This Week & Next (June 13, 2014)

Schmidt.Thies

Legislature Reduces Funding Equity Gap and Passes FY ’15 School Aid Budget
GLEP is very pleased the legislature completed work on the $13.9 billion FY ’15 School Aid Budget this week, and they addressed our #1 priority by striking a strong blow for equity and reducing the per-pupil funding gap.  Under this final version of the school aid budget, the state’s minimum foundation grant will increase by $175 per pupil (from $7,076 to $7,251), and the basic foundation grant will increase by $50 per pupil (from $8,049 to $8,099). This will reduce the funding equity gap from $973 to $848 per pupil next year.

Other GLEP-supported features of the final budget include the following:

  • Earmarking $309 million in Section 31a “at risk” funds to improve early literacy, specifically 3rd grade reading proficiency, and college-career readiness.
  • Maintains the statutory rate cap of 20.96% for districts to cover the Unfunded Accrued Liability of MPSERS, resulting in nearly $500 per pupil coming “off the top” of the School Aid Fund to support teacher retirement system.
  • MDE will be required to bid out a next-generation testing assessment to measure proficiency and individual student growth for the 2015-16 school year. School districts will be required to provide at least 180 days of instruction in FY 2017.

GLEP applauds the leadership of Senator Howard Walker, (R-Traverse City) for his efforts to promote funding equity and for adopting so many of GLEP’s key recommendations in the final budget. Please click here to download the Highlights and Decision Document (including district by district funding estimates) of the final FY ’15 School Aid Budget from the Senate and House Fiscal Agencies.

Legislature Reduces High School Graduation Requirements
Just before the legislature wrapped up their work this week, they succeeded in passing HB 4465 (McBroom) and HB 4465 (Johnson), bills which modify the Michigan Merit Curriculum and water down standards for obtaining a high school degree in the state.  Specifically, these bills reduce requirements for math, science and foreign language. GLEP opposed these changes, as we support high expectations and rigorous standards to prepare all graduates for college or meaningful careers. Also, since adoption of the MMC, our graduation rate is up, the dropout rate is down, and CTE enrollment has remained steady. We fail to see the problem addressed by these bills, which are likely to be signed by Governor Snyder.

Teacher Evaluation Update
In another last-minute development, the House and Senate both passed SB 817 (Pappageorge) yesterday, a bill to delay implementation of a teacher evaluation system in the state until 2014-2015.  The bill also requires that beginning next year, student growth as measured by scores on standardized assessments must make up 50% of a teacher’s evaluation. Meanwhile, other bills to address this issue (HB 5223 & HB 5224) have been passed in the House and are pending in the Senate.

New Bill Introduced to Cap Charter Schools
Rep. Terry Brown (D-Pigeon), and 23 Democrat co-sponsors, have just introduced HB 5694, a bill to put a moratorium on the issuance of any new charter public schools in the state and close schools until there are no more than 200 charter public schools20101005_Charterschools100510, Urban High School Academies, Schools of Excellence and Strict Discipline Academies in operation. It’s worth noting that Rep. Brown is running against Sen. Phil Pavlov (R-St. Clair), Chair of the Senate Education Committee and sponsor of SB 618, the bill that removed the cap on university-authorized charter public schools. It’s possible that education will be an issue in that particular State Senate campaign this fall. Given the relatively few sessions days left in the year, it would appear this bill is more about political posturing than policy advancement. Message received, Rep. Brown!!

Be on the Lookout for Mis-information re: GLEP Endorsements
A number of groups who opposed the Common Core State Standards have been very busy in social media lately, attacking candidates we’ve endorsed and assuming that CCSS is a litmus test issue for GLEP.  We’ve been very clear that priority issues for GLEP include school choice and early literacy, but there are a number of education policy issues for which endorsed candidates may hold a variety of positions, including K-12 funding, Common Core State Standards, student assessments, Michigan Merit Curriculum, teacher evaluation, etc. It’s unfortunate that folks who agree with us on the vast majority of issues are taking this as far as they are. GLEP has endorsed a total of 53 candidates running for State Senate and State House of Representatives, and you can click here for the full list.

A Vision for Education 3.0 in the United States
Check out this enlightened column by Patricia Levesque, Executive Director of the Foundation for Excellence in Education, in a series on the future of parental choice and accountability. Ms. Levesque makes the case that in the future, “If we truly want to create a student-centered system of education that holds all schools accountable to parents, the future will have three key components: choice, customization, and a focus on mastery. Public education needs to transform from a system that funds schools to one that funds the child, where parents take control of their child’s education and direct funding towards the schools, programs, and services that best fit their needs.”  We couldn’t agree more.

Ed Reform News From Around the Country

GLEP in the News

Next Week [Legislature is on summer break]

Monday, June 16

Tuesday, June 17

Wednesday, June 18

Thursday, June 19

  • CTV/AFP “Center Right” Meeting in Lansing

Friday, June 20

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!!

Respectfully,

Gary G. Naeyaert
Executive Director
517-281-2690