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Stop looting public education 3/28/11

Mary McGee - Cullen - March 28th, 2011
Stop looting public education
By Mary McGee-Cullen
I can’t get the chants out of my head!
Exiting the bus in the afternoon sunshine, Saturday, March 12, in Madison
Wisconsin, I was overwhelmed by thousands chanting in unison, “THANK YOU!
THANK YOU! THANK YOU!” The Wisconsin 14 were surrounded by a crowd,
having themselves just arrived in the Capitol for the first time in three
weeks.
Tens of thousands of workers representing farmers, police, firefighters,
educators, nurses, students, municipal employees, and clergy showed up to
protest the assault that has been perpetrated on the working class of
Wisconsin by its governor. Unfortunately, this economic coup d’etat is an
insidious problem that is occurring all across our nation.
Talking to Wisconsinites was both an exhilarating and cautionary
experience. They were extremely appreciative of our support, but they felt
we in Michigan face a much stiffer challenge. They thought our governor
was both much smarter and more politically savvy than their Governor,
Scott Walker. They are aware of the proposed legislation coming out of
Lansing, and feel it is even more draconian than the attacks on workers’
rights in Wisconsin.
During the campaign in Michigan, our governor never mentioned that in
order to deal with the so-called budget deficit, he would raise taxes on
the poor, elderly, and middle class to the tune of $1.7 billion to fund
tax breaks to big business in the amount of $1.8 billion. In addition,
Gov. Snyder is prepared to do an end-run around the democratic process by
replacing local elected officials with emergency financial managers.
Where we find ourselves today began with the passage of Proposal A by
Michigan voters in 1994. By centralizing education funding in the
legislature, local control of school budgets has disappeared. Rather than
creating equity, Proposal A has given the legislature a slush fund from
which to extract dollars to subsidize other parts of the general fund.
Gov. Snyder’s budget will steal $470 from every student in the state.
That cut on top of raiding the $600 million School Aid Fund SURPLUS
equates to a $900 million looting of K-12 education in Michigan.
Locally, TCAPS (Traverse City Area Public Schools) continues to be the
“best bang for the buck in education in the State of Michigan,” for which
it was recognized by the Traverse City Economic Development Corporation.
The fact the state enjoys a $600 million surplus in the School Aid Fund is
proof K-12 education is not living beyond its means. It is time for the
Traverse City community and our local elected officials to stand up and
flatly reject the transfer of monies from our School Aid Fund.
Our so-called budget deficit was not created by the poor, elderly, and
middle class of our country, and will not be solved by falsely blaming
them for it. And although the powers that be would like us to believe
otherwise, and quietly go home, the clear message that resonated on the
streets of Madison on that cold, clear afternoon was, “IT’S NOT OVER UNTIL
WE THE PEOPLE SAY IT’S OVER.”
My new favorite number is 14.

Mary McGee-Cullen is a TCAPS teacher and president of the Traverse City
Education Association.

 
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