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Monday, May 6, 2013

Open Letter to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Governor Rick Snyder on visit Ypsilanti Public Schools Perry Child Development Center

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IU News & Talk - Open Letter Op/Ed

Open letters have became popular of late so today Independent Underground News & Talk will pen the below open letter to U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan under President Barack Obama's (D) administration and Michigan Governor Rick Snyder (R), before their official governmental visit to Perry Child Development Center in Ypsilanti, Michigan at 3:30 PM ET, May 6th.

Dear Secretary Duncan and Governor Snyder,

It's us, Independent Underground News & Talk. The purpose of this letter today is to briefly discuss your joint visit to the Perry Child Development Center (PCDC). Now, don't take our words negatively, as we just wonder where is your concern about the overall state of education in Michigan in general.

As you, Secretary Duncan and Governor Snyder drop in for a photo opportunity at PCDC, the school district this early childhood schools surrounds, will no longer exist after June 1st. We are referencing to Ypsilanti Public School District some of the teachers received permanent "pink slips" on Friday, May 3rd. A similar action took place at nearby Willow Run Community Schools District last week on the same day.

Will you Secretary Duncan and Governor Snyder take five minutes out of your photo opportunity to express good wishes and support with future employment to the "soon-be-be-former" educators? Probably not.

Ypsilanti and Willow Run Public Schools will consolidate into Ypsilanti Community Schools, after years of unmanageable debt. Secretary Duncan and Governor Snyder by promoting For-Profit Charter Schools in your policy stances, these public school districts are probably victims of the consumer marketplace. Where years of tradition and community was destroyed by free market competition, correct?

Or would the truth be really on the lines of a lack of governmental support for the free public education model for all?

Let's be honest here shall we. Proliferation of the Charter School model destroyed these once model suburban school districts. Secretary Duncan, you said the following about charter school expansion across America during a 2009 interview on Democracy Now.

From Democracy Now - 'Education Secretary Arne Duncan Pushes to Aggressively Expand Charter Schools While Admitting Problems' - June 23, 2009:

"So I’m a big, big supporter of these successful charter schools, and so is the President. And that’s why one of our top priorities is a $52 million increase in charter school funding for our FY 2010 budget," said Duncan and, "We also need to work together to help people better understand charters. Many people equate charters with privatization, and part of the problem is that some charters overtly separate themselves from the surrounding district. This is why opponents often say that charters take money away from public schools. And we all know that’s absolutely misleading".
Really? Secretary Duncan, policy stances, similar to what you expressed above worked to destroy Ypsilanti and Willow Run Public Schools. 

Ypsilanti Public Schools was estimated to be $10 Million dollars in debt. The adjoining school district of Willow Run was $4 Million dollars in the red, prior to the consolidation vote. Both districts faced an Emergency Financial Manager appointed by Governor Snyder, his Education Superintendent Michael Flanagan (see attachment "B") and WISD Superintendent Scott Menzel if they did not consolidate right away.

Menzel along with the two soon-to-be former Superintendents of Willow Run and Ypsilanti Public Schools Laura Lisiscki and Dedrick Martin  starting June - 2013, will now ALL lead the consolidated "Ypsilanti Community Schools" District. No wonder WISD Superintendent Menzel told Ypsilanti and Willow Run taxpayers to local blogger Mark Mayard in July 2012, vote for the consolidation, or ELSE.

From Mark - "WISD Superintendent Scott Menzel on the proposed merger of the Ypsilanti and Willow Run school districts"- July 15, 2012
"What happens if the merger isn’t approved? The financial crisis is significant. In fact, each district is currently facing the very real prospect of having insufficient funds to meet payroll obligations at some point during the upcoming school year. Because of their financial condition, they are unlikely to be able to borrow funds in order to cover the shortfall. If that were to happen, it would automatically trigger a financial review, which is the first step in the process of appointing an emergency manager (EM) to assume control of the finances of the district," Menzel said to 
"An EM is granted significant authority (including the ability to abrogate collective bargaining agreements, close and sell buildings, layoff or terminate staff, etc.) with the singular objective of returning the district to a structural balance financially. The type of cuts that would be implemented by the EM would most certainly result in the loss of quality instructional staff and continued departure of students from the district, further exacerbating the financial crisis. Local control would be lost," said Menzel.
Local control is already lost as a majority of the community did not support the "three Superintendent model" that was approved or "rubber stamped" by the appointed (not-elected) school board. The taxpayers of Ypsilanti & Willow Run School Districts are to assume a school district with a total estimated student count population combined of 3500-3700 students need THREE Superintendents to lead it, while classroom instructors who teach the children lost their jobs last Friday. Okay, Secretary Duncan, we guess.

Next as for you Governor Snyder, the fact you would step into a public school anywhere across Michigan for a photo-op is frankly an insult. Remember Governor by the stoke of your executive pen, you signed the removal of $900 million dollars from the Michigan School Aid "Rainy-Day" fund granting a "corporate welfare" tax break of $1.8 million dollars to C & S Corporations, instead.

The Educational Achievement Authority (EAA) sole purpose is to expand for profit charter schools across our State -which you dear Governor signed into law. The EAA required least two "loans" of late in Detroit and Muskegon Heights Public Schools to "for-profitably" operate themselves. Let's not forget your comments about our "failing education" system in general a couple of weeks ago at the "Education Summit".

From The Detroit Free Press - "Snyder: Education system in Michigan, U.S. is broken" - April 22, 2013:

"The system for preparing students for the workplace — at both the state and national levels — is broken, Gov. Rick Snyder said in kicking off an education summit Monday", reporter Paul Egan piece in the Detroit Free Press started.

Then, of course what about "project skunk works" Mr. Governor.

Governor Snyder, the very school district -Ann Arbor Public Schools-- your gated property is located within, has engaged a yearly debate since you sworn in as Michigan's Chief Executive, about if busing services will continue for its' high-school aged population, increasing class sizes and decreasing programmed services to avoid deficits.

Despite all of this you stand today for a photo-op in PCDC, a free public institution for early childhood education. Somewhat similar to talking out of both ends a bit, right Governor?

We don't know what will be the end result of your visit to PCDC today Governor Snyder and Secretary Duncan. The fact in your perspective leadership roles, an historical concept of a free public education for all --minus Charter Schools or Emergency Managers Threats--  continues to fall apart in Michigan, the timing on this trip is a bit ironic in nature.


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