I read with great interest Eclectablog founder and editor Chris Savage’s interview with American Federation of Teachers national president Randy Weingarten yesterday and it set in motion the vast array of anger am feeling about how the Michigan State House of Representatives have devolved into hate-filled racists who no longer attempt to hide their disdain for the Detroit Public Schools, the children that attend them and the state-appointed Emergency Managers who created the debt and decay that has ensued, not to mention the teachers, and that’s just for starters.
The Republican-controlled legislature have given in to the will of the lobbying group Great Lakes Education Project (GLEP). GLEP is financed by Michigan billionaire Dick DeVos who has been trying to buy public education for years in order to turn it into his own private funnel for taxpayer dollars to line his pockets (perhaps as a way of protecting his wealth just in case Amway is ever shut down for illegal practices — just a thought.)
The bipartisan legislation that was passed in the Michigan Senate a short while back was not perfect in any way, but it clearly addressed the needs of the district, the amassed debt of close to a billion dollars, and it provided for the children. You do remember the children, right?
Sadly, dishearteningly, the Senate version of this bill – a bill pounded out with a bigger picture in mind – created some democracy for Detroiters who do not want to have to and have not abandoned the city, and the Senate bill provided a path to a healthy and healing learning environment for the children. You do remember the children, right?
Oh, and it also protected the teachers and provided some level of comfort that they will be paid for the work they do and allowed them an opportunity to actually go to work to do what they were hired to do: teach!
The House version ignores the very basic tenets of education, ignores the debt the state created, insults the children, parents and community members who have been fighting for equality for so long now, and it goes one step further by elevating their legislation (or perhaps the better word is suffocating) to a point that it takes away union protections for teachers, forces them to reapply for the jobs they currently hold, rips democracy from the community to elect a school board, allows a de facto Emergency Manager to hire a Superintendent, severely UNDERFUNDS the money needed to eliminate the state-imposed debt of the DPS, and vastly ignores the lack of tools, textbooks, and technologies that will help make these deserving children competitive in a future world; something they have a constitutional right to. You do remember the children, right?
And speaking of the state constitution, which does NOT allow the state to allocate monies for private schools, they are once again ignoring the constitution and giving $5 million to private schools as well. Could the DPS make some improvements with $5 million?
When lawmakers do not take responsibility for what they create and when they ignore the reality of what they have a constitutional responsibility to address for ALL of the state’s schoolchildren, this isn’t just about posturing or sending a message. What it really is is a direct and incontrovertible truth that if you send your children to school in Detroit and you support public education in Detroit the chance of your children having access to quality outcomes disappears with the bill they passed last night along party lines. With that passage, the hope many thought was coming was eliminated in a heartbeat and the House Republicans could care less.
I hate to be negative and I get tired, as many do, of having to deal with the ongoing onslaught of GOP lawmakers continuing on a path of destruction for our children. With organizations like the Mackinac Center for Public Policy continuing to publish lies and bend truth to suit their point of view, it seems clear that the children in Detroit, especially in the public educations system, are, in the eyes of the GOP, part of the problem. They appear to believe that if we privatized all of Detroit education opportunities, well, things would be so much better. They believe this even in the face of studies that show the abject failure of for-profit charter schools, the Education Achievement Authority, and virtual schools, none of which are transparent or held accountable and which put profit before the children. It is a sham and evil at its core.
What the House GOP did yesterday should be seen as a scandal. What they did yesterday should be a national outrage. What they did yesterday reinforces the reality that their dehumanizing tendencies are stronger and more brazen than ever. It is a reminder that they will continue on this path and expedite other hate-filled and inhumane legislation as the new election season is upon us.
Democrats who currently serve this state are ALL outraged by what the House GOP did yesterday to the Detroit Public Schools. But when you serve in the minority, as Michigan Democrats do, their words are just that. Truth be told, unless we, the people of Michigan, barnstorm the capital and demand real change from our legislators and elect more Democrats so that we can once and for all change the culture that has eroded the foundation of this once great state, what you see is what you’ll get.
And, lastly, for those of you who tend to think if it doesn’t directly affect you then it doesn’t exist, well, it does. Period. I will remind you that at any time and for obviously ANY reason, when a Republican gets an idea or his or her funders/donors get an idea that benefit the vast minority of people in this state, strap in because now it’s your turn. If you don’t believe me, make sure you do not vote come November. Allow the Republicans to continue to hold the majority in the House and guess what? It’ll be all on you. Yes, it will. And your children. You remember them, right?