Another end-run around the will of the people seems to be shaping up in Lansing. Michigan voters spoke resoundingly in 2000, defeating a school voucher proposal 69 to 31 percent for numerous good reasons. Now Gov. Snyder is pushing for a revamping of the 1979 school finance law which would trounce Michigan residents' repeated rejection of voucher scams.
Initial criticism of the plan has been immediate, however. John Austin, the president of the state board of education, for instance, called it —¦absolutely destructive. It has nothing to do with improving quality. It's loaded with the ideology of creating a new for-profit system for learning that will dismantle the schools we have" ("Bill would revamp system," Traverse City Record-Eagle, Nov. 19, 2012).
Once again we have an onslaught against local control with lip service to the contrary. My fear and the fear of others, I suspect, is that even with a resounding defeat of the overreaching emergency manager law and even with a loss of five seats in the state House, Republicans may not have gotten the message yet. Here it is: Local citizens simply do not want their local control stolen from them over and over again. We would like very much to be represented by our state government.
My distrust is fueled by recent history which tells me that we need to be ever more vigilant and aggressively communicative with those elected to serve us. Like many retirees, my wife and I will be paying taxes on our pensions for the first time ever. Why? Those in control of state government wanted to give a massive tax break to businesses, the so-called "job-creators" who have not created jobs but who are sitting on massive cash reserves.
And, of course, public schools took a corresponding cut of $1.8 billion to make up for the loss of state revenue. Is this revamping of the state finance law just another sell-off of schools to the for-profit purveyors of charter schools and distance learning schools, now unlimited and fairly unregulated? I fear it is.
About the author: Tom Bousamra is a retired Traverse City Area Public Schools teacher and a former president of the Traverse City Education Association
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