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Economists, entrepreneurs and Michigan’s business community agree that we must invest in education in order to develop our economy.   My colleagues and I introduced the Michigan 2020 Plan to do just that.  It’s a plan that would provide every high school graduate in our state with the opportunity to have their college tuition paid for in its entirety and could be implemented without raising taxes one cent.  It’s a program that was modeled after the success of the Kalamazoo Promise which has brought unequalled success to the city, its schools and its students.

Yet, while so many of us advocate for the need to reinvest in our schools throughout the state and provide each and every student with a world class education, Governor Snyder, the so-called tough “nerd”, has taken the opposite approach.  He has pushed through budgets over the past two years that have raided nearly $2 billion from our schools and used it instead to provide tax handouts to big corporations without the promise of a single job being created.  He has blamed teachers for poor performing schools while gutting the funding needed to keep our schools competitive and made it more and more difficult for students to achieve the success necessary to compete in a rapidly changing global job market.

Yesterday, Governor Snyder released the latest and most offensive step in his anti-education agenda in the form of a proposed overhaul of Michigan’s school aid funding.  The deeply flawed plan would end public education as we know it in Michigan by enacting nearly the same voucher system that Michigan voters overwhelmingly rejected in 2000. It would create fiscal uncertainty for every single school in the state and only succeed in lining the pockets of the CEOs running for-profit corporate schools.

It isn’t a plan that looks forward, it’s one that only looks back on previous attempts by out-of-state interests to profit off of Michigan’s students.  It’s a plan that says the education of our children is better left to the corporate accountants at "Schools, Inc." than it is with the teachers in our classrooms.  It’s nothing short of a disaster waiting to happen and one that I find simply offensive as both a legislator and as a mother of two young girls.

We can stop this plan, but only if we speak out together.  The Governor’s proposal is already receiving a tremendous amount of criticism from educators, parents and students from across the state and we need to ensure that message continues to be heard loud and clear.

Please take a few moments to contact Governor Snyder’s office to tell him you oppose this proposal and want him to support our local schools instead.  His office can be reached at the following:

Governor Rick Snyder
P.O. Box 30013
Lansing, Michigan 48909
Phone: (517) 373-3400
Email: Click Here

Our students deserve far better than this plan from their state's leadership and I hope you'll join me in rejecting it.    

Michigan Senate Democratic
Leader Gretchen Whitmer

Originally posted to GretchenWhitmer on Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 11:42 AM PST.

Also republished by Michigan, My Michigan.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Good lord (10+ / 0-)

    Anyone who has experienced "customer service" from Comcast or Verizon knows how awful corporations will do at providing a "teaching service" to our children.

    What is wrong with Republicans that makes them constantly pursue corporate welfare like this? I want my child taught by a competent public school teacher (which he currently has), not some corporate stooge hired at the lowest price possible and beholden to a profit margin.

    These are our children and their future! If anything, we should spend more to ensure they all have the very best of everything, to give them all a chance at success.

    •  Because they want the money! (4+ / 0-)

      There is never enough for them.
      Remember, Snyder sends his children to private schools in Ann Arbor where the per-pupil tuition is (at least) $26,000/year. Think he wants that for all MI students?

      I'm seeking to organize DKos members in SE Michigan--roughly, from the Ohio line at Lake Erie NE to Port Huron, W to Flint and back S from there. If you'd like to join our new group, Motor City Kossacks (working title), please Kosmail me.

      by peregrine kate on Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 05:16:28 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Technically... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        ... the Green Hills tuition is only $18,000 and they have fund raisers for another $2,000 each year for "tuition" per student. However they do use general funds, endowments and other fund raising for common services and facilities, etc - so the $26,000 is right in the ball park, and probably a bit low still even for the total per student funding at the elite school.

        Just imagine if ALL Michigan schools were funded at $20k+ per student?

        Green Hills is the model of the 1% "I got mine" and "mine got theirs" greed and selfishness that is core to destroying public education (a historical tradition in Michigan since the mid-1800's) and the abandonment of the vast majority of our fellow citizens. Why? Profits for a vast array of "Education Management Organizations" or EMO outfits like Betsy DeVos' (K-12 Inc) and the ironic transfer of wealth out of Michigan to foreign controlled corporations (like Mosaics Education Inc).

        Thanks for tracking this Oxford project (Richard McLellan and Mackinac Center), this is one of the biggest scams to "profitize" Michigan public taxpayer money in Michigan history - the MI Public Education Pearl harbor. Way bigger than the infamous privatization of the "Michigan Accident Fund" and formation of the Blue Cross Blue Shield (which is now going "for-profit: now too).

        Wisconsin of the birthplace of unions, vacation pay, paid holidays, collective bargaining => Point of Attack for ALEC/Koch right-wing.

        Michigan, which has one of the longest history in Public Education, with the formation of the "Normal School" going back to 1849 formed by legislation to train public school teachers, is according to some historians the birthplace of universal Public Education.

        The Michigan Constitution is one of the 'toughest' on protecting Public Funding of Public Schools, therefore if they can break us here, they can break Public Education anywhere (more MI / WI background).

        McLellan and the Mackinac Center have a long history as well in this "disaggregation" (Dick McLellan's verbiage) of Public Education, and the transfer of Public assets to private corporations bent on making "transactional wealth" (can anyone believe they have the slightest interest in long-term management of schools?) on privatizing (transferring) public education assets.

        Thanks for forming the Motor City group, will join and hope others will too.

        Thanks also to Ms. Whitmer for posting this as well.

        Suit up, this fight (which has overwhelming force and organization on the Oxford/Mackinac/Heritage/ALEC privatization side) will be one of the biggest in Michigan history, past voucher fights were just a warm-up for McLellan, who has had years to plan out this battle. There will be no mercy, you can count on that.

        For the occasional reluctant tweet

        by Hector Solon on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 08:22:53 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Excellent comment, Hector. Really well done. (0+ / 0-)

          I have info on this draft and the supporting bills that I think will be helpful to folks and you clearly are the resident expert in the ALEC and Macinac background behind it.  Maybe we could collaborate on something?  Drop me a kosmail...

  •  So, apparently, he likes democracy (7+ / 0-)

    but not when the people vote against something he wants. Charming :(

                              Sigh !


    Torture is ALWAYS wrong, no matter who is inflicting it on whom.

    by Chacounne on Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 11:57:21 AM PST

  •  University of Michigan (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    2thanks, peregrine kate, George3, Kidspeak

    A "state" school" gets only about 10% of it's funding from the state.
    For most practical purposes it is private.
    Quality of education has been maintained there - at the cost of sky high tuition and fees.   Undergraduate tuition alone is around $20,000 per SEMESTER for an out of state student.  That's correct - $160,000 for four years.  Then there is room, board, books, fees, medical, a wee bit of fun money and you have $250,000.  

    It is impossible to defeat an ignorant man in argument.

    by GrinningLibber on Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 11:58:54 AM PST

    •  I heard that Michigan is in the top 10... (3+ / 0-)

      ...of universities enrolling Chinese students.

      I have nothing against international students: they enhance the academic environment at any campus where they are present. But Michigan is in the vanguard of schools who are depending on "full tuition" payers like most international students to compensate for the ongoing reduction of public funding to operate that institution.

      It's apparently now at the point where in-state prospective students are seen as a "net expense" from a budget perspective at many flagship public universities, while foreign students are "positive cash flow", and that "tail wagging the dog" is well past the point of "unhelpful."

      When you are right you cannot be too radical; when you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative. --Martin Luther King Jr.

      by Egalitare on Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 01:12:09 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  There's another huge cost to the students (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      surelyujest, Kidspeak

      and workers at U-M: most undergraduates are taught by graduate students or by lecturers, who are paid much less than they would be were they tenure-track faculty.
      I'm not saying this to slam the grad students or lecturers, many (if not most) of whom do a fine job. But it is ultimately a disadvantage to the students to have transient faculty, most of whom are not around long enough to get to know the students well enough to write a decent recommendation, let alone give adequate career advice or mentoring.
      This structural inequity depending on the comparatively cheap labor of contingent faculty is baked into the system at this point, and only because both groups have strong unions is it at all viable to hold these positions.
      (Full disclosure: I was both a GSI and a lecturer at U-M and active in the union locals.)

      I'm seeking to organize DKos members in SE Michigan--roughly, from the Ohio line at Lake Erie NE to Port Huron, W to Flint and back S from there. If you'd like to join our new group, Motor City Kossacks (working title), please Kosmail me.

      by peregrine kate on Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 05:21:48 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thank You, Senator Whitmer. (9+ / 0-)

    I recently moved heaven and earth to help make sure that the PUBLIC high school serving the Bloomfield Hills* School District will be kept up to the high standards that the district is known for.

    After going through all the trouble to move back here, specifically for the great PUBLIC schools, the last thing I want is for the whole system to be converted into a for-profit, no-accountability, privatized, voucherized disaster, which is exactly what Gov. Snyder's plan would mean.

    *(Yes, that's the same Bloomfield Hills that Mitt Romney grew up in...though he went to the private Cranbrook school, where he learned to beat up and forcibly shave gay kids, evidently).

    •  I'm planning on sharing some info on what I've (7+ / 0-)

      learned about these proposals 9see my comment below), but it will take me some time to pull it together.  For now, it is vitally important for every single Michigan taxpayer to read these proposals and to understand that together they literally allow for corporations (large employers) to create schools, allow for public sachool buildings to seized by parent groups with no taxes paid to the municipality it is in or monies to the taxpayers who built it, boarding schools under the public school umbrella, 100% cyber schools, and having a student's state aid funding follow them literally whereever they are accepted--while allowing students to take one class here, one class there and NO way to account for the monies--only saying that the funding would be prorated by a split curriculum.

    •  It even allows for public school funding and (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Brainwrap, ShoshannaD, 2thanks

      buildings to be used for military schools!

  •  I graduated from Okemos High School (4+ / 0-)

    let's say several years ago while Jamie Blanchard was governor.

    I got a fantastic education. A lot of my high school teachers were adjunct profs at MSU. When they told us college was harder than high school, we listened.

    It saddens me to think other kids growing up in Michigan might not have the opportunity to get the same excellent education I did.

    My public education received primarily in Michigan has served me well. It enabled me to excel at Indiana University for undergrad, the University of Tennessee, Knoxville for my Master's, and Florida State University for my Ph.D.

  •  Thank you for sharing this info with us. (7+ / 0-)

    The full draft, commissioned by Governor Rick Snyder and drafted by a 4 person team calling themselves the Oxford Foundation, can be read here:
    Michigan Public Education Finance Project Draft
    This is being called the Michigan Education Finance Act of 2013, but is only a draft.  Snyder will now approve or disapprove the draft and everything therein and he aims to have it passed by October of 2013 and begin enacting the supportive budget in his February 2013 budget plan.
    There are TWO highly toxic bills that go along with this plan of his, which he intends to replace our State Aid Act of 1979 (our current school funding).  These two bills are:
    HB 5923 which is to amend the revised school code to allow corporations to create schools (I swear you can't make this shit up!) and
    House fiscal agency analysis of HB 6004
    which allows for the creation of Snyder's statewide takeover of the lowest performing districts and creates the EAA (Education Achievement Authority) which I wrote about here:
    Governor Rick Snyder announces state run school system

    •  Great links... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      ... here.

      The EAA or EAS is modeled on/closely parallel's the LA (Louisiana/Jindal) ALEC driven model called the "Recovery School District". The EAA is a turbo-charged version in which those "assets" that are targeted for the take over public assets by for-profit companies (not calling them 'schools' they are EMOs) are in a statewide "virtual" school district. Call it a "rummage sale" list of facilities.

      This 302 page draft bill (and the several supporting bills) contain a lot of moving parts. Many are ALEC or Mackinac/Heritage/StudentsFirst/AFC components, but some new twists added, like the ATM card system for making sure the payments for schools go straight to the corporate billing departments. One has to admire the brashness of some of this.

      For the occasional reluctant tweet

      by Hector Solon on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 08:35:21 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  It is breathtaking in scope. (0+ / 0-)

        I hope folks can be bothered to read the draft this time, because most weren't bothered to even read PA4 before they voted on it.  
        Thanks for checking in Hector, good to hear from you.  I will be posting info about the drafted Michigan Education Finance Act of 2013, the bills linked above, and about the people behind it.  You are absolutely correct, it is ALEC related and the lead legal architect of this draft is not only a Macinac Policy board member, but I believe one of its founders...
        more later this weekend.
        This is kind of PA4 on freaking steroids here, it doesn't disincorporate cities or remove elected officials from office but it allows large employers to create schools (think Wal-mart Academy) and lets parent groups seize buildings/assets, and is a voucher system in every way but name.
        Again, more later...I'm cooking up some gluten free nom-noms and even though Snyder wants this done in "dog years" as he says, my screaming upon my soapbox will keep a couple more days :)

  •  When is this man (5+ / 0-)

    up for Re-election and can he actually get re-elected?  I am from Michigan but live in NC now.  My parents worked for Ferris for years. My heart breaks more and more for my home state when I read what this man is doing. I thought ENGLER was bad, but Snyder makes Engler look good in comparison.

    Why do Republicans Hate Americans?

    by Caniac41 on Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 12:16:40 PM PST

  •  Thanks Sen Whitmer (4+ / 0-)

        I've been very happy to have you represent Okemos as a state rep and senator. I'll be watching for your next step. I'll do what I can about the schools but people never pay attention to lame duck sessions. It's a shame we have a CEO governor and the worst legislature in my lifetime.

  •  Thank you for posting this... (7+ / 0-)

    this is a link to a more detailed discussion about voucherizing schools, one of many I'm sure. There are a number of interesting points including the issues of accountability and access to education for low-income families:

    I am wondering if it would be useful for me to comment as I am a former Michigander?


  •  Is Michigan 2020 a reasonable alternative? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Hector Solon

    What are the specific loopholes that will be cut to fund it?

    Does it do anything to contain tuition prices, or will universities justify jacking up in-state tuition prices (like we need more of that!) because the universities know the students are subsidized by state government?

    How does it deal with students who get their education here and move elsewhere?  Florida attracts people with degrees moreso than it develops that inhouse.  Does it make more sense to bribe people from other states to come to Michigan?  

    Don't get me wrong -- I think Snyder's plan here is crap.  But I'd like for Michigan Democrats to lead with solid ideas -- not "just say no to the stupid".  :)

  •  Why oh Why (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    surelyujest, Brainwrap, Kidspeak

    should any taxpayer have to pay taxes to fund a for profit corporation school. Private for profit schools are fine, as long a tax payer money is not being handed out to the private school, directly or indirectly (voucher).
    There are things that a more important than profit, like a child!!

  •  WHOA!!! (0+ / 0-)

    You're actually THE Gretchen Whitmer? I didn't know we had actual elected officials posting here on DailyKos!

    Committed to making sure that Mark Kirk and Ron Johnson are shown the door in 2016!

    by DownstateDemocrat on Sun Nov 25, 2012 at 05:05:24 AM PST

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