Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Mike Bouchard --- STFU

The latest education news from Michigan concerns just another politician that thinks his conservative Republican supporters will agree with just another Republican political slap at public education in Michigan. Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard, Republican gubernatorial candidate, wants to see Michigan school districts privatize more and more of the services given to Michigan students. From

The Oakland County sheriff said Tuesday he has saved $1.6 million a year by privatizing food services at the county jail. He says schools can see their own savings by consolidating services and leveraging their purchasing power. He adds that some school districts already have turned some services over to private contractors.

Privatizing services that are now provided by actual employees of a school district makes sense only to those that imagine, correctly or not, that those services would cost the school districts less money. These folks want to shift jobs that bus drivers, classroom aides, and food service personnel currently have to private contractors. The private contractor pledges, at least for the first contract period that is negotiated with the school district, that he can provide workers to do those same jobs at less cost to the school districts while giving himself and any company partners or stockholders a profit. To do so, workers for the private company will have lower wages and fewer, if any, benefits. The private contractor's employees would also not be part of the retirement system to which most school district employees across the State of Michigan belong. And, forget about unions.

Privatization only contributes to the downward spiral of wages. The entire community suffers when wages contract and folks have to live on less. Does anyone even care about the school district employees displaced by privatization schemes? If the new employer deigns to hire them back to their "old jobs" it is at a grossly reduced hourly wage, no seniority, and little or no benefits like sick days or health care. Experience and commitment to the cause of public education is tossed aside along with those workers.

And, tell me, Sheriff Bouchard, do those private companies have to obey the same State laws? Will all the new employees be fingerprinted and have background checks? Will they have to pass drug screenings? Or, like everything else proposed by Republicans, are there exemptions for the private sector employees working with our children? And, will the companies be able to discriminate in hiring and not have to be as fair and transparent as are the public school districts in their hiring practices?

You know, public education should be provided on a not-for-profit basis. Education is a right in Michigan and health care should be also. 100% of my tax dollars should go toward educating the children and none of it should go into the pocket of private companies and their stockholders. Most health insurance companies spend only 80% of premium dollars on caring for the sick and injured. Stockholder profits and outlandish executive pay takes away too many of our health care dollars. An insurance company shouldn't make a profit from injury and disease. Personally, I find it obscene.

My opinion? Mike Bouchard should think for himself and forget all those Republican myths about public education and the unions that represent the good folks that provide that education and related services to the children of Michigan. Please ponder what's best for all and not just those that make campaign contributions.

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