This morning’s news brought an AP story that’s making the rounds about Detroit Public Schools being a shining example of how to re-purpose old school buildings. It is reported that other major metropolitan school systems are looking to DPS as a model for handling their shuttered schools. While no one argues that the population of Detroit has plummeted over the years, and their school enrollment reflects that trend, it is still disturbing to know that the city’s infrastructure is being parted-out like an old Buick — sold to the highest bidder.
The DPS real estate website currently lists 79 structures on the market. Previously sold properties frequently went to charter and private schools, but the AP report indicates this is no longer the practice:
Detroit no longer sells to charter schools, which compete for students and state funding. But the city is aggressive in its efforts to sell and lease buildings, said Tammy Deane, a former residential and commercial real estate broker who manages the district’s real estate office.
If Mackinac Center for Public Policy has their way, Michigan can expect to have a booming real estate market — in public school buildings.
Upon conducting a Google search on “Michigan Public Schools”, one will likely find a paid ad at the top of the results from the private cyber school K-12, Inc., which has aggressively been trying to capture the market as districts starved for revenues across the state find themselves in varying degrees of financial stress under the Snyder administration’s education austerity policy.
One will also find a press-release style article published today from the Mackinac Center, titled Michigan Should Look to Florida to Improve Public Education. The report cites an in-house study conducted by a Mackinac Center employee that touts education “reforms” the GOP-led Florida legislature have enacted that increase privatization through charter and cyber expansion (primarily through K-12, Inc.), offer a “tuition tax credit” (i.e. voucher scheme), and allow for a degradation of teacher certification. The Mackinac Center report attempts to argue that Florida is making vast strides in improving education under this scheme — a claim that is buttressed by, yup, you guessed it: standardized test scores.
Florida, like Michigan, isn’t necessarily buying what their lawmakers are selling though. The Bradenton Herald reports that a recent probe conducted by the Florida Department of Education Inspector General found the following disturbing information:
A virtual learning company, K12 Inc., has contracts with 43 of the state’s 67 school districts, including Manatee and Sarasota. Last year, the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting discovered the company employed teachers without proper certifications and then asked workers to cover up the fraudulent practice.
Florida’s per pupil funding is in free-fall under harsh GOP legislative measures. In the 2007-08 school year, it had been at $6,500, that’s a little less than Michigan’s lowest allowance. This year, Florida students will receive just $4,800 a piece — a decrease that the Bradenton Herald says will only serve to further the cyber school encroachment on traditional public education, and will increase the student-to-teacher ratio dramatically. These “schools”, with their dubiously credentialed teachers, will be reduced to little more than teach-to-the-test factories.
Yes Michigan — this is the future the Mackinac Center for Public Policy envisions for your children — cogs in a corporate wheel.
Amy Kerr Hardin
(Update: the original Mackinac Center url link is for some unknown reason not working, so Democracy Tree updated it to renew the url link. Also, their report can be located at: http://www.mackinac.org/archives/2013/s2013-02.pdf unless that link mysteriously dissapears too…)