The Pulitzer prize-winning editorial page editor of the Detroit Free Press has called for the murder of Michigan lawmakers with whom he disagrees.
The reason? The lawmakers voted for legislation that would give parents more choices to avoid Michigan’s failing public schools. Detroit’s public schools are failing academically and nearly insolvent, the New York Times wrote in January. The Detroit News wrote in March that “the statewide opinion of K-12 education is downright ugly.” That poll showed residents didn’t think throwing money at public-union-controlled schools was the answer, with 63 percent saying it takes more than money to improve education.
While teacher unions and the politicians whom they support fight many changes to the educational system that give parents more leverage, charter schools have been making a difference in educational outcomes. A Stanford study last year showed they make a meaningful difference for underserved kids in urban areas. These results carried across multiple subgroups, including black, Hispanic and Asian students, as well as students from poor families and students with special educational needs. In the 41 cities studied, students educated at charter schools learned significantly more than their peers in traditional public schools in math and reading. See “13 Things To Know About Charter Schools.”
Yesterday Michigan’s Republican legislators voted to bail out Detroit’s abysmally run schools with $617 million in taxpayer funding. The same bill also fought efforts to constrain charter school choices in Detroit. Prior to the vote, Stephen Henderson wrote on his editorial page:
We really ought to round up the lawmakers who took money to protect and perpetuate the failing charter-school experiment in Detroit, sew them into burlap sacks with rabid animals, and toss them into the Straits of Mackinac.
After noting that charter school advocates support charter schools, he doubled down on the violent rhetoric:
It is every bit deserving of an old-school retributive response.
A sack. An animal. A lake.
No lover of actual democracy could weep at that outcome.
If there were any doubt about his call for life-ending violence, he tweeted out the editorial with these comments:
GOP House harlots deserve worse than hanging for selling out #detroit kids on #DPS bills. https://t.co/zbPajL81qqStephen Henderson (@SHendersonFreep) June 3, 2016
The political environment is toxic all around these days, but it’s shameful that a Pulitzer winner sought violent retribution against political opponents, much more that he wrote these thoughts down, and much more that his newspaper has no problem with it.
Education is a tough topic. Parents are rightfully angry at how public unions and the politicians they support oppose reforms of failing institutions that would give families more options. Others are threatened by reform movements or worried that they won’t achieve meaningful change.
In neither case, however, should members of the media call for the murder of those with whom they disagree.