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In our last chapter of the Destruction of Public Education in Michigan saga, we saw Bloomfield Hills School District Superintendent Rob Glass turn into a mini Internet Star of sorts, as his bold letter strongly opposing Gov. Snyder and the state GOP's attempts to ram through draconian education bills went viral.

In addition, similar letters from the Superintendents of Birmingham, Flushing, Grosse Pointe and Chelsea have been issued.

We also learned of a press conference to be held today at 1pm in the State Capital in Lansing by a consortium of concerned Michigan residents, including Steve Norton of Michigan Parents for Schools, Michigan Association of School Boards Executive Director Kathy Hayes, State Board of Education President John Austin, Michigan Association of School Administrators Executive Director William Mayes and others to combat the bills.

TODAY, you can add 71 MORE SUPERINTENDENTS to the list of those formally protesting these bills:

A coalition of West Michigan superintendents is voicing concern over a series of reforms under consideration from the Legislature as well as a finance reboot recommendation created by a group working at the request of Gov. Rick Snyder.

The 71 superintendents are members of the Michigan Association of School Administrators Region 3 represent most of the districts from Big Rapids to Fennville, and from the Lakeshore to the Ionia Intermediate School District.

Oh, you can also add this rather bluntly-worded missive from the Novi Public Schools superintendent as well: Why do Governor Snyder and certain legislators hate public schools?

This newly-created FB page is quickly becoming the main repository of the various developments: Save Michigan Public Schools

Here's a video overview of the Oxford Foundation study itself (which spearheaded the bills being pushed through); I haven't watched the whole thing so I can't vouch for how accurate it is, but take a look.

And finally, in case you had ANY lingering doubt that this whole thing is just a huge money grab for private corporations, check out this link, provided by surelyujest, to a promotion for a conference on "private equity investing in for-profit education":

FULL-DAY CONFERENCE
Tuesday, January 15, 2013 | 8:00 am – 5:00 pm | New York City

Private equity investing in for-profit education is soaring, and for good reason -- the public and non-profit models are profoundly broken.  

This is why for-profit education is one of the largest U.S. investment markets, currently topping $1.3 trillion in value.

Look at the current state of K-12 public education.  School districts across the U.S. are underfunded, underperforming, and well behind the curve when it comes to adopting quality technologies.  

Many simply lack the expertise to treat today’s applied technologies as not just gadgets or strategic opportunities, but as real solutions for expanding their capacity to teach students.

And in the post-secondary world, non-profit institutions are finding that very few enticements are bringing in money.  Not sports.  Not research.  Not classrooms.  

Public funding and private endowments are both down, and neither will be particularly reliable in the future.

So 2013, and beyond, will see numerous for-profit companies making inroads into public and non-profit education by taking over large swaths of the market.  What’s more, they’ll prosper in the corporate training and continuing education marketplace as well.

I think this speaks for itself.

Oh, and make sure to read/rec ShoshannaD's Diary, "Save Michigan Public Schools: Help Deliver Petitions Tomorrow!"

MAJOR UPDATE: Special thanks (again) to surelyujest for forwarding me the following link, which goes to the House Fiscal Agency's analysis of HB 6004 (PDF). LOTS of disturbing stuff included in it; surelyujest brought my attention to the following key sections:

1)  Immunity

Release of Data; Immunity
Under the bill, the Achievement Authority may issue or release an opinion, report, data, or research materials regarding the academic, financial, and compliance performance of a vendor, contractor, or educational service provider within the education achievement system. In taking these actions, the authority would have governmental immunity, as provided in Section 7 of Public Act 170 of 1964 (MCL 691.1407).
Governmental Immunity
The bill specifies that the Achievement Authority, an achievement school, the chancellor, a member of the authority board, a member of the executive committee, and employees, officers, and volunteers would have governmental immunity. They would be immune from civil liability, both personally and professional, for an act or omission, if the person or entity acted or had a reasonable belief to be acting within the person's or entity's scope of authority. The same would be true of the parties entering into the interlocal agreement.
  
2)  Collective Bargaining
 
Contract Termination
Now under the law, the redesign officer has the power to terminate any contract or portion of a contract entered into by a school board, except those concerning debt service on legally authorized bonds and collective bargaining agreements. House Bill 6004 specifies that the chancellor can "terminate or modify" existing contracts except those concerning debt service, and it eliminates the prohibition against termination or modification of collectively bargained agreements. Further, the bill specifies that a contract terminated by the chancellor is void.
Collective Bargaining Agreements
Now under the law, the addendum to a collective bargaining agreement must allow for certain changes that are necessary to implement particular school intervention models. Specifically, any contractual or other seniority system does not apply, although unilateral changes in pay scales or benefits cannot be made. Further, any contractual or other work rules that are impediments to implementing the redesign plan do not apply; however, again, unilateral changes in pay scales or benefits cannot be made. House Bill 6004 would eliminate both of these provisions
Collective Bargaining; Seniority; Retirement
House Bill 6004 specifies that if a chancellor or chief executive officer imposes an alternative school intervention model having a greater likelihood of improving educational outcomes, then he or she must determine the most effective mechanism for the management and operation of the schools, and the provision of education services. To that end, any collectively bargained agreement applicable to employees working at the school before the imposition of the alternative school intervention model would not apply to school personnel after the imposition of the alternative model. In addition, following the imposition of an alternative intervention model, the employees would not accrue seniority rights in the schools district, nor would they accrue creditable service under the Public School Employees Retirement Act, and any compensation or remuneration paid for work at the public school would not constitute compensation or remuneration as a public school employee under the Public School Employees Retirement Act.
 
3) Local Impact
 
Local Impact:
The bill would have varying impacts on local school districts. As a traditional school district "loses" a school building to the School Reform District (operated through the EAA), the district would generally see a reduction in revenue from its per-pupil foundation allowance, although the district would also see a reduction in staffing and building costs. The bill explicitly states that the operation of a school within a school district would not affect the district's ability to levy ad valorem property taxes or other taxes.

The bill also contains provisions concerning the maintenance of school buildings that are closed, unused, or unoccupied. Districts would be required to provide a list of closed, unused, or unoccupied schools to the Department of Education. Districts already provide data on school facilities through the Educational Entity Master (EEM) maintained by the Center for Educational Performance and Information (CEPI). Of note, the bill explicitly states that school boards shall maintain closed, unused, or unoccupied school buildings "in a condition that is suitable for use as a school building." This provision could have a substantial cost impact on districts depending on current physical condition of their closed facilities and the potential closure of other buildings in the future. The EEM lists nearly 3,330 closed school facilities currently.  

Lots of exemptions for taxes and fees  
Further, the Achievement Authority may dispose of its property without the approval of a local unit of government where the property is located. The bill specifies that property of the Achievement Authority is public property devoted to an essential public and governmental function, and that property is exempt from all taxation. Property the authority receives could be recorded with the register of deeds without paying a fee.
 
From surelyujest: "Throughout this analysis there is reference to permissions for sales and usage of public school properties to NON-public schools.  How is this in keeping with all the hot air about this not making public school funding into a voucher type system?  I understand that it doesn't mean students can take their foundation allowance to a private school, but if the EAA can sell or lease a public school property to a non-public school isn't that kind of the same?  It is still OUR money and our assets and our share of revenues being diverted to non-public education, isn't it?"
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