We recently posted about charter management company Mosaica quitting the Muskegon Heights school district, the state's first fully privatized district. Okemos Parents for Schools, May 1, 2014. An emergency manager dismantled the public school district and handed the whole thing over to a private operator. But after a year plagued with scandal, Mosaica quit the district as it couldn't turn a profit.
The emergency manager sought a replacement charter operator but the first deadline came and went with no applications ... except for one by the local community:
But activists like Mary Valentine, a former state representative, are hoping the district doesn't wind up in the hands of any for-profit company, period.
"When you have for-profit operators coming and going, we're concerned that students may not be able to have that kind of stability that they need," she says.
"What the state came in and did, did not help. So maybe the people need to run it. Maybe somebody needs to listen to what the people want."
She and other citizen activists today released what they're calling a "Citizens Request for Proposals" today in a press release.
Citizens’ Request for Proposal
Muskegon Heights Public Schools
May 23, 2014
Those students who still remain in the Muskegon Heights Public School district did not cause the financial problems facing the district. They deserve an education commensurate with the students in surrounding districts. These are the students who don’t have a choice to leave, and we have a responsibility to them and this community to provide them with a good education.
We, the undersigned citizens are requesting the following:
1. The Muskegon Heights School District can no longer allow students to be used by for-profit companies to bolster their bottom line and cannot be allowed to enter the controversial and unproven Education Achievement Authority School District
2. Students must have a stable and nurturing learning environment. We cannot allow the high rates of teacher turnover in charter schools to continue to negatively affect the learning environment
3. A democratically elected school board must be given decision-making powers within this district to ensure proper use of taxpayer dollars
4. Adequate class sizes with research-proven student-to-teacher ratios
5. Access to professional, age appropriate libraries for all of our students
6. Fair and consistent discipline for all students
7. Appropriate special education services for all the students who qualify
8. Strong programs for music, art, drama, physical education and sports, commensurate with surrounding school districts
9. Counselors, social workers, psychologists and a school nurse available to all students
We cannot allow the students of our community to continue to be test subjects for experimental education models. We need a properly-funded school district with qualified teachers and adequate class sizes. Our community deserves to have control over its neighborhood schools and the ability to hold our school officials accountable. [Michigan Radio, May 23, 2014.]