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There are a number of issues which need to be addressed legislatively.

1) School districts & their staff should be prohibited from using civil (SLAPP) lawsuits to chill the public from exercising their rights to access information under FOIA statues  or to otherwise participate in the political process.  Open government is crucial to maintaining effective and accountable government.  To that end we need to pass Anti-SLAPP legislation in all states of the union. Currently a SLAPP action denies the public their civil rights for two or more years and often costs the person sued $10,000 to $20,000. Anti-SLAPP legislation fast tracks dismissal of meritless lawsuits.  Help promote Michigan Anti-SLAPP legislation, Michigan Anti-SLAPP Legislation.

2) Equal funding for charters.  I.e., the per student allowance should include an infrastructure allowance to cover building costs.   In my experience the majority of charter schools staff have pretty good attitudes but the charters suffer from lack of adequate funding.  As part of this I think that all public school infrastructure funding should be removed from property tax and moved to an income tax or some other flat tax which all bear equally.  Districts which already have millages in place should have those millages dropped by the amount of revenue produced by the new tax.  When existing millages expire no new ones should be allowed.  The public schools should be required to live within a budget the same as the rest of us.

3) In light of the generally poor attitude of public school staff and the legislative deadlock blocking new charters, and the increasing belligerence of public schools including the use of SLAPP suits, I now believe that vouchers should be available to allow parents to move their children to the school of their choice.

4) School districts repeat the same millage requests again and again,  in an effort to pass bonds which the majority would not approve if they were aware of the election.  

5) Schools schedule elections at odd times of the year. ** The frequency of school bond requests should be limited to once every two years, and such requests should only be allowed as part of major elections (as in the fall) to ensure all voters are aware of the election.

** I am happy to report that the State of Michigan passed legislation limiting elections to four dates in a calendar year. The nine-bill packet of legislation, House Bills 4820, 4822-28 and Senate Bill 877, was signed by Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm on Jan. 8, 2004.  This is the first of what I hope are many legislative wins to bring accountability back to the public school system.  While limiting to four dates is an improvement we still need to limit the frequency of school millage votes to not allow a repeat of a request for two years and to prohibit votes at times of the year when retirees are likely to be vacationing.  To that end I believe that all school funding votes should be held in the fall.

6) ALL complaints, filed either verbally or in writing, about a specific staff member should always become a permanent part, along with the disposition of the complaint,  of the person's file.  

7) All school districts should be mandated to publish their budgets, including the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, on the web to allow easy public access to the information.

8) School districts currently use their access to children, and taxpayer money, to brainwash both the children and their families when seeking additional funds.  This should be stopped.  Lobbying for school funding should be arms length from the schools themselves and should not be done using taxpayer money or facilities.

9) In recognition of the benefits to society of open government, legislation mandating that all schools, perhaps all agencies of government, must publish on the web the following documents.

a) A list of all staff members with a job description and work contact information.

b) The personnel file for each staff member published in pdf format.

c) The Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) for the last five years.

10) I think it would be better for the kids if we went to year around schooling with shorter vacation breaks scattered through the year. Just think how this would improve MEAP scores and allow time to cover material which has been dropped from the curriculum in the quest for better MEAP scores.

Join the legislative effort, email legisation@QualitySchoolsNow.org or call (810) 655-8830. 

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