Stories indexed with the term ‘Michigan Constitution’

Column: The Case for Free Public Schools

Earlier this week, the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan – along with two plaintiffs – filed suit against the Ann Arbor Public Schools for the school district’s plan to charge students who want to take a seventh class in a semester.

Ruth Kraut, Ann Arbor Public Schools, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

Ruth Kraut

The lawsuit argues that the Michigan Constitution requires a free public education for all Michigan students, and that charging for a seventh hour is unconstitutional. Kary Moss, ACLU of Michigan executive director, outlined the position in an ACLU press release: “Allowing this model to continue will open the floodgates for any district in the state to charge for every conceivable part of their students’ education creating a two-tiered system in which students who have money get ahead, while those who do not fall behind.”

In early June, I wrote my first column for The Chronicle, about three aspects of the AAPS budget proposal. ["Column: Disparate Impact of AAPS Cuts?"] One of the areas I wrote about was seventh hour, a term that refers to the option of taking a seventh class during a semester, rather than the more standard six classes.

I was concerned about issues of equity – about Skyline students being able to acquire 7.5 credits in a year without paying, while Pioneer and Huron students could only earn 6 credits in a year for free. I was concerned about students losing access to the arts. I was concerned about disparate impacts.

I assumed that – as with many other proposals – this idea was poorly conceived, but legal.

A couple of days after my column was published in The Chronicle, I talked with the ACLU’s Kary Moss. (Full disclosure: Kary is a friend of mine, and we frequently discuss education issues. And that first Ann Arbor Chronicle column ended up as “Exhibit 4” in the ACLU complaint.)

Kary suggested to me that she was concerned about seventh hour, too – because she believed the move to charge tuition was unconstitutional.

Unconstitutional?! That thought had not even occurred to me. [Full Story]

Ann Arbor Opposes Bill to Limit Protections

At its Nov. 21, 2011 meeting, the Ann Arbor city council unanimously passed a resolution expressing its opposition to a proposed Michigan state house bill from Tom McMillin, a Republican representing District 45, which includes Rochester. McMillin’s bill would amend Michigan’s Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act by declaring null and void legislation enacted by local units that expands the set of protected classes in the Civil Rights Act. [.pdf of Michigan's Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act] [.pdf of McMillin's proposed bill (HB 5039)]

The protected classes enumerated in the Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act include categories based on religion, race, color, national origin, age, sex, height, weight, or marital status. The city of Ann Arbor’s non-discrimination ordinance adds sexual orientation, gender identity, or student status as classes of people against whom discrimination is prohibited. [.pdf of Ann Arbor's Chapter 112 non-discrimination ordinance]

So McMillin’s bill, if eventually signed into law, would nullify Ann Arbor’s Chapter 112 of its city code. The Ann Arbor city council’s resolution cites Michigan’s Constitution, which provides that ”Each such city and village shall have power to adopt resolutions and ordinances relating to its municipal concerns, property and government, subject to the constitution and law.” [.pdf of Section 22 of Michigan Constitution]

The bill has been referred to the state House judiciary committee. The 17-member judiciary committee for the state House includes 10 Republicans and seven Democrats, one of whom is Jeff Irwin (D-53), who represents a district that includes most of Ann Arbor.

This brief was filed from the city council’s chambers on the second floor of city hall, located at 301 E. Huron. A more detailed report will follow: [link] [Full Story]