Budget Cuts Detroit Education Reform Funding

Detroit: Legislature Abandons 47,000 Children

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The schools of Detroit have been under state control for most of this century. The state has failed miserably to improve education or even to maintain the schools in decent physical condition. No governor or legislator would allow this to happen to their own home district. 

The Detroit Free Press published a blistering editorial about the legislature’s malign neglect of the children of Detroit. They like to go on about how terrible the district’s test scores are but forget to acknowledge that the state is in charge and is accountable. Don’t blame the teachers. They work in terrible conditions and are never consulted about the needs of their students. They are akin to nurses in an intensive care unit that have been denied the tools to do their jobs.

The state of Michigan is in charge of Detroit school and the best the legislature can come up with is a bankruptcy plan. 

The editorial says the plan, fashioned by Governor Snyder and amended by Republican legislators, is “an insult.”

“The House is thinking that because Detroit Public Schools’ needs are so urgent — the state’s largest school district could run out of cash in April if the Legislature doesn’t act on a reform plan mulled by Gov. Rick Snyder for almost a year — this is a fine time to tie a raft of noxious, anti-union, anti-Detroit addenda to a reform package the Legislature must pass in order to keep the district’s doors open…..

“Are the Republican leaders of the state House of Representatives so craven, so insensible to the fact that their work affects children, that they’d risk the futures of the 47,000 souls enrolled in DPS with a slate of ideologically driven “reforms” sure to divide any vote along party line?…

“The House’s DPS reform bills sticks to the “old company, new company” model advanced by Snyder. The old company would keep DPS’s name, elected school board and operating millage, and exist solely to pay off the district’s debt, while the new company would receive the district’s per-pupil allowance and an additional state subsidy, and would educate Detroit’s children.

“But changes larded on by Republican lawmakers mean this legislation would essentially create a school district in Detroit with lower standards than any district in the state.

“By gutting some provisions of the state law that requires collective bargaining for some portions of teacher contracts, by allowing the new district to hire teachers with “alternate” certification, by tying teacher pay and benefits to nebulously defined performance standards, the bills’ sponsors are saying that Detroit’s children, of all the children in the state, deserve less. Much less. Detroit kids, it seems, don’t deserve the same quality of education as kids in West Bloomfield or Grosse Point….

“It is an undisputed fact that the district has spent the bulk of this century under the guidance of a state-appointed emergency manager. The state bears both moral and legal responsibility for the district’s hefty debts — much of the district’s short-term debt, after all, was incurred during that period. State intervention is predicated on the state’s constitutional responsibility to provide an adequate education for every Michigan child. State intervention came with a promise to fix DPS. But state intervention, indisputably, made the problem worse….

“Here’s our challenge to the lawmakers championing these plans: If these reforms are destined to ensure excellence, pass them statewide.”

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