Traverse City Record-Eagle

December 13, 2012

Editorial: Bills get fast-track treatment


---- — If there are any Republican members of the Michigan Legislature who still believe in the right of citizens to give input on pending legislation and have their voices heard, now is a good time for them to speak up — or better yet, act.

The Legislature is considering — and after their shameful actions surrounding so-called right-to-work legislation over the past two weeks, that means a vote could come at any time with no public hearings and no input — draft legislation titled the Michigan Public Education Finance Project. The proposed law would allow students to take courses from any public institution in the state through online courses or by traveling between different schools.

Seven local school officials criticized Michigan lawmakers for fast-tracking education reform laws, including the Finance Project, without the proper feedback from parents and professionals.

Superintendents from public schools in Traverse City, Kingsley, Frankfort, Buckley, Glen Lake, Kalkaska and the Traverse Bay Area Intermediate School District said lawmakers didn't get input from anyone before pushing the new legislation.

One package of laws would expand and codify the state's authority to take over failing school districts.

But Traverse City Area Public Schools Superintendent Stephen Cousins, referring to the Michigan Public Education Finance Project, said there is " ... (V)ery little evidence all students learning 100 percent online is effective."

"You will see an opportunity for that to expand with very little control" if the law passes, he said.

"How can we fundamentally change a huge law in the state of Michigan without having discourse around it?" Cousins said.

A week ago, that was a good question. Today, not so much. As we now see, all you need are the votes and a total disregard for discourse, dissent and that messy democracy stuff.