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Speaking out

Testimony and letters to lawmakers on school issues; other public statements

Testimony on virtual ("cyber") charter bill - SB 619, 1-18-12

The House Education Committee held more hearings today on the remainder of the bills in the so-called “parent empowerment” package. We offered testimony opposing one bill in particular: Senate Bill 619, which would remove any limits on the number or enrollment of entirely online charter schools, called “cyber schools” in the bill. While the use of online learning has been growing, the focus of this bill is on K-12 schools which have no physical location and serve students entirely over the internet.

Testimony on "uncapping charters" bill 11-2-11

MIPFS was one of only a handful of groups who had a chance to testify on Senate Bill 618 before the House Education Committee. We called for the House to defeat SB 618 or, failing that, make critical changes to the bill which would protect students and our community-governed public schools.


Testimony on "School choice" package to Senate Education Committee, 9-20-11

We delivered testimony on 20 September to the Senate Education Committee, asking its members not to move forward with charter expansion, new kinds of charters, or teacher privatization.

The bills before the committee would remove the numerical and geographic limits on charter schools, introduce a new kind of charter, the “conversion school,” expand “cyber schools,” and allow schools to privatize their teachers.

Response to Ed Sector's Kevin Carey on Atlanta teachers

In the recent issue of The New Republic, analyst Kevin Carey wrote an opinion piece insisting that Atlanta teachers and administrators who had helped to cheat on standardized tests had only themselves to blame. He dismisses arguments by education advocates that the emphasis on standardized testing is somehow to blame as well.


Testimony on "Tenure package" to Senate Education Committee, June 2011

MIPFS submitted testimony on 6/21/11 to the state Senate Education Committee opposing the “tenure” bill package, dubbed by its supporters the “Teacher Quality Package.” We were very concerned that the bills would:

  • mandate teacher evaluation systems that relied heavily on standardized tests;
  • increase the administrative burden on districts while providing no additional resources;
  • encourage strapped districts to do teacher evaluation “on the cheap”;
  • provide incentives for administrators to hold down the ratings of more senior teachers so that it would be easier to remove them rather than cheaper, less experienced teachers during a reduction in force.

Remarks at Legislative Rountable in Ann Arbor, May 2011

Remarks of Steven Norton, Executive Director of Michigan Parents for Schools, to the Legislative Roundtable hosted by Ann Arbor Public Schools, Pioneer High School, 6 May 2011.

Senators, Representatives, and supporters of public education:


Remarks at Ann Arbor rally on state budget issues

Remarks prepared for delivery at Ann Arbor rally on Michigan budget issues, Forsythe Middle School, 15 March 2011

Steven J. Norton, AAPS parent and Executive Director, Michigan Parents for Schools

The weather outside reminds me that our schools are surely our best shelter from the storm we face. A place of safety. A lifeboat, if you will. But for how much longer?

My name is Steve Norton, and I am a parent of two wonderful young kids in the Ann Arbor Public Schools. I’m also an advocate for public education in Michigan, and I was asked to provide the parent perspective today.

But the kind of education I’d like to speak about goes beyond multiplying fractions or constructing an organized paragraph. It has to do with teaching my children about the importance of living as part of a community, of treating every person with respect, and of working with your neighbors to make the community work for everyone. I fear that many of our leaders today in Lansing are offering a very different lesson, and that’s why I’m speaking out here today.


Open Letter to House Speaker Dillon and Senate Majority Leader Bishop

Dear Speaker Dillon and Senator Bishop, On behalf of Michigan Parents for Schools, including parents and concerned citizens across the state, I ask you to do your utmost to craft a budget agreement which invests in our public schools rather than pulling the props out from under them at this critical time.

Speak out now to stop late cuts this year!

We sent this letter to Chmn. Cushingberry, other members of the House Appropriations Committee, Reps. Ebli (Monroe) and Warren (Ann Arbor), and Sens. Brater and Richardville, on April 5th. A copy of the final letter in PDF form is attached to this posting. Dear friends, As you may know, last week the Senate passed a bill, along party lines, that would cut $34 per pupil from school districts' allowances for this year. This and other cuts were part of an attempt by the Senate's Republican majority to close the School Aid Fund deficit of $377 million without any new revenues. While the $34 cut seems small, it is coming so late in the schools' fiscal years that it has the potential to be very destructive -- especially to districts which have little or no reserve.

Letter to the Governor and Legislature

Below is the letter one group of parents, from Ann Arbor, sent to Governor Granholm and to their local representatives, Senator Liz Brater and Representative Rebekah Warren, on 16 March. They invite other groups pf parents to borrow the letter and use it as a framework for their own letter to their elected representatives. Every letter and message to our legislators makes a difference!
Dear Governor Granholm, Senator Brater, and Representative Warren: We are parents of children attending the Ann Arbor Public Schools.


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