In and outs of the political campaigns, focusing on Michigan and Lansing, Tim Skubick will report regularly throughout the primary and then general election campaigns.
Sunday, August 17, 2008
Charter Can of Worms
Infusing more charter schools in the Detroit School system has always been a ticking time bomb. When she and the mayor were talking ions ago, Gov. Jennifer Granholm and Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick put the kybosh on an ambitious proposal from a millionaire who wanted to invest $200 million in such a project. At the time the word was Granholm and Kilpatrick did it to protect union jobs at the Detroit Federation of Teachers. Now comes the Granholm administration's top education guy calling for…you guessed it, more charter schools in Detroit. The MSM in Detroit missed the story as it remains fixated on the "other" more sensational Kilpatrick sa ga, and Mike Flanagan should thank his lucky stars nobody read his remarks. Well actually not everybody missed them when he said, "I think there's a place for them" and "I think people should be open to all the alternatives." Charter school advocates got wind of the remarks and circulated them faster than Jim Leyland can yank a lousy relief hurler from the mound. It is unclear if the Flanagan remarks reflect a shift in thinking in the front office or whether he was just being true to his charter school philosophy honed while he ran the Wayne Intermediate School District. "I started charter schools," Flanagan reports. There's clearly been a shift in attitude over at the Michigan Education Association which now represents union workers at charter schools. A below the radar outreach strategy has been launche d with former candidate for governor Doug Ross included in the effort. Ross runs a successful charter in the Motor City and he the MEA may be part of an effort to expand the movement there. Which brings us back to the DFT where union leaders have been dead set against charters since the word was invented. Could we have a teacher union civil war with the MEA and the DFT at odds? Could Flanagan be in trouble for opening this charter can of worms without the governor's blessing? And let's not lose sight of the fact that many Detroiters, who have kids in the Detroit Public Schools, are looking for alternatives and are voting with their feet as they leave the district in droves. All this means the charter debate may be moving to the front pages, once that "other" story is resolved.