Monday, November 26, 2012

Why do Governor Snyder and certain legislators hate public schools

The legislature, following the lead of Governor Snyder, has introduced two bills - one in the House (HB 6004) and one in the Sentate (SB 1358) - that would codify into state law and expand greatly the powers of the Educational Achievement Authority (EAA).

The original intent of the EAA was to allow the Michigan Department of Education through its State School Reform Officer to take control of schools that had been on the persistently low achieving schools list for three straight years. The persistently low achieving schools are those schools that are ranked in the bottom 5% of all schools in Michigan based on the Top-to-Bottom rankings. These persistently low achieving schools had demonstrated that they needed a change in focus because what they were doing was obviously not working.

While some of us considered this an intrusion into the responsibility of local school districts it was hard not to argue that something new needed to be done. These schools that were designated were failing and had shown no ability to move ahead. 

So although many of us were not sure this was the best remedy we could support it because it was under the control of the State Department of Education. 

But now these new bills expand the EAA to operate "new forms" of schools outside the "persistently low achieving" school category. It would create a de facto state school district controlled by a person appointed by the governor and not by the State Superintendent of Instruction. 

Additionally, this legislation would allow the state to take control of local school buildings that were paid for by local tax dollars. The legislation would require that all school districts notify the Michigan Department of Education if a school building is closed, unused, or unoccupied. The MDE would compile a list of unused school buildings. The local district could not dispose of the building for four years and would have to maintain the building at a "classroom ready" status. 

The EAA would be able to allow an eligible school (EAA or charter) to occupy the unused building and the local school district would be required to sell or lease the school building to the eligible school for fair market value. Who would occupy the building? Probably a for-profit educational company!

Another sticking point is that the EAA would be given additional flexibility by providing an exemption from statewide testing requirements and excused from some certified teacher requirements.

Read the House and the Senate bills. There is much more in them that will make you wonder about the Governor's and certain legislator's commitment to public education.

These bills, which the Governor supports, give me the impression that the Governor is willing to undermine local school districts. The question is why?

The Governor talks about "best practice" but there is nothing in these bills that has been tried at this scale anywhere in the United States. He and the legislators that support these bills cannot point to an example of how this will improve education in Michigan. 

I would agree that in certain schools something new needs to be done. I would even agree that more can be done in every district. But what is proposed in these two bills goes way beyond any rational remedy.

What is proposed in HB 6004 and SB 1358 is outrageous!

Public education in Michigan is successful. Can we do more? Certainly!

But these proposals are not the answer. They point to a different agenda. They point to politicians who want public money to go to private hands and private companies. 

These bills are not the answer and the citizens of Michigan need to let their State Representatives and State Senators know of their opposition to these bills. 


  1. Some of us were trying to show the rest of you, back when the whole EAA / NCLB Scam was being launched, of the peril: that the EAA / NCLB were just STEP ONE in a long-term NeoCon strategy to eviscerate public schools and teacher unions - there has ALWAYS been - dating back to before the creation of the United States - a small-but-powerful group of ultra-conservative public school haters; those who fell for - and keep falling for - their strategy blind themselves to their presence down through time. So now their end game is becoming clearer to the historically-myopic. When you've really grasped what's going on, you'll embrace new, more-wholistic strategies to push back and set things aright. 'Know your enemy'... "enemy", after all the ruin that NeoCons have rained down upon the world over the past 35 years, IS the correct word here.

  2. Make no mistake, these are ALEC ( based initiatives, entirely designed to open up new avenues of profits for companies like K12 ( and Connections Academy ( Both of these companies helped design the legislation through ALEC, which legislators then bring to the states, like they did in MI. The companies then profit through new contracts in every state where the legislation is passed.

  3. Undermining our public schools has been a 20 year campaign by ALEC, the Mackinac Center, and the DeVos's. Publicly funded education is the last untouched source of taxpayer money (besides Social Security, and they're going after that too) that has not been exploited for profit. These vultures will suck dry all the resources and leave us with a shell of a school system -- and they'll succeed because the Republicans have been on a 30 year campaign to convince uninformed taxpayers that the government is their enemy. The "Nerd" was just a vulture in disguise.

  4. Thank you Supt. Matthews for sticking up for your community and your schools. Wish we had a leader in our Superintendent's Chair here in Plymouth-Canton to do so as well.

  5. Thank you for defending our schools. I know many of us choose to live in Novi because of the superior job you, the principals, teachers and administrators all do for the children in our community. I shudder to think that your fine work could all be dismantled by the state of Michigan because the governor has decided to become the Don Quixote of education. I have already contacted my senate and house representatives to voice my opposition to these bills, and encourage everyone else to do the same.

  6. Excellent blog! I am proud of the Novi School District and am so happy my kids went to school there.
    Proud Novi of Novi Public School graduates.

  7. I meant to say proud parent of Novi Public School graduates!

  8. Thanks for this post, Mr. Matthews. As an employee of one of the EAA schools, I can say anonymously that working for this district is both demoralizing and draining. We are micro-managed and overworked. They need to look at how the current EAA schools are doing and listen to the employees before they try to push this program farther. I dearly miss being in a union and having my rights as a worker protected and I greatly miss having supportive administration like yourself.