Retiring State Superintendent wants board to be returned to citizens

You are within days of your retirement and a pesky gaggle of reporters wants to drag you into one more controversy.

"I'm leaving," opined soon to be ex-state school superintendent Mike Flanagan when asked to weigh in on the debate on the next Detroit school board election.

"Why would I get into this at the very last moment?" he wondered.

The Mayor of Detroit is calling for a vote this fall.

The governors calling for a phase in of a new board over a number of years.

So, where be you Mr. Flanagan?

"I'm not dodging you," he reassured the capitol scribes, "but I don't have clarity in my head. I'm too much in the middle."

But then, as he usually does, he put down his guard and shared his feelings on the voting rights of Detroiters. And he has strong feelings as he has labored long and hard in the education trenches on behalf of those  who need help. He believes deeply in local control which has been abridged  by the state in the DPS for as long as you can remember.

First of all he contends that the Emergency Manager system for supposedly turning schools around has seen it's last days. "It has outlived its usefulness," he argues.

He believes that a new school board should be elected "sooner than later (and) the faster the better."

But he is not ready to pick sides. What he does know is that "ultimately" the board has to be returned to the citizens.

The governor is keeping his powder dry beating back a story in the media that he had already rejected the mayor's invitation to dance. He's in a self-described "input receiving mode."

And while Mr. F. is at it, he encourages his colleagues in the education community to embrace the state aid for Detroit because "these are our children", plus he thinks the state has a legal obligation to do it.

And he warns that his friends should not say one thing and then "go lobby" behind the scenes for the same money for their districts.

"That's happened" in the past. "I hope it's not happening now."

In vintage Flanagan-ize he concludes, "If you make a moral case, they'll get behind it."


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