Road Funding Dominates Lansing Agenda
All eyes and ears are on the Legislature as they continue debating various proposals to address Governor Snyder’s call to generate at least $1.2 billion per year to repair our state’s crumbling roads and bridges. The Senate and House have each passed bills here, but they have different approaches to the issue. Negotiations are expected to continue throughout next week on this issue.
Education Issues in Lame Duck
Other education issues getting some attention in the waning days of the current legislative session, and their prospects, include the following:
- Teacher Evaluation: Negotiation between Senate and House leaders on bills to create an evaluation system for teachers and school administrators are expected to continue over the weekend. These bills have passed in the House and are currently in the Senate, and they are likely to receive legislative attention during the final week of session. GLEP is encouraging the bill sponsors, committee chairs and caucus leadership to hammer out an agreement.
- Early Warning System: Bills to create more accountability and reporting for school districts in financial difficulty have passed the Senate and the House Committee, with passage likely in the House this week.
- A-F Letter Grading: High-level negotiations over road funding torpedoed last-minute efforts to secure enough bi-partisan votes to move HB 5112 from the House to the Senate this week. This is the end of the road for these bills in the current legislative session. We will return in 2015 to push for a more transparent school accountability system.
- 3rd Grade Reading: We simply ran out of time to garner enough support for these bills, but we expect to be back in 2015 fighting to improve early literacy.
How Parents Experience Public School Choice
The Center for Reform in Public Education just released a new report which examines parents’ experiences with public school choice across eight “high-choice” cities: Baltimore, Cleveland, Denver, Detroit, Indianapolis, New Orleans, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. In each city, researchers surveyed 500 public school parents (4,000 total) and collected data on the systems that shape how they navigate school choice, including the availability of information, the process of enrolling, and transportation options.
Key findings of the report include:
- Parents are taking advantage of choice, but they want more good options.
- Parents’ optimism about whether schools are improving varies widely.
- Parents with less education, minority parents, and parents of children with special needs are more likely to report challenges navigating choice.
- Some parents are forced to make difficult trade-offs between academics, safety, and location.
Wisconsin Voucher Program Nears 30,000 Participants
According to an article from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, the total number of students receiving private-school tuition vouchers in Wisconsin is about to cross the 30,000 threshold. That makes Wisconsin a leading state when it comes to the number of students attending private, mostly religious schools with the help of taxpayer-funded tuition subsidies. While voucher program enrollment has grown rapidly under Gov. Scott Walker and the Republican-controlled Legislature, further expansion of voucher programs is a commitment for 2015.
Education Reform News Clips
- Teachers union leaders got big pay raises, report shows (Detroit Free Press)
- Colorado Voucher Case Begins in State Supreme Court (The Lone Voice)
- Michigan’s Charter Failure Continues (Detroit Free Press Editorial)
- State Board President Cites Funding ‘Facts’ That Ignore Billions (MI Capitol Confidential)
GLEP in the News
- Gary Naeyaert interview re: education issues in lame duck (The Big Show)
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