Why do we need to change the public school system?

Published 2:58 pm Thursday, October 20, 2011

Dear editor:

The purpose of this letter is to express my concerns about how we are jeopardizing our public schools.
There are several bills that are currently pending in the Michigan Legislature with the sole purpose of taking control away from local school districts and taxpayers and putting it in the hands of private businesses and corporations:
• Senate Bill 618 (SB 618) Amends Revised School Code
• Senate Bill 619 (SB 619) Expands Cyber Schools
• Senate Bill (SB 620) Creates and defines “conversion” charter schools
• Senate Bill (SB 624) Expands Schools of Choice
Each bill is worthy of explanation and how it will negatively affect our public schools, but there is not enough room, so I would like to express my concerns about charter schools.
Charter schools are private enterprises in the business of making money by educating students. I recently read an article that stated charter schools are the “Big Enchilada” for big business. What do you think the corporations are going to do with this opportunity?  Michigan is a “for-profit” state (status that gives charter schools the right to make money). The main objective (education) will soon be replaced with the new objective (profit).
The corporation would take on all responsibilities for hiring and firing our children’s teachers without knowing them, our children or the school district. The corporation that owns the charter schools will still report to a board, but it will no longer be the school board, it will be the corporation’s board of directors. Local school boards are not involved.
Charter schools have a statistically proven history of a higher teacher turnover rate versus public schools. If they are going to make a profit they are going to cut cost. They cannot attract and retain the highest quality people by paying them less or by reducing their benefits. So unfortunately for the students they will be taught by less experienced teachers.
My kids graduated from Bridgman High School and received a great education. The teachers and administration prepared them for college and their adult lives. Other area public schools are no different than Bridgman; they have teachers and administration that have a successful history. Why do we want to change a system that works? Why do we want to dilute our public school’s funding and pull resources away?
I would like to state I am not affiliated or employed by a school. My employment, background and education are in manufacturing. I have no hidden agenda; I am just concerned we, as a community/state, will eventually pay the price for allowing Legislature to pass these bills.

Jim Wells