This Week & Next: (July 15, 2016)

Lansing “Snooze Fest” as legislature continues summer break
Given that both the Senate and House are on a summer recess that will last until after Labor Day, it’s a slow-moving world in and around Lansing these days. We hope you’ll understand that we’ll have abbreviated versions of our weekly newsletter until the fall, and we might even skip a week or two along the way. But know that TEAM GLEP is busy working to expand school choice by supporting endorsed candidates for the House of Representatives. Be on the lookout for us all over the state (We’ll be easier to spot than Pokemon GO characters)!!

DPS leadership focuses on fresh start rather than blame game
In a well-written and cogent guest editorial in the Detroit Free Press, DPS Emergency Transition Manager Stephen Rhodes and interim Superintendent Alycia Meriweather urged all Detroit stakeholders to come together and help the new DPSCD (Detroit Public Schools Community District) succeed for students. It was a refreshing and realistic position, given that most of the leadership and other elites in the city have been wringing their hands and predicting the demise of the new district. We’ve said all along that paying off the district’s debt, returning to an elected board and eliminating the EAA puts Detroiters in the drivers’ seat in terms of operating the state’s largest school district. Success or failure is 100% dependent on how well the new district re-tools itself to improve teaching and learning in the classroom to recruit and retain student enrollment. There is no reason the “new” DPS can’t thrive, but if the future is like the past and parents continue to flee the district in search of better education options, the charter school sector is prepared to enroll these students and provide them a quality public education. The future of education in Detroit is up to Detroiters, plain and simple. Let’s see how this works out.

Governor requests Supreme Court opinion on private school funding
You may recall the $14.2 billion FY ’17 School Aid Budget, passed by the legislature and set to be implemented October 1, contained a $2.5 million allocation to reimburse private schools for costs associated with health and safety mandates from the state. This minute allocation has become a lightning-rod of controversy for some in the education community, with many predicting sinister plots to introduce full public funding for private schools. A host of traditional public school apologists have threatened to file a bevy of lawsuits against the provision. GLEP believes this funding is as constitutional as shared services and auxiliary costs – both of which pass legal muster in the state. In order to head off these many lawsuits at the pass, Governor Snyder has requested an advisory opinion from the Michigan Supreme Court on the constitutionality of the funding prior to the start of the next fiscal year. You can rest assured we’ll keep you informed on any developments.

Infighting between traditional school districts over enrollment and transportation
The Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti school districts are engaged in a struggle over schools of choice and whether either district should be allowed to transport students from one district to another to facilitate this choice. At GLEP we support all forms of school choice, and we’re just glad to see that charter public schools aren’t being pulled into this particular debate. Get out your popcorn, folks!!

Democrats Abandon Parents and School Choice in New Platform
In what can only be described as cow-towing to the wishes of the National Education Association (NEA), the nation’s leading teachers’ union, the Democratic Party (behind closed doors, of course) approved their official 2016 policy platform this week. Noticeable absent in the platform are hallmarks of education reform supported by President Obama and others in the party, such as school choice, charter schools, measuring student progress and teacher accountability. So much for putting students first, eh?

Education Reform News Clips

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