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Chicken pox, shingles, team sports, and The Oxford Foundation's Endgame

Everybody in BHSD loses with The Oxford Foundation -- even if you think you have no one to cheer for in that game

I played a lot of team sports; but I gave up on them a long time ago.

But I can’t say I got the virus entirely out of my system. I liken it to chicken pox: it comes back as shingles.

When my daughter started really enjoying “rec” soccer a few years ago I encouraged her to play “travel” soccer because I was persuaded that for her to have the chance to play on her high school team and “enjoy” the same experiences I did she would need to play travel.

All parents make mistakes. This was a doozy.

Several thousand dollars and countless hours of soccer later it looks like there are three possibilities for my daughter’s soccer life – all of them make my initial motivation look silly: 1) she will improve and continue playing on an elite team or “academy” (watch out for that Platonic term!) where high school soccer is increasingly frowned upon – all serious athletics, it turns, now operate through private clubs in soccer, AAUP in basketball and so on – high school teams are for sentiment 2) she will burn out and give up the sport before high school or 3) the “high school” sports’ experience I imagined for her (GO TEAM, YAY BLACKHAWKS, and all that) won’t be available because Governor Snyder’s Oxford Foundation plans to take down all boundaries between schools and districts.

The high school team I imagined for my daughter won’t be there because the “school” won’t be. The new renovated building might be if Mr. Herner can fend off two years of false reports on the construction project and get the job done, but the school as many imagined it won’t be.

Let me explain.

We are currently watching the “endgame” of a long, long political fight over public education, primarily between teacher unions who for too long have wed themselves to one political party and thoroughly alienated “cost cutting” Republicans. That the 2007 burst of the housing bubble created an imbalance that might allow one side to win the long war once and for all isn’t my main concern. Provincial that I am, I think locally, from where I am at at any given moment. In BHSD I am at the 50 yard line, behind the Red Wings’ opponent’s goal for two periods, on the floor at the palace with Kid Rock to see the tip off of what might be the last game of public education in Michigan.

And I am jammed in with every BHSD voter. The Oxford Foundation Proposals threaten parents with kids, people without kids, retirees, and people with kids in private schools.

If we let it, the Oxford Foundation will end, for example, the opportunity to vote on and pass a “hold harmless” millage. Our hold harmless millage has kept us distinct and above average since Prop A in 1994.  The Oxford Foundation also will make our borders porous, actively encouraging and paying for out of district students to flood our schools; in exchange, our kids have the wonderful “opportunity” to take courses at OCC with an adjunct instructor making as little as 3k a term. Thanks.

When conditions deteriorate, and it could be as soon as next year, many parents who watch education carefully (like me) simply will flee.

I want strong public education but I am no Abram/Abraham/Ibrahim willing to sacrifice my son for the greater “good.”

My “allegiance” is to my family. Families like ours, I suspect, will flood the local private schools with applications for kids even though we can’t afford it. In turn, local private schools will jack their tuition prices sky high, even higher than they are now because they have increased demand. Even venerable Cranbrook with its wondrous endowment will bite at the opportunity. If you are paying for college tuition you know the economic logic: tuition is high because demand is high and state subsidies have been halved – so colleges and universities raise tuition. I do that kind of thinking for a living.  If you have, for example, a “sweetheart” deal at Sacred Heart because you brought them multiple kids or something you can expect that deal to go bye-bye. They have lots of customers now. Private school parents will pay now for tuition AND a bad “non-district.”

As certain families who value top flight public education flee, conditions will deteriorate even further. The press isn’t good for schools now, is it? And we are performing at a high level. Wait for when things go real bad (what was the phrase Mr. Moigis used to describe our current BHSD state – a system filled with “social and academic pathologies” he could cure?  – he will have his work cut out for him).

Good teachers with real credentials might not need the unions anymore because the private schools – bursting with customers – can finally pay a living wage. I hope your kid has a shot at one of those private schools where the good teachers will naturally cluster.

The good news for parents? You won’t have to pay BHSD home prices to have a shot at access. You can apply to a private school from anywhere! They will pop up all over the place. You will just have to sort which is the good one, which the bad, just like trying out a new restaurant.

Seniors in BHSD? No kids but big mortgage? The news is bit scarier from The Oxford Foundation and its Alpena/Oscoda supporters. Young families interested in those “little homes” that surround your big one? They were willing to pay to get in to BHSD, right?  Why should they now when there is no BHSD? The money is following the student, not the district. They will go other places. The value of the little homes some worried were taking advantage of the big homes will drop. Somebody will buy the house, sure – but it won’t be smart young ambitious families. Think the burst of the housing bubble hurt? Just watch.

More distinctively, your whole community will change. And it will change rather quickly. The Bloomfield area is attractive and wonderful for many, many reasons, of course. But it is not, said the kid from Detroit, an eternal city any more than its citizens are eternal. If you take away a key piece of what makes it great – its School District – everyone there loses. You will recall with the great warmth of nostalgia the glory days when OBU argued with 2020. That's when a community was a community we shall say!

This is the endgame if you play on or cheer for The Oxford Foundation team. Everybody loses.

So close to November 6 I know it is tough to get the team sport virus out of your system, may be impossible (chicken pox to shingles). But to help education in BHSD and keep this area a desirable place to live many will have to challenge their unions; and many will have to challenge their political party.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Neal Charness November 03, 2012 at 08:32 PM
too late.
Ken Jackson November 03, 2012 at 08:46 PM
Ms. Robovitsky, If you want to count on the state constitution to protect the concept of "Districts" I would look at the ballot you filled out. Challenging the constitution is how politics work in this state. And, if you read my post a bit more calmly, you will note that you won't have to legally remove districts from language in the constitution. You only need to weaken them. The Governor also doesn't need legislation here. The plan is to work this into the budget. Sorry to threaten your party affiliation; I know many have a deep affective tie to their political party -- or their union. But The Oxford Proposal is quite real. Governor Snyder means what he says. And he does what he says. He passed over 100 pieces of legislaion that sufficiently weakened current public education structures -- and unions, of course. He did this in under 2 years. He will make the Oxford proposal happen -- about that the evidence is in. He is really an impressive figure. The political crux is that the actions of a Republican Governor will really transform BHSD -- and not in a positive way (one tends to think of that party always allied with BH). It is hard to get one's head around this because of past history. By the way, as an academic, I admire much of The Oxford Proposals -- indeed, one could argue for its sense of justice. As a homeowner and BHSD parent I have an entirely different take. Like, your candidate Ms. Greenwell admonishes, be wary of "teams".
S Sera November 03, 2012 at 09:02 PM
Mrs. Robovitsky, Remember those pesky things called amendments to the constitution? What I really don't understand is someone who's attitude is to question every action (or lack thereof) of the Bloomfield Hills School District and Bloomfield Township, but who is now advocating for us all to sit back and wait. Why I wonder? Why do you look for misdeeds on the part of some (real or imagined), but not on the part of others?
Marcia Robovitsky November 03, 2012 at 09:47 PM
Not too late.... http://oxfordfoundationmi.com/community-engagement/ One problem I have noticed is that I give links....but I'm not sure they are read. For the record: I might very well have issues with the Oxford Foundation final report. IF so, I will say so and why. My point was and still is: The report is not final. However, the legislature has written a bill that concerns schools and very well may go to a vote in the November/December lame duck session. Look it up. Perhaps you can argue about that. Better yet, contact your representative and voice your opinion. I try to write about FACTS....and add my opinions of the facts. No one has to like my opinion, but the facts remain facts. Things I don't know or want to know more about, I ask questions. I try not to assume what others are thinking or believe and then try to state it as though it is fact.
Ken Jackson November 03, 2012 at 10:49 PM
Ms. Robovitsky, Fact: The Snyder administration has worked (successfully) for two years to dismantle longstanding structures in public education and weaken unions. Fact: in so doing they did what they said they would do Fact: Snyder was so successful unions responded with Proposal 2 to try to slow him down. Fact: it is impossible even for an English Professor to imagine how you interpret a call for "Any Place, Any Time, Any Way," education as NOT a threat to the very notion of the District. Fact: BHSD has no particular political sympathy at the state level. Ask Mr. Patterson who has a made a career of defending Oakland County from those outside who would take what it has. If you think BHSD will somehow be exempt from changes because it is BHSD , think again. So -- wait if you choose -- but I would urge others to act based on the facts. And as 'Political Acts" go sending an email to an open website soliciting comments ranks right up there with a March to Lansing by the good citizens of Bloomfield. On this issue, I fear, your friends will need a better watchdog.
Marcia Robovitsky November 03, 2012 at 11:32 PM
Most of those "facts" sound like opinion to me. Also, I never said BHSD would "... be exempt from changes..". What "facts" and in what way do you recommend others to act on? Be specific. Did you look up the bill currently ready for a possible vote? Have you read all the sections on the Oxford Foundation website? My favorite line...just asking.
Ken Jackson November 04, 2012 at 02:17 AM
Ms. Robovitsky, If you are going to deny what I listed as fact as opinion I am at a loss as to where to start. Sorry.
Elizabeth 123 November 04, 2012 at 02:52 AM
Marcia, I have read nearly everything on the Oxford Foundation's website. I appreciate links to information and have the same frustration in that I usually provide them too, but no one seems to look at them and I tire have having to spend my time looking everything up for people who do not seem to care. You and I were not too far apart last Tuesday at the Legislative CPC meeting. Where we differ is how we view the Oxford Foundation and Gov. Snyder. I am starting from a point of mistrust of the Oxford Foundation simply because everything was going extremely fast and the transparency wasn’t all there at the beginning (not sure it still is). I also believe that Governor Snyder will work the way he has in the first two years of his term and get this passed in time for the 2013 State Budget (the 2013/2014 school budget) because he says that is what he wants to do.
Elizabeth 123 November 04, 2012 at 02:53 AM
cont. One of the 5 Elements of Public Education in the Disaggregating High School Education is this (pasted from the paper – beginning of quote) Regulations: Public education in Michigan is a highly regulated industry with most of the regulations emanating from the state. While there is a general belief in “local control” of public schools, it is state law and state regulations, plus state control over the $1 billion+ federal funds that actually control. Michigan’s complex education regulatory regime generally covers all education providers. Even charter schools in Michigan do not operate under any significantly reduced regulations. Since public education is a state regulated and largely state funded process, the state has the power to disaggregate the high school education process and, as the Governor proposes, “eliminate barriers to true choice in education and give parents and students the flexibility to employ education programming that ensures their future success.” (End of quote)
Elizabeth 123 November 04, 2012 at 02:54 AM
cont. Have you noticed that the Disaggregating High School Education paper is not in the proposal section of the website? That is because it was developed by the Oxford Foundation itself, so I believe that this particular document bears more weight than the others which were submitted by other organizations. http://oxfordfoundationmi.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/pdf-version-oxford-foundation-disaggregating-the-high-school-education-public-education-finance-project.pdf Do you really think that the “true choice in education” referenced above begins and ends with high schools? I don’t. Also, the funding through public school districts as stated in the Michigan Constitution is not defined as a local community school, it could be a county wide district or some other configuration. Therefore, I am concerned that the district we now know may not be the district we will have in the future.
Elizabeth 123 November 04, 2012 at 02:55 AM
cont. There is one other document submitted by Public Sector Consultants and The Center for Michigan about Pre-K which I take seriously because of Bill Rustem’s (Chief Strategist for Gov. Snyder) connection with Public Sector Consultants. http://oxfordfoundationmi.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/pre-k-policy-brief-final-for-oxford-website-oct-4-12.pdf Personally, I believe in providing full time Pre-K to 4 year olds living at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level (per the document cited). My own children benefited from Pre-K. The estimated price for making this a full day program is $130 million over the current annual appropriation of $109 million. I can’t help but wonder where that money will come from. I think I might be willing to support additional taxes for this, but question if it will come at the expense of the K-12 appropriations because I am not sure all the citizens of Michigan will accept additional taxes.
Elizabeth 123 November 04, 2012 at 02:56 AM
cont. Finally, I believe you are right to bring up House Bill 5923 http://www.legislature.mi.gov/documents/2011-2012/billintroduced/House/pdf/2012-HIB-5923.pdf) because this bill will be needed in order for the funding changes soon to be proposed by the Oxford Foundation to work. This one outlines all the different kinds of schools which could receive funding in order to provide choices referred to by Governor Snyder and the Oxford Foundation. I believe it to be one of the bills referred to on the Oxford Foundation’s website that are already drafted http://oxfordfoundationmi.com/background/ This leads me to believe there are others already drafted waiting for the Oxford Foundation to complete the mission on how it will all be funded. All that is why I am concerned now about what the Oxford Foundation and the State Legislature is preparing in order to complete the Governor’s vision. I just hope there is something in the vision that will allow Public Districts which succeed to continue.
Elizabeth 123 November 04, 2012 at 03:29 AM
Marcia what I was referring to as the 'everything else' was - performance based funding instead of seat requirements - to me that sounds as if schools get high MEAP scores they will get funding. - Foundation allowance not being exclusively tied to the district would allow those students to leave an underperforming school for one that performs better. My question is, does more funding come with those students because they will need extra help in order to succeed in a school that is higher performing. In my mind, this is a market based approach to education, good schools (those who's students perform) will be allowed to remain open and accept students, poor schools (those who's students do not perform) will close and the students will select a better performing school. The kicker is, the state will tell us what performance level is good. Local control is gone. - the reference to a replacing a district centric model to a more modern version of public education leads me to believe the definition of a public school district will change. What I included in my original post was an actual quote from the Oxford Foundation. I read those items and my mind continued on to what could that could mean for our district and students and for other districts and students across the state. I truly feel the need to be prepared for the worst. If that ends up being just an exercise, then I am ok with it. If it ends up being reality then I will be glad I thought through the what ifs.
Ken Jackson November 04, 2012 at 12:03 PM
Elizabeth, Thank you. I can't add much, if anything, to those posts. My only thought as I go out to get my morning papers is why won't any local media provide this kind of coverage? It is, frankly, the biggest change to come to Michigan public education in 100 years and, consequently, will transform every community -- some for the better -- but BHSD has no where to go but down in this configuration. It ain't business as usual (unions v. republicans). The other point is just emphasis: The Governor needs no legislation -- NO VOTE -- to begin implementing these recommendations. He only needs the budget process.
Marcia Robovitsky November 04, 2012 at 01:47 PM
I repeat: Choose: Sept. 29, 2012 under UPDATES on the website I kept referencing: http://oxfordfoundationmi.com It has the "Disaggregating High School Education" paper. Did anyone read this post I made on a previous Ken Jackson blog? I addressed the House Bill. 1:16 pm on Thursday, November 1, 2012 update House Bill 5923, which would allow for the creation of new schools with different forms of governance. http://www.legislature.mi.gov/documents/2011-2012/billintroduced/House/pdf/2012-HIB-5923.pdf Will this legislation come before the House and Senate in MI after the Nov. 6 election during the short lame duck session? I don't know. However, I believe that those that do the voting... should be well informed....the topic thoroughly vetted....and understood. I don't go for the Pelosi strategy of vote for it THEN read it. The bill could be reintroduced in 2013. If those that are elected to do the voting for Michigan residents are ready to represent their constituents on this bill...then vote. If not, wait. We are ALL concerned about what the OXFORD FOUNDATION outcome will be. But having people that continue to attempt to divide others by political parties, or other means...making statements that are not fact but opinion does not serve the public or the issue well. Big question: Who will show up at the next Legislative CPC meeting? Will you be there to learn? Will you be there to try and make a difference? Or will you just be there to complain?
Elizabeth 123 November 04, 2012 at 02:54 PM
I read all your posts Marcia and I have read HB 5923 and SB 620. I still think that it is possible that both bills could pass through both the House and the Senate before the end of the year. Even if they don't, I want to be prepared because at least HB 5923 will continue on to the new session. When I read your comments above I thought I read that you felt the Oxford Foundation is just working on a proposal and so we should wait until the proposal is presented by them to react. Perhaps I mis-interpreted your position, because now I am reading your comments above differently and sense the concern. Like Marcia, I encourage everyone interested in this issue to become a part of the Legislative CPC. But Marcia, some interested parents can't make it because they are helping with homework, going to Lego Robotics, attending curriculum nights (I missed a meeting because of this) and so on. A number of those parents are looking into this issue on their own. Last, I don't see Mr. Jackson's blogs as complaining, I see them as his way of making a difference by highlighting the issue and the possible ramifications to the general public. Working on this issue is going to be multi-pronged.
Marcia Robovitsky November 04, 2012 at 04:49 PM
BHS has hired Charlie Fleetham to facilitate the CPC meetings. Those MINUTES should be on BHS website or on their email bulletins to the taxpayers so ALL can learn. Doesn't BHS also have paid people (shared costs) in Lansing? The BHS has a public relations department that could send out statements of Fact about upcoming legislation. They don't. An earlier question, why hasn't the news media spoken about this issue? Certainly not because the media is conservative. Why haven't all the school related organizations that have met with the Oxford Foundation asked for it's membership to communicate with all they meet? After almost two and a half years being a self appointed watchdog : http://bloomfieldtwphappenings.blogspot.com/ about Bloomfield Township government and what they do or don't do...... my conclusion is that no one really cares unless the issue just about hits them between the eyes. Much of what many people think I nitpick about in my blog writings are the many "little" issues that have happened at the township. The gov. actions often either weaken ordinances or created more ordinances, were questionable spending, or increased the role or size of government. The township fails to communicate properly also, even though they have a website and a public relations department. Beware of leadership that does not communicate ALL information...just what they want you to know WHEN they want you to know. Don't wait for a "watchdog". Be the "watchdog".
Elizabeth 123 November 04, 2012 at 05:19 PM
Marcia, I contacted the district through a school board member to see what was happening with the agendas and the summaries (not minutes). It appears that some people can get them and others, like you and me cannot. So it seems that it is a computer issue rather than a deliberate effort to keep the public uninformed. The district is trying to fix the problem. My suggestion in the future is to call the district first. Charlie Fleetham is the facilitator so that no one side or one person can monopolize the discussions. Many groups, The Michigan Association of School Boards, The Michigan Association of School Administrators, Michigan School Business Officials, Oakland Schools (our County's ISD), the Michigan Education Association, the BHS PTO and other district PTO/PTAs are all talking about this and writing about it. Many have asked to meet with the Oxford Foundation, they have emailed questions, sent in proposals and the like. So far the only communication (based on the updates provided on the Oxford Foundation's website) is a presentation to the MSBO and the powerpoint is on the Ox Fdn's website. So far, not much has come out of the OF. You said, "Beware of leadership that does not communicate ALL information...just what they want you to know WHEN they want you to know." Funny, that is the way I feel about the Oxford Foundation even after I have read all there is to read on their site.
Elizabeth 123 November 04, 2012 at 05:30 PM
I have to ask, that since I seem to be the only one responding to you, do you have a problem with what I am saying? I thought we were very close in our opinions about this issue and have tried to state clearly what I believe are our differences. I have tried to write in a nice and informative way, to not only to respond to you, but to inform other readers. So I don't understand what more I can say to explain my position about the Oxford Foundation. Forgive me, but I am beginning to wonder if you read my comments.
Howard Baron November 04, 2012 at 05:56 PM
Marcia, Here is where the CPC agendas and minutes are on the BHS website. http://www.bloomfield.org/community/community-partnership-committee/index.aspx They made the transition from the old to the new website. Howard
Marcia Robovitsky November 04, 2012 at 06:18 PM
Yes, I read your comments, Elizabeth, and find them interesting. I enjoy lively discussions and brainstorming ideas. Listening to other points of view are constructive when it can be presented in civil ways. Thank you. As to the computer issue....and no postings.... this is November. Someone at BHSD was assigned to redo the BHS website....hopefully with the intent to make it better. It is not. A lot of information is missing, not just CPC information. Perhaps I seem impatient because I have been dealing with the Township for years about what should be found on a government website to be "open and transparent". They are often still operating in the WHEN they want you to know it mode. I agree: the Oxford Foundation has been rather silent. That is a huge problem. But what I have been saying on my posts...is don't make stuff up. Give facts. To your credit: your posts say what concerns you about the PROPOSED issue..and you engage in "what if's". The DIFFERENCE between your posts and many others are you don't state your "what if's" as it WiLL...do this or that. Perhaps the reason we're the only ones posting is because we're the only ones who have read the links. Have a good Sunday. I'm done with this issue for awhile.
Marcia Robovitsky November 04, 2012 at 06:30 PM
The problem with the link to the CPC agendas and minutes is : IT ISN'T WORKING ...on all computers.... according to Elizabeth's information. It is NOT working on my Apple computer.
Elizabeth Fellows November 04, 2012 at 06:35 PM
Marcia, the district is aware. I double checked myself before sending you the link on Friday, and when it didn't work I called central office-they are aware, they too were having the same difficulty that I was having, it is hoped it will be fixed by the end of this weekend.
Ann November 04, 2012 at 06:37 PM
Marcia, many of us are reading the links and the information from the CPC meetings. On the other hand, it isn't realistic to think that every homeowner in the BHSD is going to read this detailed material, or press for OF disclosure. At some point, the information will need to be both readily available and simplified if people are going to be informed. And it will be important for people to be informed. Thanks to you, Elizabeth, and Ken for digging into this.
Ann November 04, 2012 at 06:40 PM
To Marcia's point, the best information is emailed from Charlie Fleetham to Leg. Committee participants, but is not on the website. Not everyone wants all that information, but his emails to the committee have been the best source of information on legislative issues.
Margaret Bloom November 04, 2012 at 06:56 PM
Thanks to everyone for making us aware of these proposals. After seeing your posts here starting several weeks ago, I have gone to links and read as much as I can. I do agree that making the direct communications between Charlie and the committee available as well would be helpful.
S Sera November 04, 2012 at 08:06 PM
As of this time, it is working on my Apple computer.
Elizabeth 123 November 04, 2012 at 08:34 PM
I just checked the links.....what didn't work for me on Friday, now does. All the documents are coming up, so I hope you can get to them too Marcia.
Elizabeth 123 November 04, 2012 at 08:51 PM
And Marcia, Thanks for responding to me, I really appreciate it. I have to say that I really appreciated your points of view in last Tuesday's meeting. I hope you have a nice Sunday afternoon too.
S Sera November 04, 2012 at 09:49 PM
Mrs. Robovitsky, A lack of response does not mean people aren't reading. I agree with what Ann says regarding every homeowner in the BHSD choosing to read the material in depth or press for disclosure. Lives are busy and complicated for many people. There are those who simply don't care. Consider that those without children in the district most likely wouldn't feel a need to look at the district website. You have a desire to do so. Even those with children in the schools don't routinely look at the main district website, and in those instances that they do they head towards what they are looking for. People can choose not to give out their email addresses. Others may dismiss lengthy reading. Everyone has a different capacity for things. I can also imagine the cry of wastefulness from the taxpayers if they started getting paper mailings on this topic! Elizabeth's comment from earlier is equally true that interested parents can't make it to CPC meetings because they are being parents at the times the meeting are held. It doesn't mean they don't care. For instance, did you know that on October 30th at 7 pm there was a 7th & 8th grade band, orchestra and vocal concert at Bloomfield Hills Middle School. You may not realize how many district families were precluded from attending the meeting from 6:30-8:30 pm.

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