Welcome to Michigan under Republican rule
Flint schools have been in financial trouble since 2011 when it first went into debt. In 2012, they eliminated 460 teachers and staff positions. In May of this year, they laid off 91 more teachers and staff and slashed benefits of the remaining teachers as an alternative to a 19% pay cut. Later in the summer, another 12 teachers and 8 administrators were fired. In the meantime, they have “closed and sold off buildings, eliminated staff and outsourced nearly everything except instructional and administrative positions.”
The result? An increased deficit that now leaves Flint schools $21.9 million in the hole and facing an Emergency Manager.
This is a classic case of an urban area that has seen its manufacturing crumble and, with it, a loss of students as people leave the city. Fewer students, lower tax base, and no plan from the state government to deal with our struggling urban centers leaving Flint and so many other cities and their school districts high and dry.
Given what’s already been done to try to cut their way out of their problem, it’s hard to imagine what an Emergency Manager is going to do. Cut teacher salaries? Probably. Close more schools? Yup. Fire more staff? Very likely. But so much has already been done that more cutting is not going to solve this problem.
We need some creative thinking and some real investment in our urban areas and their school districts. Unfortunately, our Republican administration sees belt tightening and cutting as the only options and the Republicans in the legislature sure as hell aren’t going to send more resources into communities that are largely people of color living in poverty. That’s not how they roll, shall we say?
Get ready for more of this because our leaders have no answers and this problem is far from being resolved. The end game for some of them is to lump all of these areas into one huge statewide “school district for misfit toys” and hand them over to the profiteering charlatans that run the Education Achievement Authority for profit where a few software vendors get rich and the kids get screwed.
Michigan under Republican rule is about to get very, very ugly.