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MIPFS position papers

Documents outlining the MIPFS position on important education issues in Michigan

A Parent Proposal to Assist Struggling Schools

Strategies to turn around troubled schools need to address specific local challenges and be owned by the local school and district community


With the recent push to pass a bill on the Education Achievement Authority (EAA) before the winter 2013 legislative break, it’s more important than ever that parents start talking about real alternatives that work. For the last year, MIPFS has worked with parent groups, educational leaders and lawmakers to develop a positive program that will actually help struggling schools. This article outlines our proposal.

Existing law does not provide enough assistance to local schools in diagnosing and solving their difficulties. To compound the problem, the law provides for complete state takeover as the only remedy for schools which fail to improve. The parents’ alternative is based on these core ideas:

  • Any effective school improvement strategy must focus on the particular circumstances of the school or district that is a candidate for intervention, and be tailored to address local needs and shortcomings.
  • Diagnosis of educational problems is best done by experienced and disinterested specialists, but the solutions to those problems will be most durable if they are hammered out and implemented by all relevant stakeholder groups.
  • Unilateral state intervention must be a last resort, and must be focused solely on implementing the changes identified as necessary in the independent review.
  • The goal of state intervention for school improvement is not to take over management of the school but to identify and see implemented educational and organizational changes, which are critical to the long-term growth of student achievement.

Truly, enough is enough

“I love empowering parents” – interim House Education chair Tom McMillin (R-Rochester) on passing SB 619

I am furious and disgusted.

Furious that once again, the education budgets now under discussion continue to strangulate our community-governed, local public schools. Disgusted that the raft of policies enacted in the last year which erode public education and public schools are described by their supporters as somehow “empowering parents.” Orwell couldn’t have done better.

Let’s review the last year in legislation, shall we?

Clear thinking about: Running public schools "like a business"

One of the things we hear over and over are calls to run our public schools "like a business." The basic argument is that if schools were run in a more businesslike manner, they would not have the budget problems we are seeing today. It sounds like a simple argument, and that gives it great appeal. The reality is more complex. Let's take a look at how it plays out in the real world.

Clear thinking: the school funding situation

One of the interesting things about doing local advocacy work is that it gives you a whole new perspective on how the public views school funding issues. It can also give you a detailed look at the fuzzy thinking of those who argue that our schools can't, or shouldn't, be given the resources to avoid major cuts to programs and personnel. As part of our "Project Washtenaw," MIPFS volunteers have been engaging the communities in Washtenaw County about the crisis their public schools now face. One year, a failed county millage proposal, and a bundle of desperate budget cuts later, we've learned some important lessons about how school funding is often treated in the public discourse and how that might be changed for the better. We'd like to share them with you.

Schools and the "T" word

Taxes. There, now I’ve said it. It’s a word no one wants to hear, especially now that Michigan’s economy seems to be sliding downhill. (And never in April.)

But wishing won’t make it go away. So here is the question:

Do we really have to pay more taxes to get decent schools? Don’t we pay enough already?

Well, it depends. What do you want your kids’ schools to look like ten years from now? What would you like our state’s economy to look like thirty years from now? That’s really the bottom line. To quote a colleague of mine, “You get what you pay for.”

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