Thursday, June 21, 2012
Michigan Muskegon Heights School District Privatizes all its schools
The Muskegon Heights Public Schools district is run by an emergency manager because of its debt. As a solution to the debt crisis the manager Don Weatherspoon is asking for bids from charter management companies. In effect this is a wholesale privatization of the entire public system in the area.
Davide Martell who is executive director of the Michigan School Business Officials put a positive spin on this disaster. He said: "It's a novel way to think about it. And it may be the answer for those districts that are so far severely in deficit it may be the light at the end of the tunnel," However even Martell had nagging questions: "There's a lot of questions here for me, and I don't think (the answers) have seen the light of day yet."
The 1400 students in the district would be educated by a charter management company which would receive so much per pupil to pay their expenses presumably pocketing a profit at the same time. The district would still oversee the charter operator and be responsible for taxation to pay off the 12 million dollar deficit. The details have not been worked out yet.
A big problem is that only two charter operators have so far shown interest in taking over the operation. Among the two operators only one school is even ranked above the 50 per cent level in the Michigan ranking system. On the other hand nineteen schools are below the 30th percentile, and 14 below the 20th per centile. It seems that the students in the district are assured of a below par education. For more see this article. Rather than quality education this privatization is focused on profit and debt reduction. This is a win win situation for everyone but the students.