State House Republicans Author Bill To Repeal the State Board of Education

LANSING -- For the last two months, the state has been debating LGBT youth guidelines for K-12 schools authored by the Board of Education. The completely optional set of guidelines -- which suggests schools allow trans and gender non-conforming students to use the bathroom and names of their choice, manifest and support a Gay-Straight Alliance and much more -- would create a more welcoming environment for trans and gender nonconforming youth in Michigan public schools. However, Republican lawmakers in the state are so vehemently against the idea that they have authored a bill that would replace the Board of Education with a Department of Education run by a governor-appointed director.

Rep. Tim Kelly, R-Saginaw Township, introduced a joint resolution April 19 that seeks to amend sections three and seven of article VIII of the Michigan Constitution. If passed, House Joint Resolution HH would eliminate the state Board of Education, superintendent of public instruction and state board for public community and junior colleges.

The resolution also states that the governor would appoint a director of a state department of education who would be the principal executive officer of the state department of education.

Kelly told the Detroit Free Press that he doesn't anticipate his bill moving forward -- since it would need two-thirds support from fellow House members -- and introduced the bill to send a message to the state board.

"We want to remind the board that we do hold the purse strings. Don't overstep what you think is your authority to do whatever you want," Kelly told the Free Press.

"I'm tired of their practicing social engineering with every progressive agenda that comes down the pike," Kelly continued.

This is not the first attempt to eliminate the board. John Austin, president of the state board, noted that there have been multiple attempts, but it would ultimately take a constitutional amendment for it to happen.

Republican lawmakers told Michigan Public Radio that the proposal is an attempt to push a progressive agenda on schools without consulting the Legislature. However, the set of guidelines are not mandated, and are merely inclusive suggestions for schools to follow.

According to a 2013 report from the Education Commission of the States, Michigan is just one of seven states that elects its state board members.

HJR-HH has 31 Republican sponsors including Rep. Gary Glenn, R-Bay City, who also serves as the president of the Michigan chapter of the American Family Association and played a pivotal role in 2004 when a majority of Michigan voters cast their ballot in favor of the Michigan Marriage Act, defining marriage as between a man and a woman.

The proposal is just one of many Republican measures being introduced in the state to mandate bathroom use. Earlier this month, state Sen. Tom Casperson announced that he will introduce a bill requiring Michigan students to "only use bathrooms and locker rooms matching their birth" sex. As of press time, Casperson had yet to introduce his bill.

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