Page 1

The State of

Oakland County Schools Wednesday, March 19, 2014

* This booklet includes Dr. Vickie Markavitch’s speech for the evening in the footer of the pages.


Special Thanks!

Dr. Casandra E. Ulbrich Michigan Department of Education

Oakland Schools Board of Education - Barbara DeMarco, Connie Williams, Marc Katz, Dr. Theresa Rich, George Ehlert

Once upon a time...

On other nights like this I have brought you facts and figures about education in this country and this county that I believe point out pretty clearly that U.S. Education is not failing, Michigan education is not failing - both are in need of some improvement especially in our high poverty urban centers. But the purchased media myth that we are failing is just not true. Well, tonight I am going to leave some of the data charts behind and instead I am going to tell a story. Oh, there might be a few facts and figures in this story, some of them you might have even seen before, but I will try to keep the story the main thing.

American ideals

equal opportunity

American ingenuity

public education It is going to be a story about something that has been the fabric of American life and opportunity for centuries. It is a story about American ideals, about equal opportunity, about American ingenuity. It is a story, about public education and all it has attempted to provide as it has grown, improved, been challenged, and its ongoing effort to survive those challenges.


Personal Thoughts on Public Education

For a time I thought some folks meant well, but were just misguided; or that they just misunderstood how schooling and learning happens. For a time I thought those who wanted choice, vouchers, and privatization just thought differently than I did. For a time I thought diligent thinkers on both sides of the educational landscape would pay attention to data, to research, to those places that were getting it right.

motivated by intentional... Well, that time has come to an end for me. I now believe that that those people attacking our system of public education have been overrun by people motivated by money. I believe this is blinding them to most of what is true about education, children and learning. I no longer think this is just misguided thinking, I am pretty sure it is very intentional action - intentional, but not necessarily action backed with good intentions.

y money...

And I am not the only one to think this way, Diane Ravitch, in her new book, Reign of Error: the Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools writes: “There is no evidence from any other nation that replacing a public system with a privatized choice system produces anything but social, economic, and racial segregation.”

“There is no evidence from any other nation that replacing a public system with a privatized choice system produces anything but social, economic, and racial segregation.�

why? But why this reign of misinformation? Public education has improved with each decade – it strives to achieve one of the world’s most honorable missions – educating all students – no country has been as committed to this as we have been. And while we have not gotten everything as right as it could be, our system is not failing the vast majority of its students.

There is a lot right with public education... There is a lot right with public education nationally, in our state and in our county. We are taking researched solutions and putting them into practice. We are overcoming the challenges brought to the school house door by our growing poverty problem. Real time data shows we are achieving at higher levels than ever before and everyone in education is striving to raise those levels even higher. But this good news, these examples of success, are being put at risk as entities motivated to undercut and defund public education perpetuate the myth that our public system is a failure. That risk is unacceptable.

nation, state, county...

Chapter one

Our Success Stories

To help me tell the story I promised for tonight, meet Steven. Steven is in third grade and loves coming to school. His favorite subject just might be recess, but he works hard in all his classes and it shows.


Mrs. Kramer

Steven’s teacher, Mrs. Kramer, cares deeply about each of her students and is always going above and beyond to engage them and get them excited about learning. She is always looking for new opportunities to learn and become even better and was one of nearly 47,000 educators who attended more than 2,100 professional learning events offered through Oakland Schools last year as well as many in her own

Professional Learning opportunities

district. The information she learns and implements is promoting a culture of learning in our county schools. In fact, she has been part of the Job-Embedded Professional Learning movement where teachers are learning right in their own classrooms with other teachers from their own schools. This job-embedded professional learning impacts both student achievement through improved instructional practices, and the development of productive school culture through collaborative study. Mrs. Kramer knows that her learning makes a difference for students in her classroom.

Steven’s cousin Olivia

Steven’s cousin, Olivia, is reaping the benefits of our successes as well. Her parents were able to enroll her in preschool at no cost because Oakland County doubled the number of preschool slots available through the Great Start Readiness program when our state legislators increased funding for Early Childhood Education. How exciting to know that twice as many children will have access to quality learning programs so they too can be ready for kindergarten.

Michigan legislature increases funds for Early Childhood programs

Steven’s cousins Some of Steven’s cousins are in high school getting college and career ready. Although a number of the classes that used to be offered at their high schools have been dropped because of funding issues, school districts across the county did everything they could to keep cuts from the classroom doors. Comprehensive K-12 school districts have struggled, but still offer many, many choices in the arts, in career exploration, technical training, global studies, and of course all of that within a full academic spectrum.

Comprehensive K-12 school districts struggle to remain comprehensive.

Steven’s neighbor Amber Steven’s neighbor Amber is almost done with her second year of college.


successful freshman year of college! She was among 70% of Oakland County college freshman who successfully completed their first year without any need for remediation. This is a very different story than the one being told in Lansing.

A very different story is being told...

Lansing myth about 17% college ready One of the biggest myths being perpetuated is that Michigan has only 16%, or 17% or 18%, depending on the year, of our high school students ready for college. There are podcasts and white papers giving the science behind why this is a very wrong number and you can find them on the Oakland Schools website. But in short the number is based on a faulty metric that ACT itself says is wrong about 50% of the time.

real data real kids real colleges

Oakland County Percent Enrolling in ANY IHE and Earning 24 Credits Oakland County Percent Enrolling in ANY IHE & Earning 24 Credits Oakland County (14202)

Michigan (116739)

100 90 80

83 76






50 40 30 20 10 0 % of Graduates Enrolled in IHE within 24 months

% of Enrollees Earning 24 Credits


There is real data from real kids going to real colleges, that is pretty clear, year after year, more than 70% of our Oakland County high school graduates and almost 60% of the graduates statewide go to college and complete their freshman year successfully with no need for remediation classes. Why folks in Lansing choose to use the faulty number rather than real data on their dashboard begs the question, doesn’t it?

Community Support Although I am highlighting education in our county tonight, education is successful only because it is a community initiative - supported by taxpayers, senior citizens, parents, and those in our county government. I want to recognize and thank Brooks Patterson, County Executive, and his people for keeping a strong link between business, government and education. All of us together are building this chapter of success – and that success is growing countrywide too.

strong link

between business, government and education

Census Data... more bachelors degrees

more high school grads

half the number of high school dropouts

The last census report reveals that we now have more young adults with Bachelor’s Degrees than ever before, the most high school graduates ever, and fewer by half the number of high school dropouts.

National Data   1970   20%  

2011 33%  

25-­‐29 year  olds   earning  a  high  school   diploma1  



High school  dropout   rate2  



25-­‐29 year  olds   earning  at  least  a   bachelors  degree1  

1  2 

EducaBon trends  –  hDp://   Dropout  rates  –  hDp://  

Success at the district level Pontiac School District While our successes directly impact individuals, many of our successes in Oakland County are best seen at the district level. I don’t usually mention individual districts but tonight I must mention the Pontiac School District. I am sure you are aware that Pontiac is working through the State’s first Consent Agreement. This Agreement is a solution for districts challenged with financial deficits that does not use a state bailout, or dissolution, or charter takeover; it puts to use lots of focused effort at the local level. I am happy to report to you tonight that Pontiac is making very good

Thank You!

progress with their turn-around effort and Oakland Schools ISD thanks Pontiac for selecting us to be their partner in this effort.

ISD cost recovery

efficiency & creativity Oakland Schools ISD also appreciates the role other districts have asked it to play in assisting them with their priorities. Here is some new trend data showing the growth of ISD cost recovery and tuition services – these are programs districts have asked us to operate on their behalf in addition to those programs we offer at no cost – some are student programs, some are business and operations services. The growth here is shown from 2007- 2013 – nearly $10 Million.

External Cost Recovery & Tuition Programs External Cost Recovery Services (Revenue) Tuition Programs

FY08 Actual FY09 Actual FY10 Actual FY11 Actual FY12 Actual FY13 Actual FY14 Actual $204,600 $796,797 $198,510 $190,183 $583,318 $1,904,221 $4,984,500 $95,309









Cost Recovery and Tuition Programs went from $0 in 2007 to a current level of nearly $10 Million per year.

Efficiency and creativity have allowed us to make the best use of the ISD millage and grant money coming to Oakland County – again this past year 94% of ISD expenditures have gone to districts through programs, services and dollars.


Oakland’s use of small and large scale collaborations has grown in this county exponentially and because of that we have been able to continue our work in challenging times – getting better and better at Increasing student achievement, Serving the diverse needs of our district, and Decreasing costs by increasing efficiencies. That is why Steven and all of his cousins are so lucky to be in Oakland County.

Increasing student achievement

Serving the diverse needs

of our districts

Decreasing costs by

increasing efficiencies

I am privileged to work with many talented and dedicated people in our county schools as well as in my own house, here at the ISD. I want to thank all who work on behalf of children for their contributions to this chapter of success. And, though I can’t introduce all who do this, I would like to take a moment to thank the local district school board members who work to govern this effort, and I’d like to thank my superintendent colleagues who work to lead this effort and all the other

Thank you... school boards




educators who work on behalf of our kids everyday and would all of you who volunteer in our schools please join them.

Thanks to the Cabinet Dr. Wanda Cook-Robinson Chief of Staff Robert Moore Deputy Superintendent of Finance & Operations Dr. Terri Spencer Deputy Superintendent of Instructional Services Thank you all, and now I do have to give a special thanks to my three cabinet administrators who work with me to guide the overall effort here at Oakland Schools – believe me, if you had to spend as much time with me as they do, you would know why they need a special mention. Mr. Bob Moore, Deputy for Finance and Operations has been working on our behalf for the last 8 years, joining us two years ago, Deputy

Public education is improving in our

nation, state, county... for Instruction, Dr. Terri Spencer; and joining us just this month as Chief of Staff, Dr. Wanda Cook-Robinson – thank you to my cabinet of three!

chapter two

Tests, Tests and MORE Tests Mrs. Kramer’s classroom

Back to Mrs. Kramer, she knows that good aligned assessments are an important part of the teaching/learning process. Multiple measures of student learning over time are necessary to diagnose student learning needs, track progress and make many instructional decisions. She also knows that state, national and even international testing has a purpose and should be used, periodically, to gauge where her school’s curriculum is standing with those larger benchmarks.

But she would never use large scale, one-time-only test to grade her students, and she is frustrated when she hears how those test scores are being used in some states to grade schools, districts, and even teachers. She knows this is wrong – she knows those one-time, mostly multiple-choice tests cannot capture student learning. She hopes that Michigan will not go down this road. She worries that if her job and the jobs of other teachers depend on those kinds of scores she will be forced to narrow her teaching to what is on those tests.

English as a Second Language Homeless Hungry Needs Special Accommodations Other Refugee






Annie Death in the family

o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o

Not only that, those tests do not take into account that Steven’s friend Annie comes to school hungry most days, or that Hakim just moved here from Iraq and is still learning to speak English, or that Megan’s family has been homeless and living with different friends and family for months, or that James is dealing with the death of his grandmother, or that Sara needs special accommodations in the classroom. No – standardized tests don’t tell the whole story – actually, they tell a very small part of the student learning story.

Well, even though it is not a big part of the learning story, Oakland County has done well on those one-time measures and as this is the last time you will see a MEAP score, I thought I should show you that we are still way ahead of the state. Oakland continues to score above state averages in all things measured by the state: MEAP and ACT.

What are the grade level trends for MEAP results in Reading? MEAP 2011-12 - 2013-14 : Reading Oakland County


Oakland minus MI

100 90 80




















74 73








50 40 30 20 10 0












































ACT results for both Oakland County & Michigan have been rising slowly. ACT Results 2006-07 through 2012-13 Oakland





Mean Scale Score

Percent Proficient


67 62





70 60






07 08 09 10 11 12 13 ACT Reading

07 08 09 10 11 12 13 ACT English

Oakland 20 20 20 20 20 21 21

19 19 20 20 20 20 20

Michigan 19 19 19 19 19 20 20

18 18 18 18 18 19 19

07 08 09 10 11 12 13 ACT Math

07 08 09 10 11 12 13 ACT Science

07 08 09 10 11 12 13 ACT Composite

20 20 20 21 21 21 21

20 20 20 21 21 21 21

20 20 20 20 21 21 21

19 19 19 19 20 20 20

19 20 19 20 20 20 20

19 19 19 19 19 20 20

Subject Area Test & Year

N.A.E.P. 1973  


8th Grade  Math  



4th Grade  Math  



8th Grade  Reading  





4th Grade  Reading  

Na8onal Assessment  of  Educa8onal  Progress  (NAEP)  –     hFp://  

There is a national measure that falls into this one-time only high stakes category too, but, I am not really sure how well the items in this test align with school, district and state learning standards. That test is the NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress) and it is given to a random sample of students from each state. Although Michigan scores have been going up, Michigan’s standing next to other states is in the bottom half of the ranking charts. Sometimes the states above us have

What’s in a score?

different demographics poverty urban centers diversity

different demographics than we do; lower poverty numbers, fewer urban centers, less diversity. Sometimes states that are closer to being like us have lower scores and some that are like us have higher scores.

National Assessment of Educational Progress

Don’t you think we would look to those states that are like us with higher scores to get ideas on what might be good improvement efforts? Are we basing our state’s school reform and public educational policy on what those high achieving states that are similar to Michigan are doing – states like Massachusetts. No. Unfortunately some of our policy makers are asking Michigan to go the route of Florida and New Orleans More on this when we get to the chapter of this story on public policy.

(NAEP) 2011 Reading Assessment - Grade 8

Well, anyway, our NAEP scores are certainly not where we want them, even though they have been going up. We should, for sure, be looking at the mandates, rules, regulations, and laws governing what we do in public education to see if we couldn’t raise Michigan to the top half of that NEAP chart – but let’s be diligent in looking carefully and looking to proven models of success, not rhetoric with an agenda for something else. And let’s keep in mind, that even when we do this better it will still be only one small piece of the whole picture on student learning.

Now let’s take a moment to look at another small slice of student learning at the international level. Before we slice and dice this high stakes test data every which way possible, there are a couple of realities we have to consider in order to put that data in context. First, the United States is a nation of growing poverty – especially for children, Mrs. Kramer’s classroom is a good example. In fact there are not too many developed nations lower than us on the poverty scale. You have heard me say before

Poverty in  U.S.  

May, 2012  UNICEF  Report  

http://www.unicef-­‐ pdf/rc10_eng.pdf

and I will say it again, the one place U. S. Education has not made the progress it needs to make is moving learning forward for students living in poverty – we have to keep working on that.

Second, when we test in the United States, whether it is every child or a random sample, we test every group of students we have – high poverty, special education, English Language Learners – this is something the international testing programs do NOT control for. Many of the nations to which we are compared do not have the same national commitment to “educating and being accountable for educating ALL of their children.”

The United States is a nation of growing poverty... We test ALL students - high poverty, special needs, English Language Learners

So, when those international results are controlled for poverty we see the U.S. in a very different ranking than when they are not. But you know what is interesting – the U.S. scores and rankings on these tests have done nothing but go up since the 1960’s, even when not adjusted for poverty we are at the highest level ever. Don’t ask me what that means because I have not run across anyone who can say for sure that what is on those tests means much anyway.

chapter three

What does it cost?

Steven’s mom & dad

Steven’s parents have heard from their school officials that the budget for Steven’s school has had to be cut back. There are more kids in his classroom than ever before and some of the special classes have been dropped. Bus stops are further and further apart and his district has even talked about doing away with bussing altogether, which for Steven’s working parents would be a real challenge. Now Steven’s parents also understand the reality of the times. They have had to adjust their spending in the past few years. All of their monthly expenses have gone up much higher than did their wages. So it was no surprise that this was true for their schools too.

What do you think is the biggest problem that YOUR public school faces?

But Steven’s parents also remember a survey they took with many other Oakland County registered voters and the results of that survey were pretty clear – people believed school funding was the biggest education problem that existed; and people said they would be willing to pay more taxes if they could be sure that those taxes would go to schools.

Would you support or oppose paying more in taxes to provide funds to improve the quality of YOUR public school?

What has happened to school funding over time?

So let’s take a look at how and how well we fund public education in Michigan. There has been a lot of banter about whether or not funding in Michigan has gone up or down and by how much. Data is collected by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities for every state and from their numbers it is pretty clear that Michigan’s funding has fallen $ 572 per pupil. And from state sources, what has been the trend of funding for public education.

Here is it adjusted for inflation. Some don’t think we should consider inflation. I disagree. Do you pay more for gas now than in 1994? More for utilities? More for entertainment? More for clothing, food, shelter, like Steven’s parents??? Maybe up at the Mackinaw Center the cost of things has stayed the same and that is why they want to ignore inflation, but for the rest of us, costs have been going up. There is no question Michigan has dropped its standing in terms of dollar support to education – and even more in K-12 education because of the raid on K-12 public funds for other things – like colleges.

K-12 State and Local Funding as Percent of Personal Income 2007












Had the level of K-12 funding support simply remained the same as 2010 an additional $1.6 Billion of state and local funding would have been provided to K-12 schools for our children.

Here is a data point that the Mackinaw Center is fond of using – the percent of personal income given over for public education. Here you can see that in 2007 it was 5.17%, in 2010 it was 4.85% and in 2012 it was 4.41%. If we had kept the share of personal income at the 2010 level, schools would have had $1.6 Billion more dollars for our kids.

Now we want to thank the governor and Lansing folks for the proposed budget for the coming year, 2015, and the increases it contains for schools. But we also want to urge them to bundle the money differently – as you know we are very opposed to unbundling public education dollars. In place of all the current strings attached to the funding coming to our schools, we join the educational organizations, parents, and other educators in asking for a budget aligned to “classrooms and kids.” The “Classroom and Kids” proposal would remove a host of burdensome categoricals and reallocate those same dollars directly into per pupil foundations, placing resources directly into the classroom. It does leave in place meaningful

categoricals like funds for at-risk students, English language learners and small class sizes, all of which directly benefit students. The “Classrooms and Kids” plan would provide increases of $250-$291 per pupil, while the Governor’s budget proposal only provides for $83-$111 per students. These increases are gained without raising taxes, just by better optimizing resources that the Governor proposed himself for the next school year’s budget. Yes, we must support the “Classrooms and Kids” Budget plan, but while we do that we must also look long term.

There is a bill that is asking the state to do an adequacy study on funding public education. Our state has not done this for many decades, while most other states have. The educational community, parents and taxpayers have been asking for this to be done. Most recently the Citizens Research Council recommended an adequacy study be done as it concluded its look at funding schools. We must let Lansing know we want this done so that Steven and children throughout Michigan, regardless of their zip code will have an educational opportunity we can all be proud of.

Adequacy Study on Funding Public Education

chapter four “Choice” Limits Opportunities Steven’s Future

You can’t tell a story about public education in Michigan without a chapter on Choice – it is a big chapter and it is being written right now. Some who are writing this chapter think that once you put choice in place you can stop worrying about those things that choice has left behind.

Education should not be a string of wins and losses...

Michigan has more for-profit charter schools than any other state

Some think that choice will bring competition and that competition will improve education overall. They think this even though the very nature of competition is to have a few winners and many more losers. Education should not be a string of wins and losses. And there are some who do not even care if their choices ARE winners, as greed blurs the view of data and poor results. I don’t know how profit-share fits into public service or public education – but Michigan has more for-profit charter schools than any other state and it worries me.

Share of  Charter  Schools  Operated  by   Educa5on  Management  Organiza5ons  

Miron &  Gulosino  (2013)  Profiles  of  For-­‐Profit  and  Nonprofit    Educa5on  Management  Organiza5ons:  Fourteenth  Edi5on  –  2011-­‐2012  

Choice and Charters need transparency and monitoring...

Now there are some people who think that I am against choice or against charter schools and cyber schools. That is not true. I believe in choice and would support charters more if our public policies around them required transparency on how they were spending public money. I also believe they should put some restrictions on the for-profit take-over of this choice model, require a level playing field in terms of serving special needs populations, level the playing field in terms of benefits paid to

We need a level playing field.

charter teachers, and have a monitoring component to make sure that these schools keep the children that come to them the same way our community governed schools keep the children that come to them.

What does this mean

I am also aware that choice given over to others reduces the choices available in the districts left behind. What does this mean for Steven? He will no longer get to take Spanish class at his elementary; and all of the wonderful experiences his neighbor Amber had in high school just a couple of years ago, won’t be available to Steven because his district will not be able to afford to operate the robotics team, the high school theater program and the marching band. Our current model is actually a very expensive, very inefficient way to operate and it reduces opportunities for students

for Steven?

and families – a MSU study showed that charter schools spend $800 more per student on administrative services than do our community governed schools. Charters, choice, vouchers – no high achieving state or country relies on these things as their CHOICE for improving their schools and raising their student achievement. We need to restudy how charters and cyber-schools are operating in our state and whether or not we need to rein in their proliferation.

chapter five Ed Reform

Steven’s Parents Join Grassroots Advocates grass roots graphic

Steven’s parents recently heard their school district superintendent talking about how politics and legislative decisions were impacting Steven’s classroom. They were shocked and wondered how such public policies could be proposed and in some cases even passed. If you spent an hour or two on the marble floor in Lansing or the halls of D.C., I think you would wonder, as I do, how democracy works as well as it does. Lobbyists are all over the place and all the one-sided people they bring with them…

and we school people are there too – not in numbers as great, not with much money behind us – but we are there too doing the same thing for our side – doing it the best we can with the resources we have. If we were not there, the legislators would not hear our side of the educational story – how could they with all the other noise?

Here is one very recent example that is not yet over – the A, B, C, D, and F bill on grading schools, written by ALEC and sponsored by the Chair of the House Education Committee. This is a bill also being pushed by multiple lobbying firms hired by Michelle Rhee and her Students First organization; and just in case she was not spending enough on this Jeb Bush’s organization, Excellence in Education, added more lobbying dollars to the effort; and if this was not enough so did the Koch brothers via Americans for Prosperity, and the DeVos family via Great Lakes Education Project. Thousands and thousands of dollars being spent every day of our legislative session, on the floor and behind the door, to get A-F grades assigned to schools in Michigan, using high stakes testing as the basis. Why is that so important to all those very wealthy people and richly supported organizations? It cannot be because it has worked elsewhere – it hasn’t. High performing places do not adopt such simplistic and error-ridden methods for school accountability. So WHY? This simplistic agenda is still on the table, even though another, more valid way toward public accountability for schools was proposed by a bipartisan group led by two of our very own Oakland County legislators. Thankfully, their efforts have stalled the flawed grading bill and we must do all we can to help them put it down once and for all. I do not believe the motives behind A-F school grading are well intentioned.

A-F Grading

why? And this is not the only example of why we have to keep educators, parents and taxpayers feet on the marble floor in Lansing. Those same wealthy people and organizations also want to use high stakes testing for teacher evaluation and merit pay – nowhere has that worked and we have data toshow that where it has been tried in schools it has not raised student achievement and has in fact lowered it. We do not want schools to be high stakes test factories – the learning you can measure with even the best of them whether they be international, state, or local, is too narrow – it is not the learning any of us would want teachers settling for with our own children.

Even Bill Gates is changing his mind about test scores and teacher evaluation. It might be because an outside evaluation firm showed that the model was costing Microsoft high quality employees as well as creativity from the people it had. Creative/collaborative people didn’t want to work in such an environment and so they didn’t. This evaluation model is gone from Microsoft. Now, I wish the Gates people who have been placed in the office of the U.S. Department of Education would take it out of their Race to the Top requirements. I wish the Gates people

would stop trying to force every state to adopt such a faulty model in order to get federal dollars. Bless California for bucking this system even though Arnie Duncan is threatening to withhold all their federal funding.


impact students We need to worry about public policies like these – every bad one impacts every Michigan student negatively every day. Good ones will impact them too – in a good way and with better results.

Steven’s parents want answers... and you should too!

As I said before, Steven’s parents were shocked. They began asking, and I hope YOU will too. We all must ask, and ask, and ask…

wh WHY do we have people pushing for reforms that do not work, reforms that close down community governed schools, and reforms that drill and kill the love of learning right out of our kids? WHY do we have people in power ignoring the data and research and positive examples of what works, like accountability systems based on multiple measures of student learning over time, teacher evaluation systems based on best practices of observation, collaboration, coaching, and job embedded professional development? WHY do we have people dedicating themselves to spin data any which way they can in order to show we have a failing system; to show we have fewer students ready for college (17%) than we really do (70%); to lead us to believe that we have more drop-outs when we have

hy?! less – are they using this spin to get laws passed that favor their agenda? WHY would policy makers, both national and state, ignore the negative impacts of America’s growing number of children in poverty rather than look at the policies of nations that are reducing those same numbers? WHY would some of our elected officials be swayed by corporate interests like ALEC, or Jeb Bush’s organization, or Michelle Rhee’s, or the Koch brothers, or Bill Gates, or the ACT testing company, rather than ask professionals who have dedicated their lives to a profession in which they have had success - educators who have led students to high levels of learning? WHY?

chapter six The End? Hope for Steven & Friends

There is no way to write the end of this story until we have the answers to those questions. Maybe I was wrong when I started this evening telling you I believe that it is money that is turning many in the wrong direction. Maybe it is something else entirely – but whatever it is, it is taking education in the wrong direction here in Michigan and there in Washington D.C. The data shows this – the experiments have not proven themselves.

the tide is turning But, remember those successes with which I began our evening – they are the reason I am optimistic. I do see that the tide is turning against the market-oriented reforms that have been pushed on education. People are beginning to understand that public service is different than turning a profit. People are deciding that it may be worth a few tax dollars to have a police force, fire department, library and schools as long as those tax dollars go to those things and not to Wall Street.




And so, folks, I believe that you and I and Steven’s parents can have great influence in writing the last chapter to this story. It will be a challenge, it will require diligence, patience, persistence and much more than just lip service – but I think we can do it. Legislators are asking the question “howis this working” before they vote for something; parents are asking “what are you doing to my local schools” before they vote for the next roundof public officials; community members are asking “what are you doing to my local community and its values around public education”; teachers and administrators and school board members are saying “we won’t let this happen anymore”; even the media is starting to question the wisdom of uncharted, untested experiments with America’s youth.

So, we must raise our voices and ride this tide. We must do it now and all the way to November; and after November we have to get even louder. This is not a quick fix – it is not for the faint of heart. We must have people who care enough about Steven, Amber, Annie, Hakim, James, Sara and all of Michigan’s kids to ride the tide to Lansing and ride it to Washington D.C. Join us in Million Michigan Voices, sign-up and get your voice to Lansing and Washington by using ENGAGE a really simple but effective legislative action tool – Steven’s parents did.

Engage! Go to

We have proof... We can shape public policy.

We can move student learning forward. We can operate more efficiently and effectively if permitted to do so.

We have proof that we can shape public policy for public education in the right way; we have proof that we can move student learning forward by keeping the focus on the right work; we have proof that we can operate more efficiently and effectively when we are given the leeway to do just that; so we must have our voices heard even if we can’t buy TV ads, expensive lobbying firms, or make huge contributions.

Happily ever after

We must write the end of this story and it must, it absolutely must, have a happy ending for all of our children.

Profile for CommunicationsOS

State of Oakland County 2014 book w/script  

State of Oakland County 2014 book w/script