MLive Editorial Board: Federal government, not Governor Snyder, should lead recovery effort in Flint

Snyder “no longer has the moral authority or the political mandate with the people of Flint to lead the recovery effort.”

Our state government’s failure to protect the people of Flint is a tragedy for every citizen of Michigan.

The indifference and disrespect shown to Flint over the past two years as the water crisis unfolded speak to a larger problem about how our government in Lansing protects its people.

An investigation by MLive reporters into how Gov. Rick Snyder and his administration handled the crisis revealed a troubling lack of compassion, and no sense of urgency to solve the problem.

Even if Snyder personally didn’t know about the problems with lead and Legionnaires’ disease until well after his aides, as he contends, he was aware the water in Flint was foul in 2014 after the municipal source was switched to the Flint River.

In October of that year, he received a detailed briefing about boil water advisories and problems with controlling bacteria in the water. That same month, General Motors announced that Flint water was too corrosive for its manufacturing needs, leading Snyder’s legal counsel to write to other top aides, including the chief of staff: “My Mom is a City resident. Nice to know she’s drinking water with elevated chlorine levels and fecal coliform.”

Yet, the Flint River remained the city’€™s drinking water source for another year. And while the water is no longer brown, two years into this crisis residents still don’t trust what comes out of their taps. Is it any surprise that they have lost faith in state government’s ability to fix the problem?

Read the complete editorial here: Federal government should lead recovery effort in Flint | MLive.com

Who do you want running your local schools?

Maybe you can't walk the halls of the Capitol. But our message can.Maybe you can't walk the halls of the Capitol. But our message can.

Who should run our schools – us, or state technocrats?

What happens in Detroit will set the rules for all of us

Friends,

How would you feel if you were told you didn’t have a right to run your local schools, or to elect a school board?

What if an emergency manager was sent by Lansing to take over your schools, and their job no. 1 was to balance the books, no matter the consequences for your children?
What if the people who were slashing the budgets of your children’s schools didn’t have to listen to your concerns – at all?
This is exactly what has been happening to a number of communities in our state for 10 years or more. Instead of working with local communities to stabilize finances, our State has barrelled in, with highly-paid “managers,” sweeping aside local elected officials, and “managing” those schools right into the ground. Strangely enough, no one in Lansing ever considers it was the State, not the local community, that failed.

Laws passed last year make it even easier to declare that a school district is “in distress,” and starting the State intervention process. After years of cuts to state funding and drains on the School Aid Fund, dozens of districts – stable, well-run districts – got letters from the Treasury this spring that Big Brother was watching them. They had depleted their reserves trying to save programs from budget cuts made necessary by the lack of state funding. From Alanson to East Grand Rapids, from Montague to West Bloomfield, seventy five districts were put on notice – because of what might happen to their finances in the future.

Now we come to Detroit Public Schools, which has been under some kind of State control for 14 of the last 17 years. Yes, DPS’s finances are a mess – losing more than half your student enrollment will do that. Many of those kids just left the city; others left for charters. But it’s hard to “move the needle on student achievement” when you are constantly cutting your budget and child poverty rates are rising dramatically. State control, if it wasn’t the problem, certainly didn’t stop the downward slide.

The state Legislature is considering rival plans to stabilize Detroit schools and “transition” them back to democracy. Read the details here . Bottom line: neither plan is great, and they both give a state financial review commission considerable control well into the future. But the Senate plan is much better than the House version. (The House decided to go it alone after Senators created a plan with a lot of input from stakeholders.) The Senate plan:

puts an elected school board in place much sooner,
limits the power of financial monitors over academic policy,
sets up a system to regulate the number of schools (both charter and local public) in Detroit, and
moves teachers and staff to the newly created district with much less disruption.
While these bills only apply to Detroit schools at the moment, it would only take a stroke of the pen to make these rules apply to any district that was under state intervention. So it’s essential that we decide what kind of precedent we want the Legislature to set.

How would we want our children and our schools to be treated? What rules do we want in place if a school district does need help? How can we stand by while policies we would abhor are foisted on the children and parents of Detroit?

Let your legislators know where you stand. As they hammer out some sort of compromise between the plans, make sure they hear what you have to say. Please use the link in the upper right of this email to take action today!

Steve Norton
MI Parents for Schools

TAKE ACTION HERE: http://capwiz.com/miparentsforschools/issues/alert/?alertid=71989626&queueid=11227668141

 

Our system of term limits in Michigan is an utter failure | Audio Essay by Michigan Radio’s Jack Lessenberry

Jack Lessenberry: “We now know that what term limits do is supply us with an endless stream of lawmakers who never stay long enough to really understand the process or build the relationships necessary to govern well.”

Source: Our system of term limits in Michigan is an utter failure | Michigan Radio

From the Fix The Mitten Blog…

Tweaking the Senate Plan?
5/10/2016 0 Comments

THE SENATE DPS PLAN IS MUCH BETTER THAN THE HOUSE DPS PLAN, BUT IT STILL NEEDS A FEW CRITICAL TWEAKS

Nick Krieger (@nckrieger):

I care deeply about the state of public education in Michigan. I have as long as I can remember. Maybe it’s because my mom was a public school teacher for 41 years, or because my grandmother was a public school teacher for 35 years—I’m not exactly sure. However, I do know that my support for public schools, public school teachers, and the idea of free public education will always be a part of who I am.

Without question, the Detroit Public Schools (“DPS”) legislation passed by the Michigan Senate is a whole lot better than the DPS legislation passed by the Michigan House of Representatives. Unlike the House plan, which would provide $72 million per year for seven years to fund the local portion of New DPS’s foundation allowance, the Senate plan would provide $72 million per year for ten years to fund the local portion of the foundation allowance. And whereas the House plan would loan the district $33 million for start-up costs, the Senate plan would loan the district at least $200 million for start-up expenses.

The Senate plan has other selling points, too. For example… (follow the link for the rest of Nick’s post!)

http://www.fixthemitten.com/blog/tweaking-the-senate-plan