An urgent call to action from Superintendent Rob Glass
Posted: November 28, 2012
Dear Parents and Citizens: This is an urgent call to action affecting your Bloomfield Hills Schools and public education in Michigan. A package of bills designed to corporatize and dismantle public education is being hastily pushed through this current ‘lame duck’ legislative session. If we do not take immediate action, I believe great damage will be done to public education, including our school system. We have just three weeks to take action before it’s too late. The bills are:
- House Bill 6004 and Senate Bill 1358- Would expand a separate and statewide school district (the EAA) overseen by a governor-appointed chancellor and functioning outside the authority of the State Board of Education or state school superintendent. These schools are exempt from the same laws and quality measures of community-governed public schools. The EAA can seize unused school buildings (built and financed by local taxpayers) and force sale or lease to charter, non-public or EAA schools.
- House Bill 5923- Creates several new forms of charter and online schools with no limit on the number. Bundled with HB 6004/SB1358, many of these schools could be created by the EAA. Public schools are not allowed to create these new schools unless they charter them. Selective enrollment/dis-enrollment policies will likely lead to greater segregation in our public schools. This bill creates new schools without changing the overall funding available, further diluting resources for community-governed public schools.
- Senate Bill 620- Known as the ‘Parent Trigger’ bill, this would allow the lowest achieving 5% of schools to be converted to a charter school while allowing parents or teachers to petition for the desired reform model. This bill will not directly affect our district, but disenfranchises voters, ends their local control, and unconstitutionally hands taxpayer-owned property over to for-profit companies. Characterized as parent-empowerment, this bill does little to develop deep, community-wide parent engagement and organization.
I’ve never considered myself a conspiracy theorist—until now. This package of bills is the latest in a yearlong barrage of ideologically-driven bills designed to weaken and defund locally-controlled public education, handing scarce taxpayer dollars over to for-profit entities operating under a different set of rules. I believe this is fundamentally wrong. State School Superintendent Mike Flanagan and State Board of Education President John Austin and others have also expressed various concerns, as has the Detroit Free Press. http://www.mlive.com/opinion/grand-rapids/index.ssf/2012/11/john_austin_new_school_choice.html http://www.freep.com/article/20121120/OPINION01/121120056
We embrace change, innovation and personalization. We’re passionate about providing choices and options for students. We compete strongly in the educational marketplace. We must never stop improving. This is not a laissez faire plea to defend the status quo. This is about making sure this tidal wave of untested legislation does not sweep away the valued programs our local community has proudly built into its cherished school system. If you are concerned about these bills, please do the following:
- Attend one of the following grassroots legislative meetings. http://www.bloomfield.org/news/item/index.aspx?pageaction=ViewSinglePublic&LinkID=201&ModuleID=113&NEWSPID=1
- Stay informed by registering for updates through ‘Capwiz.’ http://www.tricountyalliance.org/
- Call and e-mail your legislator and respectfully ask them to OPPOSE these bills (see contact information below).
- Enlist ten others to do the same, and please remain active.
Public education in Michigan can and must remain strong, but it will only happen if we act NOW.
Sincerely, Rob Glass Superintendent