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.
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
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
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
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
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,
or call (810) 655-8830.
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