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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Breaking: Public Education is under attack, in proposed Michigan School Finance Act of 2013

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Independent Underground Op/Ed - Breaking News Story

Really, we hate writing "teaser article titles" but in this case its' more than warranted. Sunday, November 18th during guest appearance on Detroit TV 33's/Comcast Channel 20 - Hodo Show -Other View Point, Host Hodo Gerald along with 
Owner of Independent Underground and Political Consultant Monica RW shared a "white paper" document that should sent shivers down the spine of any parent who supports free public education in Michigan.

The document was originally published by a link to another resource on Dr. Diane Ravitch blog. So who is Dr. Ravitch and why is her writings, important? According to Wikipedia:
"Diane Ravitch is a historian of education, an educational policy analyst, and a research professor at New York University's Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development. Previously, she was a U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education. 
Ravitch critiqued the punitive uses of accountability to fire teachers and close schools, as well as replacing public schools with charter schools and relying on superstar teachers, in The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Undermine Education (2010)."
Ms. Ravitch was the U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education under the leadership of former Republican President George W. Bush and a former supporter of the "No Child Left Behind" policy of his administration. A March 5, 2010 interview on Democracy Now verifies Ms. Ravitch's vast knowledge base about how "charter schools" fail to fix inherent issues with America's public education system.

On November 18, 2012, Dr. Ravitch wrote this warning to Michigan parents, educators and supporters of public education in our state, on her blog. The statement "heed the messenger" should take forethought in the minds of residents who care how Michigan's next generation of children will be educated.

From Diane Ravitch Blog - November 18, 2012:
"Governor Rick Snyder must hate public education. Certainly his advisers do. 
He has some group of rightwing operatives who have pretentiously named themselves the “Oxford Foundation,” although they are not a foundation and they have nothing to do with Oxford University or Oxford Healthcare or Oxford anything. This GOP group issues reports on how to disestablish any public responsibility for public education. 
The only thing public will be the money. The providers will not be. Here is the latest scheme from these advocates of privatization. It is a voucher plan that allows students to take their public money to any private vendor. 
It also allows charter schools to have selective enrollment–only those with high test scores, or only those who meet whatever criterion the school chooses–and to charge tuition."
And it appears Dr. Ravitch's musings about the Oxford Foundation is right on point. Time for double entendre moment here. Oxford besides having notary reference to an institution of higher learning in England, also has this definition according to
"Also called oxford cloth - a cotton or synthetic fabric, in plain, twill, or basket weave, constructed on a pattern of two fine yarns woven as one warp wise and one loosely twisted yarn weft wise, for shirts, skirts, and summer sportswear."
 Tails that we weave can easily deceive....

Just who is the "Oxford Foundation" of Michigan. The organization's website states the four individuals who make up Oxford in Michigan are comprised of a 501.c.3, non-profit organization seeking to assist with writing Michigan public school policies, legislation and procedures. Interestingly enough normally organizations who receive a 501.c.3's tax-free status from the Federal Internal Revenue Service stay out of policies where members of the non-profit would "lobby" government officials.

Either way, the opposite of "non-governmental lobbying types of actions" seems what "Oxford Foundation-Michigan" seeks to do according to the website.

The Oxford Foundation is a Michigan Nonprofit Corporation established in 1991. The Foundation is organized exclusively for charitable and educational purposes, including carrying out any lawful purpose permitted under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.  

The Corporation is restricted by its organizational documents from participating or intervening in any political campaign on behalf of any candidate for public office. The Foundation has an exemption letter from the Internal Revenue Service and is licensed to solicit charitable donations by the Michigan Attorney General.  

The Corporation focuses on projects that “lessen the burdens of government,” an IRS-approved charitable purpose. In addition, the Foundation has received an order from the Ingham County Circuit Court authorizing the Foundation to practice law as a public interest law firm.
Heads up to any 501.c.3's who desire to influence or write public policy. If you have a State Circuit Court ruling citing your organization can "practice law" as a "public interest" firm, your non-profit will not have to worry about the little things like accepting charitable donations to destroy public education in Michigan. Well, back to this story....

The policy "Oxford Foundation - Michigan" have been working on is called Michigan Public School Finance Act of 2013. Our readers at this moment are rightfully thinking, "Hey Independent Underground, its' not 2013 yet!" That's correct and frankly makes this white paper document on how Michigan should educate its' youth in the immediate future more frighting.

The document -here for viewing- was written by Richard D. McLeallan - Secretary at the Mackinaw Center of Public Policy. If this all is beginning to sound like a backdoor way to keep a "newly written" version of repealed statue "Public Act #4" on the books, we would say that school of thought is correct.

Ironically, the Mackinaw Center of Public Policy previously employed appointed P.A. #4 Pontiac Emergency Manager Louis Schimmel, who along with Michael D. LaFaive the article linked below on January 10, 2011. Former legislation that proceeded Public Act #4 was named P.A. 72 of 1990 signed into law by Governor James Blanchard (D).

State Should Reform Public Act 72 of 1990

By Michael D. LaFaive and Louis H. Schimmel, Jr., published on Jan. 10, 2011 

In 2005 municipal finance expert Lou Schimmel weighed in on a topic for the Mackinac Center that needs to be of interest to Gov. Rick Snyder and Michigan legislators. The topic involves making necessary changes to Michigan Public Act 72 of 1990. This act provides for emergency financial oversight for struggling local units of government. 

These changes and others are all the more important today as the financial positions of many municipalities have only gotten worse since 2005 thanks to declines in tax revenue due to the last and very painful recession among other reasons. Public Act 312 mandates arbitration in labor disputes with police and fire units and has made financial reform of these units exceedingly difficult.
The Emergency Manager Law - Public Act #4-  was enacted March 16, 2011. This former legislation was repealed by Michigan voters during November 6th General Election. Connecting dots leads to an easy conclusion of the Mackinaw Center of Public Policy leaders write many pieces of legislation via its' organization and associated "think tanks" for Republican elected state leaders in Michigan.

What does Attorney and Oxford Foundation - Michigan Associate McLellan recommends for Public Education in Michigan?

Derisively Atty. McLellan pins in the memorandum, Oxford Foundation - Michigan has received discussion support with writing the Public Schools Finance Act of 2013 by no other than the office of Michigan Department of Education office, Superintendent of Education Michael Flanagan. Mr. Flanagan was appointed by the State Board of Education under the administration of former Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D) May 18, 2005.

From the Oxford Foundation - Michigan, November 5, 2012 Memorandum:

"Mike Flanagan has been generous is making his staff available to discuss the concepts we are considering. Their technical knowledge is vital to assuring that what we propose is consistent with federal law and regulations. (They, of course, reserve the right to make their own conclusions regarding the wisdom of the proposals.)
What are the plans discussed in this "proposal" of "public policy" with "education" in Michigan? Here's a summary of some of the suggestions on how to destroy rights to a Free Public Educational system in our state.

Cyber High Schools Statewide, a year round school year, voucher system to "assist" parents with paying for "privatized corporate charter based" education, classrooms full of non-certified "No Child Left Behind" instructors teaching Michigan children, lessening of testing "standards" for charter schools and leaving youth with educational learning disabilities out of the mix, to say the very least.

Taking a quote from the document itself should have thousands upon millions of Michigan residents phoning State Senators or Representatives today, demanding these "changes" never take place to Michigan's Educational System.

From the Oxford Foundation-Michigan November 5, 2012 "White-Paper"  Memorandum:
"As we draft the bill, we are trying to create a framework that will allow rapid change and innovation, particularly in the technology area. There is a tendency to be overly prescriptive and mandate the latest flavor of innovation being proposed.
Technology is moving faster than any policy will be able to anticipate or react.

One of the major goals of unbundling education is to create more consumers of education services, where there are not consumers. The largest segments of consumers of online learning are those pupils seeking credit recovery or catching up so as to graduate on time. 

The pupils were “nonconsumers” in the traditional education system. By turning these pupils into full consumers of education services, we will improve our workforce by creating more career and college ready pupils."

Consumers? Students are to be educated, plain and simple. A consumer purchases a product for personal use. 

In turn, students and particularly children who partake in mandatory K-12 educational studies obtain an knowledge basis in math, reading, writing, science, fine arts, English, foreign languages and a host of other subjects meeting the minimal requirements for securing employment as adults, for no cost. The definition of "consumers" doesn't fit into this equation as to be a consumer, one must purchase a product.

Who is a consumer?

"An individual who buys products or services for personal use and not for manufacture or resale. A consumer is someone who can make the decision whether or not to purchase an item at the store, and someone who can be influenced by marketing and advertisements. Any time someone goes to a store and purchases a toy, shirt, beverage, or anything else, they are making that decision as a consumer."
Michigan children have no choice but to obtain K-12 formal education, nor should they. Every child regardless to economic, sex, race, creed or disability status has an inherent right to receive equal an primary education up to the thirteen year of schooling for free. Corporations, the Mackinaw Center for Public Policy, Republican or Democratic Elected Representatives, wealthy attorneys other tight or loosely aligned interest groups have no right to "pick and choose" children who should receive proper education in our state.

Now is the time for stand up and fight against this draft bill, The Michigan Public School Finance Act of 2013, from ever being implemented into state law. Other policies to be aware of that will be used to support the legislation is Michigan House Bill 6004 and along with State Senate Bill 1328.

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