Sunday, April 28, 2013

Bus Driver Rally - May 2nd!


May 2nd, 2013
Beginning at 5:30 PM until the Board Meeting starts at 7:30 PM
This is the LAST CHANCE for the bus drivers to prevent privatization!
The approval of the Dean Transportation Contract is on the School Board Agenda! It does say this approval is dependent upon an acceptable settlement with the WLCSD Transportation Group!
The BUS DRIVERS NEED YOUR HELP! Come to the rally AND the board meeting! Or come for whatever you can! But they need everyone to show their support!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

State Legislature Budget Report from Tri-County Alliance

A REPRINT from the Tri-County Alliance for Public Education -

Yesterday afternoon, both the House and Senate passed their versions of the FY 13-14 School Aid budgets. This is meant to give you a brief look at what happened.

What's clear is that our voices helped move the needle in the Senate, although we have a long way to go over the next 5-6 weeks. Stay tuned for more ways to help us achieve a budget that our schools and students deserve.


-Both continue the disinvestment of public education by providing fewer classroom dollars than last year.

-Both divert $400 million dollars to subsidize higher education.

-Both contain gimmicks of the Oxford Foundation, most notably in Sec. 21f which provides "vouchers to vendors" by forcing districts to send taxpayer dollars to, and be academically accountable for, private and for-profit vendors providing online curriculum and instruction.

-Both contain an EAA slush fund ($8M in Senate, $7M in House).


Here are two noteworthy changes the House made on the floor:

-They decreased GSRP by $12M and instead shifted that $12M to the equity categorical. This change will boost the equity payment from $34 per pupil to $50 per pupil, raising the minimum foundation grant to $7,016.

-The House also added – without any debate or recorded vote - a Rep. Tom McMillin (R-Rochester) amendment specifically prohibiting the Department of Education from spending any money on either the Common Core standards or Smarter Balance Assessments.


The Senate made several changes to their budget:

-They adopted the following amendments by Sen. Patrick Colbeck (R-Canton):

-Restoring the $155M MPSERS offset categorical, which was eliminated in subcommittee.

-Eliminated the $22M Education "reserve fund".

-Eliminated the $34 per pupil equity payment to districts receiving the minimum foundation.

-Increased the basic foundation grant up to $8,078 per pupil.

-They adopted an amendment from Senator Hoon-Yung Hopgood (D-Taylor) that stripped language related to the Governor's secret "skunk works" project.

While the Senate made positive progress, there is still a long way to go before we are supportive.


Normally, both chambers will reject the other's budgets, setting up the conference committee process to engage after the May Revenue Estimating Conference, which is scheduled for 9 a.m. on Wednesday, May 15. Here, they will determine whether January estimates were too high, too low or fairly steady. Revised budget targets will be agreed to and the conference committee process will start in earnest. They hope to finalize all budgets around June 1, 2013.


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

We can't let this go!!!!!

Yesterday Governor Snyder spoke at the Educational Summit in East Lansing (I wasn’t invited, were you?) about the “Skunk Works”.  This is a group that was working on a proposal for educational reform in an under-the-radar way……in total secrecy.  They were working on a proposal for a “Value” education that would include $5000 vouchers to parents and lots of private companies offering online classes, among other things.  It was reported last Friday that state workers who were involved in these meetings were told to use their private emails so they were not subject to FOIA requests.   No educators were included in the group.   And guess who was running the group?  Lansing attorney Richard McLellan, organizer of the Oxford proposal that was immensely unpopular with schools, and he was formerly part of the Mackinaw Center.

State Board of Education President John Austin has said that he has a problem with this group.  He feels it is the wrong way to talk about change and how education is funded.  He is troubled by the secretive nature of the group, as all of us should be.

What did Governor Snyder have to say about this group?  He told the news that, “it wasn’t a good choice”, and said his involvement was minimal.   Is this beginning to sound like his comments about Right-to-work legislation?  It is to me.   He denies involvement or interest and then signs the bill into law.   Yesterday he also said that, “Their choice of names wasn’t a good choice.  And I don’t know how often the met or how they handled it, but as a practical matter I don’t want to be in the business of saying people shouldn’t bring me ideas.”

We should all be alarmed!  Walled Lake currently receives $8600 per student….if the state doesn’t cut their allocation to schools as it has in the past.   Imagine parents getting a voucher for $5000.  Even if they decided to send their children to the public school, the loss of revenue would be tremendous……$3600 per student.  Remember what $470 per student loss of revenue meant to our schools?  This kind of loss is not sustainable.   If you have not already read my re-print of an article yesterday about the Traverse City schools, please READ IT.  (It is in the blog post below this one!)

This is all a total effort on the part of private companies and their legislative cronies to put public schools out of business and give for-profit companies the state monies formally used for public schools.   PUBLIC TAX dollars will go to PRIVATE CORPORATIONS to run schools.  I don’t know about others, but I personally do not pay my taxes to enrich the Koch brothers or Bill Gates, do you?

We can not stay silent.  WRITE THE GOVERNOR NOW!  Tell him you do not want YOUR HARD EARNED MONEY that you pay for TAXES to go to private companies.   My salary paid in taxes should not be used to make the CEO’s richer.

Most importantly, if this plan goes forward, I may not have a salary to pay for taxes…….

To contact the governor, click on this link: 

And then click on: “Share Your Opinion”

I wrote Governor Snyder and heard back within 2 hours!!!!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Is an Emergency Manager Coming to Your School? Maybe…(Re Traverse City Schools)

From:  “Democracy Tree – Watchdog Commentary on all Three Branches of Government
– a blog written by Amy Kerr Hardin dedicated to saving democracy.

**Abbreviated from original article posted April 12, 2013
From Terese:  This is about the Traverse City Schools, but could well be about ANY PUBLIC SCHOOL in Michigan, including Walled Lake!

Today’s morning paper brought bad news to my community — the Traverse City Record-Eagle reported a pending fiscal crisis for Traverse City Area Public Schools. The Senate’s proposed budget for the 2014 school year cuts per pupil funding by $41 — that’s $410,000 district wide. This figure will have to be reconciled with Gov. Snyder’s proposed $300,000 trim, and the House’s $510,000 cut. Either way, it will be around $400,000 lost. Since 2008, TCAPS has already cut $11.4 million from an increasingly impossible budget situation.  There’s simply no more room to give.

While stories just like this are being repeated in other local papers around the state about their school district’s deficit plights, what makes the TCAPS story all the more shocking is that the chair of the Senate School Aid Subcommittee, who authored this budget, is Sen. Howard Walker (R) — elected by the good folks of Traverse City.

Naturally, the TCAPS Superintendent, Steve Cousins was outraged, as were other school officials, yet they certainly saw this coming for quite some time. Kelly Hall, the President of the Board of Education called it “unconscionable”, and the Chief Financial Officer, Paul Soma, predicted that under these conditions, by 2016, the growing deficit will trigger a state required deficit elimination plan — the first step on the road to emergency management.

Two years ago, at a press conference to launch the statewide petition drive to repeal the Emergency Manager law, Superintendent Cousins called the school funding problem a “manufactured crisis“, he said the state plan is to “create a scenario that bankrupts government, and then bring in people who are just gonna slash and burn”.

Activist Betsy Coffia …… was fired-up, and more than a little pissed-off at our leaders in Lansing. She wondered: what can we do now to stop the wholesale destruction of public education in Michigan — before it’s too late?

Certainly, enough angry and determined voters in 2014 is crucial, but it is clear that in the mean time, these Republicans are bent on destroying public education (among other things) in the state. A couple of days ago, some Democrats introduced Senate Joint Resolution R to amend the Michigan Constitution by making it illegal to insert for-profit motives in public education. A measure doomed to fail. Gov. Snyder’s “best practices” holds hostage school funding where privatization is not implemented. Democracy Tree has written extensively about the dangers of privatization in public schools, including cyber schools and charters run entirely, or in part, on a for-profit basis.

Superintendent Cousins said,   “I think a better solution to the problem is to allow our representative government to work. If people don’t like the decisions that their local elected officials are making, we have a method for changing that — it’s called the ballot box.”

From Terese:  Thinking ahead....we need to become focused on the 2014 election now.   We can not wait until the day is here.   The forces that would like to defund public education have taken years to propoganditize, and they have been effective in turning the sentiment against public education and educators.   We all have to be vocal and re-educate those who have been mislead by the information broadcast by these groups.  

We can not bury our heads.  We can not wait.  We need to start speaking up to our neighbors, family, and friends.  Do not hesitate.  




Friday, April 12, 2013

Forward from - "Michigan Parents for Schools" - TAKE ACTION

WLEA MEMBERS - Please read through this information and TAKE ACTION by clicking the links at the end of the posting!!!

Time to stop playing games with school funding - budget options range from bad to worse

Let's play
Fibbing or Funding
The only game show where your school always gets less than your children deserve!
Pick a door to reveal your "prize"!
Door #1 - Snyder Plan Door #2 - House plan Door #3 - Senate plan
Districts LOSE between $2 and $32 per pupil
Claimed 2% increase is mostly money taken from a "cookie jar" which had been diverted earlier when cuts were even bigger
Sneaks in parts of the "Oxford report" by forcing districts to pay for up to two online courses per semester with no say over the provider, what "successful completion" means, or what kind of credit to award.
Commits an extra $10 million to Michigan Virtual University, and basically makes an $8 million "gift" to the EAA to support "student centered learning"
Districts LOSE between $18 and $52 per pupil
Eliminates best practices grants, which went to most districts
Gives more money for performance and tech grants, which serve many fewer districts
Penalizes districts which recently opened their contracts
Cuts the increase to Great Start, making 4,200 fewer openings
Also sneaks in the "Oxford report" provisions
Districts LOSE between $18 and $102 per pupil, on average
Eliminates help to local districts with their pension system costs, and uses a smaller amount to give a foundation increase to all districts - which is a windfall for charter schools, which mostly are not in the pension system (they'll get an increase)
Puts $22 million in an "education reserve fund" instead of giving it to our students
Eliminates both best practices and technology grants
Also sneaks in the "Oxford report" provisions
Total spending even less than the Governor!
We need to stop playing games with the
schools that serve our children and our
communities. Shifting money around to
make cuts look like tiny increases is simply
disrespectful to the people of Michigan.

Here are some facts they want us to forget:

---Spending on K-12 education has fallen 18%
over the last twelve years, once you factor in inflation.
---Even after taking a smaller number of students 
into account, it has fallen 9% over twelve years
---It's not all the recession - we're spending a
shrinking share of our state's economy on
education, in good
times or bad.
Tell your legislators and the Governor that we
need to stop playing games and do right by our
children and our state! We need to give school the
resources they need to do what we ask them to do.

Speak out today!

Steven Norton
Executive Director
Michigan Parents for Schools