Michigan per pupil funding

Michigan’s Education Achievement Authority — NOT Fiscally Responsible

How Michigan’s EAA Chancellor Covington can’t stay on budget:

The double-standard imposed on Detroit Public Schools by the Snyder Administration is the height of hypocrisy.

DPS was taken-over by an Emergency Manager with the claim that their $500 million dollar long-term debt was the result of fiscal irresponsibility of the elected school board and administration. The rationale was that bringing in a strong business leader to shore-up the balance sheet was just the remedy for years of supposed poor leadership. Starting with Robert Bobb in 2009, and now under former GM executive, Roy Roberts, Detroit students daily suffer the consequences of their misguided corporate tactics.

Under their leadership, the district has been subjected to brutal cut-back management practices typically found in the private sector for the purpose of “turning-around” a troubled company — which is code for: parting-it out like an old Buick. First cannibalized by the fire-sale of school assets, and more recently balkanized through the establishment of the Education Achievement Authority under Roberts, Detroit schools continue in a fiscal death spiral with little hope in sight. This new separate district, the EAA, was set-up to better “serve” the unique needs of under-achieving schools in DPS, with the intention of expanding the program statewide to capture the bottom 5 percent of academically stressed schools– along with their meager per pupil foundation grants.

Under Chancellor John Covington, the EAA currently runs 15 schools from DPS, but is under pressure to rapidly expand that number to include 60 schools statewide . A lot of money rides on their ability to grow the EAA to become what is projected to be the largest school district in the state with approximately 46,000 students — under the leadership of one un-elected official using non-union, under-compensated staff, operating day-to-day with shaky job security at best.

What’s the rush? More →

Case Study of Another GOP Attack on Public Education – Michigan Style!

Amy Kerr Hardin from Democracy Tree blog. It’s a tired old analogy — laws are like sausages, better not to see them made.

Yet, we should still reflect on those laws so putrid they’re simply not fit for human consumption. The Michigan legislature has churned-out plenty of tainted product recently, with most of it waiting in their unrefrigerated wings — jamming up the grind wheel in committee.

In the course of my research on some of the more outlandish bills introduced in Michigan’s 96th Legislature, I came to discover several things, starting with the obvious: GOP lawmakers appear to enjoy the combined IQ of a grapefruit — in fact, they remain delightfully ignorant of their ignorance, and thus the state’s only salvation lies in the inability of these incompetent elected officials to enact most of their legislative turds into compiled law and public policy.

Here’s just one illustrative case study of GOP tomfoolery:

A seemingly minor bill caught my attention.  The proposed law appeared simple enough on the surface — HB 4692, introduced last year by Rep. Kurt Heise (R-20), would have allowed school districts to charge students for bus transportation. The bill thoughtfully provided an exemption for students qualifying for free/reduced lunches.

Knowing that our GOP friends are largely unencumbered with even the most rudimentary higher-order “Theory of Mind” skills, it seemed that Rep. Heise didn’t fully, or even partially, consider the ramifications of such a reckless fiscal policy. (It’s a miracle on the order of fishes and loaves that these guys make it out the door every morning not wearing their underwear outside of their pants.)

So, let’s think this thing through for the good lawmaker…

Rep. Heise, a member of the House Standing Committee on Education, representing the suburban Detroit communities of Northville and Plymouth, would presumably be expected to know that Gov. Snyder was slashing K-12 funding by shifting millions to higher education, then robbing those coffers for his coprporate welfare scheme. Heise may also have been vaguely knowledgable of Snyder’s “Best Practices” for education which had a statutory requirement for school districts to attempt to privatize busing  as a qualification to receive full per pupil funding. Perhaps a dim Neanderthal awareness of the manufactured nature of the education funding crisis, particularly impacting his country cousins, crept into Heise’s mind. Rural districts are additionally burdened with a higher per pupil transportation cost due to larger geographic areas to traverse, and coupled with their lesser per pupil funding, they are increasingly teetering on the fiscal brink… So, lawmaker Heise pulled this hair-brained solution out of his ass to ease the crunch for the toothless hillbillies of Michigan’s hinterlands — he was just trying to be helpful, right?

Eh, not so much…

Heise, represents Michigan’s 20th House District where there has been an explosion in new charter schools. Although charters are, on the surface, “public schools” they tend to offer limited options comparative to real public schools. Functionally they behave like a for-profit private enterprise. In fact, many of their component services are completely privatized. They identify the cheapest demographic to educate and cater strictly to them. There is a reason charter schools don’t have many special needs students. Those kids are just too expensive — costing way more than their foundation grants provide for, so charter schools make themselves subtly, and sometimes overtly, unattractive to families looking for the best for their children. Charters attract the middle of the bell-curve.

It’s no secret that the far right holds a special contempt for our public education system, willing to do just about anything to destroy it in their privatization mania. Michigan lawmakers have taken the death-of-a-thousand-cuts approach to its public school system. To their way of thinking, what could be more American than making a handsome profit off educating the masses? After all, it’s a model that’s worked-out so well in our healthcare system…

Back to Rep. Heise’s ill-fated pay for school busing bill…remember that provision that gave a pass to those free/reduced lunch families? Well, it seems that over 46 per cent of Michigan students qualify for that program, and in rural communities that number tends to climb.   Thus, if Heise had his way he would not be helping rural districts at all, but would instead be stressing them to the point of tearing them apart at the seams. Families that were just barely above the qualifying limit for the free/reduced lunch program would be forced to bear the bulk of the cost of school transportation for their already impoverished school.

The salient question here is: did Heise know what he was doing — meaning, was his real purpose to further damage public education? Or was he just another dumb-ass legislator who can barely read the kiddie menu?

Whatever the intent, Michigan doesn’t want his brand of sausage. It should be left to rot in committee.