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Letter to the Editor: Local Mom Asks State Lawmakers 'Are You Serious?' About Education Bills

Birmingham mom of two Courteney Gettel tells lawmakers in Lansing she plans on holding them accountable if educational reform bills pass.

This letter was received by Birmingham Patch Editor Laura Houser. The author sent it to all legislators representing the Birmingham Public Schools (BPS) district in the State House and State Senate. It is reprinted here with permission from the author.

Good Afternoon Everyone!

I thought about making this a BCC, but that would be rude and make it look like the normal, form letter. I am nowhere near boring and the words “form letter” don’t fit me.

So, this is why I am taking MY time to write to you. I am a mother of two who has fought her husband CONTINUOUSLY to stay in BPS Schools. My husband has tried for years to get me to move closer to his work (he works in Walled Lake) and move our kids. In the last year, I have had three different offers from people wanting to buy my shack (trust me, it is) and I have turned them down FLAT!  I have a son who is a freshman at Seaholm High School and was recently diagnosed with a learning disability. I have a daughter is able to hold her own at Derby Middle School (this is quite the feat given Derby’s reputation). 

I spend quite a bit of time in various schools and local homes as I am professionally known as “The Lice Lady.” Yes, that’s right folks, I spend my time picking bugs out of people’s hair. Believe it or not, it can be fun. OK, enough of the Itchy and Scratchy show.

Now apparently the Legislature in Lansing (I am guessing this includes all of you) is trying to muck around with the school system and turn Birmingham Schools into what will amount to Detroit Schools. Seriously? Are you joking?  Have you seen what those folks have done to their school system? I mean, Proposal A screwed BPS royally and taking away of the 420 fund (at least I think it was that one) sealed the deal. We have been fighting to stay afloat and our school board is the best in the nation and has done it successfully. 

Now you want to be able to let people attend BPS who don’t pay our taxes or live in our city? That’s called freeloading! This means I will have to fight EVERY year to get my kid into a proper classroom with the proper amount of students and hope to the heavens that they won’t get lost in the shuffle. I mean, come on. I don’t just hand the city $10,000 a year in property taxes for my TINY ranch house just for my health. And please don’t sit there and say my taxes will go down. We all know when you live in Birmingham and attend BPS schools, you have to pay for the privilege to be there.

I grew up in television news. My family was highly respected in the state of Connecticut. One thing my father taught me, only speak up when needed. So now, I am speaking up. Now I am telling you find another way to “fix our schools.” I promise you this — I will take another HARD look at the ballot come election time if things continue to slide. Yes, that’s right, I am holding YOU ALL accountable via vote should these bills pass.

Best Always,
Courteney Gettel

P.S.:  In case you forgot, I am talking about HB5923, HB6004, & SB358.  Sorry I didn’t mention it sooner, but I thought you might get the gist when you read what I wrote.

P.P.P.S.:  See?  Told you I am definitely NOT a form letter kind of mom!

For more on this topic in Birmingham

  • Letter to the Editor: State Education Legislation is 'Bad for Birmingham'
  • BLOG: Hey Teacher! (and Mom and Dad) Leave Those Kids Alone!
  • Learn About the Education Reform Plan the School Board Calls 'Bad for Birmingham'
  • Letter to the Editor: Birmingham Parent Wary of Education Legislation
  • Birmingham School Board Formally Opposes State Education Overhaul

The viewpoints in this letter are those of the writers, and Patch is not responsible for any ideas portrayed as facts. For questions and clarifications, please leave a comment below or contact editor Laura Houser at laura.houser@patch.com or 248-534-9780.

Ken Jackson December 04, 2012 at 01:43 PM
This letter could be usefully reposted on Bloomfield Patch and other relevant patches.
Kim December 04, 2012 at 02:50 PM
I sent a letters out too...received a jerky one back...where I literally went off on the guy! He called our area "choice" students...basically implying screw you...pay for private school...as he compared our schools to private school...what about the poor kids in detroit, pontiac, etc...If these people want to help their schools educate them how to vote in the right people! Instead of voting in crooks that steal their money and don't help the kids...and teach the parents to be there for their kids...show up for conferences, etc...show they give a sh** then maybe just maybe those schools can do well themselves!
Ken Jackson December 04, 2012 at 02:58 PM
Kim, The letter is probably from Chuck Moss. He is a leader of school "reform" in this state and he has a history of ignoring parents in Birmingham and BHSD. He is being termed out of office but plans to run again from Senator Pappageorge's seat.
Rick Haglund December 04, 2012 at 03:45 PM
Yes, state lawmakers pushing these bills are dead serious. The Republicans who control state government are very big on "freedom." In K-12 education, "freedom" to them means there should be no artificial school district boundaries and that students should be allowed to attend any school they want. The 1994 passage of Proposal A, which shifted more of the school funding burden to the state, now allows them to control the purse strings. This ultimately will end local control of schools, unless there is massive pushback. And it can't come just from high spending school districts such as Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills and Grosse Pointe There is no sympathy in Lansing for these school districts, despite the fact that they are among the best in Michigan.
Courteney Gettel December 04, 2012 at 03:54 PM
Thank you.... I think?
Ken Jackson December 04, 2012 at 04:18 PM
Mr. Haglund, I agee. I would only add there is little sympathy in Oakland County, too, for these Districts (odd as that sounds). Our local Rep, Chuck Moss, will enable this wholesale reform by passing HB6004 during his lame duck session.
Margaret Betts December 04, 2012 at 05:28 PM
Now now. Chuck Moss did help pass a law so pet owners didn't have to make so many trips to get their dogs properly licensed...........He works SO hard for us............
Ken Jackson December 04, 2012 at 05:58 PM
Thanks Margaret. I didn't mean to be unfair to Mr. Moss. I only wish he would tell his constituents clearly how the school reform playbook works: 1) HB 6004 (fully establish EAA and get hold of a few choice buildings) 2) HB 5923 (guarantee any local charters get district money, further defunding districts) 3) rewrite school aid act so that "District" as we understand it literally has no meaning thus further extending effects of 6004 and 5923. He won't.
Christine Milly December 04, 2012 at 06:15 PM
If you think Arthur`s story is unbelievable..., last pay cheque my brother basically brought home $8759 grafting eighteen hours a week in their apartment and their neighbor's step-sister`s neighbour was doing this for seven months and got paid more than $8759 part time at there labtop. apply the steps available on this page...http://www.jump14.com/
Birmingham Mom December 05, 2012 at 01:57 PM
Mega dittos, Courtney!!!
Jon Awbrey December 06, 2012 at 04:18 AM
Here are a couple of Facebook pages that are good for keeping up with education issues on the Michigan front: Michigan Parents For Schools • http://www.facebook.com/groups/42913373442 Save Michigan's Public Schools • http://www.facebook.com/SaveMIPublicSchools
Mac December 06, 2012 at 04:22 AM
Mr. Moss will certainly have a brighter political future if he represents the constituents who elected him, and who will be called on to elect him for future positions. These bills are bad for Birmingham and bad for Bloomfield. If Mr. Moss does not vote "No", we will know he does not represent the best interests of this area.
Margaret Betts December 06, 2012 at 04:27 PM
I was only kidding Ken!
Rick Haglund December 06, 2012 at 08:48 PM
I watched Gov. Snyder's news conference this morning on right-to-work legislation being introduced today. Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville said at the news conference that right-to-work is all about "freedom." He also said the government should not require motorists to wear seat belts or prevent people from smoking in bars and restaurants. This "freedom" agenda will be the guiding principle of Republicans in every aspect of Michigan public policy in the coming year, including education.

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