Mike Addonizio, professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies and Thomas Pedroni, associate professor in Curriculum and Instruction for the College of Education were quoted in Chalkbeat regarding Gov. Whitmer's next move in Benton Harbor

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Chalkbeat, 7/15

Gov. Whitmer’s next move in Benton Harbor an ‘inflection point’ in Michigan’s fraught history of school takeovers

By Koby Levin

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s attempt to close the struggling high school in majority black Benton Harbor provoked a furious backlash from the city’s 10,000 residents. Her next move has implications for districts across the state. As Whitmer and the board continue negotiating, observers say the outcome could reshape how Michigan approaches struggling school districts far beyond Benton Harbor that are struggling with rising debts, low test scores, and declining enrollment. Critics point out that an emergency manager in Flint made changes that led to the city’s crisis of lead-poisoned drinking water, and some in Detroit note that the city district’s debt ballooned under emergency managers who were supposed to cut costs. Even if Whitmer doesn’t manage to change the state’s emergency management law, Mike Addonizio, a professor of education at Wayne State University, said her next move in Benton Harbor has major implications for the future of state interventions. “It is kind of an inflection point,” he said. “What is the state going to do with school districts like this?” Still, solving Benton Harbor’s issues won’t solve the structural problems that have produced similar situations in districts across the state. “It could be Kalamazoo. Could be Battle Creek. Could be Muskegon,” said. Pedroni says that the struggles of urban districts have been worsened by state policies that allow students to leave for other districts, by a relentless focus on test scores, and by a funding system that doesn’t adequately account for the challenges of educating poor students. “The way that we label schools as failing creates an almost mathematical formula that yields the decimation of school districts of color across the state,” he said. “How do we, as a state, take seriously the mechanisms that cause things like this.”