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UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER 15:  Mark Schauer  (Photo By Douglas Graham/Roll Call/Getty Images)
Former Congressman Mark Schauer says he would put tougher regulations on charter schools if he’s elected governor. The Battle Creek Democrat says Gov. Rick Snyder has given bad charter operators a “free pass.”

“We need to write into law the oversight that was left out when Rick Snyder lifted the cap on the number of charter schools,” said Schauer. “It’s the Wild West right now, and these schools see kids with dollar signs on their foreheads.”

His comments come on the heels of a Detroit Free Press investigation on Michigan charter schools. It suggests a lack of transparency, conflicts of interest, and mixed academic results.

Schauer says institutions should lose their ability to charter new schools if more than 10% of their existing schools are failing academically. He wants to give charter school board members the same authority over school policy as elected school board members. And Schauer wants to subject for-profit management companies to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). - Michigan Radio, 6/26/14

Here's what Schauer is proposing:

■Requiring charter schools to post all contracts online and make the schools and the for-profit management companies running the schools subject to Michigan’s Freedom of Information Act.

■Giving charter school board members real authority over the schools and their finances.

■Preventing charter schools from spending unlimited money on advertising.

■Requiring that any group or university that authorizes charter schools lose their ability to charter more schools if more than 10% of their schools are failing.

The Free Press investigation, which started publishing on Sunday, found charter schools spend nearly $1 billion in state taxpayer funds with little transparency and accountability. Many charters are run by for-profit management companies that contend they do not have to disclose how they spend the school’s money beyond broad budget categories.

The investigation also found shortcomings in the state charter law that allow conflicts of interest to persist, a problem since the first charters opened 20 years ago. And the newspaper found board members who were removed by their school’s authorizer when they asked their management company to be more transparent about school finances. - Detroit Free Press, 6/26/14

Here's what Schauer had to add:

Schauer called for "strict oversight and strict accountability" of for-profit charter operators, and said the state should put the brakes on creating any new charters for now.

"I think there should be a halt until we review accountability and oversight measures for Michigan charter schools," Schauer said.

Michigan leads the nation in the number of charter schools operated by for-profit companies, and one of the largest for-profit operators in the country, National Heritage Academies, is headquartered in Grand Rapids.

"I don't believe that public education is a for-profit venture. I believe we should be pouring every dollar we can into the classroom," Schauer said.

He also promised to limit advertising spending by for-profit operators, citing what he said was more than $300,000 in spending by NHA in response to a Detroit Free Press investigation into charter schools.

"That's $300,000 that won't go into Michigan classrooms, educating Michigan students," Schauer said.

Schauer also called for giving charter school board members more control over a school's operation, and said they should be chosen from the local community to make them accountable to the public. - MLive, 6/26/14

Charter schools aren't the only the only thing on Schauer's mind:

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer is hammering the administration of Governor Rick Snyder over the Grand Bargain deal signed last week to help guide the city of Detroit out of bankruptcy. The deal includes almost 200 million dollars in state money for the city in exchange for some temporary financial oversight and small cuts in pensions. Schauer says that the Snyder administration engineered the deal to include those pension cuts, which he views as a violation of the Michigan constitution.

"This governor threw pensioners under the bus," Schauer said. "Now they're faced with an untenable choice that they should never have had to make in the first place whether to take a lesser cut, or a much larger cut."

The pensioners themselves still get to vote on the plan, but Schauer says they essentially have no choice but to go with it, as any other deal would likely result in bigger cuts. He says their position is "between a rock and a hard place." - WKZO, 6/24/14

He's also hitting Snyder on this:

Gov. Rick Snyder recently released a special message on aging to the Legislature. He called for “action to better serve older adults.” As my grandfather used to say, that’s just lip service.

We can credit Michigan’s seniors and retirees with helping to build a state that we can all be proud to call home. We owe them a debt of gratitude for their hard work, determination and sacrifice.

Instead of thanking seniors for their contributions to making Michigan a great state, Snyder has demanded that they sacrifice even more by taxing their pensions and cutting the homestead property tax credit. Additionally, Snyder put retiree pensions on the chopping block during the negotiations over Detroit’s bankruptcy. Public pensions are protected in the Michigan constitution, meaning Snyder not only betrayed retirees, he also violated his oath of office.

Snyder’s tax policies are putting the squeeze on seniors and retirees who are living on fixed incomes, and it’s making it harder for them to maintain their independence. Many are being forced to make the choice between paying for groceries and paying for their medications.

Is that the relentless positive action Snyder loves to tout?

Rather than owning up to the massive tax increase, Snyder continuously uses fuzzy math to cloud the truth. But the truth is plain and simple: Seniors and retirees are paying more in taxes because of Snyder’s tax policies. - Holland Sentinel, 6/23/14

He's also calling for this:

Schauer called on Gov. Rick Snyder to cancel the state legislature's summer break and return to session to find a long-term financial solution to the state's road funding that he said should include an end to some of the $1.8 billion in corporate tax breaks.

"The failure rests clearly on the shoulders of Gov. Rick Snyder," said Schauer, who took time to rail against Snyder for two trips to New York City, including attending a fundraiser for New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and visit to Fox News, during talks that dissolved in the state legislature. "He should have been leading those critical bi-partisan talks."

Emily Benavides, Snyder's campaign communications director, responded "While Governor Snyder was passing his fourth budget on time in four years and leading the bipartisan efforts to negotiate Detroit's Grand Bargain legislation, Mark Schauer's desperate campaign has no plan for Michigan's roads and offers only the same hyper-partisan rhetoric that led to the Lost Decade." - MLive, 6/24/14

And Schauer has quietly been working his way to get voters out for him:

Michigan is a blue state in presidential years, but voters tend to sit out mid-term elections. Johnson claims the party has identified some 995,000 Democrats who stayed home in 2010 but voted for President Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012.

By opening up early campaign offices and implementing outreach techniques popularized by Obama, Michigan Democrats believe the numbers game can help them win the governor's office and a competitive U.S. Senate seat.

"This is the Obama campaign 2014," Schauer tells supporters. "People ask me all the time if we've got the Obama database yet. Well we've got the Obama database, and we've got the special sauce that goes along with it."

Schauer won't face a challenger in the primary, but not every Democrat jumped for joy when he announced his candidacy. United Auto Workers President Bob King even talked to Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer around the turn of the year and asked her to reconsider a run, but she declined.

"I think they're getting more excited now," said TJ Bucholz, a longtime Lansing political consultant and founder of Vanguard Public Affairs, said of Democrats. "You've got to dance with the candidate you've got at this point in time, and I think you're starting to see the unions circle their wagons around Mark Schauer." - MLive, 6/22/14

Polling has been all over the place and recent polling has Snyder ahead but people still don't like him and don't know enough about Schauer.  But Schauer is fighting to change and he will need our help.  Please do click here to contribute to and get involved with his campaign:

Originally posted to pdc on Thu Jun 26, 2014 at 10:30 PM PDT.

Also republished by The Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party, Youth Kos 2.0, In Support of Labor and Unions, Motor City Kossacks, and Michigan, My Michigan.

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