In a move timed to correspond with a series of informational meetings on the potentially sweeping education reform currently making its way through the Michigan legislature, the Birmingham Board of Education passed a resolution Tuesday formally opposing the bills.
During a special meeting Tuesday night, the school board passed a resolution in opposition to House Bill 5923, House Bill 6004 and State Bill 1358.
The resolution "implores legislators and the governor to avoid proposals that create more layers of governement to solve pressing educational problems."
"These changes will drastically change the face of public education, and it's something to be very concerned about," said Birmingham Schools Superintendent Daniel Nerad in a statement. "Politicians in Lansing are making these changes during the lame duck session that will benefit special interest groups using our tax dollars."
"They shift power from our elected school board officials and give them to the governor," Nerad added. "There is no research being used to support these changes, which look remarkably like a public voucher system."
This isn't the first show of opposition to the series of bills from the Birmingham Board of Education. School board members first penned their opposition in a Letter to the Editor published in the Birmingham Patch on Nov. 26, in which the board called the bills "bad for Birmingham."
"These bills will gut the competitive educational excellence our communities expect and undermine the very structure which supports strong property values," the letter reads. "They create a new Lansing bureaucracy that tells Birmingham and other high performing schools how to operate."
In addition, school board members discussed the legislation at their Nov. 13 meeting, noting that the bills threaten the effort Birmingham Public Schools have made to create "an elite district."
"We are an elite district," school board trustee Robert Lawrence said. "We have worked hard. Our parents have high expectations and they have paid more money to get the best results."
Birmingham's own outgoing legislator, State Rep. Chuck Moss (R-Birmingham) told the Birmingham City Commission on Nov. 26 that he has an issue with reform that takes away local control.
"People pay to live here and be in this district," Moss told the city commisssion. "To simply say you can enjoy the benefits of the Birmingham school system without paying the taxes is just free-riding and I'm not OK with that."
Oakland Schools superintendent calls bills 'unbelievable' at Royal Oak meeting
The discussion around the education reform bills has heat up not only in Birmingham, but surrounding cities as well.
On Tuesday, Oakland Schools Superintendent Vickie Markavitch told a crowd at Royal Oak Middle School that "unbelievable things are happening in Lansing."
Superintendents from Bloomfield Hills, Royal Oak, Lamphere, Clawson and Southfield joined more than 350 concerned residents during the afternoon and evening sessions of what was billed as a "call to action."
“There is really important work that has to be done,” said Markavitch. “What’s worrying me about this work that has to be done is it’s being pushed forward so quickly, so fast and in such a rushed order that it’s almost faster than people can learn about it.”
In Birmingham, parents are also worried.
"While I don't think anyone would argue that there isn't a need for improvements and advances in the education system, there are several very serious flaws to these bills," Birmingham parent Cris Braun wrote in a Letter to the Editor published in the Birmingham Patch on Nov. 27. "It equates to building a house on shifting sands, something no prudent person would do."
Ask your own questions at informational meetings
A series of informational meetings has been schedule throughout Oakland County to help answer questions about the proposals. The schedule is as follows:
- Monday, Dec. 3, 4 p.m. Rochester High School
- Monday, Dec. 3, 6:30 pm. 180 S. Livernois, Rochester 48307
- Tuesday, Dec. 4, 4 p.m. Clarkston Jr. High School
- Tuesday, Dec. 4, 6:30 p.m. 6595 Waldon Road, Clarkston 48346
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