This is not an official blog of the City. It is the work of Mark Kapel who is solely responsible for content.

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Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Play's the Thing

As expected at the Bloomfield Hills School Board meeting of September 15th, there were words.  For the most part they were the words of soft spoken School Board Superintendent Robert Glass who warned, “A lot is coming down and it will happen very fast. Maybe next week…. (Maybe) Thursday. Superintendent Glass was curious as to how the tax payers would react and he was not the only one.
Moon rising above tree and clouds above The  Doyle Center

A Bloomfield Hills Township Police car with an officer inside was parked outside the Doyle center Thursday before the 7pm meeting. The squad car might have been there for crowd control but there was no crowd. Less than 40 unofficial people were in attendance.  The Police might been prepared to prevent excesses in parking lot proselyting like the ones that required  police intervention the day before at City Hall. There was none of that.  It was too cold and windy.  Inside it was warm and toasty. Refreshments including popcorn with unlimited refills, and a rather good coffee, also with unlimited refills was served.
Crowd Early
Of the forty gathered in twice as many empty seats only 12 chose to speak. And only 2 spoke for Bloomfield 20/20 a citizen’s group, with a forty year involvement in school issues who is trying to recall all seven board members. B20/20’s name is reference a clear vision of academics over building construction or other school diversions.
If anyone had clear vision of what the September school board meeting would be it was the school board Superintendent. He would be the star of the show and he may have written most of it. He was also well versed in the principal of drama which says when a gun appears on stage in the first act it had better go off and loud in the last act.

According to Ingrid Day the School Board President,  many said they wanted to see and hear more of Superintendent Glass.   He therefore was the first on stage and the entire first act. His topic Future Focus/Super indent’s report began as part sermon on the joys of education and   part self-help.  An Achievement triangle was introduced which included rigor, relationships, and responsiveness.   Lacking a pointer, Superintendent Glass struggled with the Achievement Triangle slide but concluded with “You can’t measure yourself by standardized testing alone.” That produced snickers from the audience who thought he was referencing to Andover’s recently announced disappointing Meap scores. The audience was wrong.  That was the Gun.

The Recall or B20/20 was never mentioned by name. There was reference to “the high school thing” and another to “people who go off the deep end.” School office consolidation was moving along nicely and would continue.  A time line of school consolidation between now and 2015 would soon be on the School Board’s website. There would also be Transition Planning page and fall back options called Plan B. A Program Comparison chart between option A and B would also be available. With all of the above provided in the next week or so one could track the consolidation step by step.

Then came the big warning bombshell of the evening. The Governor of the State, of Michigan, Mr. Rick Snyder was mentioned, in passing. As was the State legislature. “A lot is coming down,” Superintendent Glass explained. There was one party and it was completely in control and “they are moving fast. Maybe next week….(maybe) Thursday.”  What Superintendent Glass was talking about was the Choice / Charter school concept that would allow any student to choose any school. While nonresidents attending Bloomfield Hills Schools currently pay a fair tuition, students under the choice/charter concept would not pay as much. Superintendent Glass asked, “What about you the tax payer? Are you willing to let people in who won’t pay full freight?”

If  the Bloomfield Township Library is an example the answer is no.

The second act was the public comments.  Some deplored B20/20.  Some loved the school board. Some deplored the idea of a recall election which could cost the district an estimated $85,000. Many offered a conciliatory note. Brandon Kaufman wearing a green One Bloomfield United tee-shirt said that today many people for many reasons were angry. Maybe B20/20 was angry. He just wished they’d find something better to direct their anger at. People can come together. Quoting a popular newscaster he said one should put your heart in the mind of the person you most disagree with to see if you can find a common ground.
Crowd Late

When the public comment portion was over, most of the public left missing the third act, ACT College Readiness and Meap Cut Scores. The presenter Dr. Ernie Bauer had the audience who remained rolling the aisles about the inanity of trying to judge the future academic success of students in college based on standardized test scores. During a momentary lull in the laughter, one board member, perhaps on cue asked, “Yes but what is the point?” The point was, according to Dr. Bauer of Oakland Schools, you could take figures and graphs like the ones he was showing a decide they show a marked superiority for Charter and Choice schools over public . If you really know what to look for however you will see something quite different. BIG BANG. The Gun had gone off and loud. It was time for a fast curtain, and maybe some more popcorn for the long ride home.
Wherever you  live in the Bloomfield Hills School District, you are most likely a long way from the Doyle Center which is a short stroll from the village of Franklin. A long enough car ride for most meeting attendees to realize that they had just been played. Played at the Play so to speak. A jolly good show but not the expected Board meeting where issues  would be discussed, solutions  suggested, and perhaps votes taken. It was this writer's first visit to a school board meeting and I left. slurping still hot coffee,  popcorn in hand, knowing no more about the seven members up for recall than I did before.
My wife and I once saw  the Phantom of the Opera. We sat by the orchestra pit and after the show we watched the musicians pack up and go. My wife pointed out a keyboard, and said that was for the Phantom when he played . I was more than little taken aback. When the Phantom played the the organ on stage he  was just going through the motions while somebody off stage  played for him ? 
"Do you still believe in Santa Claus, ?" my wife asked.
Many people on both sides of the school board election fervently believe  in their cause and those beliefs are being  reinforced by clever campaigns. Regrettably such fervor interferes with, and sometimes preclude some common sense questions we all should be asking.

I'll have grounds
More relative than this—the play's the thing
Wherein I'll catch the conscience of the King.
                                        -Shakespeare Hamlet

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