass our constitutionally created and publicly elected State Board of Education, leaving the Education Achievement Authority with no elected oversight.

        If these bills are approved there would be negative impacts upon the funding of existing local public school districts as well. Local districts like AAPS are already financially compromised and legislation like these two bills could further impact AAPS, and with the legislation moving so quickly, not all citizens are aware of it. I urge each of you to notify your representatives of your opinion about these bills.

        B. House Bill 5923

        This bill creates several new forms of charter and online schools with no limit on the number. Selective enrollment policies could lead to greater segregation and the bill creates new schools without changing the overall funding available, further diminishing and compromising resources for local public schools and providing unequal access to quality programming.

        C. What Can We Do?

        Our School District has signed testimony to the State Legislature opposing these bills as part of the Washtenaw Alliance for Education (WAE) and we have written to our state legislators opposing the proposed legislation. We are on record as opposing these bills with both the House and Senate Education Committees. As part of the Washtenaw Alliance for Education, we have also sent a signed letter to President Barack Obama and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan opposing statewide support being given to the EAA in the form of a Race to the Top federal grant. This letter appears in today’s edition of the Washington Post. The link is below. School Superintendent Mike Flanagan and State Board of Education President John Austin have also expressed concerns.

        With less than 10 days of the legislative session remaining this year, there appears to be a rush to pass this legislation through the lame duck session. Passage of these bills could impact public education as we currently know it and most of the state residents are unaware. Please contact your legislators and voice your opinions regarding this legislation as soon as possible. I am providing you with links below to our state legislators and hope that you will also share this information with others.

        Sincerely,
        Dr. Patricia P. Green
        Superintendent of Schools

        Washington Post Article
        http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2012/11/30/michigan-coalition-opposes-race-to-top-finalist-in-letter-to-obama-duncan/#comments

        Representative Mark Ouimet
        S-986 House Office Building
        P.O. Box 30014
        Lansing, MI 48909
        Phone: (517) 373-0828
        Toll Free: 855-627-5052 (855 MARK052)
        Email: MarkOuimet@house.mi.gov

        Representative Jeff Irwin
        S-987 House Office Building
        P.O. Box 30014
        Lansing, MI 48909
        Phone: (517) 373-2577
        Email: jeffirwin@house.mi.gov

        Representative David Rutledge
        S-988 House Office Building
        P.O. Box 30014
        Lansing, MI 48909
        Phone: (517) 373-1771
        Toll Free: (855) 347-8054
        Email: davidrutledge@house.mi.gov

        Senator Rebekah Warren
        415 Farnum Bldg.
        P.O. Box 30036
        Lansing, MI 48909
        Phone: (517) 373-2406
        Email: senwarren@senate.mi.gov

        Senator Randy Richardville
        S-106 Capitol Bldg.
        P.O. Box 30036
        Lansing, MI 48909
        Phone: (517) 373-3543
        Email: senrichardville@senate.michigan.gov

        Representative John Dingell
        Ypsilanti Office
        301 W. Michigan Ave, Suite 400
        Ypsilanti, MI 48197
        Phone: (734) 481-1100
        Email Form: https://dingell.house.gov/contact-me/email-me

        Senator Debbie Stabenaw
        243 W. Congress, Suite 550
        Detroit, MI 48226
        Phone: (313) 961-4330
        Email Form: http://www.stabenow.senate.gov/?p=contact

      28. Marcia P.B.
        Posted November 30, 2012 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

        I wish more people were aware of the fact that in Plymouth Canton we are basically funding 2 school districts, the 5 NHA corporate charters with another one on its way, and then the standard one. We’ve closed one elementary school and likely will close another. All because we are supposed to offer choices (and I am totally unconvinced that they offer anything different than some superficial stuff that is marketed wisely). The documentary Waiting for Superman was funded by these corporate education reformers as a set up to enhance the crisis of public education. Guess what? A lot of the crisis is manufactured and we have so many people in Lansing with financial interests in these corporate education companies it is gut wrenching.

      29. Michael Woodyard
        Posted November 30, 2012 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

        Perhaps it’s old news, but the federal “Race to the Top” competition that is supposed to provide schools with a little breathing room in the way of grants, is apparently considering awarding a RTTT grant to the Michigan EAA. The email from the Ann Arbor superintendent cited above in the comments has a link to an op-ed that ran in the Washington Post today from concerned Michiganders urging the feds to not award the grant to EAA. A letter to our federal representatives is in order here, too. Crazy shit.

      30. Posted November 30, 2012 at 8:25 pm | Permalink

        A friend posted this to Facebook, and, in turn, one of his friends left the following comment. I thought that it belonged here as well.

        Eric Klein… It’s worth noting that Rob Glass is not a man to rush to judgement. He’s a very careful public servant in a relatively conservative and divided community. He has shown a great capacity to work towards consensus through moderation and coalition building, so the fact that he is prepared to use such strong language in condemning the Governor’s plan is testament to the destructive power of said proposal. It’s been a brutal year to be a public educator in Michigan. I hope that people aren’t too warn-out to stand up to this threat.

        And thank you all for your comments. I’m surprised that not even one person has expressed support, with the exception of the person who identified as EMU-EAA, but I took that to be mockery… Is some faction at EMU really for this?

      31. Tammy
        Posted November 30, 2012 at 8:49 pm | Permalink

        There was a panel at the occupy teachin last month on EMU and the EAA. Did anybody go?

      32. Posted December 1, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

        Marcia brings up an excellent point. The whole idea of “choice” makes me wonder. There certainly is a difference between a public school & a Catholic school in terms of curriculum (and sometimes, parental requirements). But is there really that much difference between public and charter curriculum and class sizes? The biggest difference I can think of is that (as I’ve said over and over and over) charters often exclude special needs kids and discipline problems. But not all do this and then many public schools are wonderful at accommodating special needs. So is there a huge difference? (Maybe there is, I don’t know).

      33. ypsijav
        Posted December 1, 2012 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

        Yes if you click on @EMU-EAS you will find the relevant info about the EMU connection.

      34. Marcia P.B.
        Posted December 2, 2012 at 11:14 am | Permalink

        Patti..I have no compelling evidence from my year long research into corp charters (please note that I distinguish from teacher led charters) that there is anything different..in fact..they are lacking many of the things that our public schools offer. But the media campaign, the fear mongering..I am amazed at the number of people who have bought into it and just jumped right into the charters..which may provide some temporary relief from superficial unhappiness about an individual situation in a public school (why not try another school in our district?) But there this solution is built on such shaky ground. Corp charters pay less than public schools to their teachers…thus high turnover..people are drawn into novelty because if its new and only some can get in (via lottery) than there must be something exclusive and better going on. But I am a parent too, so I get how the mind and heart works when it comes to our kids. As for private schools..I dont fault people for making that choice because I dont know their kid or the choices in their community. But I have to say that it cuts into the muscle when I read comments on FB or parent groups and the little memes about how the schools my kids attend are factories. Yes, there are some things that I dont like. But honestly, my oldest child attended a progressive coop school where I live (went up to 8th grade) and I realized that we were being marketed to attend the school beyond preschool. Well, we lived in a Plymouth, where the taxes are as high as Ann Arbors, there would have to be serious magic going on for me to go from part time to full time for me to pay for my kids to go there..and when I said I chose this community for its strong schools I was constantly told the pedagogy was not progressive, that your kid is just a number. My kids are now is 3rd grade and 1st grade. They are bright and curious and like to learn (in many settings) No, I dont like the high stakes testing..but its not the defining element of their educational experience. My son did not go to that private school because he needed speech therapy and OT and that was free!! The knowledge level of the clinicians/teachers was very high in regards to the neurologial basis for learning. They did tons of creative things. Now, the last thing that my kids have at their school is not necessarily something that I enjoy on a day to day basis but it is something that I think is valuable: they are exposed to people of various life styles and schools of thought..including Republicans and evangelical Christians..mixed in with about 10 other religions and political ideology including some people who are totally apathetic on poltical issues LOL Many of my co parents are college educatedprofessionals but some are not. I have been on play dates with parents who had children while teenagers (I literally could have been their mom) ..some of my kids classmates have a lot more money than us, and some have a lot less. They have classmates who live in public housing and classmates who have two houses. I think the only think that is missing are some openly gay parents..but that speaks to our community..but there are vibrant LBGT support groups and communities in our middle schools and high schools. I have had a day or two here and there when I hear the bullshit coming from Lansing that I want to leave and go to a private school..but I want to save for my kids college and our retirment. Utlizing the public schools..warts and all..allows me to work part time..to help in my kids classroom regularily..to be on the PTO..and be a brownie troop leader. If I sent my kids to private I would have to work full time..and I believe the quality of our home life would suffer. In the spirit of full disclosure, I am the daughter of a retired public school math and science teacher. My dad had a vibrant, fulfilling career..and he is still involved in consulting in public schools. All of my nieces of nephews graduated from public schools. They are all now in college and/or employed and they are independent thinkers..and all individuals My husband graduated from the Canadian public school system. I am also a Speech Language Pathologist who knows that comparing public schools and private schools is bordering on impossible..because the public schools are charged with an entirely different set of responsibilities..they can’t turn away kids who low test scores and they are held constantly in the court of public opinion.

      35. Meta
        Posted December 4, 2012 at 7:15 am | Permalink

        Some astonishing facts from Eclectablog.

        Across the country, about 16% of charter schools are run by for-profit corporations. However, in Michigan, the number is a staggering 85-87% and our state has one-quarter of the country’s for-profit charter schools.

        Like with healthcare and healthcare insurance, when schools are for profit, the recipients of their services — the students — suffer. Corners will be cut. Money will be saved where ever possible. Teacher salaries will be depressed. All of this in more to ensure the owners make as much profit as possible.

        This already happening in Michigan, in fact. Last summer, the Muskegon Heights school district fired all of its teachers and hired Mosaica to come in to run its schools with a contract worth between $8.75 million and $11 million annually.

        How is it going in Muskegon Heights schools? Not so good.

        Michigan Public Radio reported yesterday that 25% of the teachers in Muskegon Heights have quit.

        Read more:
        http://www.eclectablog.com/2012/12/michigan-gop-education-reform-drawing-fire-from-across-the-state-muskegon-hts-charter-failing-miserably.html

      36. Posted December 4, 2012 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

        Coming after special ed and vo tech now, too:
        http://capwiz.com/gomasa/issues/alert/?alertid=62217736&queueid=9013172181

      37. A.M.
        Posted April 29, 2013 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

        Welcome to the Skunkworks.

        (Google it, if you don’t get the reference.)

      38. horse head mask
        Posted July 6, 2013 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

        Who in their right fucking mind would raise a child in Michigan?

      6 Trackbacks

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      2. [...] who, over the past two weeks, have pushed through dozens of bills seeking to do everything from dismantle public eduction as we know it, and roll back women’s reproductive rights, to kill unions, and enshrine the rights of [...]

      3. [...] which would, if signed into law, protect the rights of bigots working in the health care field, allow for the unrestrained expansion of for-profit charter schools in the state, and end the personal property tax revenue that funds local police and fire protection, among other [...]

      4. [...] Education Finance Act of 2013 is put into effect in Michigan as it’s currently written, there will be no ceiling on the number of charter schools allowed in the state, and these schools wi…. Given what just happened in Oregon, I’m inclined to say that’s a horrible idea, but [...]

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