Saturday, March 06, 2010

Race to the... Where Again?

The Race to the Top competition between the states may have been a good idea in theory to motivate change in public education, but to try to run this in a contentious election year with everyone and their favorite candidate trying to score points, and when every state is facing a budget crisis... I wonder if a scene like this is playing out in other states.

Michigan loses out on the first round of funding. All hell breaks loose.

Governor Granholm goes after the Legislature for not funding the staffing for the intial reforms already passed, with a side dish of "maybe it was you" for the MEA who wouldn't sign off on the changes. State schools Superintendent Mike Flanagan joined in with a stronger finger at the union, as did Brooks Patterson, who, shocking no one, lays the blame solely on the MEA.

The MEA shot back at Brooks, Granholm, Flanagan, everyone really, for the lack of "collaboration" on the original application, saying that is the way that Obama wanted it. Martin Ackley with the education department says they were at the table the entire way and "11th hour" changes were made at the suggestion of the union, only to have them not support it in the end.

Dillon puts out a mush mouth statement that says absolutely nothing of substance. Tim Melton said the changes were necessary even if we don't get the federal money, and plans more "reform" on top of this. George Cushingberry on House Appropriations, showing yet another flash of fiscal brilliance, said they won't fund the $500 thousand for staff to implement the changes unless they get the federal money - which might have been part of the reason we didn't get the federal money in the first place. Bernero takes a shot at "DC" in a Twitter post, a tactic that is sure to be confusing to all the Democratic Obama fans out there.

In a very odd twist, the Senate had already approved the half million in general fund money that the House wouldn't. Republican lawmakers want to get more aggressive about reforms, pointing to the RTTT loss as not going "far enough" for the feds, while they voted against spending $25 million of stimulus to fully implement the reforms they already voted for. Pete Hoekstra chimes in, and says maybe we should ignore the feds altogether - and he has a soul mate in Bernero at that point.


Now, ask me again why I try and stay away from school funding issues. Might be easier to just stick your head in a blender and hit "puree" than try and take a side on this one. Just don't cut anymore from the per-pupil rate and I'll back... slowly... away... from the issue. Promise.

One more thing before I go though. If the MEA thinks they are cute by hiring right wing economists to trash the film credits before the incentive has finished bringing that industry base to the state, you are not winning any fans in the creative class crowd that we need to attract to keep the younger folks here. That move was straight out of the Cassis playbook. Don't make us turn Dillon loose on you, although that probably isn't much of a threat because he never gets anything done anyway.