Education Officials Say Michigan ‘Literally Can’t Afford Any More Bad Schools’

Where are Michigan schools headed? New State Superintendent Brian Whiston discusses his plans to improve education.

The Michigan Board of Education has picked a new superintendent to lead the state’s Department of Education. Brian Whiston is currently the superintendent of Dearborn Public schools, and is the state board’s pick to replace retiring superintendent Michael Flanagan. 

MLive reports the state board also has harsh criticism of Governor Rick Snyder’s strategy to help turn failing schools around: 

The Michigan State Board of Education condemned Gov. Rick Snyder’s decision to move the School Reform Office out of their control, saying it violates the Michigan Constitution.

“We believe that the Executive Order 2015-9, signed by Governor Rick Snyder on March 12, 2015, violates the State Constitution by stripping the State Superintendent of his/her authority to execute the policies of the State Board of Education,” the statement read.

“We respectfully request that the Governor reconsider this action and restore the Reform/Redesign District to the direct supervision of the State Superintendent.”

“We literally can’t afford any more bad schools,” says John Austin, president of the state Board of Education. Whiston agrees failing school districts will and should be a primary focus of his tenure.

“The most important thing is the students,’ says Whiston. He says, for the sake of the students, the state needs to focus on the worst-performing schools and districts. “If you look at reform measures around the world and you look at top performing nations, really it is a systematic approach and working together.” 

“We’ve asked the governor for just that opportunity,” says Austin of collaboration. “We have been supportive of innovations, quality charters, new options, but in some sort of sane approach… We can’t afford a marketplace of new schools… with no quality control of new charters.”