Monday, February 21, 2011

Deep Cuts=End of Any Local Control?

Facing deep cuts, will schools innovate or fight for status quo?

Published: Friday, February 18, 2011, 7:37 AM Updated: Friday, February 18, 2011, 7:30 PM
By Dave Murray
The Grand Rapids Press

In this article published last Friday, writer Dave Murray states that schools "should have known" that the structural deficit was looming.  He substantiates this opinion by pointing out that the Grand Rapids Press funded a study last summer by Michigan State University to investigate the number of school districts (more than 500) in the State of Michigan and that we would save a lot of money if we consolidated school districts.  While this may be true, please remember that each and every school district is represented by an elected school board whose members are chosen by the community to steer the school district financially, academically and within the social norms of that community.  These boards have had much control taken away from them since Proposal A has taken much of the funding out of local hands.  Even so, I don't think many of the school boards are going to spontaneously go out of business.  I am not sure what the legal implications would be if they tried to do that. 

While I want to thank The Grand Rapids Press for this information, I feel that if the State of Michigan wants to make drastic changes to the last bit of local control provided by communities over local education issues, then this needs to come from the Governor or the Legislature.  So far, it seems that the only thing coming out of Lansing is a starvation budget which is going to decimate schools as they are organized today.  I guess this is a matter of "tearing it down" before "building it back up."  I am worried about my children's education while this experimental reinvention is going on.  What is this going to look like?  How are children going to be affected?

Lucy Lafleur