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Proposed State Education Overhauls ‘Radical and Dangerous,' Superintendent Says

The Oakland Schools superintendent told a forum Tuesday that bills in Lansing would put students at risk with untested, untried forms of schooling.

Area superintendents collectively expressed the gravest of concerns Tuesday regarding a 300-page bill drafted for Gov. Rick Snyder that would overhaul how public education is administered in the state of Michigan.

Calling Senate Bill 1358, House Bill 6004, and House Bill 5923 “radical and dangerous,” Oakland Schools Superintendent Dr. Vickie L. Markavitch told attendees at the Royal Oak Middle School gathering place “unbelievable things are happening in Lansing.”

More than 360 people, including superintendents from Royal Oak, Lamphere, Bloomfield Hills, Clawson and Southfield, attended the afternoon and evening sessions of what was billed as a “call to action.”

“There is really important work that has to be done,” said Markavitch. “What’s worrying me about this work that has to be done is it’s being pushed forward so quickly, so fast and in such a rushed order that it’s almost faster than people can learn about it.”

The bills sitting before the lame duck session of Lansing would put students at risk with untested, untried forms of schooling, Markavitch said.

Talking points

Of HB 6004 and SB 1358 Markavitch had this analysis:

  • The bills require the Michigan Department of Education to collect a list from all school districts of their unused buildings so they can be leased or sold to charter, nonpublic and EAA schools.“It’s about seizing buildings paid for with tax payer dollars,” Markavitch said.
  • The EAA and its schools would not be subject to the same laws and provisions of public schools. “Maybe there is an agenda for special interests, who avoid prerequisites for quality and requirements of transparency…and who have no recognition or concern for research based best practices,” Markavitch said.
  • The bills are also tied to HB 5923 or the “New Forms of School Bill," which would allow charter schools to specify the student body they want to serve. “How many of you on any given day would like to specify the student body that you serve? But we don’t. We serve them all. We love them all,” Markavitch said. “The bill allows for discrimination against students on any number things. A new and dangerous move and that is why I call it undemocratic and un-American.”

Podcast available

If you were unable to attend Tuesday’s meeting you can watch Markavitch’s presentation in a podcast by clicking this link.

In addition Oakland Schools offers these supporting articles, research and resources:

Call to action

“For more than 20 years a group has been trying to get public money for private forms of education. In the old days this was called vouchers and the American people defeated this soundly. And, in Michigan it was defeated not once, but twice,” Markavitch said.

But the folks pushing it are persistent, and profiteers, Markavitch said, have since joined them trying to corporatize public education.

“How do we compete with a $1 million, maybe with a million voices,” the superintendent said. Markavitch asked people to take action and contact their legislators through the Tri-County Alliance for Public Education Legislative Action Center website, which helps users craft emails and encourage others to do the same.

“In education we can never afford to spin the data because we have real problems to solve. They look at us every day with real eyes. They listen to us with real ears. And, we can’t give them false data," said Markavitch.

Meetings planned for Novi, Farmington, Rochester, Clarkston

  • Wednesday, Nov.28, 4 p.m. Novi High School
  • Wednesday, Nov. 28, 6:30 p.m. 24062 Taft, Novi 48375
  • Thursday, Nov. 29, 4 p.m. Farmington Schools– Ten Mile Building
  • Thursday, Nov. 29, 6:30 p.m. 32789 W. Ten Mile, Farmington
  • Monday, Dec. 3, 4 p.m. Rochester High School
  • Monday, Dec. 3, 6:30 pm. 180 S. Livernois, Rochester 48307
  • Tuesday, Dec. 4, 4 p.m. Clarkston Jr. High School
  • Tuesday, Dec. 4, 6:30 p.m. 6595 Waldon Road, Clarkston 48346
  • Thursday, Dec.6, 7 p.m. Harding Administration Center, 2920 Burdette, Ferndale

RELATED:

Your Guide to Michigan Education Reform Proposals

Rick Karlowski November 29, 2012 at 05:07 PM
Very well stated. Additionally, most of the school districts complaining about the proposed legislation have "School of Choice" program that, in essence, steal students from other districts to get the state operating money that comes with the transfer. I guess a school of choice is only an issue when it is outside the current education establishment's control.
RHT November 29, 2012 at 07:44 PM
We need to start by condensing school districts around the state. It's absurd that Madison Heights alone has two school districts for a small city of around 30,000. It's even worse that Warren has 4 or 5 school districts within it's boundaries.
Dan O December 02, 2012 at 06:00 PM
A sad fact they don't tell about is that in a poverty stricken area like Southwest Detroit there was a Parochial school who graduated 95 % of students who entered in 9th grade while the rest of Det. Public schools only graduated 40% of entering 9th graders ! This parochial school had to close its doors due to lack of funding as the parents could not afford the tuition and the school was letting anyone come assisting them with alumni scholarships but those funds were limited too! I am sure the situation was similair with all the Parochial High School closings in the last 10 yrs in the city of Detroit. And they wonder why most left! Vouchers could have saved the City of Detroit. Superintendents and MEA only care about paychecks and raises!
Mel December 07, 2012 at 01:04 AM
Covingtons results in KC were miserable. This time he wants no statewide comparable data. With regards to private schools, it helps to have parents who really care. It also helps to be able to expell extreme misbehavior. Public schools by law can not expell for more than 180 days. Fact is public schools educate everyone. There is a slice in the school that are as good or better than private school kids. The next slice is not as good because they do not care to be. The trouble slice doesn't care and looks to defy authority for a multitude of reasons. The last slice are special needs kids that privates don't even make an attempt to educate.. I believe public schools do a better job of educating kids because they serve all. Problem I have with these bills is that they attempt to use the public finance system in a private school discipline structure with hand picked students. With all of those advantages they exempt themselves from statewide standards and reporting.
Mel December 07, 2012 at 01:05 AM
Public monies have to be accountable by putting a value on their meap, mme, and act tests. Lastly, these schools don't have to respond to foia requests. I think that violates federal law. Does this sound like a republican idea. Let's fix the schools by consolidating power at the state, have an unaccountable authority, suspend executive checks, override constitutional concerns and size public assets from the local authorities in the name of their children. I guess the republican brand is poised to win the hearts a minds of our young minds.

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