I have a question for Judy Nerat and Mike Lahti, candidates for state offices in the coming election. Both have talked of the need to improve the quality of education in the state of Michigan. In light of their legislative records, I question the authenticity of their words for the reason below.
The city of Detroit has one of the worst public school systems in Michigan, with a graduation rate of less than 50 percent. In an effort to improve education in Detroit, philanthropist Robert Thompson offered to donate $200 million of his own money to build 15 charter schools in the city of Detroit and guaranteed a graduation rate of 90 percent.
Unfortunately and to the detriment of many students in Detroit, the state legislature prevented him from doing so when they passed House Bill 4047 of 2009, declaring the Detroit Public Schools as a "first class" school district. One of the provisions of first class status is that it prevents the creation of additional charter schools, thus insulating the Detroit Public Schools from charter school competition.
Though the legislature, Gov. Granholm and the mayor of Detroit were initially supportive, the Detroit Federation of Teachers staged a one day walkout, and 3,000 Detroit teachers traveled to Lansing to stage a one day protest. In response to the protest, the legislature passed HB 4047, thus eliminating the possibility of these 15 charter schools in Detroit.
Both Judy Nerat and Mike Lahti voted in favor of HB 4047. My question for both is, in light of your supposed desire to improve the quality of education for students in Michigan, how do you justify the above vote?
John P. Dougoveto