This week in Michigan politics: Common Core hearings, suburbs weigh in on DIA, Flint's master plan

This week in Michigan politics, Jack Lessenberry and Emily Fox discuss the upcoming hearings on Common Core, the suburban reaction to the possible sale of DIA art, and Flint's new Master Plan.

More Common Core hearings this week

More hearings are set to begin this week on the Common Core State Standards, the national recommendations that require more reading and math in schools.

Last month’s hearing got pretty heated after legislators included a provision in the new state budget that prohibited the Department of Education from spending any money to implement the standards without prior legislative approval.

The standards were created by the National Governors Association, which is composed mostly of Republicans, but some Tea Party members oppose them. Lessenberry says they see the Common Core as a conspiracy to enforce government standards on education and take away local control.

The issue has become an ideological lightening rod, and we should expect to see more of the same arguments this time around, Lessenberry says.

Suburbs push back against sale of DIA collection

Last week we heard Christie’s auction house was hired to appraise the Detroit Institute of Art’s collection. Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr has said that the art could be at risk during this time of bankruptcy in order to cover debts.

But now Detroit’s suburbs are starting to get concerned. Last year, Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb Counties all passed a millage to raise $23 million per year over 10 years to keep the DIA open. Now, suburban officials are threatening to block collection of that tax if any of the DIA’s collection is sold to pay Detroit’s creditors.

Lessenberry notes that no one has said yet that any art will be sold. The city of Detroit is just doing what is required for the bankruptcy proceedings. “But there’s certainly consensus that if anything in the DIA is touched, that will probably ruin the institution,” Lessenberry adds.  

Flint drafts master plan

Flint City Council took its first look at a Master Plan for the city on Monday night. The plan is meant to be a blueprint for how to shape the city’s future in the next 20 years.

Lessenberry says the plan is more interesting as a snapshot of where Flint is as a city right now. The city has faced many of the same kinds of economic problems as Detroit, including widespread population loss.

The plan notes that many of the streets in Flint have too many lanes and that Flint’s police department has fewer officers per capita than Detroit.

The plan puts forth a number of recommendations for how to tackle some of the city’s problems, but Lessenberry says the city’s biggest problem remains a lack of funds.

--April Van Buren, Michigan Radio Newsroom