Saturday, November 04, 2006

    MI Governor Granhom Fails Leadership Test!

Last summer Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm was given the opportunity to show real leadership regarding the Detroit Teacher’s Strike, but like too many students attending those Detroit Public Schools, she failed miserably.

Detroit Public Schools, with dropout rates among the highest in the nation, have been failing their students for too long!

The Detroit Public Schools have a long and sordid past history of mismanagement and failure. In recent memory, the school district board of education, immersed in debt and plagued by fraud, found its responsibilities taken over by the state. They fought long and hard to win back that authority, vowing to do better for the students and community. Unfortunately, they have shown little improvement since that time.

The teachers of those schools have legitimate grievances. They have worked long and hard, with little financial reward to show for their efforts. They have gone several years without significant raises in pay, allowing the district time to get its financial house in order. Little progress toward that goal has been observed.

So, as the summer waned, and progress in negotiations between the district and the teacher’s union seemed dim, the prospect of a teacher’s strike loomed. However, state law prohibits such a strike, in keeping with the best interest of the students.

Here is where the Governor could have, but failed to show leadership.

It is no secret that the unions of this state, and the Teachers Unions in particular, are among this governors strongest supporters. She obviously cannot, and will not, do anything to antagonize her most ardent supporters. However, in this case, she should have stepped in, shown leadership, and diverted a strike.

Instead, she sat back and did nothing!

Had she stepped forward and said, that although she supported the union’s efforts wholeheartedly, but in the best interest of the students of Detroit the union must return to work while continuing negotiations, she would have exhibited the leadership needed by this state to move forward.

Instead, she did nothing!

She could have brought both sides together in discussions, while students were allowed to attend classes, ON TIME, and solved the crisis while doing what was best for the students of Detroit.
Instead, she did nothing!

Now that “student count day” has passed the district is faced with the apparent loss of up to 25,000 students. While, no doubt, some of these students have moved out of the state due to economic circumstances, many of them have simply chosen to attend other school districts, in the hope of obtaining a quality education denied them in the Detroit Public Schools.

The loss of this many students, and the state aid they bring to the district, will only further cripple efforts of the district to put its financial house in order.

I lay the blame at the feet of the Governor, and the leadership she failed to provide, in averting this crisis.

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