Below is a message that Sen. Rebekah Warren (MI-18) asked us to pass along in response to the petition “Stop the Takeover of Public Education in Michigan” (http://signon.org/sign/stop-the-takeover-of-1).

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Dear Friend,

Thank you for contacting me to express your opposition to legislation that would transfer control from some of our public school districts to the newly created Education Achievement Authority (EAA).

House Bill 6004, along with House Bill 5923 and Senate Bill 1358, seeks to expand the scope of the EAA and allow unregulated school choice in Michigan. As you may know, the EAA was recently established to assume control of underperforming schools in the city of Detroit. This new package of bills broaden that power to allow the EAA to oversee schools deemed to be in the lowest performing 5% of schools statewide.

This hastily crafted legislation has already had several hearings in the House Education Committee and appears to be on the fast-track for passage in lame duck, despite the fact that the EAA has only been in place since the beginning of this school year, and has not yet been fully evaluated, much less vetted for statewide implementation. This legislation also allows for the unfettered proliferation of new schools, without regard for educational quality or outcomes, or the financial implications of further stretching increasingly scarce public resources.

I do not have to tell you that this sweeping legislation comes on the heels of a $500 million cut to the School Aid Fund and the passage of key elements of the “Parental Empowerment Package,” which most notably lifted the cap on charter and cyber schools. As these bills came before me on the Senate floor last year, I opposed all of them for a number of reasons, but largely because I remain deeply concerned about the far-reaching impact they stand to have on our children and the future of our public schools.

Here in Michigan this legislation is particularly alarming as 80% of our charter schools are operated by private, for-profit education management companies (EMOs), more than any other state in the nation. In response to growing concern about this astounding number, I am pleased to let you know that I have introduced Senate Joint Resolution R, which seeks to amend the state constitution to prohibit the operation of a public school on a for-profit basis.

Make no mistake – we are confronting a systematic and unrelenting assault on public education in Michigan. While House Bills 5923 and 6004 and Senate Bill 1358 have yet to come before the Senate, please rest assured that I will continue to fight for our public schools and work to ensure that all of our children have access to the top-notch education necessary to compete in our increasingly global economy.

As always, thank you for your advocacy on this important issue. Should you have any questions or need any further information, do not hesitate to contact me at (517) 373-2406 or senrwarren@senate.michigan.gov.

Sincerely,

Rebekah Warren
State Senator
18th District

RLW/wh