Thursday, December 17, 2009

Will Senate Republicans Blow the "Race to the Top" Funding?

Setting aside the hypocrisy of Republicans drooling over federal taxpayer money while they refuse to take responsibility for funding our schools themselves, here is yet another glaring example of how the Senate will throw a fit and simply walk away when you say "no" to one of their demands.
Senate Republicans walked out on negotiations on education reform legislation late Wednesday, bringing a halt -- for the moment -- to talks about what would be historic education reforms linking teacher pay to student test scores, opening more charter schools and other measure the Obama administration has outlined as requirement for Race to the Top cash.

Conference committee meetings slated for 9 a.m. this morning were swiftly recessed since there were no deals for members to debate.

Rep. Tim Melton, D-Auburn Hills, said this morning that Republicans, led by Kuipers, walked out after House Democrats wouldn't budge on the Senate's plan to open 100 or more additional charter schools in the state.

"The Senate just wants to get a wish list to do as many charters as they want, and that's not what Race to the Top is all about," Melton said.

The House Dems are the ones stepping out on the limb here, ready to risk irritating their traditional supporters to apply for this funding. They are compromising. Apparently the Senate is not willing to compromise on anything, ever, and once again has instead starting pointing fingers at everyone else involved in the hopes that you won't notice.

"We have a number of outstanding issues, and we weren't making progress on any of them," Kuipers said. "I just said, 'We've been talking for six hours. We're not making progress. When you're willing to get serious, let us know.' "

You know the translation. What Kuipers really means is: "When you're willing to do what we want, we will come back to the table. If not, we throw a fit and shut this down". Hmmm, when have we seen that before? Throw a fit they did, leaving the meeting in the first place - and in the now-classic Senate Republican tradition they attempted to blame the administration for their behavior, citing something totally irrelevant to the legislation at hand.

The Michigan Department of Education failed to file a letter of intent with the federal government last week to apply for up to $400 million or more in Race to the Top school funding.

Filing the letter was optional and will not jeopardize Michigan's chances of winning the funds, department spokeswoman Jan Ellis said. But missing last week's deadline is viewed by Senate Republicans as a major misstep in a critical nationwide competition for Race to the Top cash.

Department officials tried to file the letter, the computer system was down, the feds know we are coming anyway - and it turns out this "filing" is a huge non-issue. Doesn't matter, Kuipers will waste our time with it. Wasting time and deflection from the issues are what this Senate does best. The people of Michigan want these guys to sit down, settle their differences, and start working for the benefit of this state. That means compromise from both sides, correct?

Well, take a look at who is refusing to compromise, and instead is employing the tactics of a two-year old: Stomp your feet, walk out, blame someone else when it goes bad. It’s the House Dems fault, it’s the governor’s fault, it’s always everyone else’s fault when they misbehave.

After three years of this, you would think that people would notice. Maybe they do. Anyone take a poll on the Legislature lately?