Thursday, December 10, 2009

Waiting On Labor Day

cross posted at Right Michigan

A lot of finger wagging and heady pontification takes place down in Lansing whenever the focus turns to Michigan's public schools. Heated debate is more than understandable too, as there has been little positive news concerning any part of that whole disaster in quite a long time.

As parents have incrementally abdicated their responsibilities to the all-caring bureaucrats of Lansing and Washington (and lets be honest here, our kind overlords have done more than a fair share of wresting responsibilities from parents resistant to this abdication,) test scores have worsened, districts have found it increasingly difficult to keep the buses running, and unions have dug in their heels against reforms integral to correcting problems that affect not only the test scoring, but the finances as well.

These problems are all well documented, and recent events aren't likely to change the headlines.

The largest school district in the state was rocked this week with the results of a national standardized test that placed it dead last among all schools in the nation that took the test. Honestly, that stark assessment does not go nearly far enough. The results recognized the Detroit Public Schools (DPS) system as not only the worst performing system on this particular test, but as the worst performing school in the history of the test. These shameful test results, owned by the city of Detroit and the state of Michigan, are a monument to failure on an historical scale.

Maybe we can get one of those roadside markers put up.

Ironically, this pox could not come at a better time for Michigan and Detroit, for this is the year that, though it is more destitute than it has ever been in its entire existence, the country is going to divvy up billions of borrowed dollars among those states willing to adopt what educators deem are necessary reforms to improve education.

The DPS, fingers crossed, might very well receive a huge infusion of that federal cash as an ill-deserved reward for its long, well documented, and unprecedented history of abject failure. A shelter wouldn't dare turn away the most destitute of callers in the bleak of night, and with Detroit's tattered appearance these days, it would be shocking if bureaucrats in Washington and Lansing aren't able to direct a hundred mill or so toward Motown for even the appearance of reforms.

Really, nothing gets the attention of Lansing bureaucrats any quicker than the feds flashing a little free cash.

While I find the whole process repugnant for many reasons, I have been particularly lathered over the response of legislators who are, once again, proving that it is money and special interests that they think are most important, and not the children who should be the focus of education.

From M-Live:

The Michigan House is softening a plan that would have allowed schools to start classes before Labor Day.

The state's lowest-performing schools still would have the option of starting classes before Labor Day under revised legislation that soon could come up for a vote on the House floor. But most schools would remain under a 2005 state law that prevents classes from beginning until early September.

House leaders made the switch in their legislation after the state's tourism industry lobbied to keep the post-Labor Day schedule. The later start gives families a chance to extend summer vacations and boost the tourism industry.

The House Education Committee will continue work Wednesday on legislation aimed at winning more federal cash for schools.
One needn't read between the lines very far before one discovers that legislators, to make such a proposal, recognize that it is better for the education of struggling children to start their school years prior to Labor Day (along with all the implications that go with that,) rather than have it begin later in the year and consequently have it drag on into the summer months.

What other possible explanation is there for the poorest performing schools to be allowed to begin earlier in the year (satisfying reformer's wishes,) while forcing more successful districts to begin later in the year, the latter ostensibly to help tourism?

Am I to gather by this that children from more successful school districts can afford to have their education weakened so that campsites stay full an extra long weekend in the summer?

Legislators are trying to butter both sides of their bread with this one. More money from Washington, and more money from tourists. They are willing to reform the bare minimum to keep those Detroit kids in school, but those urchins from Bloomfield Hills might actually rent some Jet Skis!

This is what our enlightened government has done. It has helped to create a disastrous business climate so negative that to help remedy the situation business interests are allowed to negatively impact education. Meanwhile, the educational environment is so choked by ineffective and intrusive governmental policies that to remedy that situation they are allowed to choke business interests though unprecedented debt and taxation.

Education is not forced (some would say allowed) to clean out its own dirty cage without resources being taken from innocent third parties, while businesses are not able (some would say allowed) to thrive on their own without the shackles of grubbing money-leches being attached to their enterprises.

It is a mutated form of modern special interest symbiosis where each party becomes both the weakened host and undernourished parasite of the other. Meanwhile, benevolent bureaucrats can expect to be rewarded at the ballot box for their heart-felt concern.

Me, I'm sickened by the whole process. Until what is best for students actually becomes the focus of the whole education apparatus, it is destined for failure, and until business is allowed to thrive for the profitable purposes for which it is intended, it is destined for continued struggles. Government's nurturing of this impossible intertangling between the two will beget nothing more than increased entanglement.

Thankfully we have experts working on the problem, the resolution of which can wait, it seems, until at least after Labor Day.


Matt said...

Hey Roughman

What struck me was that when the legislature was bouncing the idea of setting the post laborday school opening, why, was there no question (better yet revolt), of how and why the local school boards should give up more of their perogitives to Lansing? Instead of standing up and shouting no, they all just continue to rollover to every whim from from Lansing (or Washington). Of course this seems to be the mindset of almost every govermental weenie out there ... hence here we are. Can you imagine the public reaction if some school board had the guts to tell Lansing to stuff it? There would be the front runner for the govenor race. I think the public is starving for a leader with brass and guts.

The Rougman said...

Hard to say Matt what the reaction would be from a publicity's standpoint. It has gotten to the point that local school boards have very little say anymore as to what is taught in the schools and how they are to operate.

One horrible result of today's funding situation is that the money comes to the school districts from Lansing. If the schools are not operated up to Lansing's snuff the funds can be cut off.

This was not always the case. For many years our little school district pretty much thumbed its nose at the bureaucrats. Now its thumbs, in effect, have been surgically removed.