The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Michigan Schools:
Blackmailing Teachers

Jan 18, 2010

Early this month, Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm rushed to sign a set of laws attacking public schools.

The new legislation will, among other things:

  • Align teachers’ pay according to the academic performance of their students;
  • Allow even more privately-run charter schools to replace public schools–with public school money;
  • Allow teachers to be certified without a four-year teaching degree.

These measures, passed quietly by the state legislature just before Christmas, are an attack on the working conditions and the wages of teachers across the state, especially those in poorer school districts where students struggle. Not only will this drive down teacher pay, it will lower the quality of education for students in those districts.

The governor and legislature say these measures are necessary because the Obama administration demands it in order for states to get a piece of the 4.3 billion dollars in "Race to the Top" money the administration is dangling over their heads. And it’s all true! They are holding the children’s education money hostage, to push through an attack on teachers.

To get that money, the districts and their teachers’ unions have to sign off on the state’s plan. Wealthy districts, which aren’t in such desperate shape, have been able to say "no thank you;" poorer districts have been forced to sign the plan.

So far, most teachers’ unions in the state have refused to bend to this blackmail.

Obama’s chief of staff Rahm Emmanuel once said, "You never let a serious crisis go to waste." And that’s exactly what the Obama administration and the state government are doing: taking advantage of the crisis to force teachers into accepting cuts they could not have pushed through before.