This Week & Next (Mar 21, 2014)

Senate Subcommittee Increases Equity and Per Pupil Funding in School Aid Budget
On Wednesday, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on K-12, School Aid and Education passed, on a 3-1 vote, SB 775, the $13.7 billion FY ’15 School Aid Budget. This budget shifts millions from categorical spending to the state foundation allowance, which is a key GLEP budget recommendation.  Most importantly, all of the increased foundation grant funding will be invested via the 2x equity formula, another key GLEP recommendation, which will boost per-pupil spending by $150-$300 per pupil, resulting in a Minimum Foundation Grant of $7,376 per pupil and a Basic Foundation Grant of $8,199 per pupil. This would reduce the equity funding gap from $973 to $823 per pupil.  It is worth noting the Governor’s recommended budget and the traditional school lobby’s “Classroom & Kids” budget proposal DO NOT use the 2x equity formula.  The bill now goes to the full Senate Appropriations Committee. Please click here for additional information, including district-by-district funding estimates.

Senate & House Education Committees

  • On Wednesday the Senate Education Committee passed on SB 817, sponsored by Sen. John Pappageorge (R-Troy) which would push back the mandatory implementation date for a new statewide teacher and administrator evaluation system from 2013-14 to the 2015-16 school year. This may be necessary since the legislature has yet to pass HB 5223-5324, bills to create teacher and administrator evaluation system.  They also had a presentation by Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) on student assessements.
  • The House Education Committee heard testimony on HB 5196 (Lori) a bill to require increased physical education requirements in public schools. GLEP opposes the mandate in the bill.  The Committee also passed a series of bills (SB 120, 121, 423) sponsored by Sen. Pat Colbeck (R-Canton) that encourage schools to use certain historical documents in their curriculum and instruction. GLEP supported the bills.
  • State Senate Wants Kids to Attend School – Regardless of Weather – and We Agree!
    Kudos to Sen. Howard Walker (R-Traverse City), for inserting language into the FY ’14 supplemental school aid budget bill that public school students put in a full year of school class time (at least 170 days and 1098 hours) despite the flurry of snow days. The budget bill passed 36-1. GLEP strongly agrees our kids need at least 170 days of instruction in order to make satisfactory academic progress and to prepare for college and life.

    From a Teacher: “Why I left the MEA”
    William Arthur, a 34-year public school teacher and Hall of Fame coach from Petoskey High School, penned a guest editorial for Wednesday’s edition of The Detroit News that explained his decision to leave the Michigan Education Association (MEA) after Michigan became a “Right to Work” state. Citing his preference for free will and self-determination, along with what he believes is a union that has lost faith with rank and file members, his thoughts are worth reading. It’s been reported that 8,000 current MEA members have not yet paid this year’s dues, but it’s unclear how many of these teachers the union will “allow” to terminate their membership.

    Are you Happy? Watch this video and you will be!
    This viral video, seen by over 1 million people so far, will put a smile on your face! Hat’s off to students at Detroit Academy of Arts and Sciences, which has been getting national media attention (NBC Today Show; Ellen DeGeneres; Queen Latifah) for their efforts. Thanks to the creative folks at DAAS for making so many of us “Happy.”

    GLEP Support for Governor Snyder’s Education Funding
    Is K-12 education funding up or down under Governor Snyder? While it’s the hottest political issue of the year, the facts aren’t really in dispute. Clearly the fog machine and mis-information campaign from the DEM/MEA/Schauer team has been in high gear, as too many voters are buying the lies. Check out the latest in today’s MLIVE column from Susan Demas, in which GLEP is mentioned, referencing our January blog post on the topic.

    Michigan Gets an “A” Grade for Charter School Laws
    The Center for Education Reform’s Annual Scorecard of Charter School Laws has given Michigan an “A” grade for our current environment for charter schools, choice and competition. Joining DC, MN, IN and AZ as the only five states to receive such a high grade – CER indicates there is still room for improvement. For Michigan, more needs to be done to make facilities available for public education as well as the nearly $1,000 per pupil funding equity gap.

    Proposal A Turns 20 Years Old
    The most sweeping education reform law ever passed in Michigan, Proposal A of 1994, turned 20 years old this week. Gongwer News Service published an excellent article on the history of this important proposal and comments from prominent folks from back in the day up and in the present. As opponents of equitable funding for kids try to distort and “tweak” education funding, please know there are groups like GLEP who are working overtime to fulfill the promise of Proposal A.

    GLEP Listed Among Top PACs for Endorsement
    It’s an election year, so there’s increased chatter about which side of the ideological spectrum is wielding “undue” influence in the political world, as evidenced by a recent report from OpenSecrets.Com and Monday’s Nolan Finley column in The Detroit News.  At the same time, MIRS takes a look at the state’s top Political Action Committees in a recent story, and GLEP cracked the list.  Please click here if you’re a candidate for State Senate or State House and would like to be considered for an endorsement from GLEP in the 2014 election cycle.

    House Passes Controversial Bill to Address Failing Schools
    After weeks of behind-the-scenes action, two Detroiters joined Republicans on Thursday to pass, on a 56-54 vote, HB 4369 (Lyons) a bill to create options for turning around failing schools in the State School Reform/Redesign District, including the Education Achievement Authority (EAA). GLEP has no formal position on the bill, which now heads back to the Senate for concurrence.

    New York Voters Don’t Like Mayor de Blasio’s Attack on Charters
    Voters are giving Mayor de Blasio a bad report card for his education policies. A Quinnipiac poll released Wednesday found that just 38% support de Blasio’s handling of the public schools and 49% disapprove. Also, 40% want de Blasio to increase the number of charter schools while 39% want the number to stay the same and 14% want a reduction in the schools.

    Next Week

    Monday, March 24

    • GLEP’s Gary Naeyaert and Beth DeShone will read to children at Dearborn Academy as part of “March is Reading Month.”

    Tuesday, March 25

    • House Appropriations Subcommittees on School Aid & MDE, to report FY ’15 School Aid and MDE Budgets.

    Wednesday, March 26

    • House Education Committee, agenda TBD.
    • Senate Education Committee, agenda TBD.

    Thursday, March 27

    • Center Right Coalition meeting in Lansing. GLEP will provide an update on education reform activities and initiatives, including: Fair Funding for Kids; 3rd Grade Reading; A-F Letter Grading; Teacher & Leader Evaluations; and protecting the Michigan Merit Curriculum.

    Friday, March 28

    • Happy Birthday to my twin brother, Larry Naeyaert!!

    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!!

    Gary G. Naeyaert
    Executive Director