This Week & Next (Sept 9, 2016)

Senator Meekhof and Speaker Cotter May Seek Attorney General Opinion on SRO
The Legislature’s top two leaders said this week they’ll consider asking Attorney General Bill Schuette to involve himself in a dispute between lawmakers and Gov. Rick Snyder over how soon some of the worst schools in Detroit could be closed. Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof, R-West Olive, and House Speaker Kevin Cotter, R-Mount Pleasant, have both said Detroit’s public schools can still be closed immediately if they have been among the state’s 5 percent lowest-performing public schools for three straight years.

But the Snyder administration, relying on a law firm’s interpretation of the $617 million bailout legislation for the Detroit district, contends that none of the city’s 47 schools that are in the bottom 5 percent for academic achievement can be closed until July 2019. From GLEP’s perspective, anyone who thinks the legislature was voting for a 3-year “accountability vacation” for Detroit’s worst schools should have a medical permit for what they’re smoking. We also agree with Ingrid Jacques of The Detroit News, that if we don’t expect excellence we are condoning failure. And if we condone failure, we’re likely to see more of it. Stay tuned.

Meet Detroit Cristo Rey High School
While most of their neighboring peers soaked in the last days of summer vacation, incoming students at Cristo Rey High School spent much of their time in training sessions before the academic year started on Aug. 29. The payoff for their small sacrifice may end up being life changing. The proof is in the record, and in the students’ own stories. “In Cristo Rey, we really believe we are an exclusive school but for different reasons,” said school President Mike Khoury. The school’s 315 students don’t come from wealth or privilege. Families seeking enrollment must demonstrate that their income falls below $15,000 per household member. It turns the notion of private schools as elite institutions upside down. Click here to read more about Christo Rey High School, courtesy of the Mackinac Center.

The Black Community vs. Charter Schools?
A feud has emerged in the African American community about charter public schools, which are often considered “life rafts” for at-risk and minority students trapped in chronically-failing traditional public schools. The rift began when national NAACP and Black Lives Matter leaders adopted the Clinton/Democrat/Union position of slowing the growth of charter schools across the country. This was met with immediate backlash from Rashad Taylor, a Black Lives Matter leader who quit his position over the issue to condemnation from civil rights and education reform leaders like Howard Fuller. While Michigan Radio asks if black communities should beware of charters, various media editorials also pushed back, including the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post. Can’t we all just get along?

Trump goes “all in” to support school choice
GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump laid out his most specific education policy plan to date yesterday, honing in on two controversial issues: school choice and merit pay. Trump’s plan would direct $20 billion in federal education spending to school choice policies that would give students and their families the option of attending traditional public schools, public charter or magnet schools, or even private schools. “As your president I will be the nation’s biggest cheerleader for school choice,” said Trump, speaking from the Cleveland charter school. Trump said that students trapped in chronically failing urban schools should have the civil right to attend a school of their choice. Trump also said that he plans to support merit pay for teachers, a controversial policy that bases part of a teacher’s salary on student test scores. For a brief look at where Trump and Clinton stand on education, check out this NY Times story.  And it you really want to be scared, read What if Randi Weingarten were U.S. education secretary? in the Washington Post. I’d rather watch “The Shining” again……

NCSI Art Contest Asks Students to Dream Big!!
The National Institute for Charter Schools is hosting the 2016 Charter Schools Art Contest, and this year they’re asking students to illustrate what they’d like to be when they grow up. A scientist? A musician? An athlete? A doctor? President of the United States? Students are asked to create a picture of what they want to do when they’re older and send it to the NCSI for a chance to win $250! The contest is open to students in kindergarten through fifth grade. Students can use crayons, pencils, paint, chalk—whatever material they want—to show where they see themselves in the future. Entries are being accepted until October 31 and winners will be announced the week of December 12. Prizes will be awarded for the first, second, and third place winners. A special prize will also be given to the whole classroom with the most and best entries. Click here for all of the contest details.

Education Reform News Clips

Next Week

Monday, September 12

Tuesday, September 13

  • House Session

Wednesday, September 14

  • House Session
  • State Board of Education Meeting, MDE
  • Pensions in Michigan Event, Lansing Radisson

Thursday, September 15

  • House Session

Friday, September 16

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