Let the Governor’s race begin

As Memorial Day ends, the race for the Governor’s office is just getting started.   The Governor’s office has become very important in education policy since the Common Core State Standards were adopted in 2010 under Gov. Jennifer Granholm and continued under current Governor Rick Snyder.    In his time in office, Governor Snyder has been an ardent supporter of common universal standards and sought to “reinvent” education into a P-20 “any time, any place, any pace” education system based upon them.  He outlined his vision in 2013,

“I want to emphasize a vision of P-20.  A PRENATAL to life long learning.  We have to get beyond the old models of saying there are silos for  for K12,  silos for community college, for higher ed,  for preschool.  They shouldn’t be separate.  They can be separate institutions.  not to threaten the institutions. But shouldn’t we make it a seamless system.  Where a student in that system doesn’t have to figure out all these tough choices but can just focus on success…and understanding it starts even at the prenatal stage and looking at is the expectant mother getting the right diet, the right primary care…”

This quote and more importantly, the system it represents behind it scares the heck out of us.   This is America!  Parents and students NOT the state are responsible for making the “tough choices.”   The entire P20 system depends on data based on common national standards.  (See post: What does it mean to say Common Core is more than just standards?”)

This P-20 system is no longer focused on meeting the needs of children but the needs of business.  The “tough choice” of what a child would like to be when they grow up is one the state seeks to control in order to meet regional workforce needs.  That’s why we oppose the STEM credential bill (SB 343/344)  recently introduced by Senator Proos and supported by Senator Colbeck.

To build such a system requires a shift from elected local control under the authority of parents and taxpayers to an appointed centralized authority at the state and ultimately national level.   Governor Synder’s 21st Century Education Commission report reiterated the vision.  The report made several references to the P20 system and also called for abolishing the state board of education.   Many of the components of the P20 workforce development system are being implemented now under the current buzz word “school choice.”     Programs such as education savings accounts, funding for private and homeschooling, and STEM credentials based on data are all currently being promoted as a means to give parent MORE choice.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  When money and data follow the child, so does control.  The state is in control over the individual student and can direct them through funding.

The big question is will the next elected Governor continue the P-20 transformation begun under their predecessors?  Here is how it is currently looking on the Governor’s side….

Lt. Governor Brian Calley is a P-20 supporter, so he’s out.   We don’t need Governor Snyder 2.0.

Attorney General Bill Schuette could have pushed back on federal over-reach in education, or protecting parental opt out rights.  He didn’t.

Senator Patrick Colbeck is a bit more nuanced; some good, more bad like his Common Core shenanigans and STEM legislation which he supports.  This bill is a HUGE component of P20 workforce development.  They brought it back after a defeat in 2015.  They need this bill passed.    We could see an election year conversion with some stronger rhetoric.   But Senator Colbeck would have to remove himself from the STEM bill and renounce his support.  He would also have  to renounce his previous support for the MDE’s Top Ten in Ten (which helped usher in LGBTQ guidelines) and Education Savings Accounts based on business needs would have to be recanted in order to be believable and persuade us.   We’re not holding our breath especially since he has cut off nearly all communication with the team at Stop Common Core in Michigan.

House Speaker Tom Leonard, Representative Lee Chatfield, Representative Gary Glenn, all headed in the right direction.  But now is a test of their leadership.  Clearly, the grassroots is rallied behind them.  Clearly, they will be seen as amazing grassroots leaders if they can claim the real win of ridding Michigan of Common Core with a true repeal and replace.  There is no telling how far this win could take them.  It was a biggly issue for Trump, it killed Jeb Bush.

Keep your powder dry on a candidate for governor.  The best person may have yet to emerge!