Statement on Detroit Public School (DPS) Legislation

Last week I issues the following statement regarding my support of the legislative package, which passed the Michigan House of Representatives on June 2, 2016:

Rep. Theis supports DPS funding and reforms

“If we allow the school district to go into bankruptcy we will be forced, by a federal judge, to pay more than we are offering to supplement in funding today. Right now, we have the choice to send monetary resources to Detroit with strings attached, meaning the Michigan Legislature has the ability to carry out major reforms needed for DPS. We will lose the ability to force DPS to reform their district if we allow them to enter bankruptcy.

“Allowing DPS to go into bankruptcy would have a profound impact on the students within our local school district. Bankruptcy for DPS will cost a tremendous amount of money for the state and will likely result in the funding allocated to classrooms across Michigan being cut.  Our district will likely be forced to take a massive per-pupil foundation reduction in order to satisfy the bankruptcy judgement. I will not standby, idly watching the district enter bankruptcy if it is going to have a direct negative impact on the schools in Livingston County. I am supporting this bill package to safeguard school districts statewide and avoid losing per-pupil foundation allowance.

“I was more inclined to support this DPS package because the Detroit Education Commission (DEC) is NOT included. The DEC, appointed by the Mayor of Detroit, was ultimately charged with the decision to decide which schools will be closed and which ones would remain open based upon politics rather than results. Instead, this DPS package includes a citizen advisory board that will allow parents, educators and other stakeholders to volunteer for the committee and recommend improvement for Detroit’s students.

“For too long the state of Michigan has ignored the issues in Detroit Public Schools. We have continued to provide them additional financial resources without requiring the district to change their habits. I refuse to kick the can down the road anymore; we cannot continue to do the same thing we have been and expect a different result. I want to assure the residents of Livingston County that with this additional funding there will be substantial change and accountability. This is our best chance to address the real problems and implement legislation which will include significant academic and financial reforms to DPS.”