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Letter: State Education Legislation Would 'Dismantle' Local School District

Ferndale Board of Education president Keith Warnick submitted this letter to the editor.

Ferndale Patch welcomes letters to the editor.

The following was submitted by Ferndale Public Schools Board of Education president Keith Warnick.

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Current legislation introduced, HB6004/SB1358, are part of legislation designed to dismantle your local public school district. These identical bills were introduced in the House and the Senate to create the Education Achievement Authority (EAA) in law. Testimony on these bills were allowed for proponents only, and denied of the opponents. This Authority will manage a statewide school district that will be overseen by a board and chancellor appointed by the Governor; not a board elected by the citizens or chancellor/superintendent hired by that board.

Initially, the schools within the EAA are those already there (15 schools from Detroit), and any school ordered there by the State School Reform officer from the bottom 5% of the ranked list of schools by academic achievement. (Currently the State School Reform officer is appointed by the State Superintendent of Schools and is part of the Michigan Department of Education (MDE). Under this legislation, this position would become a political appointee under the Governor. The EAA would be able to authorize charter schools  statewide and under separate legislation pending (HB 5923), these charters could skim off the best and brightest students from across the state – and choose NOT to educate any students who were not performing well. The EAA and its schools would not be subject to the same laws and provisions required of locally, citizen-governed public schools. This bill takes sections within the Revised School Code that the EAA schools must follow and the rest of the code would not apply. The redesign officer (appointed chancellor) has the ability to terminate any contract or portion of a contract entered into by a school board except those concerning debt service. Also, and important for local citizens to know, the bill requires MDE to collect a list from all school districts of their unused school buildings so they can be leased or sold to charter, nonpublic, and EAA schools. This last provision means that the voters of a school district could be left paying off a debt for a former renovated building they are forced to sell or lease to a for-profit charter or private school.

This isn't about improving education for kids; it's about seizing buildings. The EAA doesn't take charge of the children's education, just the building. The language allowing the EAA to force the lease or sale of unused school buildings is an unconstitutional taking of local school property (which was paid for by local taxpayers). There are no quality measures or components in this legislation. This bill is a broad-based conspiracy that goes WAY beyond Detroit. It is part of a package of bills that seek to create a very powerful statewide school district, with the authority to authorize an unlimited number of charter schools and seize local school property. http://legislature.mi.gov/doc.aspx?2012-HB-6004

Contact your Senator or Representative to tell them to vote NO on these bills.

Link to House Education Committee: http://www.house.mi.gov/MHRPublic/CommitteeInfo.aspx?comkey=5

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