Grosse Pointe Woods Council Approves Resolution to Oppose Schools of Choice Mandate

In a move to be proactive and send a clear, early message to Gov. Rick Snyder, Grosse Pointe Woods council unanimously agreed to a resolution Monday opposing the implementation of a Schools of Choice mandate.

A resolution unanimously adopted and certified Monday by city council opposing the Schools of Choice mandate as outlined by Gov. Rick Snyder will be sent to his office this week. 

The intent with passing a resolution to oppose the proposed plan as one of Snyder's many measures to reform education is to send the message of opposition early, Mayor Robert Novitke said. 

Superintendent C. Suzanne Klein attended Monday's council meeting along with two women spearheading a grassroots group trying to oppose the mandate, Katharine Barr and Lynn Jacobs.

The women are both Grosse Pointers who are not necessarily against Schools of Choice as it is used now. Currently school districts are able to opt in or opt out and, if they opt in, they determine the parameters of how it will be used in their district.

The group they are spearheading, Michigan Communities for Local Control, is aiming to take action against the movement in Lansing and is trying to garner support from schools across the state--both those that participate in Schools of Choice currently and those that do not, they said. 

Gaining support from the local governments is important as well, they said, explaining how pleased they are that the Woods passed the resolution. 

Novitke emphasized how important he believes it is for the communty to maintain control over its schools, noting the spending differences per pupil in the Grosse Pointe Schools as well as the amount of fundraising and other efforts by residents to benefit the students.

"I want Lansing to know right away," Novitke said.

He noted the response he received about the , which was that it was submitted too late.

The division of the state house districts was officially opposed by all of the Grosse Pointes and Harper Woods as well as by local political party leaders and residents. Despite numerous requests for the bill calling for the division to be vetoed the . The entire redistricting bill process was speedier than the usual schedule, according to Rep. Tim Bledsoe (D-Grosse Pointe), who questioned why it was being rushed through the system.

The handling of that particular bill is in part why the Michigan Communities for Local Control group is trying to take action rather than waiting until a bill surfaces, Barr said. 

She questions the timing of the bill, which she was told by a legislative assistant from Sen. Phil Pavlov's (R-St. Clair Township) office could be introduced to the Senate Education Committee as early as Sept. 7--the same day most Michigan children will start the next school year. She described the decision to divide the house districts as a "middle of the night decision" and believes implementing Schools of Choice will further dilute the voice of the Grosse Pointes. 

The fight, Barr said, is for all schools--not just those who do not participate in Schools of Choice. Of course the group is gaining momentum and support from those districts that have not opted into the program but their focus is maintaining local control even for those are currently using Schools of Choice, Barr said. Those districts want to maintain the control they have over implementing it, such as determining capacity, determing eligibility, determining enrollment timeframes and more, she said.

Novitke said in preparation for the meeting, he had contacted the mayors from Grosse Pointe Park, Grosse Pointe Farms and the City of Grosse Pointe--all of whom he said agreed with the resolution. He is still planning to contact the mayors of Grosse Pointe Shores and Harper Woods, he said. 

Meanwhile, Bledsoe has . Although it's not often, public hearings are sometimes held away from Lansing when a particular topic is likely to impact a specific community, Bledsoe previously told Patch.

Patch is awaiting a return phone call from Pavlov's office regarding the invitation and more information about the formation of a draft of the bill. 

Bledsoe is also holding Aug. 22 to discuss Schools of Choice with constiuents. 

Mike Buckley August 16, 2011 at 03:19 PM
LMJ August 16, 2011 at 03:26 PM
Kathy, very well said. As said previously, there will always be a small minority of people whose ignorance will be used as a means to characterize an entire community. At MCLC, we hope that the ignorance of the few is trumped by the larger voice of rational, engaged citizens who want what's best for all of our young people, which is certainly the focus of the MCLC. There is no room in education for intolerance, ignorance, or divisiveness.
Juliet Stanley August 16, 2011 at 03:31 PM
ALL children deserve a quality education and they should not have to "escape" from their neighborhood school to receive it! Education starts the moment a child is born. The crucial years before attending school set the foundation for success. Sending students away from their neighborhood schools will only increase the challenges they are already facing. The rebuilding of failing districts must start many years before the children walk through the doors of a school. The schools are a reflection of what is happening in the communites where they are located. ALL of the successes and/or failures do not lie in the hands of the school alone. Parents, teachers, and communities working together that value education and have common goals set produce intelligent, articulate, high performing students. Every community needs to figure out which link(s) need improvement and work together to be successful. Running away from any problem does not fix the problem, in fact, it usually makes it worse.
Amy Graham August 16, 2011 at 09:13 PM
I agree that EVERY child deserves and has a right to an excellent education. Ok Moms- GET OUT THERE AND VOLUNTEER in the DPS if you want to help! There is an excellent reading program that needs your help! Volunteer to mentor or tutor a child, or become a foster or adoptive parent to the 3,000 + kids living in Wayne County who need a home. Let's fight the battle that way- NOT by ching the GPPublic Schools. We are NOT broken, and we do not the resources, as an institution to take on the problems of every other district.
Rick August 17, 2011 at 01:50 AM
Kelly, Your heart is in the right place. This is not about if we can opt out or not. Rigth now we can opt out and that is exactly the point. We as a community should be able to decide this. These decisions need to be made for all of the taxpayers of a community. This is not a state decision. It is not EMBARRISING that I worked several jobs and saved a ton of money with my wife to buy a house in this community only to see it's value decease because the federal government decided more and more people should be home owners. Now I want to protect the eroding value of my home by protecting what we were buying. A great school system that will support the children of the community, not the sqare mieage surronding the community.


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