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The Politics of Education: Kathy Griswold On Why the Proposed WISD Millage Should Be Defeated

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The Ann Arbor Citizens for Responsible School Spending Web site at www.A2CRSS.org tallies the amount each of the county’s 10 public school districts would receive from the proposed WISD millage. The site reveals that the recently negotiated teacher salary freeze in Ann Arbor only applies to the contractual amount; many AAEA members can expect an increase of close to five percent this year. The Citizens for Responsible School Spending Web site alleges that the proposed cuts of $15 million are a result of rising expenses, including increases in pension and healthcare costs for retirees, as well as step increases. 

The Citizens for Responsible School Spending Web site pushes the need for sustainable educational reform, and alleges that officials from the Michigan Education Association (MEA) have devised a campaign message meant to play on voter fears.

Kathy Griswold is a former Ann Arbor school board trustee and a member of Citizens for Responsible School Spending. She was a co-founder of Coalition for Educational Options (CEO) and Citizens for Better Schools (CBS). She has served on many boards and committees that provide services for and advocate on behalf of at-risk students.

A2Politico has tots among those 16,700 kids in the AAPS. Though A2Politico sometimes has dreams about being back in school, mostly on test days with no idea of the answers to any of the questions, being a student is just a memory. Kathy Griswold, I suspect, spends more time than the average resident of Ann Arbor thinking about public education. We need people who do that, and so A2Politico caught up with Griswold to talk about why the group she formed to oppose the WISD millage proposal (that will appear on the November 3rd ballot) believes that more money for education will not resolve some of the significant pedagogical and financial problems that face the 10 Districts in Washtenaw County.  

Question 1.  On the A2CRSS web site, most of the reasons for voting no revolve around how much AA homeowners (and businesses, for that matter) already pay to the Washtenaw Intermediate School District (WISD) and the Ann Arbor Public Schools (AAPS). However, there’s no evidence on the site of any “irresponsible” school spending. If the argument is for responsible school spending, can you give some examples of what kinds of concrete spending changes the AAPS/WISD could/should make in order to use the taxpayers’ money “more responsibly?”

KG:  It is not just a matter of what spending changes are needed.  It is a matter of changing the process of fiscal management and decision-making within the AAPS. Most importantly, we must demand transparency.  It is October 22, 2009, and the public does not have the final budget numbers for the year ending June 30, 2009.   As a trustee of AAPS (2001 – 2005), I had to request financial information via FOIA. Our CFO’s responsibilities were transferred to a consultant, and emails received in my FOIA request included one that directed the then-superintendent to “just keep <CFO’s first name> away from the press.” 

I do not like to talk about spending cuts.  We cannot cut ourselves out of this pattern of irresponsible spending.  We need to restructure public education with public collaboration. We must balance the extensive influence of the Michigan Education Association  by getting parents and community members involved in public education. Through generous campaign donations (direct, as well as circuitously), the MEA exerts tremendous influence over our elected officials. We need the public and school officials to engage in the type of creativity and innovative thinking Thomas L. Friedman calls for in his New York Times Op-ed Column “The New Untouchables” on October 21, 2009.  

We need to demand district leadership and negotiation skills that can provide health care insurance for our teachers through BCBS directly, saving 10 percent over MESSA premiums—therefore 10 percent of public taxpayer dollars, as Mr. Killips (Chelsea District School Superintendent) achieved in Chelsea.  We need more public negotiations and accurate, easily available, information about teacher salaries. We need to know that a salary freeze really means no increase in the contractual salary, but that many teachers will receive an approximate 5 percent step increase.  We need the actual raise in salary costs for teachers in true dollars (the cost of steps this year and last year for those not at maximum); the total costs per employee for all benefits for the various categories of employees; and the comparison in the percentage of the district’s budget going directly to instruction versus to employee paid benefits, over the last five years.

Question 2.  The A2CRSS web site states that, “A NO vote on Nov. 3 places a requirement of responsible spending on Ann Arbor Public Schools, of ending the status quo, and of developing a sustainable educational model.” What do you mean by a “sustainable model?” Like your expenses and mine, the expenses of a school district rise each year, don’t they? So, it’s either increase revenue or cut expenses. What, then, are you suggesting the AAPS/WISD do to achieve “sustainability?” Do you mean districts should make do with the money taxpayers give them already? Administrators are saying they can’t, and School Board members don’t seem inclined to press the matter. Only 1,200 people total voted in the last School Board election in Ann Arbor to select a representative to a Board that oversees a $200,000,000 budget. Shouldn’t we, then, be paying much more attention to School Board elections? 
 

KG: We are a small grassroots organization using volunteers – our website and hosting costs total only $17.00.  We started from the taxpayer’s perspective, because this is an unreasonable 11.4 percent tax increase.  

Analyzing AAPS spending is arduous and time consuming, but the following is now on the A2CRSS website with a supporting graph: 

From 2002 to 2008 (the last year audited financial information is available), our General Fund (operating funds) spending increased by $37 million.  AAPS real operating spending increased at over twice the rate of inflation since 2002, when adjusting for the additional operational purchasing power of the Bond and Sinking Fund (including buses, technology, building renovations and other expenses previously paid out of the General Fund).  Such increases in these economic times are not sustainable!

Although per pupil funding from the state has not kept up with inflation, voters in the Ann Arbor district have generously supported additional local taxes, including the $250 million Bond and the Sinking Fund (originally passed in 2002 at 1.5 mills and renewed in 2004 at 1.0 mills.) These contribute an additional $1,500 per pupil per year to the district.  Voters have already compensated for state funds lagging inflation!

We must pay very close attention to the quality of board candidates and to the depth and clarity of their understanding and analysis of funding in Michigan public schools. Since the entire structure of the funding of education in our state is unjust, and the incrementally increasing costs of benefits to employees, are not sustainable, I want to see leadership and directness by our local school leaders, our state legislative representatives, and our State Board of Education, acknowledging that we are funding a model that is with each passing day increasingly unsustainable and indefensible.  Why are our leaders silent on these issues?  Why are we perpetuating a system where the end result is more and more costly employee benefits, and reductions in service and programming for our students?  Are we above all an educational organization, or an employment and personnel benefits agency?

Question 3.  Isn’t the real issue that the School Boards of the respective Districts have failed to control costs associated with teacher benefits? Isn’t this really the pink elephant in the living room? According to a piece in the Detroit News this month, “Benefits for public school teachers cost taxpayers $2.6 billion a year or about $1,600 per pupil. That’s 41 percent above the national average and consumes roughly 35 percent of school district budgets.” Why not fight to cut teacher benefits in each District as opposed to fighting the millage?

KG:  Election campaigns are expensive and the MEA has money. It is very difficult to get elected in a contested board of education race without the support of the MEA.  It is almost impossible to get a majority of trustees on a local board of education that is not “controlled” by the MEA.  We must address the undue influence of the MEA and this campaign is the first step. Why is our school board silent on this critical matter?  I often ask myself, “Who really owns and runs the schools?”  Then I see the obvious answer right in front of me… And the MEA’s influence is not limited to local boards of education, it spans to almost all Democrats in public office up to the state level where the state school funding decisions are made.

Question 4.  The Ann Arbor Republican Party recently voted to come out against the WISD millage. A party official was quoted on AnnArbor.com as saying. “What we need to have is a serious, non-stop cost control effort, including much more privatization of non-teaching functions, vigorous competitive bidding for all school system business, and, most importantly, more cost effective teacher compensation packages.” As a school board member, you know  “effective teacher compensation packages” will mean tangling with the Michigan Education Association, a powerful force in this state. In your opinion, are there members of the AAPS Board prepared to take on the MEA to negotiate “effective teacher compensation packages?” If not, are you prepared to vote for a School Board candidate who ran on such a platform?

KG:  School board elections are non-partisan.  I agree completely.  That is the question.  Thank you so much for raising this! I would definitely support a candidate who voted on the platform you suggest, providing the person was also a responsible citizen committed to a high quality and viable system of public education in our community.

Question 5. The millage will provide more money per student in each school district in the county. Tell me why more money per student won’t improve the educational experience of the average child in the WISD system enough to make you believe the millage is necessary. 

KG:  More money per student won’t necessarily improve the educational experience of the average child in the WISD system because so much of the additional revenue will be directed to maintain our unsustainable benefits package and the dominance of the MEA in being the major power brokers and decision makers in the district.  As previously stated, real operating expenditures rose at twice the rate of inflation since 2002, with no appreciable improvement in the classroom or in achievement test scores.

Question 6.  State Senator Liz Brater and State Representative Rebekah Warren both support the WISD millage. They have both received several large campaign donations from the MEA, of course, but setting this aside, what do you say to voters who see that their elected officials support the millage to convince them that despite the support of such community leaders, voters should turn down the WISD’s request?

KG:  These elected officials did not have a choice because parents and other individuals do not play a significant role in state election campaigns.  As stated, it takes the MEA (and there money) for a Democrat to get elected.  If we want less MEA influence, the public needs to get involved and support candidates.  The elected officials you mentioned are intelligent, hard-working supporters of public education.

Question 7.  What do you think about repealing the 1962 law that created the WISD and the other 56 district bureaucracies? Repealing the law would save Washtneaw county taxpayers the $109,000.000 per year spent on administration of the WISD.  

KG: Ann Arbor Citizens for Responsible School have differing opinions on whether the WISD functions could be performed more effectively and efficiently through a collaborative effort of the local districts. The state budget includes a 40 percent cut in funding for all ISD’s. Is this a vote of no confidence and a gradual move towards eliminating the ISD’s?  A2CRSS members are presently discussing these developments. 

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Short URL: http://www.a2politico.com/?p=1325

27 Comments for “The Politics of Education: Kathy Griswold On Why the Proposed WISD Millage Should Be Defeated”

  1. This is simply great post thanks a lot for taking the time to share your view with us.

  2. It was a really satisfying read……… Please keep up the good work.

  3. This is old news, but it still bothers me. Regarding #14 above, the “News Flash”: The county clerk’s office mistakenly posted a late contribution form from the Citizens Millage Committee to the records of the group opposing the city charter amendments. I was listed as making an in-kind contribution on that form. But the form was clearly labeled as belonging to the Citizens Millage Committee, complete with our registration number, at the top. The clerk’s office has since corrected their error.

    Just a little care in reading would have exposed the error; the fact that people ran around posting this misinformation on just about every blog available, just days before the election, speaks volumes about their commitment to accuracy.

    If you won’t take down the comment, please correct it.

  4. [...] The Politics of Education: Kathy Griswold On Why the Proposed WISD Millage Should Be Defeated [...]

  5. “including much more privatization of non-teaching functions, vigorous competitive bidding for all school system business”

    This is a **really** bad idea, especially in the middle of this recession!

    We all need real jobs with benefits, insurance, and some stability for the community to thrive. Not everyone has an MBA or a professional degree. Folks need a l;iving wage!

    You want to replace our long term, well known, trusted bus drivers with a series of Laidlaw short-term minimum wage recruits, many of whom have drug and alcohol problems (I’ve seen it elsewhere), who last 1 week on averaghe and don’t givde a rats ass about the kids?

    Look, Mr Berriz boght himself an election, plain and simple. All I heard were his moronic ads that **never** talked about the real problem – the looming state $600 per pupils cuts that the millage would replace!

    So, say goodbye to: pre-school education for the poor and developmentally disadvantaged. free busing, sports, theater, music, and

    Well, cheers to McKinley and Mr Berriz. I am going to help ensure that he contines to pay for his election for a long, long time by doing everything I can to urge people to:

    BOYCOTT MCKINLEY: BOYCOTT BERRIZ in Ann Arbor!

    An Ann Arbor business owner.

  6. Audrey L. Jackson

    It’s great to see that funding for public schools still arouses great passion in those who would deem themselves advocates for public school students. Most of the arguments have raised issues on unions, school administration, city revenues, parent involvement and whether someone’s opinion represents good character.

    Where are the arguments that stand solely for the good of students in the classroom? Eleven million dollars is a lot of money that will do a lot of good if placed as close to student achievement as possible. I’m speaking of practical things such as pre-school programs for children ages 3-5, community-based tutoring for grades 1-12, funding of test preparation (PSAT, ACT, SAT, etc.) for all children attending public school who cannot afford it, nutritional programs that help children who don’t get breakfast or a regular dinner, community based counseling programs to address domestic violence, homelessness, and unemployment (all factors that impact daily performance in the classroom).

    I am fully sick and tired of hearing about funding programs, and yes it is true that most increases for school funding are tied to pension funds and political activities that have nothing to do with the above-referenced student based interventions.

    Too bad that except for some PTO involvement, most of those screaming about helping the students will only do so for a price. Too bad that administrators are too busy pushing barriers in the face of parents or residents who actually do want to give one-on-one classroom help (with teacher supervision) during the school day. Too bad that most of the money that is being fought over with b.s. arguments that leave students in a perinnial hole when it comes to achievement when theirs are the faces of the poor, forgotten, and deplored in the classroom. Too bad, we can’t agree to disagree. My point of view is based on what the students tell me, and most of them cannot vote.

    Too bad that for all these reasons, I will gladly vote NO on any millage increase for the Ann Arbor Public Schools.

  7. Where is the pro millage money coming from? First, I hate to think how much time and money were spent on this effort, not to mention the illegal use of school property to promote this effort. Chelsea High School just announced at their football game to vote for the millage. Most of the contributions are from State Teacher’s Unions who have a plan to manipulate us. This is part of a big plan!!!

    • Check out this piece on A2Politico to see where all of the money is coming from for the millage battle: http://www.a2politico.com/?p=1364

  8. Laurie,

    The supposed cut of $525 per kid that you quote, is just that, supposed. Nothing has been finalized in Lansing. Granholm and the legislature does this every year with school spending. They get everyone riled up, first it’s $165, then the next week it’s another $127, then it’s the 20j money, so now we’re up to $525. Every year it’s a standoff. Every year this happens, coincidentally the week or so before November elections, and every year, when the legislature finally pass the budget, usually after the election, low and behold we’re right back down to the original $165.

    “Currently, we only have 7.4 mills on homestead property”…. Kind of a little white lie…. Yes, perhaps the AAPS only collects 7.4 mills directly, but you forget the 2 WISD millages and the State Education Tax that is also collected for a total of 17.52 mills, a lot higher than your 7.4. The WISD mills are then ‘passed through’ to local districts to cover federally mandated special education services, etc, and the AAPS also gets the state ed money. So your 45% decrease looks like funny math to me. It looks more like a 30% increase, not a decrease. If we add the 2 additional mills the district is asking for, up to 19.52, that’s a 45% increase. And don’t forget, the property tax relief we got as a result of Proposal A, also came with a sales tax increase of 2 cents, from 4 cents to 6 cents. So do not imply that we are better off now, and paying less in property tax now than we were in 1994. Not true.

    As for “In the state funding we receive, we get only 38 cents on the dollar we generate”… I’ve asked several times at millage presentations for a clear accounting of where these dollars we are ‘generating’ are coming from, and no one seems to know. This ‘fact’ didn’t appear until it became evident that Ann Arbor was a donor district in this millage proposal to the tune of $5 million. We will raise close to $16 million from AAPS homeowners, but only get $11 million back in the district. Until the a2crss and a2crw brought this FACT to life, all the AAPS and cmc literature kept saying that all the money would stay in the county, true, but not the whole truth.

    “During the 5 years of the millage, we should investigate and propose reform” Usually when we vote for a millage, there is a plan in place Not, give us the money, and we’ll work on it for the next 5 years, and maybe we’ll come up with something, or maybe we won’t, or maybe we’ll just come back for a millage renewal, and work on it some more for another 5 years.

    The AAPS has had 5 years to “investigate and propose reform”. Instead, every year when the budget was short, they went to their Fund Equity, ie: their rainy day fund. When that Fund was depleted below where it should be, they now are coming to the taxpayers. Kind of like when Susie keeps coming to Mom for money, until Mom runs out of money, so then Susie goes to Dad. If Dad gives her the money, the behavior doesn’t stop, Susie keeps spending. If Dad says NO, Susie has to curb her spending, and look at ways to do things differently. It’s time to say NO to the AAPS!

  9. Great – thanks.

  10. Any chance you’re going to provide an opportunity from a supporter of the millage to make their case? I’ve heard far too many convoluted arguments and non-sequiters from Kathy Griswold to last a lifetime.

    • You BET!! Read the note just above Griswold’s interview. AAPS Superintendent Dr. Todd Roberts agreed to answer questions regarding the millage. I sent him a set of questions yesterday.

  11. So where is the anti-millage PAC money coming from? I could cut and paste the names and see which ones have been active in union bashing in the past if you like. Including one who threatened to move his business outside of the A2 city limits if an income tax passed. Oh…I guess since he was on the annarbor.com editorial boards (until he resigned after a few days…) that makes him a ‘fair and balanced’ voice.

  12. NEWS FLASH: Why is Steve Norton, co-chair of the Citizens Millage Committee the largest contributor to this effort for Voting No on the City Charter? Thinks it will help his cause of passing the millage? Wish he would apply to the same standard to transparency in educational spending!!!!

  13. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Classroom Supply, A2 Politico. A2 Politico said: New Blog Posting: The Politics of Education: Kathy Griswold On Why the WISD Millage Should Be Defeated http://www.a2politico.com/?p=1325 [...]

  14. David,
    I am not anti-union. I am anti-MEA control of our elected officials. Check my voting record while on the AAPS board from 2001 – 2005. I voted for a three-year contract for our teachers, with 4%, 3%, 3% increases and additional years on the step-increase scale when the economy was good. I voted against the privatization of the lunch employees and stood with union officials from Flint, Michigan who came to a BOE meeting to protest the privatization.

    Yesterday I registered a PAC, Coalition for Responsible Schools for all Students, to advocate for educational reform and to provide an alternative funding source for pro-student candidates running for office from local BOE’s to our state senator.

  15. I would like to hear from the School Board or the Administration about health insurance, why it is good to keep the current arrangement, whether or not imitating Chelsea would save $$, and what % of the school budget is spent on things other than classroom instruction. I don’t want to be in the position of “needing” to trust anyone – I want public information about public institutions from pubic officials.

    I am an AAPS grad, and I have two kids now in AAPS. It’s important that schools have the resources to do the job, and it is true that a good teacher is priceless. It is also true that all public wage and benefit levels in this state were funded, more or less, by the auto industry. With the industry’s implosion, it is hard to see how the status quo can persist in the public entities that it once funded.

    When simply questioning spending decisions, and the political actors involved in setting them, is described as “union busting”, it does not help intelligent public discourse take place. When people get uncomfortable when questions are asked (e.g. the Ann Arbor City Council’s attempt to squelch examination of past year’s e-mails), it suggests that someone has something to hide. Sooner or later, almost all large organizations gain arrogance and loose their sense of accountability (e.g. the auto industry, defense department, Wall Street banks, etc.). This isn’t about unions, the impulse to be unaccountable is simply part of the human condition. Sooner or later, that impulse will be frustrated, and people get called all sorts of names – even “Union buster” – in response.

    There are no un-askable questions about raising and spending public money, and everyone is accountable.

  16. 1. Since Washtenaw Charter Schools are not getting anything in this deal, this millage is not about the kids. Honeycreek is even next to WISD and the tax dollars would be flying right over that school if this millage was approved.

    2. The Citizen’s Millage committee and School Board are using threats, scare tactics and are doing this to our kids at school and to our loyal teachers. –This means this millage is not about the kids. Shame on them!!!! How can we trust the Citizen’s Millage Committee and the School district on anything if these are their tactics?

    3. The governor is playing a political game to get this millage to pass. Instead of giving Hollywood Producers their tax credits where Michigan is only getting a return of 16 cents on the dollar spent, maybe she should give this and other pork to our schools. The smart people in Ann Arbor know the game our governor is playing.

    3. Special Education is paid for and guaranteed by the Federal Government. With this argument, maybe the special education teachers make up 100 teachers total. The student teacher ratio maybe be 19:1 instead of 14:1 stated by Kathy Griswold. This still illustrates teachers that are not teaching since class size is 25-30. The Citizen’s Millage Committee has an invalid argument here.

    4. Ann Arbor residents are paying in $16,000,000 and only getting $11,000,000. $5 million is going to other Washtenaw County School districts. Safehouse or the Salvation Army could changes lives with $5 million dollars. Keep our tax money here; our community needs it.

    7. We, the tax payers in this community would like to know how much time and money the school district has spent on this millage effort. They refused to release this information until after the election. Maybe the money should have been spent on the kids. $1.5 million sounds about correct.

    8. With all the political campaign contributions from the MEA to our school board and other payoffs, how can we trust that we, the Citizens of Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County, are really getting an honest answer on anything including the shortfalls? Think we are smarter than this.

    9. Chelsea School District saved 10% by directly contract BCBSM and not going through the MEA or MESSA. MESSA has $460,000,000 in assets and give a % to the MEA to get more money from the tax payers.

  17. Well teachers need unions because they are employees. Employees need protection. Unions offer protection through collective bargaining. I don’t have a problem with a well compensated teaching staff. I also do not necessarily agree that it is best to privatize janitorial, cafeteria, secretarial and other staff. I’ve heard from some teachers that the upticks in thefts in one AA high school followed the firing of long term janitorial staff who were replaced by an ever revolving corps of dailies.

    There’s no mention of the two expenditures that concern me. One is the top-heavy administration. Administration should be the first to go. Also, there are is a tendency to hire consultants, which one former employee claims is a huge conduit of misspending or worse. Secondly, Skyline High. This school should never have been built. There were so many less costly fixes to overcrowding. And as the opponents to FRP (Fornero’s Resume Padder), there were no operating funds for that school. Who among the board or administration will step up to take responsibility or at least acknowledge it was a big booboo? Absent this awareness why give them a vote of confidence in the form of a millage increase?

    Many teachers are dispirited because they are constrained from actually teaching. Administrators were originally hired to take basically secretarial or bookkeeping work off the hands of instructors. Now they run the joint. This won’t sit well with the anti-teacher faction, but it would be an interesting experiment to return control of schools to a teacher-parent-student team and put administration back where it belongs–in the background.

    This millage is like a heroin fix for an addict. There will be a very brief sigh of relief, a little stupor and then the need for another fix. It aint a fix. I’m going to vote no because this is getting ridiculous. The question is: If the millage fails will the administrators throw themselves on their swords or the kids under the bus?

  18. If “Ann Arbor Public Schools foresaw – and prepared for — this cliff in state funding”, why did they allow operating expenses to continue to grow at twice the rate of inflation for the past 6 years?

    See chart at a2crss.org under Irresponsible Spending.

    This doesn’t seem too foresightful. If we really want to take back control of our public schools, we need to vote NO.

  19. [...] A2politico Interview [...]

  20. “Hmm. Griswold’s real agenda seems to be union-busting. I’m not sure that works for me.”

    Ditto David. I am opposed to the millage but it creeps me out to be on the same side of the fence with some of these chumps. They forget it was their buddy John Engler who drove us over this cliff and even he was too ‘liberal’ for some of them.

    I might have to rethink my vote here if this crap keeps up.

  21. 500th comment–wow!

    A2P, I think unions are a good deal for employers and employees. When I was on the Library Board I supported unions, both for the Library staff and for the workers on the Library’s various building projects. Unionization means a safer workplace and a better workplace, if only because of the grievance procedures that are established as a result of union contracts.

  22. JUST GOT THIS VIA EMAIL:

    Here is a different take on the WISD Millage written by the A2CMC (Ann Arbor Citizens Millage Committee)

    The Latest Talking Points/The Real Facts
    *Ann Arbor Schools learned on Friday that we now have to cut an additional $9 million from our budget this year ($525 per student x 16,489 students). Next year’s deficit will be twice that amount. This millage will make the catastrophe a little less than devastating, but the schools will still need to make cuts.

    *These reductions are in addition to the nearly $2 million in cuts and several million dollars in other reductions in the district budget passed last June. It comes after years of budget cuts in district programs, including more than $16 million in the past four years.

    *Ann Arbor Public Schools foresaw – and prepared for — this cliff in state funding. This millage is a proactive approach to making sure our schools stay adequately funded while the state sorts out its financial crisis. This proposal gives the community an opportunity to understand the district’s financial challenges and that if not supported, the district will proceed with the needed drastic reductions to the operating budget to meet its responsibility for a balanced budget.

    *The millage provides us with some local control over school funding. Traditionally, Ann Arbor has considered education a priority, reflected by the 13.4 mills on homestead property that we had in 1994. Currently, we only have 7.4 mills on homestead property (a 45% decrease since 1994). The 2-mill increase will only take us to 9.4 mills. In the state funding we receive, we get only 38 cents on the dollar we generate, as the rest goes to other districts across the state. In Ann Arbor, this millage will return 71 cents on the dollar, and all of the money stays in our county.

    *Class sizes are already high but manageable. They range from 23-25 students in elementary schools, 28 in middle schools and 29 in high schools. The opposition has been saying that the district has about 14 students/teacher but that’s misleading as this factors in special education teachers who have a much lower student/teacher ratio.

    *Our schools are bearing the cost – and risk – of the current political standoff in Lansing over school funding. These events clearly show that Michigan’s system of funding public education is broken. During the 5 years of the millage, we should investigate and propose reform of education funding. The millage is a short-term plan; the longer-term plan is education funding reform, being led by the Michigan Parents for Students, right here in Ann Arbor. In the meantime, as a community, we must take what steps we can to protect our public schools. The millage is the only option we have, under current law, to take the fate of our schools back into our own hands.

    If you’d like to help with the campaign, please let me know. For more information (or to donate!), please visit http://www.a2cmc.org.

    Laurie Barnett
    Lcbarn@comcast.net
    (734) 996-2849
    It Takes A Millage To Educate A Child
    Vote YES for the Washtenaw Schools Proposal on November 3rd!
    http://a2cmc.org

  23. Hmm. Griswold’s real agenda seems to be union-busting. I’m not sure that works for me.

    • On a COOL note. David, you posted the 500th comment to A2Politico. THANKS!! I wish there were a coffee mug or a refrigerator magnet to send out to you to mark the milestone.

      As for the teacher’s union, can you tell me one good reason why teachers need to be unionized? Except that the NEA needs its $400,000,000 a year? I don’t think Griswold wants to break the union as much as she questions whether School Board members like Susan Baskett and Helen Gates should be taking money from the MEA, and then negotiating contracts with the group.

      Such deals with the devil are clear conflicts of interest, and I think Griswold make a great point about how such “funding” impacts School Board members’ decisions when negotiating contracts.

  24. What an EXCELLENT interview! My favorite line is this:

    “We must balance the extensive influence of the Michigan Education Association by getting parents and community members involved in public education.”

    Everyone is always so busy, but if people won’t come out and support candidates (or get to the polls and vote NO on this issue) than the MEA gets to control our schools, and they do NOT have the best interest of our students as their goal.

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