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End Public Schools / Replace Them With Charters…

May 30, 2012

Does that sound far-fetched to you?  I hope it doesn’t because according to this news article from Muskegon Heights, Michigan, that is the exact plan!!

People sometimes accuse me of over-reacting to certain news events regarding public education…well, I wouldn’t characterize my words and actions as over-reacting…they are simply what happens when someone who cares about public education is informed about its state in our country today.

I am not alone, Diane Ravitch speaks out on this topic below the posted Muskegon Heights article…read both…

MUSKEGON HEIGHTS, MI — In a groundbreaking move, the emergency manager for Muskegon Heights Public Schools is proposing to turn the entire school system into a charter school.

Donald Weatherspoon said today he will submit a plan to state officials calling for the creation of a new K-12 charter system. The district’s debt, estimated at $12.4 million, will remain with the current public school district, giving the charter operator a fresh start, he said.

“I have the utmost confidence it is the best alternative,” Weatherspoon said today.

The charter school system is the backbone of an operating plan that Weatherspoon will submit to the state treasurer and superintendent of instruction for approval.

 No other K-12 charter school system operates in the state. Weatherspoon said Muskegon Heights Public Schools under his direction would be the authorizer of the charter, rather than the current system involving colleges and universities, and that he would appoint the charter school board.

He said he and perhaps one other person would be the sole employees of Muskegon Heights Public Schools. Current staff can apply to work for the new charter system, he said.

Taxpayers in the Muskegon Heights school district would be responsible for paying back the debt, though Weatherspoon said taxes will not be increased. He said creditors will be paid back as soon as possible and is working with the state to secure a loan. 

Homestead taxes, which would not be increased, also are being looked at as a source of revenue to pay off the debt, which will be extended over a long period of time, he said.

He said he wants to assure parents the school system that will open its doors in the fall will be high quality, saying that “two layers” of oversight — himself and the charter board — will keep an eye on both student performance and school performance.

A parent forum is planned for late Wednesday afternoon.

Now read Diane Ravitch’s response to this news…

According to the latest reports, the emergency manager in Muskegon Heights, Michigan, proposes to kill off public education and replace the public schools with charter schools. The reason for this is that Muskegon Heights has a debt of $12 million. So the emergency manager figures that it is best to replace all the public schools with privately managed schools.

This looks like bankruptcy. After the public schools are closed, the new charters will have private management.

Now, if you accept the fact that the overwhelming majority of studies show that charter schools do not provide better education or even better test scores than public schools, then it is inescapable that this move has nothing to do with the best interests of the children.

If you accept the fact that the debt remains and must be paid by the taxpayers of Muskegon Heights.

Then what exactly is the reason for closing down public education in Muskegon Heights?

Is it about abrogating the contracts of unionized workers and making them all at-will? How will that save millions of dollars?

Can anyone explain?

Diane

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