Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder continued his assault on education this week with two remarkable moves that betray his claims to have education at the top of his priority list.
First, he signed legislation that fills a huge budget hole, created in part by ongoing multi-billion dollar tax cuts for businesses by diverting $167 million from the School Aid Fund. This comes on the heals of fake increases in per-pupil funding that are actually cuts.
But the most outrageous move was to remove control of the State School Reform and Redesign Office, which oversees the Education Achievement Authority, from the Department of Education and putting it under the oversight of the Department of Technology, Management and Budget. The DTMB has, of course, no educators at its helm. It is, however, under the direct control of Snyder whereas the Department of Education, recently reloaded with Democrats by voters in November 2014, is not. The move nearly completes the take over of almost every aspect of our state government by Republicans. The Board of Education was one of the last remaining areas that Democrats had any control over whatsoever. All that remains is to put Republicans in charge of the House and Senate Democratic caucuses.
Fun fact: if you want to know the political complexion of a state, look at how voters vote in the State Board of Education races. In Michigan, despite Republican dominance in the state legislature, Democrats dominate the State Board of Education. It is Exhibit A proving that we are a state that is gerrymandered beyond all political recognition.
Of course Dan Quisenberry, president of the Michigan Association of Public School Academies, is ecstatic about Snyder’s power grab. This will help our CEO governor to make even more of our schools for-profit charters, which Quisenberry represents and shills for, further sealing the doom of our public education system.
Make no mistake. Gov. Snyder doesn’t see education as something that should be run by educators. He sees it as a business proposition. His history in solving Michigan’s education problems is abysmal and education funding continues to be slashed to pay for other priorities. Education tax dollars are a largely untapped and unexploited profit source for corporations and Rick Snyder is doing everything in his power, aided and abetted by his colleagues in the state legislature, to fix that. This large pool of money has education profiteers salivating and Gov. Snyder is going to make sure they are fully satiated and well compensated.
Cue the Mackinac Center and other corporatists telling us this is all the fault of greedy unionized teachers.
[CC Snyder photo credit: Michigan Municipal League | Flickr]