Michigan Republicans derailing plans to fix Detroit schools

By Mike Renda, General Manager

The clock is ticking on the solvency of the Detroit Public School system and as we approach this critical moment of reckoning, it is obvious not everyone is working toward a meaningful solution.

In Lansing, a group of ideological House Republicans have decided to "hold DPS hostage" and propose several draconian measures including restrictions on collective bargaining, reduced retirement benefits and a ridiculous eight-year phase in for an elected Detroit school board.

This is nothing more than a blatant and mean-spirited attempt to derail any practical solution to the Detroit schools crisis. It has been widely known for months that if a fix is not found before April the schools could close and technically become bankrupt.

Fortunately, a more responsible plan has been championed by state Senator Geoff Hansen, a Republican from the Muskegon area, and it has been met much more positively.

His pragmatic plan includes these basic components:

-Detroit will have a locally elected school board immediately that is accountable and responsible

-The state will assume over $500 million debt created under emergency management and pay it off over ten years

-An education commission will be established with powers to include opening and closing schools in Detroit.

-Charter school operations will become transparent and are included in the solution.

-Retired Federal Bankruptcy Judge Stephen Rhodes who oversaw Detroit's bankruptcy process has been asked by Governor Rick Snyder to play a key role in the adoption of these reforms.

-We know he has firsthand experience with a gigantic public bankruptcy but more importantly he has been able to speak eloquently to state legislators about how Detroit will never truly be "fixed" until a permanent solution to the school crisis is found.

The bottom line is this: we can no longer wait -- we implore the Michigan legislature to adopt the Senate plan to fix our broken school system now.

The stakes have never been higher - 45,000 kids in the city of Detroit can no longer be ignored and their educational needs kicked down the road!

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