Friday, December 3, 2010

The Sham in Lansing

The Michigan House of Representatives joined the governor and senate in approving a "legal" sleight of hand, towards the end of a marathon legislative session that concluded in the early hours this morning. House Bill 5887 (S-1) was passed by a vote of 90-5 allowing for the flow-through of federal EduJobs funds to the districts.  Tucked away in the bill was a shell-game designed to "meet the intent" of the Michigan Supreme Court's ruling on July 10 (Adair v. State of Michigan) that continuing to required districts to provide an ever-growing pile of student data was an unfunded mandate that violated the state's constitution.  The legislature, desiring to neither pay districts for this unfunded mandate nor reduce the amount of data down to only that which is required by federal regulation or which is used by the state to determine school aid, chose instead to thumb their collective noses at the rule of law.  The bill in effect approved a per pupil reduction (Sec. 11d) of an addition $16 per pupil over the $154 per pupil already in the state budget, and then turned around and created a new line item (Sec. 152a) that gives the funds back to the districts as so-called compensation for the CEPI unfunded mandate.

In the end, districts still have the costly administrative burden of feeding CEPI's insatiable appetite for raw data.  And just when you thought confidence in our state legislature was as low as it could go.