DPS plan should not exclude currently elected school board members

Detroit already has an elected school board...
Detroit already has an elected school board…

At least there’s some movement, but now the question is whether the movement is going in the right direction.
The Michigan Senate has announced today their proposal for how to move forward with fixing Detroit Public Schools, including Gov. Snyder’s proposal of providing immediate access to more more than $700 million that would be used to retire the short term debt plus provide sufficient amount to launch the planned New and Improved DPS model. Also included in the proposal is a welcome – and long overdue – plan to provide local elections for the school board as early as August.
The only thing – and it is a rather major thing – that greatly tarnishes this attempt to return DPS back to local control is the fact that we already have a locally elected school board. It’s not like they vanished into thin air once Gov. Snyder forced DPS to remain under emergency management despite what the voters said they wanted in Nov. 12 when they voted to put an end to that very questionable system of governance. What makes it worse is that the currently elected school board will be prevented from running for the open seats in the upcoming election, should this legislation become law after making its way through the House. Instead, according to a March 22 report in The Detroit Free Press:

“The deal on the table in the Senate, according to the source and to draft copies of the bills obtained by the Free Press, conforms to Gov. Rick Snyder’s proposed DPS restructuring, splitting the district into two entities. The old district, with DPS’ current elected board in charge, would exist solely to collect the district’s operating millage and pay down its debt. The new district would receive the state’s per-pupil allowance, and educate students.”

Meaning that the school board that was already elected by the people of Detroit – the same people who by a majority of more than 80 percent voted to abolish emergency management in 2012 – will essentially be sent into the closet to collect dust, never to be seen or heard from again.
In short, this is wrong. Very wrong. At the the very least, if the elected school board can’t be permitted to resume their empowered duties, they should be given the opportunity to fight for the right to reclaim the positions that were bestowed upon them by the people of Detroit. In the spirit of democracy and voting rights, they deserve at least that much respect. Because right now it looks as if they’re being punished simply for not being elected at the right time – and for having the nerve not to back down.

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