Tuesday, January 26, 2016

End Disasters in Detroit Schools, Flint by Ending Emergency Management
January 25, 2016 at 11:46 AM

Pamela Pugh is treasurer of the State of Michigan Board of Education.

When is enough really enough? Gov. Rick Snyder, through appointment of emergency managers, primarily in communities of color, continues to extend an oppressive form of governance that takes away local control and power from Michigan residents.

Under this unjust model, communities of color and low income are the casualties of such policies. In Flint, the governor-appointed emergency managers' budget fix, which led to contaminated water, gives us just a taste of how their callous decisions continue to risk the health and well-­being of our most vulnerable Michigan citizens.

Now, sickouts organized by deeply concerned Detroit educators have shed light on the deplorable learning environments that their students are daily subjected to, again in the name of "balancing" the budget. After more than six years of a failed state takeover, Detroit Public Schools has deteriorated into a destabilized education system, marred by decreased academic outcomes and increased deficit, upward of $3.5 billion. Just as Flint's water crisis occurred under emergency management, so did the demise of the Detroit school district.

It is important to note that in November 2012, Michigan voters repealed Public Act 4, a strengthened version of the earlier emergency manager law. Astonishingly, the lame duck Republican-led Legislature passed a "new" law, Public Act 436, which retained the repealed emergency manager model — thereby disregarding the voice of the people.

In Detroit, an elected board, many of whom gathered more votes than the governor, has been placed in exile, while children and teachers are subject to the cruelty of emergency management. Likewise in Flint, the mayor, who garnered a higher percentage of votes than Gov. Snyder, has limited powers, shifted to EM appointees. Again, I ask, when is enough really enough?

Unless we the people stand up now, Michigan's communities of color and low income will continue to live under the threat of becoming U.S. sacrifice zones; where costs are cut, budgets are balanced and profits are made at the expense of our most burdened families. It's time for an end to the toxic state takeovers of Gov. Snyder. Give the people their voice back! Allow their elected officials to execute their constitutional powers and protect the health and well-being of our children.

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