Is the charter school industry paying off Michigan politicians to avoid oversight?


There’s a coordinated attempt afoot to dismantle America’s system of public education, and Michigan Republicans, for the past several years, have been at the forefront, passing laws to weaken our traditional, neighborhood public schools, while, at the same time, clearing the way for unaccountable for-profit charter schools to move in. While I don’t hold out much hope for our state, my hope is that others around the country can learn from what’s happening here, and take action before it’s too late… Here, for those of you interested in knowing just how all of this has come to pass, is news of our most recent battle, which was lost just a few weeks ago.

After struggling to come up with the votes in the Michigan Senate to pass a controversial Republican House plan that would have funded the creation of a new Detroit school district, while, at the same time, allowing Michigan charter schools to continue operating without meaningful oversight, something apparently happened to tip the scales. The legislation, which was lauded by the Michigan charter school industry, passed the Senate on June 8 by a one vote margin. While it’s difficult to say for certain why Senate Republicans eventually agreed to get onboard and support the bill, some think the answer may be found in newly released campaign finance reports, which show large contributions being given to the Republican Party and several individual lawmakers through members of the DeVos family and their various “school choice” advocacy organizations, just days after the legislation was passed. The following clip comes from an opinion piece in yesterday’s Detroit Free Press by Stephen Henderson.

…The DeVos family, owners of the largest charter lobbying organization, has showered Michigan Republican candidates and organizations with impressive and near-unprecedented amounts of money this campaign cycle: $1.45 million in June and July alone — over a seven-week period, an average of $25,000 a day.

The giving began in earnest on June 13, just five days after Republican members of the state Senate reversed themselves on the question of whether Michigan charter schools need more oversight.

There’s nothing more difficult than proving quid pro quos in politics, the instances in which favor is returned for specific monetary support.

But look at the amounts involved, and consider the DeVos’ near-sole interest in the issue of school choice. It’s a fool’s errand to imagine a world in which the family’s deep pockets haven’t skewed the school debate to the favor of their highly financed lobby…

Back in March, the Senate voted to place charter schools under the same authority as public schools in the city, for quality control and attention to population need and balance, in line with a plan that had been in the works for more than a year, endorsed and promoted by Republican Gov. Rick Snyder.

But when the bills moved to the state House, lawmakers gutted that provision, returning a bill to the Senate that preserved the free-for-all charter environment that has locked Detroit in an educational morass for two decades. After less than a week of debate, the Senate caved.

Even then, several legislators complained that the influence of lobbyists, principally charter school lobbyists, was overwhelming substantive debate. The effort was intense, they said, and unrelenting.

Now we know what was at stake.

Five days later, several members of the DeVos family made the maximum allowable contributions to the Michigan Republican Party, a total of roughly $180,000.

The next day, DeVos family members made another $475,000 in contributions to the party.

It was the beginning of a spending spree that would swell to $1.45 million in contributions to the party and to individual candidates by the end of July, according to an analysis by the Michigan Campaign Finance Network…

So, instead of slowing the onslaught of charter schools while we study the issue, or establishing a commission appointed by the Mayor of Detroit to, in the words of Detroit’s Channel 4, “regulate the opening of new schools — including independent, publicly funded charters that have drawn students and funding away from traditional neighborhood schools”, as had been suggested, we’ve got no oversight, and our for-profit charter free-for-all will continue unchecked. And it looks as though we have the DeVos family and their Amway empire to thank for it. Now, I guess, we just wait and see how long it takes for Detroit Public Schools, and then every other public school district in the state, to fold… As State Senator Bert Johnson of Highland Park noted, this “paternalistic” and “unethical” legislation will surely “drive (DPS) enrollment further into the ground.”… And that, I think I can say with some degree of certainty, has been the goal all along. This was never about giving poor students more options. This has always about breaking the back of the teachers union, while, at the same time, transferring public education dollars into the hands of private investors.

By way of background, here’s a little something that I posted a while back… an excerpt from a conversation between Bill Moyers and education historian Diane Ravitch, a former Assistant Secretary of Education under the first President Bush, on the subject of school privatization. In the interview, Ravitch, who was once a staunch supporter of No Child Left Behind, talks of her ongoing research into the $500 billion K-12 education sector in America, the aggressive push currently being made by hedge funds into the space, and her ultimate realization that charter schools are putting both our children and our democracy at risk. [Note here references to Michigan.]

MOYERS: You have said that within ten years, there’ll be cities in this country without public education.

RAVITCH: I think at the rate we’re moving now, we will see places like Detroit, New Orleans, Washington DC, Philadelphia, Kansas City, Indianapolis, and many, many other cities where public schools become, if they still exist, they will be a dumping ground for the kids that the charter schools don’t want. We will see the privatization of public education run rampant…

MOYERS: We’re talking about big money, aren’t we?

RAVITCH: Absolutely. Minimum, at least, from the estimates I’ve seen it’s a market of $500 billion.

MOYERS: A year?

RAVITCH: Yes. An annual market of $500 billion. So the entrepreneurs do see it as huge opportunities to make money. There are now frequently conferences, at least annually, conferences on how to profit from the public education industry. Now I never thought of public education as an industry. But the entrepreneurs do see it as an industry.

They see it as a national marketplace for hardware, for software, for textbook publishing, for selling whatever it is they’re selling, and for actually taking over all of the roles of running a school. This is what the charter movement is. It’s an effort to privatize public education, because there’s so much money there that enough of it can be extracted to pay off the investors. But I think what’s at stake is the future of American public education. I’m a graduate of public schools in Houston, Texas, and I don’t want to see us lose public education. I believe it is the foundation stone, one of the foundation stones, of our democracy. So an attack on public education is an attack on democracy.

MOYERS: The people behind privatization, you say they’re flush with cash. Where is it coming from? Where does this money trail start?

RAVITCH: You have to understand that firstly we do have a significant number of for-profit charter schools. They’re not the majority, by any means. But they’re driving a lot of the legislative changes. There is also the power of the federal government.

Our Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, put out $4.3 billion called Race to the Top. And he said to the states, you can’t be eligible for any part of this money unless you lift your cap on charter schools. So suddenly the lure of getting that federal money made many states change their laws to open the door to many, many more charter schools.

So that’s really what driven the increase in charters. But what — the other thing that’s driven them is that there is a tremendous political force of very wealthy hedge-fund managers who are investing in the charter-school industry and seeing it grow. And so they have fought for these laws. There’s also a lot of charter school money going as political contributions to legislators in many of the states where the charters are booming…

MOYERS: Charter schools are not all bad, are they?

RAVITCH: They’re not all bad. The worst thing about the charters is the profit motive. And I want to reiterate that most charters are not for-profit. Although many of the non-profits are run by for-profit organizations. For instance, in Ohio, where they’re overrun with for-profit operations, they’re actually not for-profit charters. It’s just they’re run by a company, in one case, called the White Hat company. Which has extracted about a billion dollars in taxpayer funds since 1999.

In Florida where there are some nearly 600 charter schools, they’re overrun with for-profit schools. There’s a charter empire in Southern Florida where the brother-in-law of the guy who runs the charter empire, which is worth more than $100 million, is in the state legislature and is in charge of education appropriations. And he never recuses himself. And the charter industry has basically taken over the legislature of Florida.

In Michigan, more than 80 percent of the charter schools operate for-profit. They don’t get good academic results, by the way, but they make a lot of money. And the worst of the charters, frankly, are the virtual charters. This is a moneymaking machine…

MOYERS: On your blog, there’s a speech by the CEO of Netflix, Reed Hastings. He seems to be saying that 20 years from now, 90 percent of our schoolchildren will be in charter schools. And that we have to get rid of school boards, because all this democracy is very messy. And everything should be should be managed by charter-like boards. Is that the endgame, is the charterization of American public education?

RAVITCH: I think for many people in the charter movement, that is the end game. They want to see an end to public education. They continue to say that charter schools are public schools. They are not public schools because they say in court, whenever asked, we’re private corporations with a contract with the government.

In fact just recently there was a decision in New York that charter schools can’t be audited by the state controller because they are not a unit of the government. In California there was a decision in the federal court saying, charter schools are not public schools. They’re private corporations.

MOYERS: So this puts their accountability off limits, right?

RAVITCH: Right. And in fact, in many states, the charter schools don’t have to hire certified teachers. So we’re moving in a direction that is harmful to democracy. That is not good for kids. And that will not improve education. And so when you say how do I feel about the charter movement, I’d say that it should return to its original purposes, which is to help the neediest kids. To seek out the kids with the lowest test scores, not the highest ones, and to do, to collaborate with public education to make it better.

But what it has turned into, and I think that Reed Hastings’ speech puts that very well, is an attack on democracy and an effort to replace public education. That if 90 percent of all the kids are in charters, the other 10 percent that’s left, that’s called public schools, will be the dumping grounds for the kids that the charters don’t want. That’s a direct attack on our democracy.

MOYERS: When you were on the money trail, looking at how this money influences the movement, you ran into the American Legislative Exchange Council, ALEC. What did you learn about ALEC?

RAVITCH: ALEC is an organization, as I discovered, that’s been around since 1973. It has something like 2,000 or more state legislators who belong to it. And ALEC is very, very interested in eliminating public education.

It has model legislation, which has been copied in state after state, in some cases verbatim. ALEC wants to eliminate collective bargaining, and it’s done a good job on that. It wants to eliminate any due process for teachers, so that teachers can be fired for any reason. It wants teachers to be judged by test scores. It’s done a really good job of that. It wants charter schools, it has a charter legislation, it has voucher legislation, it has legislation to promote online charter schools. So the whole package of what’s called reform is being pushed very hard by ALEC. It’s being pushed very hard by a group called Democrats for Education Reform.

That’s actually the hedge-fund managers’ organization. So you get the combination of ALEC with its state level, very far-right-wing legislators, who have taken over some legislatures. For example, North Carolina is now completely ALEC-governed. And they have enacted everything in the ALEC package…

And, as we discussed a few weeks ago, we’re already feeling the results here in Southeast Michigan, where neighboring school districts are aggressively poaching students from one another under the banner of “schools of choice” in order to keep their student counts up and stay afloat. [Ypsilanti has already closed half a dozen schools, as students have left the district for other public schools and charters in the area.]

It’s inconceivable to me that we’re allowing this to happen… We know what’s going on. We know that our politicians have been bought and paid for by individuals intent on destroying public education, and yet we do nothing. Instead of working together to stop it, we fight amongst ourselves, trying to keep our neighborhood schools afloat, even if it means pulling students from the communities that surround us, thereby essentially sentencing their schools to death. Public education is the very foundation of America, and we’re allowing it to be whittled away at bit by bit. “As long as our local schools are strong,” we seem to think, “we can weather this.” We can’t, though. There’s no escaping it. We’re all going down. It’s just that some of us are further along the path than others… And we’re running out of time to fight back… We need to stop just accepting the terms as they’re being dictated by the well-financed charter lobby, and start pushing back in a meaningful way before it’s too late, if it’s not too late already.

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  1. Karen
    Posted September 6, 2016 at 7:57 am | Permalink

    The time to fight may well be passed. Some Michigan districts have already gone all charter. Ypsilanti, as you mention, has already closed half a dozen schools. The process is well underway. We’re all circling the drain.

  2. Anonymous
    Posted September 6, 2016 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    Michigan and Florida, leading the way!

  3. Citywatch
    Posted September 6, 2016 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    The dumbing down of America thanks to our SCHOOLS paid for by corporate interests. Break up unions and help bring down the middle class and weaken the economy with paid for legislation. You can’t make this stuff up. What you speak of here is also a step back to school segregation by race, or class, or religion, or all of the above. One of the benefits of public schools is the mixture of these things and a resulting recognition and tolerance of people who are different from you. It is a big and diverserse world out there and you have to be prepared for that too.

  4. Kit
    Posted September 6, 2016 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    Time to launch the Ayn Rand Academy!

  5. Gillian
    Posted September 6, 2016 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    I count 18 Wayne County charter schools on the “priority” list–the schools that are slated to close if they can’t get their act together within 4 years. This in addition to several public schools in Detroit, Lincoln Park, Ecorse, Hamtramck, Southgate, and Wayne-Westland.

    In Washtenaw County there’s 1 charter and 3 public schools on the list, all in Ypsi, but all making major changes this year to try to improve (Adams was on the list too, it closed last year and is being replaced with a very promising IB school.) Lincoln Schools managed to dig themselves out and are off the list now.

    Maybe, as Karen suggests, it’s too late to fight. But I don’t think we have much of a choice. We’re next.

  6. M
    Posted September 6, 2016 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    This is what they call a “win win”. By defunding public education, they not only transfer wealth from the public sector into the pockets of campaign donors, but they kill the teachers’ unions, which are among the strongest in the country when it comes to supporting progressive candidates. It’s the same as when they go after trial attorneys, pushing for “tort reform.” By making it harder for people to bring lawsuits against industry, they not only drive up corporate profitability (as they no longer have to pay to keep their workplaces as safe, etc), but they take revenue away from trial lawyers, who, as a sector, are one of the most aggressive when it comes to backing Democratic candidates.

  7. site admin
    Posted September 6, 2016 at 1:34 pm | Permalink


    One last thing… Here’s a clip from something I posted back in August 2014, after the Washington Post suggested that Michigan’s charter system was ineffective, corrupt, and backed by individuals intent on seeing public education destroyed in this country.

    It’s nothing new for us. We’ve been talking for years about Michigan’s failed experiment with for-profit charter schools. Now, however, it would seem that word is getting out to the rest of the country. The following clip comes from today’s Washington Post.

    “…Starting under the administrations of former governors John Engler and Jeb Bush, both Michigan and Florida have been early and enthusiastic backers of the charter school movement and have been particularly receptive to for-profit management companies. While many states prohibit full-service, for-profit companies from running charters, Michigan, and to a lesser extent Florida, has encouraged the model.

    ‘Michigan has one of the least restrictive environments for charter schools in the entire nation,’ said Casandra Ulbrich, vice president of the state Board of Education, …’We basically opened the door to all types of different charter schools, most of which are run by for-profit management companies, and it’s led to a lot of issues, primarily… financial oversight and transparency.’

    …(F)aith in the ability of market forces to supplant regulation and oversight was so strong that lawmakers in both Michigan and Florida deliberately chose to forgo conventional oversight. Governor Engler made this point clear when he explained why, despite mounting scandals, the Michigan Department of Education does not need more authority over charters.

    ‘The oversight is ultimately the parent, just like it has always been,’ Engler said. “The parent moved if (the traditional school) wasn’t working, but that was limited economically. It’s a question that misses the broader point: What goes on in schools should be the focus. The whole focus should be on education… The structural questions, frankly, are missing the point.'”

    And, guess what? Without oversight, the corruption has become rampant, and there doesn’t seem to be any end in sight. Here’s just one small example from the list, which is growing longer by the day.

    “…Michigan’s largest charter school management company, which also has extensive real estate holdings, charges the state so much in rent that it gets a 16 percent rate of return on its investment, roughly double the return for comparable commercial properties.

    As John Chamberlin, professor emeritus of public policy at the University of Michigan, said: ‘When you say, ‘Line up here and you can scam the state,’ you shouldn’t be surprised if people line up and scam the state’…”

    I don’t know about you, but I don’t much like seeing my home state held up in front of the rest of the country as a cautionary tale. I mean, I’m glad that the rest of the country has an opportunity to learn from our mistakes, but I’d really rather it was Texas or Arizona serving as the cautionary tale, and not Michigan, the state that gave us the sit down strike, the 40 hour work week, and the middle class.

    Sadly, though, over the past 20 years, we allowed this to happen.

    Despite the clear warning signs, we allowed private companies to loot our public coffers at the expense of our children.

    We allowed the Republican legislature to remove the caps on for-profit charters, while reducing oversight.

    We sat by and watched as our public schools were shuttered and replaced by for-profit entities with no allegiance to our communities.

    We voted for candidates who aggressively sought to pull for-profit charter companies into our state, to the point where, today, one quarter of our nation’s for-profit charter schools are here, in Michigan.

    We watched passively as the profession of teaching was first attacked and then systematically dismantled.

    Convinced by the likes of the Koch brothers that it was greedy teachers, with their “gold-plated benefits,” that were sucking our communities dry, we allowed union protections to dissolve.

    We looked on silently as experienced educators were forced from their classrooms only to be replaced by young college graduates given the impossible task of reading scripts and handing out tests to ever swelling classes of disengaged kids.

    And now we’re paying the price.

    Our most promising young people are fleeing our state as soon as they’re old enough to, and new families aren’t coming here to take their places.

    We should be ashamed of ourselves.

  8. Posted September 6, 2016 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

    I agree with Karen. The war has been lost, and we didn’t win it. I hope that small battles can still be won, such as when a parent sends her/his kid to a real public school but overall, it’s pretty much over.

  9. Dirtgrain
    Posted September 6, 2016 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

    A link to add:

    And check out the John Oliver video.

  10. JAG
    Posted September 6, 2016 at 9:37 pm | Permalink

    Well, we all can agree charter schools are all about busting up the Teacher’s union and Republican’s infatuation with free market solutions. What I cannot stand is Public school money being given to charter schools and the culpability of good standing liberals who do not want to send their children to say Ypsilanti schools but to a Ann Arbor/ Washtenaw county charter that gets public money and the parents feel safe commuting to Ann Arbor. Most of these children are probably white. While there are good Charters, to have little to no oversight and to further damage public education is criminal.

    Also, Public schools find themselves trying to poach students from other districts for more state money. Again poor urban/rural districts and students suffer.

  11. EOS
    Posted September 7, 2016 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    The Charter schools that do well are those that require a high level of parental involvement. Parents who were involved realized that their local public school was failing their kids and that the majority of parents could care less. If the local public school were doing a good job at educating students no one would leave. It is certainly easier to let your kids get picked up by bus and transported to a neighborhood school. The high level of charter schools in Michigan is indicative of the generally poor quality of public schools, not some grand conspiracy of the DeVos family. That a wealthy donor wants to help his neighbors get a better education for their kids is laudable. Democracy certainly doesn’t mean that parents should be forced to enroll their kids in schools that fail to deliver a decent educational environment with opportunities for everyone to reach their maximum potential. When communities have high moral standards, the schools reflect will that. Where all truth is relative, where good is called evil and evil is called good, it’s only a matter of time until the schools suffer.

  12. kjc
    Posted September 7, 2016 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    don’t you ever get tired of yourself? like when you’re typing that stuff, there’s no moments of “god i’m insufferable” or anything? no?

  13. EOS
    Posted September 7, 2016 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    No, I don’t. Do you?

  14. Lynne
    Posted September 7, 2016 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

    What bothers me the most about this is that it isn’t the children of my peers who will suffer. No, they will either go to a charter school that has been well researched by their parents, be homeschooled, or will do just fine in whatever public school system they happen to land in. White kids with educated parents seem to do well no matter what. Unfortunately many Michigan voters seem to be a bit myopic and don’t see the advantages of making sure all students, even the poor black ones, get a good education and until that changes, they’ll keep voting in people who attack the public schools.

  15. Dan
    Posted September 7, 2016 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    You have the worst case of white guilt that I’ve ever seen/read, Lynne.

    Providing more options in poor communities IS a way for poor students to get a better education. Forcing kids that just happen to be born in a bad neighborhood with terrible schools, to attend those schools, is not the “socially just” thing to do.

    There are better ways of providing options than by using for profit organizations, but if you are actually concerned about poor kids’ educational opportunities, then you should absolutely embrace school of choice and as many options as possible.

  16. Anne
    Posted September 7, 2016 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    It is much easier to stand on the “moral high ground” of charter schools are bad and sending your kids out of district sucks before you have kids. Been there done that. It’s a lot harder when you are actually faced with this decision with your own child. Especially when all the parents you know that tried the Ypsi schools out, eventually pulled their kids due to bullying issues, disruptive classes, or quality issues. I have high hopes for the new International Elementary though and am hoping to switch my son from his charter to that school next year after they work out the first year kinks.

  17. stupid hick
    Posted September 7, 2016 at 9:39 pm | Permalink

    “When communities have high moral standards, the schools reflect will that.”

    Is the morality of a community actually reflected by the success of its schools? To me that view sounds a lot like “prosperity gospel”.

    What kind of morality is reflected by a charter school ecosystem that hedge funds clamor to get a piece of? That should be an obvious red flag, folks.

  18. Posted September 8, 2016 at 3:47 am | Permalink

    “When communities have high moral standards, the schools reflect will that.”

    What the fuck does that mean?

    Are there “immoral” communities? Mississippi prides itself on how moral it is, yet the schools sucked ass, unless you were white and could afford to send your kid to a private school.

    I guess black people in Mississippi are immoral.

  19. EOS
    Posted September 8, 2016 at 4:13 am | Permalink

    No, not a prosperity gospel at all. That’s a false teaching that’s popular among many misguided televangelists today. A “Name it, Claim it” theology or “health and wealth”. Something along the lines of Janis Joplin’s prayer for a Mercedes Benz. Those who read the book realize that Jesus promised that there would be trouble in this world, but those whose hearts are set on God would find contentment even if they experience poverty or illness.

    But certainly a community’s high moral standards would be reflected in the schools if all parents taught their children the 10 Commandments and the Golden Rule. If children were taught to work hard to achieve their goals rather than an expectation that any disparity in outcomes is indicative of discriminatory practices. If all children were taught modesty and purity rather than be encouraged to explore their sexuality and be forced to share locker rooms and bathrooms with persons of the opposite sex. If they viewed their bodies as a gift from God and avoided drugs and alcohol. There would certainly be less disciplinary disruptions if children were taught obedience and respect for those in authority and that vandalism is a crime against the community. And if children viewed all individuals as fellow children of God and respected the sanctity of life, even at the very beginning and the very end. Life just works better when you read the instructions and follow the Creator’s guidelines for living.

  20. John Galt
    Posted September 8, 2016 at 8:32 am | Permalink

    I agree with EOS about the negro. When they stop blaming the fact that their schools are underfunded and accept the fact that they’re immoral mud people, good things will begin to happen for them. Ann Arbor schools aren’t better because they have significantly more money per pupil to work with. They’re better because white people are morally superior.

  21. Lynne
    Posted September 8, 2016 at 10:23 am | Permalink

    If caring about opportunities for black people is “white guilt”, I would say that if I have too much, Dan clearly could use some and based on what he has written here, he probably deserves to feel some more white guilt than he does.

    I would be ok with school of choice if the schools in those black neighborhoods were so good that white kids in the suburbs were the ones waitlisted and trying to get in. In the mean time, I would be ok with it if rich school districts were both required to take all applicants *and* bus them too.

    EOS, no. If we are going to teach morality in the schools, we should teach children not the golden rule but the much better “Do under others as they would like you to do undo them and don’t just assume that what you like is what they like. i.e. ask” Teaching the 10 commandments would send a terrible message to students that it is appropriate to elevate one faith over others in a public setting. Ditto all the other BS god shit. Children should be taught that they own their own bodies and thus can be as modest or immodest as they want. Children should not be taught to ever feel shame about their bodies and absolutely should not be taught that there even is such a thing as sexual purity. Having sex is a wonderful beautiful thing and it does not make someone impure if they choose to engage in that activity (but of course the dangers of sex should be taught to them too so they can make informed decisions). Permissive attitudes about drugs and alcohol tend to take the “forbidden fruit” aspect out of it. Learning to have compassion and be inclusive of transgendered students by allowing them into the bathroom and locker rooms which best match their gender seems like something good too.. Do we want to teach our children that being power hungry douchbag who would deny someone the opportunity to use the bathroom is ok? I don’t!

  22. Dan
    Posted September 8, 2016 at 11:10 am | Permalink


    The reason I mentioned your white guilt is that you keep referencing poor black children. You never mention poor children of other races. You seem most concerned about what color a poor kid is. You’ve even just mentioned that white kids should be treated as lesser applicants. I just don’t understand your logic. How does that foster a community of acceptance, that you claim to promote?

    There is a difference between empathy and guilt, or compassion and acting out of guilt. Being a racist towards white people shouldnt make you feel better about being white.

  23. EOS
    Posted September 8, 2016 at 11:47 am | Permalink


    In my previous post, I wrote about what parents should teach their children. Didn’t say anything about teaching these values in a public school setting. The fact that these values are not universally accepted in public schools is all the more reason to homeschool.

    And Dan is right. You can’t mention “black” without putting “poor” in front of it. In doing so, you are perpetrating negative stereotypes. There are significantly more poor white people than there are poor black people.

    John Galt,
    I didn’t say or imply anything about any negro. Why are you injecting race into the discussion?

  24. Lynne
    Posted September 8, 2016 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    Dan, as it happens I do care about poor white students. However, programs which address both the economic and racial issues poor black students face will likely also benefit poor white students. It is true that I worry about them less. Just like I worry less about the children of well educated rich black people. I find it telling that you seem to think that my calling for racial equality in outcomes is somehow being racist against white people. *rolls eyes*

    EOS, yes, I do tend to append poor to black when talking about social programs which I believe are necessary to make up for all of the racial oppression we have had in this country. Mostly because much of it has been economic. Also, because the stereotype I have of black people is that they aren’t poor because I grew up in a neighborhood filled with rich black people. I probably do it without thinking to make the distinction just like if I were describing programs to help poor white people, I would add the adjective simply because I wouldn’t expect to use white alone and have people know that I was only talking about poor white people.

    As far as education goes, I am not at all worried about the children of my black friends. They are all in the best schools and probably are way more privileged than your average white kid in Ypsilanti. And yet, in this country, black poverty is a pretty big problem. So is white poverty of course but even though there are more white poor people, a larger percentage of black people are poor.

  25. kjc
    Posted September 8, 2016 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

    “Being a racist towards white people shouldnt make you feel better about being white.”

    but not understanding racism probably makes you feel better. #readabook

  26. Lynne
    Posted September 8, 2016 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

    On the subject of white guilt. FWIW. I don’t really feel guilty for my skin color as I had very little to do with it. I don’t feel guilty for having privilege either. I do, however, feel that as a nation we need to figure out some way to right the racial wrongs we have perpetuated. We need to figure out a way to make reparations and equality in educational outcomes, regardless of the cost, is one way to go about that.

  27. Dan
    Posted September 8, 2016 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

    You are NOT calling for racial equality. You are calling for inequality. You said that white kids should be waitlisted if a school is performing well in a “black neighborhood.” What is equal about that?

  28. Posted September 8, 2016 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

    There’s this:

  29. stupid hick
    Posted September 8, 2016 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

    “And if children viewed all individuals as fellow children of God”

    I agree we need more of this, and it applies to adults too.

  30. EOS
    Posted September 8, 2016 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

    For Doug:

  31. Lynne
    Posted September 8, 2016 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

    Dan, so you admit that the system we have now where school of choice results in kids from inferior schools outside of a district being waitlisted is racist? That is progress, I guess.

    However when I said that school of choice should result in white kids being waitlisted, I really meant that we should make the schools in lower performing districts that attractive. Since most white kids who would be waitlisted under such a scheme would most likely be coming from districts with good schools, it isnt really the same kind of widespread systemic racism that people of color face now with educational opportunities and school of choice.

  32. Frosted Flakes
    Posted September 8, 2016 at 9:09 pm | Permalink


    I think you seem racist because of the way you talk about issues– you constantly stereotype. For you black, city, poor and uneducated are all interchangeable terms; likewise, for you, white, suburban, rich and educated are also interchangeable terms.

    Here is a fact: Ypsilanti has a higher percentage of white students than Ann Arbor. By your logic, compared with Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti is richer, more educated and suburban.

    I mean, just re-read what you just wrote to Dan. The only way your argument above is intelligible is if we enter the stereotype machine that is Lynne’s mind: 1) inferior school=black school; and 2)superior school=white school.

    Although, you do come across as having the same stereotyping-logic as a racist that is not the worst part. The worst part is that you constantly assume, as you have done here with Dan, that you are one of the few people who are not racist..Your identity depends upon being one of the enlightened ones even if that distinction often is a figment of your own imagination…

  33. Frosted Flakes
    Posted September 8, 2016 at 10:15 pm | Permalink

    My statement that Ypsilanti has a higher percentage of white students is false. I meant to compare very white and struggling whitmore lake to Ann Arbor but my mind glitched out when typing apparently. I apoligize.

  34. wobblie
    Posted September 9, 2016 at 3:32 am | Permalink

    Don’t worry Lynne we know your not a racist. Trump has clearly emboldened the white supremacist in our culture to go on the offense. Charter schools have been the knife edge that is destroying egalitarian educational opportunities in our country. We’ve had a generation of right wing “educational reforms” from charter schools to no child left behind, state closesures of “low performing schools, state take overs of entire districts—and the educational achievement of poor and disadvantaged folks continues to fail to meet expectations. It is clear to anyone who is not a sycophant of the current system that it is all about economic power. Those with the power, or willing to suck up to it maybe rewarded. The rest are will be left behind.
    Hang in there Lynn, most of us agree with you.

  35. kjc
    Posted September 9, 2016 at 6:27 am | Permalink

    More fake earnest, freshman comp level analysis from FF.

  36. Frosted Flakes
    Posted September 9, 2016 at 6:45 am | Permalink


    Yeah, because the educational opportunities for the most disadvantaged were so awesome before charter schools came to town.

  37. Dan
    Posted September 9, 2016 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    “so you admit that the system we have now where school of choice results in kids from inferior schools outside of a district being waitlisted is racist?”

    Um no. No, I do not admit or agree with that. I do not equate school performance with race. It’s absurd that you do.

  38. Lynne
    Posted September 9, 2016 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    I probably am racist to some degree. I mean a full 70% of white people have negative implicit associations with black people. And even though, unlike most white people, I grew up in a place where black people were the majority, I still live in the same racist mainstream American culture as everyone else and have no reason to believe that I would be an exception.

    Got it, Dan. So basically, you are ok with our current system where schools of choice has resulted in poorer and disproportionately minority students wanting to get into better performing districts and being waitlisted but somehow if we reverse that and make the schools in poorer and mostly black districts so good that white students will want to get in so badly that they might get whitelisted is racist. OMG. I love how white guys like Dan and FF (who admittedly I only assume is a white guy) can be such hypocrites.

    Forgive me if it doesn’t bother me especially that such people think I am racist and racist towards both white people *and* black people too. They clearly are not in a position to judge me on that score, imho. I think it is that people get uncomfortable with their own racism so whenever there is a discussion of race and they feel accused, they think that if they make the same accusation, it will shut down the conversation.

  39. Dan
    Posted September 9, 2016 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    You just keep failing to see the point, Lynne. As FF pointed out, you equate poor and black and poor-performing schools and that is one category for you. Your other category is rich and white and well-performing.

    You don’t see the racist implications in this?

    I have no problem with ANY student from out of district having to be on a wait list or lottery system to get into a better school in a different district, regardless of where that district is. The problem i have is that you want to only make the white kids from out of district be on a wait list if the school is in a “black neighborhood.” That is racist and ridiculous.

  40. Lynne
    Posted September 9, 2016 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    Anyways, there are two scenarios where I can accept school of choice. They are

    1. We make the goal with our school districts an equality of outcome. Because so much in education is due to the parents, that means there will be no equality in spending. Poorer districts will need to be much better funded.


    2. We require all districts to accept any and all students from other districts (no waitlists) and we require all districts to provide transportation to students who come in from other districts. Because a system where all the good schools are in one area that is far from where the poor kids live is not fair even if they are required to accept all students and when there are real racial disparities too, as there are, it is also a racist system.

  41. Lynne
    Posted September 9, 2016 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    You just keep failing to see the point, Lynne. As FF pointed out, you equate poor and black and poor-performing schools and that is one category for you. Your other category is rich and white and well-performing.

    You don’t see the racist implications in this?

    Yes, of course I see the racist implications in this. That is what I am trying to point out!!! Districts in Michigan performance is directly correlated to the racial and socioeconomic makeup of the district. That is freaking racist and it is not ok.

  42. EOS
    Posted September 9, 2016 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    If we could only prevent intelligent kids from learning eventually everyone will catch up and there will be equality for all. It doesn’t matter so much if everyone is stupid, so long as there are equal outcomes. Ridiculous!

  43. Frosted Flakes
    Posted September 9, 2016 at 12:25 pm | Permalink


    “More fake earnest, freshman comp analysis from FF.”

    I can agree with your assessment but only if we are talking about Freshman year of high school and not college. In my defense, I also sound like I am in kindergarten when I recite the abc’s to preschoolers and I say a lot of nonsense words like “goo goo gah gah scooty doopy doo” when I am trying to get a baby to take a pacifier. Bottom line: I find it hard to fathom that Dan needed to point out Lynne’s stereotyping and gross assumptions. I find it harder to believe that she is pushing back instead of taking responsibility for her (yet again) sloppy/ inaccurate thought processes/ speech. Not a big deal if it was not such a chronic pattern with Lynne….All those assumptions, Lynne, please resist the temptation.

  44. Lynne
    Posted September 9, 2016 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

    Or how about if you pull your head out of the sand and realize that when I say that poor black children don’t have the same opportunities as everyone else or that rich white children have privilege, it isn’t based on stereotyping or gross assumptions but actual real hard facts. Or are you going to deny that there is a very strong correlation between race, poverty, and poor performing schools? I am sorry that you want to paint any discussion of systemic racism in our culture as racist in and of itself but quite frankly, FF, that reflects more on you than on me. I take full responsibility for my words but surely you can’t expect me to take responsibility for your attempts to misdirect the conversation from systemic racism in our educational system to one of personal racism on my part? That is on you and reflects your biases much more than mine.

  45. Dan
    Posted September 9, 2016 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    So why were you advocating that only white out of district students be put on a waitlist, if they wanted to go to a school in a so-called “black neighborhood?”

  46. Lynne
    Posted September 9, 2016 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

    EOS, surely you can see that there is another option?

    It isn’t that we prevent the advantaged kids from learning, it is more that we acknowledge that we get more gains by spending more money in poorer districts. “Law of diminishing marginal returns” and all that. The privileged kids will not be prevented from learning.

  47. Lynne
    Posted September 9, 2016 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    Dan, I was advocating making the schools in the poor districts so good that there would be such a demand from white kids in the suburbs that there would be a waiting list. I was not at all advocating for a race based waiting policy. Naturally, in this scenario, the advantaged white families in the suburbs could avoid the waitlists by simply moving into the district which of course is less of an option for poor families wanting to get into rich districts. I was suggesting a system where white kids ended up being waitlisted in our current school-of-choice system which would be similar to our current system where students from poorer districts often get waitlisted, just reversed.

  48. Dan
    Posted September 9, 2016 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    you still dont see the problem. whatever

  49. kjc
    Posted September 9, 2016 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    “Bottom line: I find it hard to fathom that Dan needed to point out Lynne’s stereotyping and gross assumptions. I find it harder to believe that she is pushing back instead of taking responsibility for her (yet again) sloppy/ inaccurate thought processes/ speech. Not a big deal if it was not such a chronic pattern with Lynne….All those assumptions, Lynne, please resist the temptation.”

    i find it amusing that you (and Dan) critique other people’s thought processes.

  50. Frosted Flakes
    Posted September 9, 2016 at 2:58 pm | Permalink


    Regarding your response to me: Why would I need to, as you suggest, pull my head out of the sand to realize something I have known to be true since I was in the 5th grade?

    I could have been more clear but I do not think you are a racist,which is why I said the things you say make you “seem racist”–which is to say I can understand why Dan would object. Giving you the benefit of doubt I would say you just rely on assumptions, stereotypes and generalization way too much. I know this might be hard for you to wrap your head around but you and I share the same values. However, you would be one of the last people I would want to articulate our shared values and I would never nominate you to be in charge of strategic planning for the best ways to bring about our shared social goals.

    When I look at this thread, the back and forth, just reminds me that the cover up is worse than the crime. Just look at all the stuff you wrote….

  51. Lynne
    Posted September 9, 2016 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

    OK, I guess we will have to disagree because I have gone over what I wrote and feel that I have made my points well and without any racism that I can see. But by all means, give us an example of how one should articulate values in a race neutral way when what you are pointing out is some serious systemic racism? I am not convinced that we share the same values on this and we definitely dont share the same values if we are talking about some obligation I may have to coddle Dan and his white male fragility, where he sees racism in fairness. (see Dan? I *do* see the problem. )

  52. Dan
    Posted September 9, 2016 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

    No. You don’t. Your idea of fairness is reparations. Your idea of fairness is giving more to districts that are in what you call “black neighborhoods.”

    You be never once mentioned a poor white community with poor schools. You seem to think they dont exist. You fail to realize that every one of your comments on this topic depicts black people as helpless and if we don’t step in their community will crumble.

  53. Lynne
    Posted September 10, 2016 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    Oh let me guess, you are one of those “All Lives Matters” types who thinks BLM is racist.

    I didn’t mention poor white schools for two reasons. One: An equality in outcome approach would benefit them too although because a greater ratio of black districts are poor, it is true that this approach would tend to benefit black districts more than white districts. Only because of racial unfairness that already exists in our culture though. Two: Poor white students simply have not faced the same kind of systemic oppression that poor black students have faced.

    And yeah, god damn right I think reparations are fair. I also find it just a bit ironic that a white dude who has benefited from hundreds of years of racial privilege would somehow think that making up for it even just a little is somehow unfair. And you call *me* the racist. LOL. Puh-leez! You remind of this cartoon. in that you seem fine with having forced black people to build our nation but when it comes times to share the benefits of that labor, you don’t want to share.

    Trust me, one of the nice things about being raised in a community where I regularly saw black politicians, teachers, judges, lawyers, doctors, etc is that I know damn well that black people are not helpless and are just as capable as white people. White people’s communities would crumble too if we had to face the same kind of oppression. It isn’t that if we don’t step up their communities will crumble, it is that their communities are crumbling as a direct result of hundreds of years of white oppression and if we don’t cut that shit out and stop hogging all of the best resources for ourselves, we will continue to have a racist society with unequal opportunities.

  54. EOS
    Posted September 10, 2016 at 2:25 pm | Permalink


    Is the reason why there is a racial disparity in professional basketball because white schools don’t spend enough money on athletics or is it due to systemic oppression of white athletes? What do you think is needed to resolve the difference in outcomes?

    And what is it that causes South Asians to outperform both blacks and whites in the field of mathematics and how can we alter our curriculum to correct this unfair outcome?

  55. Posted September 10, 2016 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

    Jesus, EOS.

  56. EOS
    Posted September 10, 2016 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

    What? Just using a couple of examples to reveal the absurdity of Lynne’s assertions.

  57. Demetrius
    Posted September 11, 2016 at 7:34 am | Permalink

    Once again, Mark … thanks for doing some of the “reporting” that mainstream journalists used to do.

    For over a century, universal, free, public education helped generations of poor and working-class Americans gain not only literacy, and the basic skills necessary to earn a decent living – but also enabled them to understand enough about government works to help them make informed decisions and participate actively in public life.

    Likewise, a robust (and often competitive) news media gave people an opportunity to be well-informed about daily events, and acted as a guardian and “watchdog” in terms of government and public (and sometimes private) institutions.

    Now that both institutions are being sacrificed on the alter of the “free market” it is hard to see how what’s left of American democracy can survive – let alone prosper.

    As a side note – I’ve been watching the PBS “American Experience” series that profiles the lives and careers notable American presidents. What has been really striking is how far we (as a country) have fallen from having true leaders like FDR, Truman, Eisenhower, and Kennedy (and their competitors) … to the likes of … well … let’s just say certain modern-day presidential contenders.

  58. stupid hick
    Posted September 11, 2016 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    EOS, thanks for your thought provoking comment about school sports disparities. Obviously, there should be charter teams. Students should be able to take “their” portion of public school funding for extracurricular activities, to their choice of private, for-profit, teams.

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