I think until a few weeks ago I had a strong hope for Michigan in that the state government was going to screw the state too bad. Unfortunately, I am starting to get rather cynical about the damage that the current administration is causing. Let’s take a look:
Earlier in March, the State government passed a few bills that allow the governor to appoint emergency financial managers to any municipality or school district that is in financial stress. I blogged about this, rather angrily, noting that the emergency financial managers in these bills have the power to slash any previously-collectively-bargained contracts and even void out the municipality or school district. Basically, the local government becomes completely overridden by the state government.
Next, the State passed a bill that allows teachers to be fired much more easily based on the performance of their students, regardless of the other factors that might affect their students’ performance.
Should this third bill pass, I can just imagine the headlines on newspapers: “Benton Harbor students now learning curriculum taught by big business” and then, “Benton Harbor students’ curriculum, now being brought to you by Wal-Mart.” Maybe even, “Amway: The curriculum to lead our children into the future.” Corporate education is soon possible in Michigan. Once the power is out of the hands of the people, corporations will have no reason not to act in their best interest: profit. Any democracy-loving person will teach you that this year’s crazy education reform is plain stupid.
But, there’s more. Michigan is doing more than extorting the poor and creating non-Democratic governments across its state: it’s also ignoring its voters completely.
In 2008, almost 65% of Michigan voters passed Prop 1: the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act. In 2011, the State Attorney General and a local appeals court have managed to gut and close almost all of the MMMA dispensaries that opened up following the passage of the proposal. Of course, what does the voters’ opinion matter to the state? Apparently none.
I can go on and on about different issues in Michigan: prison privatization, social conservatism including a lack of protection for employment based on sexual orientation and gender identity/expression (i.e. you can be fired for being gay or trans in the state of Michigan), a recent attempt to gut Planned Parenthood’s funding, and the very, VERY glaring tension between races in the state of Michigan.
All of the above concerns me. Enough to feel like Michigan is now the most conservative state in the U.S.