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I apologize for being AWOL on this issue after posting several in-depth diaries about Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and his GOP allies' attempts to ram through several devastating bills which would effectively wipe out the public education system in the state if passed:

--Michigan Public School System being destroyed. RIGHT NOW.
--Michigan: Bloomfield Hills Superintendent Letter Gone Viral!
--Michigan: In case you needed more proof that this is just a big money grab...
--Michigan: Here's what the future holds for the whole state

I'm afraid that I've had some pressing unrelated business to attend to over the past few days, and have been unable to keep dKos up to date on the latest. Fortunately, I can rely on Michigan Parents for Schools and Save Michigan's Public Schools to keep everyone abreast of the latest:

Update on EAA legislation:

Neither the Senate nor House Education committees acted on the EAA bills (HB 6004/SB 1358) in their meetings today. Negotiations to find changes that will attract a majority are ongoing, but a number of Republican legislators are really digging their heels in on this one, despite great pressure from their leadership. The $64K question now is if the bills will continue to sit in committee or be discharged straight to the floor. In either case, by the time a vote takes place, the die will be cast. (They won't bring it to a public vote unless they know they have the votes.) This is why keeping the pressure on now is so important.

What's critical right now is that those legislators who are resisting the huge pressure to vote for some kind of EAA bill get our thanks. Republican members have been told that they should never bother defending public schools because the "education people" will never give them credit or thanks.

Strong, community governed public schools don't have to be a partisan issue - they didn't use to be. Even if you disagree with your legislator on other issues, when they do the right thing on education you should let them know that you noticed it and appreciate it. (Likewise, when they don't do right by our schools, you should let them know that you saw that, too, and will remember.) That goes for members of either party. This kind of stuff matters more than you might expect.

In other words, the pressure seems to be working, but we have to turn up the screws. Here's a sample script for Michigan residents to use when calling their state legislators to vote NO on the entire batch of education-destroying bills:

Remember, you don't have to read these verbatim--it's better if you use your natural speaking/writing voice or tone. These should just make it easier to organize the key concerns in your head when calling/writing. Also, make sure to be polite; remember, whoever you're talking to is likely just doing their job; state your name, explain why you're calling, explain what your concerns are and then reiterate that you're strongly opposed to these bills.

The aide you speak with will likely simply ask for your contact information and should remain mostly silent while you speak, unless you ask them a direct question (which, at the end, you should--find out whether the Rep/Senator has publicly stated how they intend to vote on the bills).

Your wording should also be slightly modified depending on whether you're calling your Representative, Senator or Gov. Snyder due to the different bills involved, but all 4 of them are designed to interact, so you can mention them in relation to each other.

Here's the contact information for everyone again:

Governor Rick Snyder
P.O. Box 30013
Lansing, MI 48909
Tel: 517.335.7858 (Constituent Services)

Senator John Pappageorge (R)
13th State Senate District (City BH)
1020 Farnum Building
P.O. Box 30036
Lansing, MI 48909-7536
Tel: 517.373.2523

Senator Mike Kowall (R)
15th State Senate District (W. Blfld.)
305 Farnum Building
P.O. Box 30036 Lansing, MI 48909
Tel: 517.373.1758

Rep. Chuck Moss (R)
40th State Rep. District (Blfld. Twp/City)
S0889 House Office Building
P.O. Box 30014
Lansing, MI 48909
Tel: 517.373.8670

Rep. Lisa Brown (D)
39th State Rep. District (W. Blfld.)
S0888 House Office Building
P.O. Box 30014
Lansing, MI 48909-7514
Tel: 517.373.1799

Rep. Marty Knollenberg (R)
41st State Rep. District (Troy)
N0890 House Office Building
P.O. Box 30014
Lansing, MI 48909
Tel: 517.373.1783

Members of the House Education Committee
(these are the Reps who will decide whether to take these bills to the full House this week or not)

Rep. Thomas Hooker (Maj. VC) (517) 373-2277
Rep. Jon Bumstead (517) 373-7317
Rep. Hugh Crawford (517) 373-0827
Rep. Ray Franz (517) 373-0825
Rep. Kurt Heise (517) 373-3816
Rep. Aric Nesbitt (517) 373-0839
Rep. Margaret O'Brien (517) 373-1774
Rep. Amanda Price (517) 373-0838
Rep. Deb Shaughnessy (517) 373-0853
Rep. Ken Yonker (517) 373-0840

Hello. My name is ____ and I'm a constituent in your district. I'm calling you today to ask you to oppose (House Bill 6004 / Senate Bill 1358), the plan to allow for a statewide school district, along with House Bill 5923, the plan to allow unlimited new charter schools / create a “parent trigger”. I’m also opposed to Senate Bill 620, the so-called “Parent Trigger” bill which was passed by the state Senate earlier this year and is now under consderation by the House.

—Regarding (House Bill 6004 / Senate Bill 1358), I’m deeply concerned that this statewide school “district” would be run by a Governor-appointed Chancellor and would function outside the authority of not only the local school boards and superintendents, but would even bypass the State Board of Education and State school Superintendent.

I’m deeply concerned that the EAA schools would be exempt to many of the laws regarding testing requirements, standards and quality control that traditional community-governed public schools are.

I’m deeply concerned that the EAA would be allowed to seize unused school buildings—built and financed by local taxpayers—and force the sale or lease of these buildings to charter, non-public or EAA schools with no local control.

I’m deeply concerned with the idea that this new district is not limited to only the lowest-performing schools and what it might mean for my local school district if one of these EAA schools opened where I live.

—Regarding House Bill 5923, I’m deeply concerned that this would allow the EAA to create unlimited numbers and forms of charter and cyberschools with no local authority over their number or type and with little or no oversight or accountability for their quality or effectiveness.

—I’m deeply concerned that the selective enrollment (and DIS-enrollment) policies would cause greater segregation and would open up the schools to potential discrimination lawsuits.

—I’m further concerned that these privately-operated charter/online schools would siphon public funds without increasing total funding available, resulting in fewer resources available for traditional public schools.

—Regarding Senate Bill 620, already passed by Senate, I’m deeply opposed to forcing the lowest-achieving 5% of schools to be converted to private charter schools without allowing the local parent/teaching community to petition for other reform models. I’m concerned that this would be done even in cases where the school in question is already showing improvement.

I’m also highly disturbed that these bills are being rushed through the Legislature with little notice, no transparancy about their development and virtually no opportunity for public comment or discussion.

In short, I’m concerned that these bills would disenfranchise the local voters and end local control, while simultaneously turning over taxpayer-owned property and public funds to private, for-profit companies, without any oversight, accountability or quality control, while possibly bypassing the state Constitution in doing so.

Please oppose House Bills 6004, 5923 and the House version of the “Parent Trigger” bill.

Has the (Representative / Senator) stated how he/she intends to vote on these bills?

Originally posted to Brainwrap on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 08:59 PM PST.

Also republished by Michigan, My Michigan.

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