Ferndale Patch welcomes letters to the editor.
The following was submitted by Ferndale Public Schools Board of Education president Keith Warnick.
House Bill 5923 was introduced and referred to the House Education Committee. This is one of the bills initially offered by Gov Snyder through work by Richard McClellen last year. Richard McClellan was the author of the Voucher legislation proposed by Betsy DeVos during the Engler era around 1999.
The bill amends the Revised School Code by changing and adding several sections to allow for several new forms of charter and online schools. An authority may issue special designations for the following types of specialized schools:
Globally Competitive schools
International Cultural schools
Residential Public Schools
Cultural Institution-Affiliated schools
To operate a special designation school, the eligible public school must apply to an authorizing body for a special designation agreement. In cases where the school is an achievement school, (lowest 5%), the special designation is issued by the achievement authority. If the school is a PSA, (Charter), or a university school, the special designation must be made by the PSA’s authorizer or the governing board of the university school respectively. The bill does NOT allow traditional community public schools to use any of these innovations without giving control to a charter authority. If these ideas are quality ideas, then they should be available to ALL public schools and not just charters and for profit vendor schools run by corporations.
The bill continues the additions of new schools without changing the size of the overall funding available, thus meaning resources are spread thinner. The bill does not address quality and accountability for funding and doesn’t address effectiveness or efficiencies. This also expands on recent legislation uncapping Charter Schools contrary to the Governor’s past push for consolidation of services and districts and there is no cap or limit on the number of schools that could be designated as an online school under the bill. This contradicts current law capping the number of cyber schools and students.
Why this legislation is bad for locally controlled public schools; Selective enrollment admission policies lead to greater segregation in our public schools and provide for unequal access to quality programming. It allows for discrimination against students based on academic achievement which research has proven time and again is directly linked to economics and poverty thus further segregating our children. It further promotes corporate schools for profit. MDE (Michigan Dept. of Education) does not have the authority to revoke a failing school with a special designation. The ability to do this lies solely with the authorizing body. It erodes the financial support for community public schools by spreading resources thinner and farther. It furthers the concept of choice for choices sake without regard to quality and accountability.