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Tuesday, December 4, 2012


Below is a letter from Professor Charlene Beckmann, Ph.D.Professor of Mathematics and Mathematics Education, to Senator Goeff Hansen.  Below that is the initial correspondence that this letter is a response to.  Well worth the read.

Dear Mr. Hansen,  

We all agree that we want all children to have access to top-notch education; that is exactly what I am advocating. Forcing legislation through during the lame duck session is the opposite of the open and honest debate you mention below. Clearly, legislation regarding the future of children and their education is important. It is essential that time be taken for the open and honest debate to happen. To make an informed decision about the future of Michigan's children, the conversation must be extended to include educators input; these are the people who study education for a living (note that legislators are not known to be among this group!). Any educational decision that does not include educators at the table not only gives the appearance of impropriety, it is morally and ethically corrupt. The current decision appears to be entirely based on notions of finances and business rather than on the well-being of children.

The Emergency Manager bill that you supported has been forced on the Muskegon Heights community. As you know, the EM taking over Muskegon Heights Public Schools has not been successful; 20% of teachers hired by Mosaica have quit in the first few months. The bill you supported is having the effect of demoralizing Muskegon Heights teachers and families. If you truly have children's education at heart, I cannot imagine why you supported the Emergency Manager Bill. I also cannot imagine why you want to force another potentially damaging bill through the legislature. Not allowing citizens of a community to have a say in their lives is wrong. I can't imagine you would be willing to live under a dictatorship, but that is exactly what you're forcing on this community! The community needs help but this is not helping. The turn-over in teachers alone is wreaking havoc on the education of these students. An emergency manager has been in place in Detroit Public Schools for several years. What evidence do you have that the placement of the EM is helping the district? Where are the test scores showing improvement? 

I also wonder, how can you possibly believe that a corporation who is in business FOR-PROFIT can do a better job educating students than a non-profit public entity? If both groups receive the same money per student, who loses? The non-profit pours all of the money into education and the physical plant. For-profit corporations are clearly not spending everything they receive on education or there would be NO PROFIT! So who is losing? Currently, the losers are teachers who are paid poorly, required to work very long hours, and provided few benefits. The losers are also kids who are being subjected to substandard course materials (such as the Saxon math program chosen by Mosaica for Muskegon Heights children, likely because Saxon has a history of giving some books away to entice schools to buy their product). The bill you are proposing is not aimed at improving children's achievement. It is aimed at saving a few bucks... at the expense of the people who might very likely be in charge of your nursing home someday... Think about social security in a different way. When uneducated people are in charge, then what? Or are we already experiencing what cuts in education have done to Michigan's citizens (including its legislators)???

I hope you will think long and hard about the decisions you are helping to force on Michigan's children and take the time to make the right ones! Forcing a bill of such importance through during the Lame Duck session when Michigan's electorate demanded that you repeal the last version is certainly not what you were mandated to do as our representative!


Charlene Beckmann, Ph.D.
Professor of Mathematics and Mathematics Education
Grand Valley State University
Allendale, MI 49401

Dear Senator Hansen:

I'm writing to ask you to oppose HB 6004/SB 1358 (on the Education
Achievement Authority) and HB 5923 (on new forms of charter schools).

I'm working with Muskegon Heights, one of the schools districts under an
emergency manager. Mosaica has basically destroyed the mathematics
education of the children in the district. They have chosen the worst math
program available and imposed it on the children of the district. This
corporation gets the same amount of money per child as do other public
schools, but they spend very little on kids and teachers. How is that
fair? They don't abide by the same rules. Of course they make a profit.
But while they're doing that... what about the students? What about the
teachers who are so dedicated to helping the children in this very low
income area? If you cannot see why public education is necessary and
should not be run by corporations, spend a week with the kids and teachers
at Muskegon Heights. You have no idea the damage your legislation is
imposing on this community! STOP IT!!! STOP IT RIGHT NOW!

I respectfully and strongly urge you to oppose HB 6004, 5923 and SB 1358.
I will be watching this misguided plan closely, and I look forward to your
response to my email. Thank you.


Charlene E. Beckmann, Professor of Mathematics and Mathematics Education,
GVSU 231-780-3063
Dear Professor Beckmann,

Thank you for contacting me regarding SB 1358, HB 6004, and HB 5932; legislation that would codify the Education Achievement Authority into state law to benefit children in distressed schools across the state. I appreciate hearing from the educators in my district.

By way of background, the Education Achievement Authority is currently in place through an interlocal agreement between Detroit Public Schools and Eastern Michigan University.  Advocates of the legislation have stated that by putting this agreement into statute this will be another tool for local education officials to quickly and effectively improve perpetually failing schools.

Overall, I believe that our parents and children deserve to be in a setting that provides the best environment for maximum educational growth and opportunity.  We all should expect and demand excellence for our loved ones and not tolerate the status quo or mediocrity.

However, as I review the legislation, I do share legitimate concerns regarding the various powers and the proposed work of the Authority Board, the need for a statewide inventory and maintenance of unused school buildings and agreements to provide or receive various services, just to name a few.

We owe it to our parents and children to have a larger conversation on achieving educational excellence for Michigan's children.  Yet, it is within the details of the method of achieving this result that requires an open and honest debate to address these and any other concerns.

It's also important to note that the public unveiling of the Governor's Public Education Finance Project draft bill is a completely separate document and issue at this time.  This particular project will be one that is expected to be discussed in 2013.  I'm continuing to gather information on this issue and encourage future comments from constituents on this issue.


Goeff Hansen
State Senator
34th District

From: []
Sent: Thursday, November 29, 2012 1:01 PM
To: The Office of Senator Hansen
Subject: Don't take the Public out of Public Ed

Charlene Beckmann
3680 Dunecrest Drive
Muskegon, MI 49441-4421