Detroit News. Dec. 9, 2020.

Charter students worth less? Wrong message

The Michigan Civil Rights Commission, tasked with rooting out discrimination in the state, has in effect called for the discrimination against 150,000 charter school students by saying they should be funded less than other public school children. It’s hard to miss the irony.

In a report released earlier this fall, “Education Equity in Michigan,” the commission made some valid recommendations, but it also jumped on the charter-bashing bandwagon.

The most alarming advice the report offers is that the state change its school funding model and cut support for charter school students by 25%. The idea is to bolster the budgets of traditional public schools that have lost students to neighboring charters. Yet charter schools already receive about 20% less funding than their counterparts as they don’t get any state funding for their facilities.

There are about 300 charter schools in Michigan, a number that has stayed fairly constant in recent years. They serve 10% of students in the state, and the majority of those who attend are minorities from low-income households. About half of the children in Detroit and Flint attend these schools.

The Michigan Civil Rights Commission has suggested the state change its school funding model and cut support for charter school students by 25%.

Students attend charter schools because their parents have chosen them for a variety of reasons, from academics to safety.

While teachers unions may love the report, which reads a lot like their own anti-choice rhetoric, the Civil Rights Commission has gotten a lot of pushback from charter leaders and parents.

To the commission’s credit, in response to some of the negative feedback, members offered the charter community a chance to present its case at a Nov. 23 meeting.

Jalen Rose, the sports commentator and former NBA player, is the founder of the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy in Detroit. He was extremely displeased with the report.

He wrote a piece for these pages laying out his concerns, and he also submitted a video presentation to the commissioners.

“Under no circumstance can we survive getting 25% less of our budget,” Rose told the commission. “What would you tell our scholars, our young people, when they find out that you consider them three-fourths of a person?”

It’s not just civil rights commissioners who are favorable to this change. A member of the State Board of Education also chimed in with her support to funding charter students less. At the same meeting last month, Pamela Pugh, vice president of the 6-2 Democratic-controlled state board, said the commission should stick with its call to “stabilize” funding for public schools.

In the end, only one commissioner, Jeff Sakwa, made a motion to strip the recommendation to cut charter funding by a fourth. It didn’t pass, but the members did decide to “study” how charters and traditional schools spend their funding.

Luckily, this suggestion to slash funding isn’t going to gain traction in a GOP-controlled Legislature. But it’s part of a growing movement in Michigan — and nationally — to undermine charter schools.

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The Mining Journal. Dec. 12, 2020.

Small businesses need government, our support

It’s certainly turning out to be a holiday season like no other. Celebratory holiday dinners at local restaurants with family, friends and colleagues aren’t safe or possible under COVID-19 epidemic orders. Many people are opting to order online instead of doing their holiday shopping in person. And some aren’t making those annual journeys to their hometowns in Upper Peninsula to celebrate with family and friends.

All of these changes are certainly hard on us individuals, but they also spell major challenges for our small, local businesses that depend on our holiday dining, shopping and tourism.

Due to this, we were glad to hear businesses that require social gatherings for customers and have experienced disrupted operations due to COVID-19 epidemic orders now have additional time to make their December sales, use and withholding tax monthly payment, according to the Michigan Department of Treasury.

“Allowing small businesses affected by COVID mitigation protocols more time to pay their taxes will provide some crucial support to business owners that are struggling right now,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said in a statement. “My administration will continue working around the clock to provide more support for our businesses as we head into the cold winter months and continue working to eradicate COVID-19 in Michigan. I also urge the Michigan Legislature to work with me to pass a $100 million relief package for our small businesses and families that have been hit hard by this pandemic.”

This measure will certainly help, but it’s clear that our small, local businesses — and the families they support — need much more relief and funding from our state and federal governments, fast.

We continue urging our state and federal lawmakers to work together in an effort to save our small, local businesses, as our hometown entrepreneurs play a huge role in making our community a vibrant place to live and visit.

But we also encourage our readers to do their part by supporting small businesses however they can this holiday season.

Instead of ordering that item off Amazon or heading to a big box retailer, look around Marquette County and the U.P. to see if you can find something similar — or even better — to purchase from a local or regional seller.

At a local business, your purchase will matter to them.

Your dollars will make an impact, as your money won’t just be a drop in the bucket of millions of dollars in revenue that large retailers report.

And your purchase and support this holiday season could help ensure our beloved local businesses are still open next year.

But if you’re not sure what to get or which local business to patronize, the Lake Superior Community Partnership is offering Love on Local gift certificates, which are accepted at any local small business in Marquette County. To find out more about the Love on Local program or purchase a gift card, visit loveonlocal.com.

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The Alpena News. Dec. 9, 2020.

Good news on thriving elk

Elk are some of Michigan’s most majestic animals and some of Northeast Michigan’s most important residents.

Not only do the animals add to the natural splendor of our Up North communities and play an important role in our ecosystem, but they also contribute mightily to our economy as tourists travel north for elk viewing and sportsmen and sportswomen lucky enough to win an elk-hunting license come up for one of the most thrilling hunts available in North America.

Now, as News staff writer Julie Riddle recently told us, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources has determined the animal’s population has grown enough that the state can allow more hunters to take a chance at claiming an elk.

The DNR is making 60 more licenses available this year as aerial surveys show Michigan’s elk herd numbers about 900 to 1,300.

That is good news for Northeast Michigan, and we say congrats and thanks to the DNR and other organizations involved in making sure the animals thrive.

One unfortunate side effect of the booming elk count, however, is that it increases the likelihood of vehicles colliding with the up-to-800-pound animal.

Be safe out there, Northeast Michigan.

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