Yesterday, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder signed a bill into law that on the surface seems less than toxic, but it is toxic – VERY toxic!
Details of the bill can be found HERE. As I have been watching this bill evolve – or devolve, more appropriately – I have been stunned by the actions of the GOP-led legislature to make it look like they are doing something proactive for our public school children even though they have been warned by experts in education and hundreds of teachers and parents that this is NOT the way forward and will do absolutely nothing to increase literacy in Michigan.
Not a single thing.
What it will accomplish is making Republicans look like they are doing something for children when they are actually doing this to make themselves feel better for raping our school aid fund for the business community and stealing for the general fund budget, even though that is constitutionally not allowed. But hey, who the hell cares about the constitution in Michigan any longer? Not to mention our children.
I’m trying to wrap my head around what will become an onerous and unfunded mandate to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars and create a unfillable hole in the Michigan budget moving forward. With recent data showing that 47% of third-graders are falling below the threshold to advance to the fourth grade under this law, it will create a massive debt that cannot be serviced by current revenues in the state coffers.
What it will do is stigmatize thousands of children who will still need help in third-grade classrooms that are already well over capacity for ANY teacher to properly teach given their class loads. The ballooning effect of this law will see classrooms explode with so many bodies that those who are held back cannot get the extra attention this law purportedly would give them. I believe I can reasonably argue that it will actually set them back as opposed to propel them forward, as the law is supposed to do, ideologically.
Yes, this may be very schmaltzy, but I immediately thought of the Whitney Houston song, “The Greatest Love of All” (listen carefully to the lyrics) when I read yesterday that Gov. Snyder would sign this bill into law while at the same time Lt. Gov. Brian Calley was on the capitol lawn rallying hundreds of teachers and parents who were there to demand more funding for special education. These are really not separate issues as they both have to do with funding (or lack thereof.)
We also learned this week that the brain trust that is the Republican legislative leadership refused to put up $7.5 million in order to receive a federal grant of $20.5 million for low-income childcare. If you don’t see the connection there, you never will!
As a state, we can no longer afford to ignore the needs of ALL of our children. The egregious and despicable behavior and decisions over the last six years have seen Michigan fall to the bottom of every list with regard to education in the country. In the last six years, we have seen an exodus of amazing teachers leaving their jobs either with early retirement or simply to find new jobs in professions that appreciate what they do.
Schools have eliminated the arts in most areas and they have taken away teachers’ abilities to teach to the student instead of teach to standardizing testing.
One of the paramount reasons Republican legislators have done this is because, as we have already seen, while charter schools, Schools of Choice, and on-line learning get away with anything they want to do and fail for the most part, public education has been held to a much different standard simply because the money people in politics desperately want to privatize ALL of education in Michigan as it relates to the K-12 experience.
Why? Well, for-profit schools are called for-profit for a reason. This is and always has been about money. Just ask the failed politician but successful political donor Dick DeVos.
This law is dangerous. It can be overturned if we find our way to the voting booth and VOTE BLUE on November 8.
Our children are depending on it and so is our future. Think about that and put aside party loyalty for the love of our children and allow them to be our future and allow teachers to shape them as we were allowed to and were encouraged to by them when we were in school.
Remember that? I sure do!