Area superintendents collectively expressed the gravest of concerns Tuesday regarding a 300-page bill drafted for Gov. Rick Snyder that would overhaul how public education is administered in the state of Michigan.
Calling Senate Bill 1358, House Bill 6004, and House Bill 5923 “radical and dangerous,” Oakland Schools Superintendent Dr. Vickie L. Markavitch told attendees at the Royal Oak Middle School gathering place “unbelievable things are happening in Lansing.”
More than 360 people, including superintendents from Royal Oak, Lamphere, Bloomfield Hills, Clawson and Southfield, attended the afternoon and evening sessions of what was billed as a “call to action.”
“There is really important work that has to be done,” said Markavitch. “What’s worrying me about this work that has to be done is it’s being pushed forward so quickly, so fast and in such a rushed order that it’s almost faster than people can learn about it.”
The bills sitting before the lame duck session of Lansing would put students at risk with untested, untried forms of schooling, Markavitch said.
Of HB 6004 and SB 1358 Markavitch had this analysis:
- The bills require the Michigan Department of Education to collect a list from all school districts of their unused buildings so they can be leased or sold to charter, nonpublic and EAA schools.“It’s about seizing buildings paid for with tax payer dollars,” Markavitch said.
- The EAA and its schools would not be subject to the same laws and provisions of public schools. “Maybe there is an agenda for special interests, who avoid prerequisites for quality and requirements of transparency…and who have no recognition or concern for research based best practices,” Markavitch said.
- The bills are also tied to HB 5923 or the “New Forms of School Bill," which would allow charter schools to specify the student body they want to serve. “How many of you on any given day would like to specify the student body that you serve? But we don’t. We serve them all. We love them all,” Markavitch said. “The bill allows for discrimination against students on any number things. A new and dangerous move and that is why I call it undemocratic and un-American.”
If you were unable to attend Tuesday’s meeting you can watch Markavitch’s presentation in a podcast by clicking this link.
In addition Oakland Schools offers these supporting articles, research and resources:
- Highlights from PISA 2009
Call to action
“For more than 20 years a group has been trying to get public money for private forms of education. In the old days this was called vouchers and the American people defeated this soundly. And, in Michigan it was defeated not once, but twice,” Markavitch said.
But the folks pushing it are persistent, and profiteers, Markavitch said, have since joined them trying to corporatize public education.
“How do we compete with a $1 million, maybe with a million voices,” the superintendent said. Markavitch asked people to take action and contact their legislators through the Tri-County Alliance for Public Education Legislative Action Center website, which helps users craft emails and encourage others to do the same.
“In education we can never afford to spin the data because we have real problems to solve. They look at us every day with real eyes. They listen to us with real ears. And, we can’t give them false data," said Markavitch.
Meetings planned for Novi, Farmington, Rochester, Clarkston
- Wednesday, Nov.28, 4 p.m. Novi High School
- Wednesday, Nov. 28, 6:30 p.m. 24062 Taft, Novi 48375
- Thursday, Nov. 29, 4 p.m. Farmington Schools– Ten Mile Building
- Thursday, Nov. 29, 6:30 p.m. 32789 W. Ten Mile, Farmington
- Monday, Dec. 3, 4 p.m. Rochester High School
- Monday, Dec. 3, 6:30 pm. 180 S. Livernois, Rochester 48307
- Tuesday, Dec. 4, 4 p.m. Clarkston Jr. High School
- Tuesday, Dec. 4, 6:30 p.m. 6595 Waldon Road, Clarkston 48346
- Thursday, Dec.6, 7 p.m. Harding Administration Center, 2920 Burdette, Ferndale
Your Guide to Michigan Education Reform Proposals