Sunday, September 17, 2006

Michigan Democrats Weak Position on Education by Akindele Akinyemi

I am currently reading the Michigan Democratic Party's 2006 Platform and this caught my eye:

Public school choice. There is public school choice throughout public education, within school districts, and across districts. However, when funds are not provided for transportation, this choice may not be equally available for everyone.

Since 1993, school choice has included charter schools which are public schools financed with public tax dollars. Democrats believe charter schools and their authorizers must be held strictly accountable in a meaningful way and that charter schools must conform to the same communication, freedom of information, financial disclosure, academic, collective bargaining and teacher certification standards and accessibility requirements as traditional public schools. We believe an essential step in enhancing accountability is to limit the involvement of for-profit and private management companies with charter schools.

What planet are the Michigan Democrats on? Charter schools are so strict on accountability that if a school continues to fail it will CLOSE. This never happens in the traditional public school system. If that was the case then Detroit Public Schools would have been bankrupt a long time ago.

The other thing that caught my eye is what is highlighted in red. The reason is because there are no charter schools I know right now that do not have certified teacher in the classroom. This is a weak ploy to undermine educational choice in Michigan.

But my question to the Michigan Democrats is how come you supported a teacher strike in Detroit Public Schools when the law says the following:

A public school employer may bring an action to enjoin a strike by public school employees ... in the circuit court for the county in which the affected public school is located. A court ... shall grant injunctive relief if the court finds that a strike ... has occurred, without regard to the existence of other remedies, demonstration of irreparable harm, or other factors. Failure to comply with an order of the court may be punished as contempt. In addition, the court shall award court costs and reasonable attorney fees to a plaintiff who prevails in an action brought under this subsection.

What type of example are you trying to send to our children by ignoring the law?

The other thing I found out to be quite interesting was this:

No private or religious schools subsidized with public dollars. We need improved public schools to bring us together. We do not need taxpayer money to underwrite schools that separate us by race or religion. While we put our resources and commitment into enhancing public school education and choice, it is inappropriate and counterproductive to allow public tax dollars to subsidize private and religious schools.

This is talking about vouchers. However the Michigan Democrats fail to point this out purposely:

Public schools lack real accountability. Many people, particularly policy-makers, confuse rules and regulations with accountability. While it is true that public schools must adhere to many laws, this fact has failed to make schools answerable to the public. As long as children are unable to escape a school system that is failing to meet their needs, real accountability will never exist in the public schools. Giving parents choices in how and where their children are educated creates a level of accountability that no law will ever generate.

Schools that answer to parents, not politicians, are most accountable. In general, parents have their children's best interests in mind more so than does the government or even a caring teacher. Under the current system, parents lack control and influence over the education of their children. With choice, parents have the opportunity to remove their children from a poorly performing or otherwise unsatisfactory school and to place them in other schools. Schools that fail to respond to parental concerns will constantly face the prospect of losing students to other schools that do.

Private schools already comply with essential government regulations. There is no basis in educational experience or research to suggest that regulation creates better schools; even so, private schools already provide essential fire and safety protection, observe compulsory attendance requirements, and cover core mandated subjects such as history, English, math, and science.

Private schools are accredited by the same agencies that accredit government schools. Private schools are at least as accountable as government schools by the government's own measurements of accountability. According to Charles O'Malley, executive director of the National Council for Private School Accreditation, approximately 96 percent of all private school students attend schools that are accredited or evaluated by national, regional, or state private organizations. The result is that the vast majority of private schools are able to meet government school accreditation requirements.

Michigan Dems also say this:

Bringing up underachieving schools. Many of our schools excel, but we should focus on bringing all of MichiganÂ’s public schools up to world-class standards. In order to accomplish this goal, Michigan Democrats will focus on strengthening and improving education in our neighborhoods of greatest need. It must always be remembered that the number one way to improve education is to have a fully qualified teacher in every classroom, teaching subjects in which she/he is qualified without limiting teachersÂ’ ability to professionally evolve.

This is not true at all. All you have to do is look at most schools in ANY hood in this state and you will find the opposite. In fact,it's funny how they mentioned having fully qualified teachers in every classroom when in fact our students in the classroom should be competing in a 21st century world.

For example, students in Japan, Germany & France spend 100% more hours studying math, science and history than U.S. students A full 50% of all students take advanced examinations, compared to but 6.6% in U.S.

1.American 9 and 13 year old students are near the bottom of a long list of nations in math and science testing.

2.U.S. scores were below ALL industrialized nations, even below Spain, Hungary and China. The only nations we beat were such as Jordan and Mozambique.

3.Our per student spending is the highest in the world even after massive devaluations of our currency relative to most industrial nations.

4.Since such data is from an organization charged with education quality, it is doubtful this pessimistic view of relative U.S. education quality is over-stated.

The Michigan Democrats are in support of a factory-type educational model that has failed our children decade after decade. I understand why they attack DeVos and his investments in China. However, in the 21st century General Motors, Ford and Daimler Chrysler invest in China as well. There are educational systems that send children over to China to learn Mandarin Chinese and then go to school over there for a certain period of time.

In other words, I did not see anything in their educational platform about our studentcompetitingng in a global market. So when I see their baseless commercials on TV on DeVos it does not make any sense because academically we should be preparing our children to compete globally.

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