Mr. McCready Goes to Lansing! -- But Let's Hope He Doesn't Sell the Farm

Mr. McCready, our 40th District newly elected representative, wakes up this week to find himself in a Frank Capra film about farm land and public education in 2012.

In Frank Capra’s 1939 Academy Award winning film, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Jimmy Stewart plays a bright but naive young man who gets snagged by a corrupt political boss to replace a US Senator who has died in office.

The film’s premise is pure Capra: when Stewart’s character innocently initiates a bill to turn a piece of farm land he loves into a boys’ summer camp he discovers that the power brokers who got him appointed Senator actually want to destroy and use that same land for mining purposes.

That is, “Mr. Smith” (Stewart) finds himself in the paradoxical position of having to battle the forces that put him in Washington DC. Spoiler alert! He wins the fight and keeps the farm land for the boys! Jimmy Stewart doesn’t sell the farm to the forces that be.

Now, our newly elected state representative (40th District) Mike McCready is neither young (51) nor naïve. A successful businessman, McCready has served admirably as a Bloomfield Hills city commissioner and mayor for several years. He won a tough primary without the endorsement of his predecessor, Chuck Moss, one of the reasons I have high hopes for him.

But, nontheless, he awakes this week to find himself in a Capraesque position, albeit circa 2012 and Michigan public education.

A graduate of Birmingham Seaholm (1978), Western Michigan University (1983), and Wayne State University Law School, Mr. McCready stands as a product of public education institutions that thrived before Proposal A (1994) changed K-12 funding practices in Michigan and before the state became dead last in the country in terms of what it gives higher education.

When Mr. McCready went to Seaholm, state funding rules were such that the relative affluence of Birmingham could secure and guarantee good schools. At the time he went to WMU and WSU, those institutions were well funded by the state, keeping quality high and tuition low. Like many in the area, he was able to take what Oakland County had to offer him as a child and young man and then build what seems to be a remarkably productive life here as an adult.

Times change.

Now, he goes to Lansing at a moment when Governor Snyder’s Oxford Foundation is working, more or less in secret, to change the way public education funding works so that places like Birmingham and Bloomfield won’t have what Mr. McCready enjoyed.

In brief, Governor Snyder wants “Anywhere, Anytime, Any Place, Any Way” education where money follows the student not the District.

If successful – and the critical vote may take place even before Mr. McCready gets to Lansing – the system that put him where he is (a successful businessman and State Representative!) will crumble beneath his feet.

Who can tell what The Oxford Foundation or the Governor has in mind when they say state money “will follow the student” rather than “the District”?  But it doesn’t take a Seaholm/Groves/Andover/Lahser grad to know that conceptual framework isn’t good for the Districts many have come to take for granted. Indeed, many believe our schools, like the land they live on, will never go away. They don't mean our districts do they? As one resident said to me, "They can't do that here!"

Wanna bet? Ask Mr. Moss.

Districts, like schools, can go away even if you keep the word in the constitution. All you need do is weaken them so much financially that they become what their critics say they are: obsolete and ineffective.

The question then: will Mr. McCready sell the farm from beneath his feet?

Will he side with the forces that govern Lansing (and Rochester) and want to make public education in Birmingham and Bloomfield unrecognizable even to those who have been here all their lives?

Or will he take a different Jimmy Stewart type route?

So far he has said some downright Jimmy Stewart type things about The Oxford Foundation and what it means for a school district like Bloomfield: “If it isn’t broke don’t fix it.” Heck, this could be Harry Truman, right here in Bloomfield Hills Michigan. (The corrupt figure in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington was modeled on TJ Pendergast, the political boss who first got Truman from Missouri to DC).

Let’s see.

In the meantime: if you value top quality school Districts like Birmingham and BHSD, if, for example, you moved here for “the schools,” and paid top dollar for a house when you could have gotten twice the house somewhere else, or, if, to take another example, you went these schools and stayed here expecting your kids to have a comparable experience, please send him a note or give him a call.

Next post: the very interesting women who did not get elected to School Boards.

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Mike Reno November 11, 2012 at 09:04 PM
Yeah... typo-ish mistake on the name. I did get an email from someone with some bio info. Sounds like he is an Education Inc. Company Man, employed for life at Wayne State as a prof / associate Dean.
Neal Charness November 12, 2012 at 01:53 AM
Mr. Reno has created plenty of dissension in Rochester Hills where he was on their school board for a term. He is a real person, unlike the pseudo person Bloomfield 1876 who popped up during the school board election recently along with others. Regardless, Ken has raised some important issues. One may not agree with his points but to make personal attacks on him because of his profession is fairly reprehensible. Reno has been on these blogs to know his name--there was nothing typo-ish, it was just part of the personal attack. Mr. Reno hasn't shown any positive interest in our schools or community. At this point, based on his behavior, he may need to be shown the way back from whence he came.
Bloomfield1876 November 12, 2012 at 12:13 PM
Ms. Weiner, be honest, most of the posters to this site use "handles". Why we have, Elizabeth, Parenttaxpayer, Ann, Mac, .....me thinks it's what I say not my moniker that so troubles you. I just wish Ken, as a life long educator would promote discovery, questioning, and perspective in lieu of a one sided opinion that seeks to condemn all other views on this topic to the trash heap. He protesteth too much.
Mike Reno November 12, 2012 at 02:54 PM
Oh Neil… such the drama. I responded here because this guy is suggesting that I’m posting anonymously… which I don’t. So then I read his Chicken Little, unsubstantiated hyperbole and am curious about his background. Despite what you might think… I had never heard of him. This whole feigned concern over “personal attacks” is amusing, given your prodigious comments about those who don’t agree with you (ie. Jenny). Of course, you have convinced yourself that it is perfectly acceptable because you use pseudo-polite and flowery language, and when called-out, try to explain that you were only sharing “facts”. (“It’s not an insult to say that you were divisive, Mr. Reno. It’s simply pointing out the undisputed fact that your actions divided single-handedly divided your community”) I didn’t see any comment from you when Jackson says, “(McCready) won a tough primary without the endorsement of his predecessor, Chuck Moss, one of the reasons I have high hopes for him.” You are far too good of a writer… and there is no way you missed that “personal attack”. How about the dog-whistle call here: “Governor Snyder’s Oxford Foundation is working, more or less in secret” You don’t think that was meant to insult the integrity of the Governor as well as the Oxford Foundation? I'm sure you understand -- or SHOULD understand -- that tossing out inflammatory dogma like we see here just invites strong rebuttals.
Neal Charness November 12, 2012 at 03:37 PM
Good bye Mr. Reno.


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