So today our Michigan State Board of Ed released a ridiculously meaningless. statement in opposition to Governor Rick Snyder’s Executive Order, 2015-9. An EO that has shifted authority over the failed Reform Redesign District away from our dysfunctional MDE, to under his Yertle the Turtle control.
Well, Rick Snyder’s dictatorial and misguided Executive Order is no more outrageous than John Engler’s were in 1995 and 1996, and at no time has the SBE worked with the MI legislature or a governor to restore their authority, through legislation or Executive Order.
Back in 2007, I came close with my HB 5323. A bill that if passed would have restored the SBE’s authority over special education laws, rules and policies. This bill had 59 bipartisan cosponsors and passed our House 88-20. It would have passed the MI Senate had Wayne Kuipers—-an Englerite, with little regard for the SBE—-not shelved my bill. I had the support of six of the eight members of the SBE, that included current members, Kathleen Straus and Casandra Ulbrich. John Austin, our current President of the SBE was one of two members of the Board who did not support my bill. He emailed me and said that he was perfectly content allowing the non-elected State Superintendent to hold this authority. So much for elected authority!
In fact. the SBE’s statement today did not take issue with Snyder taking elected authority away from them. In fact, in the SBE’s statement they are only asking for the authority over the Reform Redesign District to go back to our dictatorial State Superintendent who has failed to “reform, redesign” or turnaround any struggling district, including the Detroit Public Schools, Buena Vista and Inkster. Frankly, I struggle to think of any positive memories that will be left when Mike Flanagan finally retires on June 30, 2015. I would say that students with disabilities have hope for brighter days ahead, were it not for the 3 finalists chosen to assume his position.
Tomorrow, the SBE is going to hire 1 of 3 BAD individuals to be our next state superintendent. I have implored them to reopen the hiring process and I am not alone. I have yet to receive a response from any member of the SBE. One of the candidates runs among the murkiest and most morally bankrupt ISDs in MI. Another, is the superintendent of a district that has decided to close the only Deaf/Hard of Hearing Total Communication Program in all of Wayne County. Clearly not individuals we can expect to share a steadfast commitment to students with special learning needs.
Why am I angry at the State Board of Ed? Simple. There has not been a State Board of Ed in my adult lifetime, with a commitment to students with disabilities. I, like many have worked hard to engage the SBE in dialogue about special education concerns, and for the most part been ignored, along with the educational needs of the children.
There is no longer a member of the SBE who deserves to hold an elected seat. The childish fighting between the SBE and Rick Snyder is deserving of a very long time out. Neither are focused on the needs of MI’s school age children. They are engaged in a juvenile battle of the wills.
Anyone who thinks that public education is not about politics….think again. Public education is all about politics. I believe in elected authority and will hope, dream and fight for truly courageous and committed individuals to run and be elected to our SBE. I hope you will join me. Michigan children deserve a nationally enviable public education, each and every one of them.