Friday, March 3, 2017

Only in Betsy DeVos’ Michigan can schools be “reformed” by closing them | Eclectablog

Only in Betsy DeVos’ Michigan can schools be “reformed” by closing them | Eclectablog:

Only in Betsy DeVos’ Michigan can schools be “reformed” by closing them

The news broke on January 20, 2017 that as many as 38 schools could be closed in Michigan, 24 of those in Detroit, due to “poor academic performance.” Parents in the city, and throughout the state, were understandably stunned, as this announcement represented an abrupt change in the state’s previous position on school closings:
Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration has switched its stance on how soon Detroit’s poorest performing schools can be closed. His administration previously said a massive $617 million Detroit Public Schools bailout legislation prevented officials from closing any of the city’s worst schools prior to 2019 because of certain stipulations in the school rescue package.
Those who have paid close attention to Michigan politics will be able to trace the line between the mention of the “school rescue package” and the influence of our new Secretary of Education, West Michigan billionaire Betsy DeVos. As I’ve written about previously, here, Ms. DeVos’ fingerprints were all over this “rescue package”:
After years of mismanagement by the Snyder administration, the financial crisis in the Detroit Public Schools could no longer be ignored, and state lawmakers decided that drastic measures needed to be taken.
A solution that included a Detroit Education Commission with authority to open and close charters was approved in the state Senate, but was then voted down in the House, due almost entirely to DeVos-applied pressure:
At one point, Rep. Henry Yanez (D-Sterling Heights) posted a picture on Facebook of [GLEP’s Gary) Naeyaert watching the legislative action from the House gallery. Yanez’s post said, “The masters watch their minions from the gallery making sure they follow their orders on #DPS bill$.”
Asked about the post this week, Yanez said, “Maybe I am a conspiracy theorist or maybe I just see what’s placed in front of me.”
“When I step out in the hallway and I see the people from GLEP and the people from the charter schools … I know why they’re there,” he added. “I think it’s pretty clear.”
It became clear that Betsy and Dick DeVos were the major players in the negotiations to replace the Senate plan with a House version that carved out special protections for school choice and charter schools, even going so far as to “freeze out” a leading Republican senator and Detroit’s mayor from the deliberations:
The role of donors and groups they fund has been so impactful in the ongoing Detroit Public Schools (DPS) debate that one lawmaker involved in the negotiations alleged this week that it was “the only factor” in a recent House vote. And some are even raising concerns about who’s being given the chance to sway lawmakers on the matter. They note that the lead GOP senator on DPS and the mayor of Detroit requested but weren’t granted the opportunity to present to House Republicans in a closed-door caucus meeting. But the House GOP says that had to do with timing.
According to campaign finance disclosures, six of the stakeholders trying to sway the 
Only in Betsy DeVos’ Michigan can schools be “reformed” by closing them | Eclectablog:

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