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.