Yesterday I posted an oh-so-subtley-titled diary, MICHIGAN: HOLY F*CKING SH*T. Spread the word on this NOW which is still currently on the Rec list.
By request, here's a sample script I've put together for Michigan residents who want to call their state legislators (and/or the Governor's office) to urge them to oppose the draconian education bills currently being fast-tracked during the Lame Duck session. It's a bit wordy, and sort of cobbled together from Rob Glass's letter and some other sources, but it should do the trick. Obviously you'll have to modify the wording slightly depending on whether you're talking to a Rep or Senate office, but all of the bills relate to each other.
For those who plan on emailing instead (or, better yet, in addition to) calling, I've also included Diane Gee's somewhat more emotional sample letter.
Phone Script (remember, be polite; the person answering the phone is just doing their job):
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.
Diane Gee's sample Email:
—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?
Dear Madams and Sirs,
The package of bills making their way through the legislature, House Bill 6004 and Senate Bill 1358, House Bill 5923, and Senate Bill 620, are completely counterproductive and counterintuitive to a healthy educational system.
Know that, each and every one of you or your compatriots that vote for passing them will face opposition from recall to a full blown campaign against your re-election at any time in the future.
We, the people you are sworn to represent, virulently oppose the privatization of our school system. We understand fully that to take our public monies, and funnel them into a for-profit system is theft. We understand that in a for-profit system, value has to be stolen from the bottom in order for the top to profit.
Like the misnomer, "right to work" this is a blatant attempt to frighten us into being complicit in losing a class war against us. The rich can pay, the middle and lower classes will end up with an inferior product at the very core of what could lift them out of it - their education.
Michigan voted soundly against PA4. This, and other bills like it are an attempt to side step our ability to work and vote in our own best interests. You aren't stupid, either. You know we know.
But be on notice! As you further attempt to reduce our collective power and reduce our expectations of, and actual standards of living we still get to vote for you personally. Your JOBS are at stake along with our children's futures.
I will, and every one I know, will oppose you, hold you to account and spread the word. I am a political journalist and have a radio show. I intend to name names, and stay on it until you drop this attempt to let the loss be our kids and their teachers to enrich a very few.
Education is a right, local control is a right, bought and paid for by the collective pooling of our money to make it free and accessible for all children.
You are quietly declaring war on our rights. We will fight back.