"The L. Brooks Patterson effect"

It is hard to believe that a state agenda driven by a Republican Governor can hurt Oakland County. But it can happen and is happening here.

I call it the “L. Brooks Patterson effect.”

The venerable, if flawed, Oakland County Executive has done such a masterful job in his 30 plus years of public service that most of us comfortably assume Oakland County always will be, well, Oakland County: affluent, a destination, the place – aside from Ann Arbor – that puts Michigan on the national and even international map. What happens elsewhere, particularly in Detroit or depopulated parts of the thumb where militias periodically form, won’t hurt us too much.

Even those to the political left of Mr. Patterson rest comfortably. Many that are not here still strive to get here if, for no other reason, the “schools.” The draw of the schools, in fact, kept the housing market here at least functional after the bust of 2007. Young families hustled in and a strong rental market -- driven largely by parents looking to get their kids in to a good district -- kept many property owners going. Birmingham schools is literally losing count of its enrollment. BHSD voted to build a new high school. Now that the housing market has stabilized somewhat, Matthew Gibb, Deputy Executive of Oakland County, recently told our local Representative Chuck Moss on his “Eye on Oakland” Television Program that Oakland County is enjoyable to market in large part because of the schools, including the public schools.

Given the L. Brooks effect, then, when Republican Governor Snyder announced his intentions in June or so of 2011 to remake public education in Michigan, not too many in Oakland County and its top rated school districts even flinched.

But then -- Boom! Surprise! There was a sudden jolt, almost as if fireworks were being shot off in a sleepy quiet suburb on a Tuesday evening! The cicadas stop. Is it a holiday? Who is doing that? Who brought that noise in to my neighborhood?

It became strikingly clear to everyone in Oakland County  that Governor Snyder’s school reforms target them, too. “Any where, Any Time, Any Place, Any Way” education –by definition – systematically erodes all Districts, including those high functioning Districts in Oakland County.  

Who brought the fireworks to town?

Perhaps lulled by the L. Brooks effect himself, Chuck Moss repeatedly has been telling hundreds of constituents to calm down, school reform has nothing to do with their schools, and that – in his last few weeks as a state representative – he needs to do something between now and Christmas to help the kids in Detroit by passing the first major piece of legislation (HB6004) that will make Governor Snyder’s school reforms possible.

Here is part of his reply to concerned constituents:

“But what about kids from Detroit Public Schools, Hyland Park [sic], of [sic] Flint? These are low performing schools that have failed generations of kids. Do we condemn these children to ignorance . . . until a reform plan comes along that perfect?”

May be Mr. Moss does think Detroit, Hyland Park [sic], and Flint needs his help in his last few weeks of office. May be he thinks he can ignore constituents pleading with him not to make a lasting change to schools -- and property values.

Such is the power of the L. Brooks effect. Everything always will be alright here.

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 December 10, 2012 at 04:07 PM
A clarification: I don't mean to be dismissive of the Detroit students. What I'm trying to say is that they are more capable of being taught and learning to deal with facts than Ms. Greenwell.
Jenny Greenwell December 10, 2012 at 08:40 PM
Thank you to those who contacted me privately. I've decided not to "flag as inappropriate" rude, inaccurate comments. I think it's best to let them remain on public display, so BHSD voters and taxpayers can understand how mean-spirited, rude, and often ignorant people use this medium to exhibit their emotional issues, general hatred and other distractions. Please use your best manners, and consideration for others, when publishing your thoughts. Please be mindful that some people don't know the facts as well as they would like you think they do. One (above) seems to think that he "trades" in human beings and that he knows all about how the students of the City of Detroit process thought. The other is not current on real estate trends and misunderstands some school policy. A few years ago, I was surprised to learn that over 10% of BHSD resident students live in rented residences (based on FOIA). Further, the BHSD's non-res tuition fee, when applied, covers the balance between the student's transferred state foundation grant (SFG) and the tuition rate being charged. If the SFG is $8000; and tuition is $9000, then $1000 is paid to cover the difference. A tuition fee can be waived, and some non-res, non-taxpaying students have been "grandfathered" under special circumstances. Various policy exists. BHSD does not re-verify student residency regularly. Excess capacity and excess (non-teacher) employment are chronic, costly problems.
Neal Charness December 10, 2012 at 09:08 PM
It's a commentary on Jenny's lack of analytic abilities and willingness to accept facts as facts and nothing else. Your comments are the usual outrage.
Bloomfield1876 December 11, 2012 at 02:31 AM
Mr. Charness just stop talking, posting, yelping, howling or whatever it is you are attempting to do. Your comments are abusive as they always have been. You are an embarrassment to you and yours.
Neal Charness December 11, 2012 at 03:43 AM
At least I use my name, oh cowardly one. Jenny has been a horrendous influence on our school district, ignores facts, and hurls charges at the staff and school board members. She is an embarassment in all respects.


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