An Open Letter To Our New State Superintendent of Education Brian Whiston

Sunday , 22, March 2015 5 Comments

Congratulations on being selected for the important position of State Superintendent of Education. You have entered into a position where there are many old and new challenges to face. Public education in Michigan faces constant attacks from both the state and corporate education reformers, often working together to take our schools out of the hands of elected school boards, the professional educators who work in the schools, and parents. These are problems our public schools have faced for years, which leads to important questions in which your office must work to find solutions.

  1. How do you intend to protect and maintain the constitutional integrity of the Department of Education against a hostile governor’s office undermining public education for corporate interests in any way possible?

  2. How do you feel about our governor sharing state school business with Jeb Bush via his personal email account? It seems odd that a person who doesn’t live in Michigan, or serve any official capacity for the state would have access to state business.

  3. Corporate takeover of public schools mislabeled as “school choice” was a question that all of the candidates struggled with. Do you feel it necessary to placate the people who want to eliminate public education in the state by claiming they offer “school choice?”

  4. How will you hold the authorizers of for-profit charter schools accountable when poor-performing schools are allowed to stay open?

  5. How will you hold authorizers of for-profit charter schools accountable when they allow convicted criminals to use the schools they manage as money laundering schemes with the taxpayers’ money?

  6. Will you consider reinstating the cap on for-profit charter schools until the mess they are creating of our education system is properly addressed? Allowing more wasting of tax dollars by for-profit charter schools when so many are failing our school children is incredibly irresponsible of the state.

  7. How will you stop the raiding of the school aid fund by state government to pay for projects such as the new Wings Stadium/recreation complex in downtown Detroit? Do you think state school funds should be used to turn Detroit into a rich people’s playground, or moved into the general fund to pay for things other than educating Michigan’s children?

  8. Are you aware that corporations such as Pearson may be spying on school children even when they are not in school just in case they talk about a question that was on a standardized test? Michigan doesn’t use PARCC, but will you be able to ensure that students taking standardized tests in Michigan schools will not have their privacy infringed upon by the company that publishes Michigan’s standardized test?

  9. What is your opinion of high-stakes standardized testing? Do you believe it accurately assesses student achievement?

  10. Do you believe that high-stakes standardized testing is a fair and honest way to evaluate a teacher’s effectiveness in the classroom, even when based on a previous year’s test when the students weren’t in their classroom?

  11. Do you support the parents’ rights to opt their children out of high-stakes standardized testing?

  12. Do you view public school teachers as professional educators?

I hope this short list of questions will help you see the issues that public education in Michigan faces. Teachers and schools face hostile politicians and corporate education reformers working together to eliminate public education as much as they possibly can. Some of these reformers see public schools as institutions undermining their narrow idea of patriotism; others see the money public education receives and want to cash in, as in the case of for-profit charter schools. Michigan’s school children need effective leadership in the Department of Education to ensure that public schools – the schools that have always offered the best value for Michigan taxpayers – have the support and funding to provide the best education possible.


Up North Progressive

5 thoughts on “ : An Open Letter To Our New State Superintendent of Education Brian Whiston”
  • We all know he will say and think whatever synder tells him to say and think…

  • karen says:

    thank you for asking. media can impact actions.

  • Up North Progressive says:

    It was not the intention to ignore the deplorable situation with special education students in the state.

  • Yup. These are the questions. I’m reserving judgment on Mr. Whiston, who was clearly a compromise candidate, after Snyder activated the threat machine by moving the office of School Reform out of the Department’s (read: State Board’s) control. We can all learn about how completely snafu-ed education decision-making can become when a genuinely progressive state chief–with ample teaching expertise and experience–is elected, by looking at what Governor Pence has done to shut down Glenda Ritz, in Indiana.

  • Glenn Ikens says:

    Keep after them all, UNP! I served under Mr. Whiston. I found him to be a solid superintendent who made tough fiscal choices with the humane element in mind. He took Lansing legislators to task for underfunding. Overall, he strengthened Dearborn Schools through a tough time. However, we will see what he truly stands for as he assumes leadership in Lansing. He is a moderate, but is that enough to stem the tide in this tsunami of right wing attacks against public schools? We can hope for the best, but we must prepare for the worst.

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