This Week & Next (Mar 27, 15)

GLEP Brings K-3 Reading Expert to Lansing to Push Early Literacy
On Thursday, GLEP was pleased to host Cari Miller, Director of K-3 Reading Policy at the Foundation for Excellence in Education (ExcelinEd), for a day of meetings in Lansing. Ms. Miller, a former teacher, reading coach and leader of “Just Read, Florida!”, testified before the House Education Committee; spoke with the Governor’s Legislative Workgroup on Early Literacy; and met 1:1 with key officials in the Governor’s Office; Senators Phil Pavlov, Geoff Hansen and David Knezek; and Representatives AmandCari Miller.ExcelinEd.2a Price, Tim Kelly and Daniela Garcia; and huddled with Student’s First and MAPSA.
According to Miller, the keys to improving K-3 literacy are: Early Screening; Parental Notification and Involvement; Implementation of personalized Reading Improvement Plans; and Intensive Intervention for those still far below grade level at the end of 3rd Grade. Click here to download Ms. Miller’s presentation to the Committee. GLEP is one of the leading advocacy groups pushing the legislature to adopt a comprehensive approach to improving early literacy in Michigan, since 30% of our 3rd graders are not proficient readers.


School Aid Budgets Pass in Senate and House Subcommittees
Both subcommittees on Appropriations subcommittees on School Aid passed out their versions of the FY ’16 School Aid budget this past week. We appreciate the hard work done by these members, especially Chairman Tim Kelly in the House and Chairman Geoff Hansen in the Senate. Both budgets improve upon the Governor’s Executive Recommendations in key areas and below are a few highlights:

  • Foundation Grant:
    • Governor: $75 increase for Basic, $75 increase for Minimum; gap = $848 per
    • Senate:  $50 increase for Basic, $100 increase for Minimum; gap = $798 per
    • House: $137 increase for Basic, $299 increase for Minimum; gap = $686 per
  • MPSERS: Governor: $993 million; Senate: $993 million; House: $943 million
  • DPS+ Debt: Governor: $75 million; Senate: $9 million; House: $0

Click here for a more detailed “side-by-side” comparison of the current School Aid Budget with the FY ’16 Governor’s Recommendation and the versions passed this week by the legislative subcommittees.  Each of the budgets have been sent to the full Appropriations Committees in the House and the Senate, with further action will take place after the 2 week Easter Recess. The budgets will be on the floor in the full House and Senate after the May 15 Revenue Estimating Conference, with presentation to the Governor by June 1. There is still work to be done, but we’re certainly heading in the right direction!!

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What Will Be Done in Detroit?
You’ve likely read about the Coalition for the Future of Detroit Schoolchildren, a group of education, political, union and other stakeholders, which was created in late 2014. The Coalition’s recommendations, based on answers to questions like the two below, will be released on Monday, March 30.

  1. How do we resolve the DPS debt so that the District is able to survive and thrive in new education environment?
  2. What’s the future state for DPS (governance, academics and) that best positions them to operate, grow, and sustain high performing schools?

GLEP hopes the Coalition’s recommendations will focus on creating adynamic “system of schools” focused on increasing academic performance for students in Detroit. But based on what has been released, or leaked, to the media so far – it sounds a lot more like an old nursery rhyme.

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Flanagan Removes Most Authorizers from “At Risk” List
Only four charter authorizers remain “at risk” of having their ability to charter new schools suspended after Wednesday’s announcement by Superintendent Mike Flanagan to release 7 charter school authorizers from this status. Of the original 11 authorizers he identified of being at risk of losing authority, only Detroit Public Schools, the Education Achievement Authority, Highland Park Public Schools and Eastern Michigan University remain on the at-risk list. Mr. Flanagan said those authorizers would remain on the at-risk list for now, leaving a decision on suspending their authority (meaning existing charters would remain open but they could not authorize new ones) to incoming superintendent Brian Whiston.
Grand Valley State University Charter Office Concludes Accreditation Process
GVSU’s Charter Schools Office has been recommended for accreditation by a third-party review team, making the university the first charter school authorizer in the nation to achieve the national AdvancED accreditation classification. The recommendation from AdvancED came after an intensive three-day review of the university’s Charter Schools Office and portfolio of schools. The review consisted of evaluations of resource utilization, teaching and learning and leadership capacity. Other considerations included student performance, continuous improvement, strategic plans, an index of education quality and more. Congratulations to GVSU for this accomplishment! GLEP is working with MCCSA and other stakeholders to put this Authorizer Accreditation process into state law.
Saginaw (Finally) Sells Building to Charter Instead of Demolishing
Kudos to the Saginaw Board of Education for (better late than never) making the right decision and voting to sell a vacant school building to Frances Reh Public School Academy for $3.5 million. You may recall this school board had decided earlier to reject the offer and spend $2.2 million of taxpayer dollars to demolish the building, which they had inherited from the dissolved Beuna Vista School District.  Interesting to note this district has a multi-million dollar deficit, but they were willing to make it worse rather than allow school choice. Thanks to extensive grassroots activists, the Mackinac Center, the news media, Senator Ken Horn and Representative Tim Kelly for getting involved here.
MDE Sticks with Current Vendors for K-8 Assessment
The two companies administering M-STEP, the new state standardized tests for 2015, will continue that work for the next three years under the $103.7 million contracts awarded Thursday by the MDE. “Data Recognition Corporation and Measurement, Inc. were the two highest scoring bidders and are among the most experienced education service and test administration providers in the nation,” Superintendent Mike Flanagan said. “This now allows Michigan schools and teachers to move forward and fully transition from the 40-year-old MEAP to M-STEP, a 21st Century assessment system.” The two companies were chosen from among five bids for the testing contract. As with the current academic year, the Smarter Balanced consortium content will be used for the math and English questions, and state officials will write the content for science and social studies.

Education Reform News Clips

GLEP in the News

Next Week

The legislature will have an “in district” work period for the next two weeks (aka Easter Break).

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