This Week & Next (May 29, 2015)

Education Reform a Key Topic at Mackinac Policy Conference
An excellent article from MLive’s Kyle Feldscher recaps the multiple sessions, presentations and issues related to education that were discussed at the annual Mackinac Policy Conference held this week. The top issue was what to do about reforming education in Detroit, given the fact that the Detroit Public Schools (DPS) are both academically and financially bankrupt. Much discussion focused on the various proposals to address academics, governance and financing for a system of schools in Detroit, and what role DPS should have – IF ANY – in the future of education children in the City. Legislative leaders all said this was a priority issue for them, but noted there are many paths to reform. For archival videos of most MPC sessions, click here.
Michigan Voters Don’t Support DPS Bailout & Single Authorizer
According to a new survey from Michigan Public Radio, Denno Research and Public Sector Consultants, 65% of Michigan’s voters DO NOT support the state paying off DPS debt, and only 41% support having a single entity approve new traditional and charter public schools in Detroit. We sure hope the legislature is paying attention to the clear position of the voting public on these important issues.

Mayor Duggan on the “New” Detroit
In an impressive presentation to participants of the Mackinac Policy Conference on Wednesday, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan goes into detail on improvements being made in the city since he took office last year. Duggan illustrates the great strides that have been made in street lighting and neighborhood blight, as well as the improved working relationship with City Council since the city emerged from bankruptcy proceedings. While the Mayor is factually-challenged when it comes to his statistics on charter public schools, he seems genuinely interested in working with Governor Snyder and the legislature to provide quality education options for Detroit students.

School Aid Budget Conference Committee to Meet on June 2
The House-Senate Conference Committee charged with negotiating final details for the $14 billion FY ’16 School Aid Budget, chaired by Rep. Tim Kelly (R-Saginaw Twp) and Sen. Geoff Hansen (R-Hart), is scheduled to meet at 9:00 am on Tuesday, June 2. This can only mean they have settled the major points of difference between the versions of the budget passed by the Senate and House, which include the per-pupil foundation grant amounts as well as funding for at-risk, early literacy, MPSERS cost-offsets; deficit districts and other programs. Please follow us on Twitter and Facebook for updates on Tuesday!

Former State Representative Flip-Flops on Student Testing
In yesterday’s edition of MLIVE Muskegon, former State Representative Collene LaMonte (D-Muskegon) authored a guest editorial urging parents to have their children “opt out” from taking M-Step, the state’s new standardized assessment for students.  She criticizes the new state test as only illustrating poverty, but that criticism was much more valid using old MEAP data and the state’s “Top to Bottom” Ranking.  Also, she seems to ignore the fact that federal law (and the funds we received from Washington, D.C.) require the state to test students annually.  Perhaps she forgets that when she held office, Rep. Lamonte voted YES to support the state’s new approach to student assessments – not once, but THREE times (Common Core/Assessment Resolution; Teacher Evaluation Bills; and School Aid Budget). Haven’t we had enough of political opportunists who say one thing and then then the opposite? Did we mention the MEA, the state’s largest teachers’ union, which bankrolled both of Ms. Lamonte’s past campaigns (and seems to now be starting her 2016 campaign) also opposes standardized testing? Actions speak louder than words, Ms. LaMonte. And your actions speak volumes. For a more thoughtful approach to this issue, click here.

Governor Jeb Bush on Michigan Education Reform
In a speech last night in Lansing, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush made a strong case for Michigan adopting a number of key reforms that have improved the lives of Florida residents during his 8 years in office. On the issue of education reforms Governor Bush said that Florida’s emphasis on improving K-3 reading proficiency and ending social promotion; implementing A-F letter grading for school accountability; and expanded school choice contributed greatly to making Florida a “Right to Rise” state. GLEP is currently supporting legislative efforts to address K-3 reading, A-F letter grading and expanded school choice. Great minds think alike, eh?

Charter school funding lawsuit to move forward in New York
A lawsuit challenging the way New York funds its charter schools has survived a legal challenge, as a state Supreme Court judge Wednesday denied the state’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit brought by charter school parents in Rochester and Buffalo and the Northeast Charter Schools Network. State officials had argued to have the suit thrown out, but Judge Donna Siwek decided the charter proponents had made enough of a case to continue. The lawsuit alleges that the funding system, which includes no money for charter school buildings, violates the state’s obligation to provide every student with a “sound basic education.” It seeks to have the funding formula declared unconstitutional and rewritten by the state Legislature. GLEP will be following this case closely, so stay tuned for updates.

Education News Clips

Next Week

Monday, June 1

Tuesday, June 2

  • Senate-House Conference Committee on FY ’16 School Aid Budget
  • Senate Education Committee

Wednesday, June 3

  • Joint Appropriations Subcommittees w/Supt. Flanagan on deficit districts

Thursday, June 4

  • House Education Committee

Friday, June 5

  • 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!!


Gary G. Naeyaert
Executive Director