When I wrote about the end of public education in two districts in Michigan, I pointed out that the state’s emergency manager law is a mechanism to end democracy when there is a fiscal crisis. That strikes me as draconian.
Surely we don’t want to see governmental entities running up deficits that they can’t pay, but there is another side to the story. Some districts don’t have the property tax base to provide an adequate education. When that is the case, it is the state’s responsibility to assure that there is enough money to educate the children and to make sure that the money is spent responsibly. A fiscal monitor or a financial control board could perform that function. When New York City teetered on the edge of bankruptcy in 1975, the governor did not shut down democracy in New York City; he appointed a financial control board that helped the city to return to fiscal health.
What is happening in Michigan is extremist and anti-democratic. The governor has the power to appoint an emergency manager and to end the functioning of democratically elected and appointed bodies. Is it mere happenstance that in both instances cited, Muskegon Heights and Highland Park, the emergency manager made the same decision to close down public education and to outsource the children to privately managed charter corporations? In Muskegon Heights, the only offers came from for-profit corporations that have poor track records.
In a Michigan article about my blog, several conservatives (I assume they are conservatives as who else would be happy to privatize school districts) expressed their approval at the idea of ending democracy and local control in these two districts. This is simply bizarre. Don’t conservatives prefer local control to the heavy hand of government? Don’t they usually defend the rights of people to determine their own destiny?
According to the article in Michigan, I and others “have not condemned the behavior that led to the deficits or proposed solutions.”
Yes I do have a solution.
My solution is this: The state of Michigan should preserve public education for future generations in every school district, as the founding fathers intended when they passed the Northwest Ordinance. If they suspect fiscal irresponsibility, they should appoint a fiscal expert to make sure that the district is returned to fiscal health. But if the district lacks the resources to educate its children, then the state should supply what is needed to take care of the children.
And yes, I do condemn the behavior that led to the deficits. I condemn Governor Rick Snyder and the Michigan Legislature for heedlessly cutting the funding for public schools and plunging dozens of school districts in Michigan into fiscal distress. I condemn Governor Snyder and the Michigan Legislature for giving tax breaks to corporations instead of funding public schools. I condemn Governor Snyder and the Michigan legislature for fiscal irresponsibility. I condemn them for not caring about other people’s children. I condemn them for preferring privatization over public responsibility.