Michigan has seen an increase in the state control of school systems. While distinctly trying to remedy issues within the management of school districts, it remains to be seen what impact, if any, these drastic interventions have on student achievement. The overall effect of these takeovers on student achievement remains unexamined. This article aims to gauge the overall effect of these interventions using emergency managers thus far in the State of Michigan.
In March of 2011 Governor Rick Snyder enacted Public Act Four, which allowed for governor appointed Emergency Managers to take control of financially failing cities and the school districts that resided inside of them. In May of 2011, not too long after Public Act Four's enactment, Detroit Public Schools were handed over to newly appointed Emergency Manager Roy Roberts. Then, that following June, Governor Rick Snyder and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Mike Flanagan announced their outline for education reform for the lowest performing Michigan schools.
As of May 2012, there are four cities with appointed Emergency Managers (Pontiac, Ecorse, Benton Harbor, and Flint) and three cities with active consent agreements (River Rouge, Inkster, and Detroit.) This study looks at several factors that may separate these seven cities from other cities in Michigan that are in fiscal stress. The purpose of this study is to find out how well the Emergency Manager Law has been applied to fiscally stressed cities in Michigan and what common factors are shared by the cities that have gone through the process. The study is intended to fact check some of the arguments on both sides of the debate and yield some truth about how the Laws affect certain cities over others.
As cities around the country show more signs of fiscal distress from years of economic downturn, and municipal bankruptcies become more common, Michiganders are paying much greater attention to our state’s policies for dealing with municipal fiscal stress. The extreme case of a local financial emergency in which an Emergency Manager is appointed to take over a city has been widely debated this year after the passage of Public Act 4 in March. However, it is important to recognize the history of state intervention in municipal fiscal stress in this country and in this state.
One of the best ways to get a substantive look at what programs a state - and thereby its lawmakers, its interest groups and the rest of its political players - focuses on is to look at where it spends its money. Every state has a finite budget, and how lawmakers divide this pot between the multitudes of government programs gives a good sense of its policy priorities.
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