2018-09-13 / Letters

GOP doomed public education

To the editor:

After eight years of Republican control of Michigan’s government, how do Michigan’s schools measure up? Not well.

A one billion tax cut for business in the early years of the Snyder administration was said to require cuts in K-12 funding. The cuts were engineered in part through a propaganda campaign depicting teachers as greedy union members guilty of poor classroom performance. A generation of experienced teachers was given only a few months to retire under threat of cuts in their retirement benefits. Charter schools, many of them for-profit schools, were promoted but not held to high standards. Emergency managers were deployed to displace elected school boards in Detroit and other districts, with the bottom line as the only measure of performance. The state’s school aid fund was also raided to supplement funding of state colleges.

Many public schools responded to the cuts by increasing class size and cutting music, art, recess, and/or counseling positions. Teachers increasingly used their own funds to purchase school supplies for their students. Many school buildings crumbled, most notoriously in Detroit, where failing heating systems and leaking roofs became front page news.

Recently we learned that standardized test scores in Michigan schools, including some in northern Michigan, fell once again last year, leaving us among the bottom ten states nationwide. Seventy percent of the state’s charter schools scored in the bottom half. Detroit schools, after three emergency managers, have the unique status as the worst-performing large urban school district in the U.S. These results are not only bad for children, they’re bad for the Michigan economy, for job growth, and for increased prosperity.

Michigan once had a public-school system to be proud of. No longer. Keep this in mind when you go to the polls in November.

Alice Littlefield

Isthmus Road

Omena

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