This Week & Next (May 1, 2015)

Governor Snyder Announces Detroit Education Plan 
Yesterday, Governor Snyder made the long-anticipated announcement of his plan to improve education in Detroit. Key features of the Governor’s plan are as follows:

  • The current Detroit Public School district (DPS), its emergency manager and elected school board would continue to exist solely to pay off the district’s nearly $500 million in accumulated operational debt, funded by the $72 million generated each year from the 18-mill levy on non-homestead property in the district, funds previously used to support the per-pupil foundation grant for DPS students.
  • Actual K-12 operations would move to a new City of Detroit Education District (CDED) overseen by a new seven-member board appointed by the governor and the Detroit mayor, which would transition to an elected board in six years. Presumably, this district will have a superintendent and schools within the district be funded by per-pupil foundation grants from the School Aid Budget (no local contribution).
  • A Detroit Education Commission (DEC), jointly appointed by the governor and mayor, would hire a Detroit education manager to oversee all schools in the city, including those in the City of Detroit Education District, the EAA and charter public schools.
  • A Financial Review Board (FRB) nd that financial strength is restored and maintained.
  • A universal enrollment system (KIDS: Kids in Detroit Schools) would be overseen by the Detroit education manager, enabling parents to set preferences on which school they want to enroll their child, whether a DED school or a charter.
  • Transportation for students enrolled in CDED schools would be the responsibility of CDED.

The plan is complex and will require considerable deliberation and study by the legislature in the coming months. GLEP’s initial statement on the plan is as follows:

“The Great Lakes Education Project supports expanding school choice, improving quality and increasing accountability in Detroit and throughout the state. While the Governor’s proposed plan for Detroit has many moving parts, we certainly agree with the need to create an A-F letter grading system for school accountability and getting serious about closing chronically-failing schools.

At the same time, we are opposed to any restrictions upon the natural rights of Detroit parents to choose the best school option for their children; including new authorities that centralize planning, enrollment or control over the organic growth of schools in Michigan’s largest city. We are anxious for this conversation to be taken up in Lansing, where we expect to be meaningfully engaged.”

Detroit teachers strand 12,000 students for a political protest
In the hours before Governor Snyder made his public announcement for improving education in Detroit, hundreds of teachers under the direction of the Detroit Federation of Teachers staged a walk-out from work and they came to Lansing to march in protest at the Capitol Building. This walk-out led to the closure of 18 public schools in the city and over 12,000 students were sent home rather than receive a day of instruction. The effort was condemned publicly by Governor Snyder, Senate Majority Leader Meekoff and House Speaker Cotter. This was the first, and clearly bad, leadership decision made by Steve Conn, the new DFT President.  Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy, from our perspective.

Authorizer Accountability Town Hall Meetings Wrap Up
GLEP was pleased to participate in a series of town hall meetings to review the issue of charter school authorizer accountability in the state, hosted by StudentsFirst-Michigan. After events in Flint and Grand Rapids last week, this week brought us to Lansing on Tuesday and Detroit on Thursday.  All four meetings were spirited discussions amongst passionate professionals who care about the future of education in the state. Each meeting had ample opportunity for audience interaction given the relatively low turnout. We believe expanded choice, A-F letter grading; higher standards (3rd grade reading); getting serious with school improvement efforts and authorizer accreditation will help improve academic performance in the state. As a result of the meetings, we will soon release a joint statement with recommendations from key stakeholders.

“Our Children, Our Choice” campaign continues
A new public information campaign, called “Our Children, Our Choice” was launched last week by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. This series of a dozen video vignettes features parents from Detroit who support school choice. Check it out!!

Meet America’s Most Controversial Educator
If you don’t live in New York City or within the education policy universe, Eva Moskowitz might not be on your radar screen. She should be. With a recent front page piece in The New York Times about the extraordinary results posted by her network of 32 Success Academy charter schools and how those results were achieved, Moskowitz is the most controversial figure in American education today. She’s also a devastatingly effective political player whose name is on every credible short list of candidates to be New York’s next mayor, and deservedly so. Her successful battles with incumbent Mayor Bill de Blasio are becoming legendary.

Next Week

Monday, May 4

  • GLEP to present at Monroe County GOP Meeting

Tuesday, May 5

  • Election Day in Michigan for Proposal #1
  • Senate Education Committee
  • Introductory Meetings with Key Legislators

Wednesday, May 6

  • Senator Knezek (D-Dearborn Heights) Fundraising Reception – Lansing
  • Introductory Meetings with Key Legislators

Thursday, May 7

  • House Education Committee
  • Charter Board Day in Lansing
  • GLEP to present at Eaton County GOP Meeting

Friday, May 8

  • Publish “This Week & Next” e-newsletter

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