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Mr. Moss Explains School Reform to Mr. McCready — Cyber Cranbrooks On the Way For All

Mr. Moss tells his successor, Mr. McCready, about school reform and how the Governor's plans will produce "alternative" schools like Cranbrook.

Tired of watching the various news channels discuss Michigan's "Right to Work" legislation day, I switched to local cable programming.

I caught 40th District - elect Mike McCready talking with outgoing state Representative Chuck Moss ("Eye on Oakland") about a number of things, including school reform.

I am now following Mr. McCready's political career with great interest as, like him, I have two kids in school and live in Bloomfield. I really didn't track Mr. Moss as closely as I should have even though he was a seemingly ubiquitous presence. As the state is interested in managing schools I need to watch Mr. McCready as closely as I watch the schoolboard, my kids' teachers, and their administrators. Just part of the parenting job.

At any rate, Mr. McCready told Mr. Moss he had been hearing about school reform legislation for sometime now (thank goodness -- unlike his predecessor, his receiver seems to work better than his transmitter). And then he asked Mr. Moss what he thought about pending reforms.

Mr. Moss gave his standard talking points about HB6004 and expressed, again, his deep concern for Highland Park and why HB6004 will finally help Highland Park. Mr. Moss supports this bill, of course. Given this was a taped broadcast, though, we don't know what Rep. Moss thinks about the sensible revisions members of the State Senate have provided (the bill will probably pass this week in a modified form -- not everything Richard McLellan wanted but perhaps it is enough for the man the Governor has decided will decide the fate of public education in Michigan). In its amended form HB6004 may not help Highland Park as much as Mr. Moss desires. We just don't know.

Mr. Moss did take the moment to say this bill isn't related to his District (although the bill's author, Richard McLellan thinks otherwise). Birmingham Schools, Mr. Moss says, our "fabulous." BHSD? "Fabulous." Rochester and Troy? Great, too.

This flirtation with reality was fleeting, however.

Mr. McCready then asked about HB5923, the bill that really threatens BHSD and Birmingham schools in that it will over time shift increasingly limited state funds to charter and "cyber" schools for K-12 kids. Mr. Moss explained he supports this, too, and explained he does so, in part, because his kids weren't well suited to public schools so they went to an "alternative" school.

The alternative school? Cranbrook.

Now Mr. Moss is gracious enough to acknowledge not every family can afford an alternative like Cranbrook. And this is why he likes the bill. Mr. Moss told Mr. McCready that he wants all parents to have options for "alternatives" like Cranbrook and he believes HB5923 will provide this. A thousand Cranbrooks? Cranbrook on line? We just don't know.

Mr. McCready, to his credit, kept a straight face.

He will need the straight face in the days ahead.

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Keith Peters December 14, 2012 at 05:00 PM
Mr. Reno, I would say nearly 30% of Birmingham Bloomfield students already chose educational alternatives, like Mr. Moss' children. The total populations of the four public schools (Seaholm, Groves, Lahser & Andover) are about 4400 students. The total population of Brother Rice, Marion, Country Day and Cranbrook is 2700. Assuming that only 2/3 of the kids at those private schools are from Birmingham Bloomfield, the total population is 1800 for our area. With 1800 going private and a total population of 6200, that means nearly 30% are already choosing alternatives. Mr. Reno, your experience may be different in Rochester, but we already have competition in our area.
Mike Reno December 14, 2012 at 05:45 PM
In Rochester, it's about 18%. The ISD keeps numbers on that. So the question is, how many MORE would leave? Do you really see this as having any significant impact?
Joe Judge December 14, 2012 at 07:27 PM
You're speaking about very broad principles that most people don't object to ... "choices" for parents, "competition", but it's a panacea-turned-train-wreck if you don't get it right. You say that the "only threat" to BHSD is people voluntarily leaving, but the proposed legislation is not that simple. You need to read Section 6E(6) of the Rewrite/OF Proposal... for starters. That will result in de-funding of good districts without a single parent choosing to leave. What is inside these proposed laws matters. Details matter. Choice, competition, accountability, I support all that and I like baseball, apple pie and Chevrolet. We need to open the hood on these proposals and check out how they actually work, not just waive at them as they go by while reciting talking points. The EEA legislation, for example, was touted as "all about the 5% of under-performing schools" ... until you looked at it and saw it was also about taking property from performing school districts against their own judgment. What!? People stood up. At the time, you linked to the Oxford Foundation website, cited the School Aid re-write and tried to tell us it was all happening next year. I'm glad someone was paying attention. Now, many of the offending provisions of the EEA legislation (like EEA schools not having to take the same tests non-EEA schools take) won't be included, if it passes at all. I don't oppose the concept of the EEA, generally, but we've got to get it right.
Keith Peters December 14, 2012 at 08:36 PM
My concerns are three fold. Bloomfield is an out of formula district and may be forced to take less than we get otherwise. Bloomfield taxpayers pay for a sinking fund that students from outside of the district don't pay for. Lastly, I like the fact that my students district is locally controlled with people that care about my community. It's not a question about losing students, but losing local control. We already have competition.
Mike Reno December 15, 2012 at 01:00 AM
Now, it is only competition if you are wealthy, and can afford to pay for public education AND private. We need a system that empowers all parents,mnot just the wealthy. And this is not a loss of local control. Your locals would stay in control of those who choose to stay. It is merely the end of the monopoly..

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