We're approaching the April legislative break, and that means budgets. Appropriations subcommittees in both the House and Senate are meeting this week to unveil their versions of the school aid budget. This is where we learn what their reaction to the Governor's proposal looks like - and what kinds of deals have been cut in the proverbial "smoke-filled rooms." We'll be covering these alternate proposals as soon as we can get details. In the meantime, here is our assessment of Gov. Snyder's original recommendation.
Also on the front burner in Lansing are proposals to restructure Detroit Public Schools and transition it away from state emergency management - kind of. The proposals on the table give the state considerable control of DPS, but now with an elected board that can take the blame. The House version also slathers on lots of bad ideas from failed legislation from the past few years. We have a detailed comparison of the current proposals, with a preview attached below. It's worth a read.
Why worry about Detroit schools? Well, in the first place, if you think this can't be made to apply to any school district with the stroke of a pen, think again. Dozens of districts across the state received letters recently letting them know Big Brother (in the form of the MI Dept. of Treasury) was watching, concerned about their bank balances. The fact that the state controls their funding is apparently beside the point.
Second, and more importantly, as a parent I simply cannot stand by while my state government does things to other people's children that I would never want for my own. And they're doing it in our names. I can't and won't stay silent while this happens. Will you join me?
Michigan Parents for Schools
DPS restructuring plans: Darn the people, full speed ahead!
After many years under state control - fourteen of the last seventeen - Detroit Public Schools has reached a critical juncture: the district and its emergency management projects that it will run out of money to operate its schools before the end of the current school year. Politicos of all stripes have known this day was coming, and there have been competing proposals on what to do about it. Last year, a coalition of Detroit leaders, parents and citizens - many of them bitter enemies - sat down and hammered out a compromise document that might lead the city’s schools out of the crisis. [See plan comparisons below.] It was a tenuous compromise, with many details remaining to be worked out (and some coalition members have a deep concern that local voices were not in fact heard). But it was a blueprint grudgingly accepted by the people on the spot. The reaction in Lansing? Dismissive statements and knowing smiles. A locally-developed plan wasn’t “on their agenda.”
Any of this sound familiar? Perhaps it bears some resemblance to how the people of Flint were treated when they complained about being poisoned by their municipal water supply? The underlying cause is the same: in both the executive branch and the legislature, what “the people” really want doesn’t matter half as much as what these exalted folks think is best for us, based on their own ideology or technocratic worldview. Detroit may be the most visible example right now, but as Flint proves, it was not the first and - unless we stand together - it will not be the last.
The following table summarizes the proposals put forward by the coalition of Detroit leaders, the Senate (which is essentially the Governor’s plan), and the House (which is their response to the Governor’s plan). Feel free to contrast and compare the difficult steps local leaders thought might turn their community around to what they are being offered by Lansing. It should give all of us pause. Read more here >>>