Skubick: One lawmaker's candid remarks about Detroit schools

How refreshing to have a lawmaker who is refreshingly candid.

The norm is when the heat gets turned on, many politicians reach for the fog machine. Apparently Rep. Tim Kelly doesn't own one.

There he was being peppered with questions during the recent 'Off the Record' broadcast when the issue of the financial mess in the Detroit schools came up.

"They had their chance (and) they blew it!"

And then he suggested maybe it was time to think about eliminating the district altogether and starring over.

How's that for being candid?

But there is a price to pay for being that way. You take incoming fire. More on that in a second.

The chair of the K-12 budget also admits that the state has a role in all this since, "there is culpability. We've been involved. We have some blood on our hands."

By that, he means the state has been up to its eyeballs over the last ten years trying to help turn the district around with one EM after another with little to show for it.

Which is why the governor has a "reform" agenda which the Saginaw Republican is willing to ponder but not without some reforms.

The governor may request $50 million that was set aside in the school aid budget next year for the Detroit deficit and, if he does, Rep. Kelly could cough up a yes vote if, for example, the state wrote a check to the Detroit parents and allowed them to decide which schools to use.

If you think that sounds like a voucher system, you think right.

But the savvy Mr. Kelly doesn't like that word. He prefers "expanded choice." And if he got that, "in a heart beat" he would sign off on the sending state dollars to reduce the deficit.

As for his critics. They came unglued from the teacher's union to local legislators who thought it was absolutely absurd to even hint at such a dissolution strategy.

While the lawmaker got some "atta boys" from some "influential" outsiders, his phone was not initially ringing off the hook from colleagues some of whom may conclude this hot potato is not worth touching as they head over to the corner for their fog machine.
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