Initiatives I Support
I am not a politician.
I have served the last 30 years as a public educator: in Armada, Davison, Birmingham, and now as a middle school principal, in Walled Lake, Michigan. Like anyone currently working in the public sector, I have experienced the real consequences of imposed policy by those legislators who presume to "know better." These same legislators have drained the coffers of Michigan's general fund on the backs of local government, public schools, health and human services, and small business. At the same time they claim to be “proponents of a middle class economy,” they have systematically attempted to dismantle organized labor, public schools, and the social safety net that gave folks a hand-up when life unfairly brought difficult times.
Here are three specific initiatives that I feel especially strongly about.
Protecting and supporting public education
The far right donor class recognized as far back as 1992 when they supported John Engler, that the best way to eliminate those who supported the Democratic party was to undermine the middle class organizations who supported them. They then began a campaign to discredit public education while the “For-profit charters,” developed by the Betsy DeVos family, profited from your tax dollars.
Legislators who were funded by the DeVos’s began micromanaging the public school classroom by proclamation and imposed legislation. By defunding public education, these legislators make sure that schools fail and go bankrupt. Class sizes increase. Test scores go down.
Before these initiatives took place, Michigan was in the top ten highest performing states. Since Lansing began “disrupting” public education, Michigan now rates in the lowest five states, and faces a severe teacher shortage.
As recently as December, 2017 a substitute teacher need only have two years of college in any subject to teach your child. State Universities are eliminating their teacher programs of study. I have watched this occur. I see how class sizes of 35 or more affect our students. I’ve watched great teachers and administrators leave public education before their time to make three times their current salary in industries not currently under attack by their own state government.
Protecting organized labor
As an organizational researcher, I value facts. And the facts are clear: the loss of middle-wage jobs followed the loss of membership in organized labor. The “Right to Work” laws passed by Rick Snyder and his far-right cronies were just the opposite. They created a work environment where wages and benefits were no longer negotiated as equal partners, and now they want to repeal the “Prevailing Wage,” which raises the wages of all skilled labor, regardless if they participate in a union or not.
Disrupt. Divide. Conquer.
This has been the plan since the DeVos’s took over the Republican Party in the early 90’s. Nationally, the donor class has never been richer, even as the middle class finds themselves losing members with stagnant wages for nearly 15 years.
Supporting small business
I know that along with organized labor, the engine that provides a living wage, first job, and building-blocks of a community is the small business. These are the folks that I went to school with, whose stores I frequent on Main Street, and whose kids played tee-ball beside mine. They have kept the family store open for generations, yet now face increased taxes, more paperwork, and fewer supports from the State for development. They do not have the leverage of corporations or even that of organized labor. They are my neighbors, and I am dedicated to helping them grow their businesses as we grow our middle class economy.