This Week & Next (Feb 28, 2014)

Local School District and Teachers’ Union Break Law to Stop Charter Public Schools
It seems the local school board at Clintondale Public Schools has conspired with the MEA to include language in their union contract that prohibits the district from authorizing a charter public school. Not only is this bad policy, it’s against the law. And we thought the question as to whether charter public schools should be allowed to exist in Michigan has been answered. Read more here.

Choice is Under Attack in North Carolina and Maine; May be Expanding in Kansas

  • A North Carolina judge has pulled the rug out from under 4,700 low-income students who had applied to receive 2,400 Opportunity Scholarships by closing down this new program the same week applicants would have secured a better educational option. In a state where only 30% of low-income kids are proficient, the need for expanded choice options here is critically important.
  • Following vigorous debate earlier this week, the Maine House of Representatives passed a moratorium on the creation of virtual public charter schools, which could delay two virtual charter school applications pending with the Maine Charter School Commission.
  • The school choice debate in the Kansas Legislature is heating up with a bill to finance full choice in education through tax credits. The bill would provide up to $8,000 per student for private school tuition from scholarship funds set up with corporate donations. The state would then give tax credits to the donors worth 70 percent of the contributions.
  • 3rd Grade Reading and Leadership Barry County
    GLEP was pleased to be participate in a mock legislative hearing to advocate in favor of 3rd Grade Reading bills in a “Leadership Barry County” event on Wednesday at the State Capitol. At the invitation of Rep. Mike Callton (R-Nashville), this event brought civic and political leadership from Barry County to spend a day in Lansing and learn more about the legislative process.

    Can Grand Rapids be a “model district” when two-thirds of their students can’t read?
    According to a glowing article in the Grand Rapids Business Journal, Theresa Weatherall, Superintendent of Grand Rapids Public Schools, is a shining star among public school officials and the district is a model across the country. Despite this praise, we wonder how much of a model GRPS can be when only 32% of their 3rd graders are proficient readers. Further evidence that we need to pass the 3rd Grade Reading bills supported by GLEP.

    Pick a Test, Any Test
    GLEP participated in a meeting of the Michigan Coalition for High School Standards this week to discuss the status of student assessments. It’s safe to say all stakeholders support adoption of a next-generation assessment that is aligned to the Common Core State Standards and measures individual growth. Beyond that, there is debate about whether to use the Smarter Balanced Assessment (preferred by MDE), ACT-Aspire, NWEA, AIR, Scantron. We’ll keep you up to date on this one!

    Do All Kids Deserve a Qualified Teacher?
    Jeb Bush thinks so, and we agree. Read about it here.

    MDE Legislative Liaison
    Congratulations to Wendy Larvick, MDE Legislative Liaison, on her promotion to Assistant Director in the Office of Public and Governmental Affairs.  MDE is now looking to fill the position of Legislative Liaison with an equally qualified person who has experience working with the Michigan Legislature and building constructive and collaborative coalitions to benefit the children of Michigan. This is an unclassified position to be appointed by State Superintendent Mike Flanagan. If you, or others you know, are qualified and interested in applying for this position, please email a resume and cover letter to Marty Ackley, Director of the Office of Public and Governmental Affairs, no later than March 5, 2014. Email me if you would like a copy of the position description.

    Senate Subcommittee Looks at Early Childhood
    The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on K-12, School Aid & Education continued their examination of the FY ’15 School Aid Budget at this week’s hearing.  This week’s testimony focused on $240 million investment in early childhood education (Pre-K), which includes a $65 million increase from FY ’14.

    House Committee Hears More on Teacher Evaluations
    On Wednesday the House Education Committee took additional testimony on a package of bills that would significantly change the state’s teacher and administrator evaluation system. GLEP remains neutral on the bills, although we remain concerned these bills will take us two steps backwards in terms of Teacher Tenure Reforms passed a few years ago, and we’re not comfortable with the state assessment being mandated in this bill.

    TEDxEd in Lansing today
    GLEP is excited to be participating in the TedxEd event in Lansing today, and if you’re interested in the presentations, click here for a live webcast (12-5pm) or any time after the event.

    Want to be endorsed by GLEP?
    If you’re a candidate for State Senate or State House of Representatives in 2014, and you’d like to be considered for an endorsement from GLEP, please click here to access our Candidate Questionnaire.

    Next Week

    Monday, March 3

    • Meeting with key legislative staff to discuss education policy and school funding issues.

    Tuesday, March 4

    • Truscott Rossman Annual “Paczki Party” at Troppo in Lansing. A must attend event!
    • House Appropriations Subcommittee on School Aid, to discuss the FY ’15 School Aid Budget, with a focus on Great Start Readiness Program and Early Childhood Funding
    • House Appropriations Subcommittee on School Aid, to discuss the FY ‘ 15 MDE Budget, with a focus on MDE school reform efforts

    Wednesday, March 5

    • Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on K-12, School Aid & Education will continue hearing testimony on FY ’15 School Aid Budget
    • House Education Committee
    • Meeting with Sen. Howard Walker, Chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on K-12, School Aid & Education, to discuss the FY ’15 School Aid Budget
    • Meeting with Rep. Bill Rogers, Chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on School Aid, to discuss the FY ’15 School Aid Budget
    • Deadline to submit resume/cover letter for MDE Legislative Liaison position to Marty Ackley

    Thursday, March 6

    • Legislative Breakfast: Facing a Budget Surplus, hosted by Capital Area Michigan Works!
    • GLEP is pleased to be sponsor a fundraising reception honoring Rep. Lisa Lyons (R-Alto), Chair of House Education Committee, in Lansing.

    Friday, March 7

    • Meeting with the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs (MCACA) re: arts education

    Do you support what GLEP is doing to improve education in Michigan? Please consider making a donation to help us continue our efforts, and all contributions are very much appreciated!!

    That’s it for “This Week & Next.” Let’s keep putting kids first!!

    Gary G. Naeyaert
    Executive Director