Former Governor, and current corporate lobbyist, John Engler is once again in the Michigan news. The Detroit Free Press asked Enlger, who signed Michigan’s first charter school law, his opinion about the unflattering revelations by a Detroit Free Press expose’ on charters. Engler quickly changed the topic to public school teachers and said . .
“I had always assumed that teachers would come together and decide we can do a better job running schools than the administration. For a variety of reasons, that never happened.”
That is a fascinating statement. Engler failed to point out any instance were legislation was passed by him or by succeeding governors that gives teachers more control in their schools. In fact, the power has been shifted almost entirely into the hands of the administrators, the school board, and the state and federal government. Teachers have little control regarding the curriculum they teach thanks to state and federal mandates. A number of anti-union laws signed by Governor Snyder took away teachers’ input in evaluation systems, recall and layoff policies, and a whole host of other issues that are important to the overall quality of schools in which they teach. Teachers now live in fear of being selectively laid off or fired for anything, even something as benign as expressing a different opinion.
If Governor Engler wanted to give teachers more control, he should have considered a system that would allow, or even mandate, that schools be governed by a combination of teachers, administrators, and community members. The current system makes little sense. Community members are in charge of the school because they are elected to the school board, but they are rarely in the school buildings. Therefore, they delegate almost all of the decision making to the administration. School boards typically have no system of gathering input from teachers. Teachers can speak out in the community comment portion of the school board meeting, but they do so at the risk of being evaluated poorly or being denied other opportunities by the administrators or by the school board itself.
Prior to Governor Snyder’s anti-union laws, at least teachers were in the dining room during dinner even if they did not have a seat at the table. Now they are left eating in the servants quarters and Governor Engler has the nerve to suggest teachers made that choice. That type of nonsense might work when lobbying congressmen on behalf of corporate America, but back here in Michigan we know a lie when we hear it.
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