In the ongoing, hitherto successful, conservative-led effort to divert education money to corporations, Republican lawmakers in Michigan are exploiting the economic downturn to push a set of initiatives that would outsource teaching jobs, curtail collective bargaining rights and defang teachers’ unions.

The goal is to save money, GOP legislators say, without indicating that it is their unwavering hostility to taxation that deserves much, if not most, of the blame for the budget crisis nearly all states now find themselves in. Republican Gov. Rick Snyder too was semitransparent about his priorities with regard to public schooling. Speaking in the language of the business-minded, he warned that the current system “is not giving our taxpayers, our teachers or our students the return on investment we deserve.”

As Mother Jones reporter Andy Kroll makes clear at the end of the article below, “There is little about their initiatives to suggest that quality education for schoolchildren is their top priority.” Rather, this is the same painfully familiar plutocratic attempt to put private hands on public dollars, education-style. –ARK

Mother Jones:

The GOP-controlled state House approved a $13.8 billion budget that slashed education funding by $900 million for K-12 and state colleges and universities. Met with howls of protest, Republicans backtracked but ultimately cut funding by $564 million, according to the Michigan Policy Network.

… Throughout the summer and fall, the GOP’s union-busting continued apace. In September, state House Republicans pushed legislation banning teachers from emailing about union or political activities on school computers. The punishment for lawbreakers: a maximum fine of $1,000 and up to a year in jail.

… Perhaps the most controversial of the GOP’s moves came in November, concerning a new anti-bullying bill. Named “Matt’s Safe School Law,” after a student who committed suicide in the face of incessant bullying, the drafted bill contained an audacious loophole: Teachers or students couldn’t be penalized for bullying so long as they attributed that harassment to a “sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction.”

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