I call it the “L. Brooks Patterson effect.”
The venerable, if flawed, Oakland County Executive has done such a masterful job in his 30 plus years of public service that most of us comfortably assume Oakland County always will be, well, Oakland County: affluent, a destination, the place – aside from Ann Arbor – that puts Michigan on the national and even international map. What happens elsewhere, particularly in Detroit or depopulated parts of the thumb where militias periodically form, won’t hurt us too much.
Even those to the political left of Mr. Patterson rest comfortably. Many that are not here still strive to get here if, for no other reason, the “schools.” The draw of the schools, in fact, kept the housing market here at least functional after the bust of 2007. Young families hustled in and a strong rental market -- driven largely by parents looking to get their kids in to a good district -- kept many property owners going. Birmingham schools is literally losing count of its enrollment. BHSD voted to build a new high school. Now that the housing market has stabilized somewhat, Matthew Gibb, Deputy Executive of Oakland County, recently told our local Representative Chuck Moss on his “Eye on Oakland” Television Program that Oakland County is enjoyable to market in large part because of the schools, including the public schools.
Given the L. Brooks effect, then, when Republican Governor Snyder announced his intentions in June or so of 2011 to remake public education in Michigan, not too many in Oakland County and its top rated school districts even flinched.
But then -- Boom! Surprise! There was a sudden jolt, almost as if fireworks were being shot off in a sleepy quiet suburb on a Tuesday evening! The cicadas stop. Is it a holiday? Who is doing that? Who brought that noise in to my neighborhood?
It became strikingly clear to everyone in Oakland County that Governor Snyder’s school reforms target them, too. “Any where, Any Time, Any Place, Any Way” education –by definition – systematically erodes all Districts, including those high functioning Districts in Oakland County.
Who brought the fireworks to town?
Perhaps lulled by the L. Brooks effect himself, Chuck Moss repeatedly has been telling hundreds of constituents to calm down, school reform has nothing to do with their schools, and that – in his last few weeks as a state representative – he needs to do something between now and Christmas to help the kids in Detroit by passing the first major piece of legislation (HB6004) that will make Governor Snyder’s school reforms possible.
Here is part of his reply to concerned constituents:
“But what about kids from Detroit Public Schools, Hyland Park [sic], of [sic] Flint? These are low performing schools that have failed generations of kids. Do we condemn these children to ignorance . . . until a reform plan comes along that perfect?”
May be Mr. Moss does think Detroit, Hyland Park [sic], and Flint needs his help in his last few weeks of office. May be he thinks he can ignore constituents pleading with him not to make a lasting change to schools -- and property values.
Such is the power of the L. Brooks effect. Everything always will be alright here.