The legislative defenders of this state’s public school unions and establishment — including horrendously failing school districts like Detroit’s — recognize that they can no longer just stand in the schoolhouse door blocking the exit of students seeking a real education someplace where learning actually occurs.
Thus, this year they have produced several bills that tepidly move in the direction of expanding the number of charter public schools, now subject to a cap of 150 authorized by state universities.
The latest of these is Senate Bill 925, which would essentially exempt existing charter school operators in Michigan or other states from the cap if for three years they have been given the state's highest designation. Up to 25 new or other schools (ones without a three-year top score) could be authorized.
That's actually quite positive, but the companion bill contains a “sweetener” to the public education establishment that is yet more evidence of the extent to which the political power of "the Blob" — conventional public schools and especially their unions — dominates our state's legislative process.
Specifically, Senate Bill 926 would give the local school district — given the current political context, read “Detroit” — “transition payments” equal to 80 percent of the money they would have received for the students in the “school of excellence” in its first year, 60 percent in the second year, and 40 percent in the third year. The payments would kick-in if these schools enrolled 2 percent or more of the district's students.
This is like Pharaoh saying to Moses, “I’ll let your people go, but you’ll have to pay for them.”
Here’s the really sad part: The bill’s sponsor is probably sincere, which means that this is the price — the ransom — that he feels must be paid to get a charter school expansion bill out of Michigan's legislature.