Sunday, December 2, 2012

Opposition Rising and More

Let's start out with some good news. These terrible education bills have not passed (yet), so let us keep the pressure on! One friend wrote me, "The world is falling apart!" OK, that might be a little hyperbolic, but there is definitely cause for concern.
How to keep the pressure on? Write; call; sign the petition to "Stop the Takeover of Public Education in Michigan." (No--that's not the "Stop Overtesting Our Kids" petition, although you can sign that one too! I've been temporarily diverted from stopping overtesting to keeping public education public.)

There is a new facebook page, "Save Michigan's Public Schools." What is really nice about this page is that there are lots and lots of superintendent and school board letters and statements of opposition. You can get some really good ideas of what to say if you want to personalize things. Or just get inspired, remember that you are not alone, don't despair, and give a "like" to some of the statements!

It's nice to see opposition from superintendents and school board members from all parts of the state, including some Republican strongholds. I noticed letters from Tuscola County (the Thumb); Calhoun County; Genesee County; Macomb County; Oakland County (Bloomfield Hills' Superintendent Rob Glass's letter to parents and taxpayers is terrific): Washtenaw County (Chelsea, Milan, Dexter, Ypsilanti, Whitmore Lake, Lincoln Consolidated and Ann Arbor for sure--there may have been others); the State Board of Education; and more.

A Michigan coalition is also opposing the fact that the EAA (which has only been around for three months!) is the only Michigan "school district" that is a finalist in the "Race to the Top" (which, as I've said before, is truly a race to the bottom, but unfortunately it is one that comes with funding).

Save Michigan's Public Schools has also posted the 302 page Michigan Public Education Finance Act Draft Legislation (and I'm linking to it) in case you are looking for some light reading [joke!]. This would replace our current school aid legislation, but it would make things much worse, not better.

Here is why:
"In a nutshell, the proposed Michigan Public Education Finance Act (which would replace the existing School Aid Act of 1979) erases school attendance boundaries, allowing students to take their assigned chunk of funding and use it anywhere
they like (if the receiving school agrees), including taking courses in multiple locations. The legislation also throws a big, juicy bone to the Wild West of on-line education, reinforces test-based 'performance,' and gives students $2500 per semester for early graduation." (Nancy Flanagan in EdWeek, in a blog post titled, "What's the Matter with Michigan?"
Dr. Vickie Markavitch, Superintendent of the Oakland Schools (I think of the Oakland Intermediate School District) has an excellent video on the subject of the pending legislation, and I encourage you to: a) watch it and b) share it.

UPDATE:  Also, there is this--

Michigan for Quality Schools
Supporting proven education reform
What: A news conference unveiling new coalition of education, parent and business leaders opposed to continued experiments on Michigan children and supporting proven education reform.
When: 1 p.m. Monday, Dec. 3
Where: Room 424, Michigan Capitol
Who: Steve Norton of Michigan Parents for Schools, Michigan Association of School Boards Executive Director Kathy Hayes, State Board of Education President John Austin, Michigan Association of School Administrators Executive Director William Mayes and others.
Why: To reject efforts to experiment with Michigan children by ending locally controlled school systems and introduce a for-profit education system in Michigan.
To support proven quality reforms by examining policies of states with a track record of success in Gov. Snyder’s education dashboard metrics.To call for public hearings across Michigan to expose these issues to the parents of Michigan, not shove them through the lame duck session of the Legislature with minimal debate.
A wide coalition of varied interests have been galvanized by campaigns to pass major education experiments in the lame duck legislature, including bills to allow for-profit education companies to cherry pick students and to give the still-unproven Education Achievement Authority the ability to create an unlimited number of schools without regard to quality. The organization also opposes the Oxford Foundations’ plan to gamble with Michigan students, which would end locally controlled school districts.
For more information contact David Waymire at Martin Waymire Advocacy Communications, 517-485-6600

1 comment:

  1. I just got this update from Michigan Parents for Schools, it has some good thoughts in it:

    "Update on EAA legislation:
    Neither the Senate nor House Education committees acted on the EAA bills (HB 6004/SB 1358) in their meetings today. Negotiations to find changes that will attract a majority are ongoing, but a number of Republican legislators are really digging their heels in on this one, despite great pressure from their leadership. The $64K question now is if the bills will continue to sit in committee or be discharged straight to the floor. In either case, by the time a vote takes place, the die will be cast. (They won't bring it to a public vote unless they know they have the votes.) This is why keeping the pressure on now is so important.

    What's critical right now is that those legislators who are resisting the huge pressure to vote for some kind of EAA bill get our thanks.
    Republican members have been told that they should never bother defending public schools because the "education people" will never give them credit or thanks.

    Strong, community governed public schools don't have to be a partisan issue - they didn't use to be. Even if you disagree with your legislator on other issues, when they do the right thing on education you should let them know that you noticed it and appreciate it. (Likewise, when they don't do right by our schools, you should let them know that you saw that, too, and will remember.) That goes for members of either party. This kind of stuff matters more than you might expect."