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Posted on Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 8 a.m.

Ann Arbor school board: New legislation carves 'superhighway' for for-profit companies to take over education

By Danielle Arndt

Detroit Schools Reform.JPG

Gov. Rick Snyder speaks during a news conference in Detroit on June 20, 2011, announcing the formation of the Education Achievement Authority, the new school system that was initially formed to oversee the Detroit Public Schools' lowest-performing buildings. New legislation would expand the EAA's authority statewide.

AP Photo | Paul Sancya

The Ann Arbor Board of Education took the Republican leadership in Lansing to task Wednesday in a three-page resolution that accuses Gov. Rick Snyder and the Michigan Legislature of padding businesses’ pockets at the expense of K-12 education.

The resolution chastises the state for pushing through a package of bills in lame-duck session that promotes the “annihilation of public schools.”

“Recent and expected fiscal policies continue to underfund and destabilize traditional educational institutions, no matter how excellent or innovative, for the apparent purpose of giving businesses additional monumental tax breaks without replacing revenue for schools,” the resolution says.

The statement pungently expresses the board’s opposition of:

“The Republican legislators continue to carve a superhighway for for-profit companies to take over public education that have no quality standards, accountability or oversight by local elected officials, while simultaneously increasing standards, requirements and unfunded mandates on traditional public schools so as to … ‘break the unions,’” the resolution says.

The school board’s opposition statement calls out EAA Chancellor John Covington and his organization for not being able to demonstrate any measured success. The resolution says Covington spent a year reforming the Kansas City Public Schools and during that year, student achievement declined.

The bills would allow the EAA to assume control of Michigan schools in the bottom 5 percent of schools academically. The EAA is run by an 11-member government-appointed board. Eastern Michigan University and Detroit Public Schools also were permitted to appoint two individuals to the board.

“The degree to which the State Board of Education and the local school boards are being completely marginalized by this legislation and the power that is being placed in a very concentrated area that reports only to the governor, I find that extremely offensive as well,” said Ann Arbor Secretary Andy Thomas at Wednesday’s meeting.

The Ann Arbor school board said there has been a massive amount of educational reforms already implemented in the past two years, and the state has done nothing to properly evaluate or gage the effectiveness of these reforms.

The board argues the current bills being moved through the lame-duck session will result in district's gutting programs in athletics, arts and those focused on social and emotional learning, all which contribute to critical- and creative-thinking, high-performing adults.

Trustee Susan Baskett said she is glad to see the Ann Arbor school board taking this step. Other school board members praised the State Board of Education president, Ann Arbor man John Austin, for his leadership and testimony in Lansing against the bills. But Baskett said it was too little, too late.

“My initial thought is that I would have expected more, sooner,” she said. “…They should have given us a forewarning (these reforms were being discussed). … As a normal ordinary citizen, I’m thinking are you going to give us a head’s up or guide us or anything?”

Download the Ann Arbor school board’s complete resolution regarding the proposed legislation and the adequate support of K-12 education.

Danielle Arndt covers K-12 education for Follow her on Twitter @DanielleArndt or email her at



Mon, Dec 10, 2012 : 4:34 p.m.

Our public school institution has almost a monopoly on our children's education in this country. I'm glad there are going to be other options available to parents. And what is it with democrats, I thought you were all about freedom of choice and tolerance, yet you don't want people to have choice when it comes to primary education and you can't tolerate competition?


Mon, Dec 10, 2012 : 4:07 a.m.

Ever Since Governor Snyder's election win against Virg Bernero, He has done exactly what was expected of him (by anybody with a hint of sense). Those who voted against a kind-hearted family man with strong ties to programs that support our Workers and Community families like Bernero with theidea in mind that Mr. Snyder was a "Business Man", one that would pull our area out of a recession by using his keen business skills. I actually remember one article stating that "Local economy is really about business, we need a man with a business head to get us back on track." I wish I could find that article to link it for you, at the time I remember thinking "Oh God they are gonna buy this B.S" and "They" did. The "Computer Nerd" facade never fazed me. I always saw a man who wanted to get ahead in his interests at any cost, like any good businessman. Unfortunetly when you are putting someone in the possition of power you should also consider what they will do with it (and what they have done in the in outsourcing for one thing), as a businessman you would want to put your intrests first, naturally. Snyder instantly began the process of taking the power of choice out of the hands of the voters, workers, and families, and making it his choice, like a good businessman. The First hint was before he was elected and his 10 point plan included incorperating businesses he had stake in. RED FLAG. The Caliber and Conscience of the people we vote in should become a high priority amongst tax paying hard working familys in this area who actually want to bring the COMMUNITY out of it's depths. This is one mistake that had warning signs that even the pre-teen freshman transfer students in Itro to Enomics saw coming.


Mon, Dec 10, 2012 : 12:44 a.m.

Another bad decision by this pathetic poor excuse for a governor


Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 9:24 p.m.

Who can blame the AAPS board for whining about this one? They run a system which benefits greatly from the current funding model -- and which provides AAPS many more dollars per student than most other districts statewide. This surplus of money allows the board to build facilities, hire consultants, travel, give itself raises and waste money without much worry. They're going to have to start to pay attention if the largesse gets diverted. And if they don't, the students will have the option to go elsewhere.


Sat, Dec 8, 2012 : 1:17 p.m.

Please cite your examples for the "surplus" money being spent on facilities, travel, and consultants.


Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 5:25 p.m.

I don't like Rick Snyder.


Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 5:21 p.m.

MIchigan citizens are you paying attention? This is not educational reform it is only a plan to punish and break the MEA. Union bashes they are using your KIDS and your tax dollars to rush into a plan that has not been presented to parents and other tax payers in Michigan let alone based on best practices in education. The plan says kids can attend any school district and even multiple districts. How will they get there? Start asking questions about this plan and call your legislators to ask for real educational reform.

greg, too

Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 8:49 p.m.

Spot on. These legislators that are doing the opposite of what most people want are employed by the voters. "The government you vote for is the one that you possess." Maybe it's time people start acting like it and hold our reps, from the city councils up to the president, accountable.

Basic Bob

Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 5:08 p.m.

Dear school board, Quit whining and get back to work. As long as you still have six high schools you can talk until you're blue in the face. Show us what real leadership looks like.


Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 5:02 p.m.

watch out when he runs again. people need to think one way or the other. not just put the party lever. do we want him for 4 more or do we need someone else. think and re think.


Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 4:34 p.m.

If there is a single democrat worth a hill of beans in this state will you PLEASE stand up and run against this corporate shoe shine boy!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 4 p.m.

Because public schools and their unionized teachers are doing so well with education in this state.


Mon, Dec 10, 2012 : 4:22 p.m.

Hey it's Obama's doing that private sector businesses, wages and benefit's have already been cut to the bone. All democrats worry about is saving the high earning union, as well as state and federal workers packages, well what about the rest of America who are not working under the strong arm demands of corrupt union empires? Don't blame Snyder for your presidents destruction of America.


Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 4:37 p.m.

Yeah the republican attacks on education have taken a toll haven't they? I'm sure that cutting wages and benefits for educators to the bone is going to attract top talent. Great plan for the future!


Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 3:56 p.m.

Snyder and the GOP plutocrats, destroying the middle class piece by piece. It's a good thing conservatives are a dying breed.

Dog Guy

Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 3:35 p.m.

The Ann Arbor school board has nothing but bad to say about "for-profit" educators, but I became a teacher for profit (with the least possible time and effort) and am successful. Some of my students have not fared as well, but I do not hold it against them. Rather than from "a normal ordinary citizen", I would like to hear from experts on "for-profit" education such as Patricia Green and Mary Sue Coleman.


Sat, Dec 8, 2012 : 1:15 p.m.

Re. "I became a teacher for profit (with the least possible time and effort)": I'm wondering if this same amount of laziness goes into your critical thinking before posting messages.


Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 2:54 p.m.

Maybe the public schools need a little more competition, if profit for schools does not meet goals at least they can be canned, better than having a perpetual system that will continue to fail and have no repercussions. Welcome to the private sector.


Sat, Dec 8, 2012 : 7:12 p.m.

Eventually in the future all classes will be on line and virtual. Unions I feel will destroy public education as it has already.


Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 2:38 p.m.

If there was any evidence that for profit schools are better than public ones sign the bill. Everyone assumes that for profits will exist forever like the public schools. If a for profit does a bad job and starts losing money, what happens when the rich guys that own it decide to go out of business? What happens to these students if public schools don't have the capacity to take them in? This whole Republican emphasis on for profit schools will set education back in this country for decades. We continue our race to the third world fueled by the greed of the 1%.


Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 2:27 p.m.

What many profiteers don't understand is that the free market works both ways. Normally a proponent of Public Education, the unions and in particular the overpaid administrators encouraged the ability for a such change. Who supported privatization in our schools? Administration? Those families wanting their next generations to be educated will continue to support practical educational structures. Whether public or private, the human value free market will weed out the family failures and the brainwashed academy grads. That is sad but not everyone can be saved by the knowitall board hallelujah. With overpopulation the number of fair opportunities will dwindle and then many more kids will be minimilized. Overpopulation is the root cause of most world problems. What serious zero population curiculum has AAPS been teaching for the last 40 years? None. Profiteers will not be able to sustain their take as the better educational models are often at odds with their process. Hence the need for interfering government tactics like this and the needed favoritsm to follow. Educated parents will find a way around the rigged market and their kids will survive.

Richard Carter

Mon, Dec 10, 2012 : 3:40 p.m.

They're not allowed to teach about birth control, which is one facet of keeping the population growth in check, that's for sure!


Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 2:43 p.m.

But it takes money to get around the system. We are racing to third world status.

Basic Bob

Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 2:08 p.m.

Republicans have no business trying to destroy education. Public school employees are already doing a fine job of it and don't need any help.


Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 2:54 p.m.

No Bob, it's the mindless Republican tax cutting for 30 years that has done it. Why has all the technical education disappeared from public schools like the fabulously successful Pinchney High industrial robotics program? Lack of tax monies to support it. With the Rickster and his merry band of 1%ers cutting business taxes by $2B last year, education takes another huge cut. Business that needs workers with a robotics backgrounds will be moving to other states that see the value of technical education in public schools.


Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 2:50 p.m.

Democrats have already failed and destroyed the education system. It's time for a real change.


Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 1:55 p.m.

The Governor has proven himself to be a liar. Whatever he wants going forward....NO. I will rally against anything he thinks his good...just out of spite. Maybe I can then call myself a republican't

tom swift jr.

Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 1:48 p.m.

It is time to beat the plowshares into swords.


Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 1:47 p.m.

I can't wait for elementary and high schools to be turned into University of Phoenix-type institutions!


Sat, Dec 8, 2012 : 7:11 p.m.

Community already has an on line program for hi school. So, no matter what, you can go to a brick building with a classroom or stay at home and stare at your computer. Mine already does two on line courses.


Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 2:57 p.m.

Already have. It's called home-schooling.


Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 1:39 p.m.

I would love to see a meaningful discussion about education methodologies in the context of the year 2050. Is the current model or the one Snyder is proposing going to make us more or less prepared as a nation? Traditions and unions and for-profit and all that noise isn't was education is about. It is about building a stronger country. A well educated country is a strong country. So is one model really better than the other or are they both good enough or are they both doomed to fail Michigan and the U.S. as a whole. That should be the conversation.


Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 4:55 p.m.

Most of the people who get embroiled in this discussion are only in it to a.) fight unions or b.) fight Republicans. Very few actually really care about what happens to the students, they see this as just a fight in a battle against a group they despise. Which is truly sad as the kids are getting railroaded in this. No Child Left Behind has created a generation of students who can't actually think, but are great at taking tests when told the answers. And yet people just worry about the unions or the money, not the children themselves. The reasons why charters are booming is because we are bankrupting the former model of education, through tax cuts and appropriation cuts, in order to force out the unions. And remember democrats, the Obama-driven Rise to the Top grant program just gave Snyder millions to enact the EAA. As the "honorable" Joann Watson (google her bacon speech about Obama, it's priceless) from the Detroit City council would say, Snyder "went to Washington and brought home some bacon" from a democrat president to destroy a couple highly coveted tenets of democrat dogma (unions, education, teachers, etc.). As one poster stated, we need Democrats to stand up and fight something for a change. But, then again, why would they when the leader of the party is funding the destructive GOP plans tey are supposed to be fighting?

G. Orwell

Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 1:28 p.m.

Democrats are more at fault for the plight of the unions and the middle class than anyone else. Clinton/Gore drove a stake through the heart of the unions and the working class when they rammed through NAFTA, CAFTA, and all the "free trade" agreements since that resulted in millions of good manufacturing jobs going to Mexico, China, etc. Clinton also repealed Glass-Steagal Act that has led to the financial collapse we see today. The Democrstic leadership had done more to destroy the middle class than the Republicans. Obama is doing the same thing with Obamacare (and he keeps bailing out big banks with trillions of tax payer money). Major corporations will make their works into part time (less than 30 hrs.) to avoid paying the expensive Obamacare insurance. Democrat claim they are doing things to help the middle class but they are actually destroying the middle class. Unfortunately most people fall for the lies and are fooled. The Democratic leadership must hate the unions and the middle class. Look at what they do, not what they say.


Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 3 p.m.

They were done deals. Agreements had been negotiated and there was only an up or down vote to be made. That being said, Clinton did not object, nor did the leading Democrats except for a little puffery and posturing. NAFTA would have passed regardless of who was in the White House to sign it. The previous decade had made it inevitable. The country changed dramatically with the Reagan Administration, and all that has followed is working under the new rules laid out by Reagan, Milton Friedman and UM's Noel Tichy, no matter how it's dressed up.


Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 2:39 p.m.

dcam, nice attempt at the history rewrite. NAFTA was passed by the Senate on November 20, 1993. The following facts from 1993 are easily verified.: The Senate was controlled by Democrats 57-43 . The House was controlled by Democrats 258-176-1 In 1999, the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act repealed the market barriers of the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933. Only eight senators voted against repealing Glass-Steagall. Seven Democrats voted against, one Republican voted against and two did not vote. The final vote of 90-8 combined with Clinton's publicly stated declaration, "..."the Glass–Steagall law is no longer appropriate" hardly indicates something that was "...overwhelmingly put forward..." by Republicans. "...NAFTA and fast-track were negotiated and done-deals save the signing by the GWH Bush administration..." Now, that statement is COMPLETE garbage. NAFTA was NEVER going to pass while Bush was president BECAUSE Democrats controlled Congress. I realize it's vogue in Ann Arbor to blame Republicans for everything from the recession to cancer. p.s.: I'm not a fan of Phil Gramm, Newt Gingrich,...but I'm not a fan of history edits, either.


Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 1:52 p.m.

G. Orwell is well-named, but Winston Smith would be a better name, given the revisionism. True, Clinton signed NAFTA, and true Clinton signed the Glass-Steagall Act repeal, however, they were both overwhelmingly put forward, approved and passed by Republicans. NAFTA and fast-track were negotiated and done-deals save the signing by the GWH Bush administration. There are no champions for the middle class and below in Washington or Lansing, and there never were. Rhetoric on the campaign trail and in townhouse meetings rarely turn into action during the vote. Among politicians, their self interest trumps their rhetoric - always.


Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 1:21 p.m.

After yesterday, I don't trust anything that Governor Snyder and his cronies are up to in Lansing.