Education, GOPocrisy, Pontiac, Republican-Fail, Rick Snyder — May 14, 2013 at 7:52 am

The State of Michigan steps in to save Buena Vista schools. Oh, wait. No they didn’t.


We regret the error

[Caricature by DonkeyHotey from photos by Anne C. Savage for Eclectablog]

While the State of Michigan has stepped in to save the failing Pontiac schools from closing its doors due to lack of funding, they have NOT done this for Buena Vista schools. Rather, the federal government has, albeit in an absurdly lame fashion. The school is closed for the remainder of the school year but the feds are providing money for a voluntary “enhanced skills camp”.

Congressman Dan Kildee has been outspoken on this and released the following statement:

The students of Buena Vista have a constitutional right to an education and deserve the same educational opportunities as other Michigan children, and that means being in a classroom full-time to complete their school year. I do not believe that a voluntary camp amounts to a proper education for the children of Buena Vista.

It is dangerous precedent to allow school districts to close six weeks early as a cost-saving measure, only to replace a child’s education with a voluntary camp. Such a patchwork fix fails to live up to a commitment to provide a quality education for students. Children deserve better. Simply shutting down the schools early hurts the students of Buena Vista and ultimately punishes the children for a problem they didn’t create.

Congressman Kildee appeared on All In With Chris Hayes on this issue last night and spoke also about the number of kids in this impoverished area who receive meals at school but who will no longer do so for the remainder of this school year:

The Detroit Free Press is excoriating the Snyder administration for their lack of action:

The big difference [between Pontiac schools and Buena Vista schools] seems to be that Pontiac schools developed an acceptable deficit elimination plan; Buena Vista hasn’t.

But that shouldn’t matter. The state — not local school districts — carries the ultimate responsibility to provide a free and adequate public education for Michigan children. When local officials fail, the state should step in.

At least that’s what Gov. Rick Snyder’s team has said in the past. When they crafted Michigan’s tough new emergency manager law, the rationale was simple: the state must provide for the health and well-being of its residents, even if it means displacing elected officials, breaking union contracts, or rewriting a law rejected by Michigan voters. {…}

The same principle should apply when school districts can’t make payroll. Students have a constitutional right to be educated, and that shouldn’t be abrogated by local malfeasance or incompetence.

Fiscal responsibility and good management at the local level are important, but in an emergency situation, the priority should be assuring that children’s education can continue. {…}

[I]n the short-term, Snyder needs to just be sure that the state meets its constitutional obligation to provide public schooling for the kids who don’t have it.

Snyder’s belief in his constitutional responsibility to care for all Michigan residents is correct. When local governments are unable to provide the services constituents fund, the state must step in. Public education is not expendable.

This is an abject failure of the Snyder administration. It is a stain on their time in office and it’s scandalous that they are sitting on over a half billion dollars in the Rainy Day Fund (as well as discovering they have taken in more than a half billion dollars they weren’t planning on in addition to that) and refuse to act.

For shame, Governor Snyder. For shame.

MSNBC journalist Ned Resnikoff has more on this HERE. I spoke with him yesterday to help sort out some of the vagaries of Michigan politics and how our school districts are organized.