In the latest Capitol Update from Rep. Jim Townsend, the Royal Oak legislator had this to say about House Bills 5923 and 6004:
In early November, Republican leaders unveiled their education platform, which they hope to pass either before the end of the year or shortly after the new Legislature takes office in January. The bills represent a drastic change in Michigan’s education policy and cast doubt on the future viability of public education in our state.
House Bill 5923 vastly expands the authority to create new schools, including corporate-run schools that would not be accountable to the public. Funds from public schools would no longer be attached to specific schools and districts, but rather to students themselves.
“In essence, this package of legislation moves Michigan toward a voucher system that will dismantle public education as we know it in our state,” Rep. Jim Townsend said. “Not only will this take money away from the schools that we have and the students that need it, but there is no evidence that such an approach will improve educational outcomes for our children.”
House Bill 6004 expands the Educational Achievement Authority originally set up between the city of Detroit and Eastern Michigan University. Under the proposed bill, the EAA would become a “reform” district across the entire state, managed by a chancellor appointed by the governor, with powers similar to those of the emergency financial managers. Public Act 4, which granted sweeping powers to emergency managers, was struck down this past November.
“These schools are not like the institutions you and I know from our own childhoods. While local residents foot the bill, these new schools are not accountable to the community — or even Michigan’s education standards,” Townsend said. “Republicans want to create a ‘City of Michigan School District’ run by a political appointee. If they want to get serious about addressing the real issues facing our schools, I am willing to sit down and talk with them. What they’re trying to do instead is an insult to our children.”