Home

Letter from Oakland: reflections on NPE 2017

As I write this, the fourth annual meeting of the Network for Public Education is coming to a close. NPE is a national group dedicated to fighting for local public education, and was founded just a few years ago by education luminaries like historian Diane Ravitch and teacher/writer Anthony Cody. The meeting, in Oakland, CA, drew hundreds of education advocates from all around the country and featured panels on everything from building advocacy coalitions to the role of technology in education.

It seems to me, though, that one thread running throughout the conference was the need to continue to address issues of race and class in the struggle over the future of public education.

Departments: 

Action alert: MI Senate voting on concealed guns in schools, daycares, churches

Dear Friends,

I'm sorry to come back to you again so soon, but the folks in Lansing are trying to pull a fast one on us.

Yesterday afternoon, a Senate committee approved three bills which will basically wipe out the idea of gun-free zones in our state. In addition, they are taking steps to explicitly block school districts, libraries, and others from setting their own rules on who can carry a firearm into their buildings.

Now, those bills are expected to come up for a vote in the full Senate this morning (Wednesday). They are trying to move so fast that people who oppose these bills cannot get organized in time. Let's prove them wrong!

Letter to Senate: stop the "guns in schools" bills

Dear Majority Leader Meekhof and members of the Senate,

On behalf of parent advocates across the state of Michigan, I can only say that we are stunned that the state Senate has chosen not only to revive, but to fast-track, legislation that would end most restrictions on who can bring deadly firearms into our public schools and other sensitive areas. There is simply no excuse for this kind of reckless legislation, which solves no problems but potentially endangers many innocents.

In only one hour of committee hearings, you and your colleagues have moved forward a package of bills that not only strips local school districts of the power to control weapons in their own school buildings, but guts the original agreement that underlies the “shall issue” legislation for concealed pistol licenses. Former Gov. John Engler insisted that certain gun-free zones be included before he would sign that legislation. These bills would sweep that compromise away.

Legislative update: our letter on bill to eliminate State Board of Ed

Dear Chairman Kelly and members of the Committee,

I write to you today regarding House Joint Resolution M, the proposed amendment to the Michigan Constitution which would eliminate the elected State Board of Education and place the Department of Education directly under the authority of the Governor.

Bill brief: They're Baaaaaaack...

As parents and children settle down for the new school year, our lawmakers in Lansing return from their summer break, refreshed and full of ideas. Watch out. This fall session, in between election years, is where a lot of the legislative work gets done - not all of it good. There are a number of new education-related proposals, some of which are moving very quickly. Here's an overview:

  • Back door tax credit vouchers
  • A-F rating of schools - the legislation that wouldn't die
  • A piece of the action - charters could get a share of enhancement millages
  • State takeover writ large - proposal to eliminate State Board of Education
  • Guns in schools revisited

Back-door vouchers for the well-heeled?

Hypocrisy alert: Vouchers for the well-to-do

Among the first pieces of legislation out of the gate after the Legislature's summer recess is a package of bills in the state Senate creating an "enhanced" Michigan Education Savings Plan. This proposal would allow parents to make tax deductible contributions to an account which could be used to pay for K-12 school expenses. (The plan would be an addition to the existing plan which covers post-secondary education.) The bills - SB 544 through SB 549 - were sponsored variously by Senators Patrick Colbeck (R-Canton Twp), Phil Pavlov (R-St Clair), Judy Emmons (R-Sheridan), and Mike Green (R-Mayville). The Senate Fiscal Agency summary of the bills as reported from committee can be found here.

Sounds OK, right? A little tax break for setting aside money for those athletic fees? Well, hold on to your wallet. The SFA estimates that the cost to set up the program could reach $100 million, with indeterminate costs after that - on top of tax revenue losses from the deduction. Families could deduct up to $5000 (single return) or $10,000 (joint return) of contributions per account.

Do they really expect parents to believe that they would spend $100 million of taxpayer money and offer deductions of up to $10,000 in contributions just so we could pay for sports fees and field trips?

School Aid budget goes to Snyder

Just before the Legislature left for its summer break, lawmakers approved the education and general government budgets and sent them to the Governor for his signature. The final school aid budget, one section of the education omnibus budget bill that also covers community colleges and higher education, had a few important differences with the previous negotiated compromise. Unfortunately, it also includes several items added by the legislature though not wanted, or struck out, in the governor's original request.

K-12 Budget Update: Saving face, at a cost

Well, they cut a deal. In return for a nebulous agreement on a "framework" for shifting new public school employees entirely to a 401k-style retirement plan, Gov. Snyder was allowed to rejoin negotiations over the budget. Literally the same day, a House/Senate conference committee passed a "compromise" version of the School Aid budget for fiscal 2018. As you might expect, it's a mixed bag.

Budget: House & Senate fire their first shots

[UPDATE: Budget bills as passed by each chamber] Before the April break, the House and Senate appropriations subcommittees on school aid issued their alternatives to the budget proposed by Gov. Snyder in February. As expected, many of the innovative provisions included in the Governor's draft have been stripped out of the subcommittee versions. Both legislative versions manage to offer higher foundation allowances while also spending less, in the case of the Senate, than the executive recommendation. The House's proposal is only marginally higher than Gov. Snyder's version. When things like that happen, it's time to check your wallet. We've got the details.

Don't be fooled by the pension smokescreen

The REAL issue here is that these bills would hang a $46 BILLION millstone around the necks of our public schools for the next four decades. And if recent budget moves are any indication, that cost will be borne solely by the students and staff of our "traditional" local public schools.

Pages

We need your help.

Help keep us running.

Contribute today!

Current legislation

Coming events

There are no events to display.

In the news

MIPFS is working with parent group 482Forward, ACLU Michigan, and many school groups to ensure public funding goes to public schools.


MIPFS also contributed considerable background to this article, raising serious questions about the strategy of closing schools.


MIPFS presents to the State Board of Education


Founder of our Forest Hills affiliate testifies before State Board, 9 May 2013


Our op-ed on the EAA's failure and why the Parent Proposal embodied in HB 5268 is a better alternative. MLive.com, 9 Feb 2014


Drupal theme by pixeljets.com D7 ver.1.1