Moody’s Investors Service downgraded the bond ratings of 53 school districts in Michigan.

Public schools are losing enrollment to charter schools, and losing the ability to balance their budgets.

More than 80% of the charter schools in Michigan are operated for-profit.

According to the linked article,

Justin Marlowe, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee who has written about local government finance, said increased charter school competition and tight state budgets are squeezing the districts.

The “proliferation of charter schools and ongoing state budget problems have put more pressure on local school districts,” Marlowe said, adding there “don’t seem to be any immediate solutions unless we rethink how we finance school districts.”

According to the Moody’s report, 425 of the state’s 549 public school districts lost students between 2004 and 2012, with total enrollment slipping 13.2 percent.

But as overall enrollment was falling, charter schools were growing: They had 120,000 students in Michigan at the end of the last school year and the number of schools rose by 8 percent for this school year, to 298.

Michigan’s Electablog reports: “This is no accident. It’s a plan that’s been in place by those who wish to diminish the ability of teachers to bargain collectively for wages, benefits, and working conditions and to redirect tax dollars earmarked for educating our children into the coffers of for-profit charter school companies.”

In short, this is the culmination of efforts to privatize public education, remove any rights of teachers, and replace public education with profit-making businesses.

Is this the work of conservatives? No, conservatives don’t destroy traditional institutions. They don’t blow up the neighborhood public school so that someone can make a profit.

As Garrison Keillor said, “When you wage war on the public schools, you’re attacking the mortar that holds the community together. You’re not a conservative, you’re a vandal.”

The vandals are inside the gates in Michigan, ransacking public education across the state.

One of our regular readers wrote as follows:

Eli Broad is from Michigan, and he writes editorials in that state insisting he is NOT destroying public education. Would someone in media ask him to defend what’s happening in Michigan? 80% of the charters are for-profit and they are destroying the public school system. The governor and the state legislature are captured by for-profit education lobbyists.

Michigan could LOSE their public school system. Will Broad have to answer for what he’s done here? How far does this have to go before someone in state or federal government intervenes? Will Michigan be the first state to go to a fully privatized system?

Thanks, ed reformers. Good job! Every public school kid in Michigan will now suffer as a result of your cavalier, reckless, “cage busting” approach. Every single kid in a public school will pay.