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Lessenberry explains proposals taking away money from the poor and boycotts over standardized tests

Jun 3, 2015

Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

This Week in Michigan Politics, Morning Edition host Christina Shockley and political analyst Jack Lessenberry talk about a bill that would stop welfare payments to families if one of their kids misses a lot of school, a proposal that would take away money from the working poor to help fund road repairs, and what could be the beginnings of a statewide or nationwide revolt over too much testing.

No school, no welfare

A bill to stop welfare payments to families if their children persistently miss school is headed to Governor Rick Snyder.  Supporters say parents need to be held accountable if they're not getting their kids to school.  Critics say it punishes entire families for the actions of one child. Lessenberry says, that includes the siblings of a truant kid.

Taking away money from the poor to fix roads

Lawmakers are still trying to figure out how to come up with the money to fix the state's roads.  A state House committee is looking at ending a tax credit for working poor families. Republicans say it doesn't do much to help poor families, but eliminating the state Earned Income Tax Credit would generate 120-million dollars for roads.

Lessenberry says that amount is just a drop in the bucket, considering the state needs to raise more than a billion dollars for roads.

Lessenberry says the EITC has helped thousands of people lift themselves out of poverty and adds that “there is considerable evidence that this [proposal] is about as misguided a policy as you could have.”

Boycotting standardized tests

In Ann Arbor, the school board is considering a new rule that would require all students to sit for state tests or risk losing their spots at magnet schools and programs.  About 100 kids at a magnet school in the district recently sat out the new state test, called MSTEP.

Lessenberry says this could be the “signal shot” in a statewide or nationwide revolt against over-testing and teachers teaching to the test.  “The problem is that they do indeed risk having their schools sanctioned and punished by the state,” he says.