"Crisis Mode": State Super Says Schools Are In Danger

By: Lauren Zakalik Email
By: Lauren Zakalik Email

Very few have ever compared running a school to running a car company.

But State Superintendent of Schools Mike Flanagan says the similiarities right now are frightening.

"Going into bankruptcy, the GM chairman said 'This is beyond urgent, this is now.' It's the same thing with failing schools. If we don't get all our kids on higher levels of achievement quickly, we're going down. We won't exist," Flanagan says.

Education expert Sharif Shakrani of MSU takes the analogy a step further.

"We should apply the same restructuring at GM, Chrysler and Ford as at the failing schools," Shakrani says.

Why the need now for such urgency? Because so many of Michigan's schools aren't reaching adequate yearly progress, or AYP.

It's an institutional problem at this point, Flanagan says, one that no amount of money can fix.

"I could make a case where money, heck, it could buy smaller class sizes. But there is no money, and there's going to be less money, so suck it up and get ready to move on," he says.

So they're finding other fixes.

Experts say if schools continue to fail year after year, one thing that could be explored would be turning them into charter schools.

Sen. Majority Leader Mike Bishop, (R) Rochester, and Sen. Wayne Kuipers, (R) Holland, introduced legislation Thursday that would allow parents and teachers the ability to take over failing schools and turn them into "neighborhood" public schools.

Rep. Tim Melton, (D) Pontiac, has introduced similar legislation to turn failing schools into charter schools in the House.

"I'd be in favor of any alternative to the existing failing school, whether it's a neighborhood school or a charter school. The bottom line is the school needs to close if it's failed for that long," Flanagan says.

"What I know is if you don't do anything, they will continue to fail fail these kids being served," Shakrani says.

Should Failing Traditional Schools Be Turned Into Charter Or Neighborhood Schools?

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  • by Anonymous on Jun 13, 2009 at 05:02 AM
    Either socialist gov is comming soon,or the complete fall of the USA is going to happen.No jobs collect no tax money.Since so many jobs have went overseas and the gov allowed it what can we expect.Yet with so many jobs gone many are joining the armed forces.See where thats headed?Schools will get cuts,as the way it's headed,ONLY RICH WILL STAND A CHANCE.
  • by Anonymous on Jun 12, 2009 at 07:00 AM
    When organizations are run on politics they fail. If they are run with a mission, they thrive.
  • by a teacher Location: mid-michigan on Jun 11, 2009 at 05:41 PM
    Bravo to the resident! There is much more going on than what happens between the four walls of a school building 9 months a year. You've hit the nail on the head. We have to find a way to engage families, and families need to see the urgency and become involved in their child's education. As far as the anonymous post, I'm not sure how vouchers will improve public schools. This could cause a "brain drain" leaving the most challenging kids in the public school system...and helping noone. Additionally, you should check out state regulations for homeschooling. It is a joke!
  • by Keith Location: Lansing on Jun 11, 2009 at 04:46 PM
    Exactly, Local Resident! You hit the nail on the head. What is the difference between Detroit Schools and say Bloomfield Hills or Okemos Schools? Parents investing in their children and valuing education.
  • by Melanie Location: Dewitt on Jun 11, 2009 at 04:06 PM
    Any suggestions by legislators, or State School Superintendent that we should turn our schools into charter schools tells me one thing. THEY"VE GIVEN UP! There is no other reason why they'd scare the public with talk of bankruptcy and turning them to charter schools. If the state of Michigan would stop giving tax cuts to everyone who starts a business here and stays for a year, we might have revenue to keep the schools going. The fact that a Governor would set the crazy standards she has, then cut funding to the same schools shows education is last on the list. You can't ask more of someone then give them less to achieve it, it doesn't work. Roll up the sleeves, look at the budget, and truly cut in areas where you can. Then knock on the Governors door and show her the bill for the remainder of the budget. Just giving up is not an option when you are talking about a child's education and future.
  • by Anonymous on Jun 11, 2009 at 03:28 PM
    If you give vouchers to anyone to go to private schools or home schools, you will see a dramatic improvements in these schools.
  • by Local Resident on Jun 11, 2009 at 03:06 PM
    I am curious when the state is going to start working on parents and families to support their students? Many of these children, and their schools, are failing because students come to school and they are not ready to learn. They don't know how to behave in a classroom, they have not been read to or exposed to books, they are not fed, they move two or three times in a year, and their parents do not value education. I agree that our schools need work, but so do our families. Until our students come to school ready to learn, and with a family that values learning, we cannot move forward.
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