Getting ready for the return of the Michigan Legislature next week are three fantastic reads on some key public policy issues currently facing the Great Lakes State. Improving early literacy, expanding opportunities for choice in education and gearing up to make waves against the defenders of the status quo are very important education reform issues that will be addressed in early 2014.
The first piece is a blog post from the Michigan House Republicans addressing many of the lies and distortions being published in regards to the early literacy and the “3rd Grade Reading Guarantee” bills currently pending in the House of Representatives. These bills, HB 5111, Price (R-Holland) & HB 5144, Stallworth (D-Detroit) include screening in first 30 days of the school year; parental notification for students with early literacy delays; intervention, mentoring and tutoring for struggling readers; retention for those still not proficient after 3rd grade (as a last, but necessary, resort); and intensive intervention for retained students.
The second piece is a guest editorial viewpoint from State Rep. Tim Kelly (R-Saginaw) on the issue of expanding education choice to include both public and private school options in Michigan. Rep. Kelly correctly notes that since passage of Proposal A, the state foundation grant is become, in essence, a “voucher” that follows the student to the public school of their choice. He says “It’s time to consider expanding the use of this method of funding to allow parents to send their children to any school they so desire…as nearly half of the country, including many Midwest states, offer some form of expanded school choice through tax credits, scholarships or vouchers to attend nonpublic schools.” If we care about full opportunities and choice then this is an issue worth discussing, and acting upon.
The third piece is a reminder of how far the defenders of the status quo will go to maintain the status quo in public education. Policymakers in Tennessee have been debating legislation to create vouchers and expand charter public schools in the state. According to today’s article in The Tennessean, traditional school groups outspent education reform groups for lobbying by a 2:1 margin last year, and they’re gearing up for more battle in 2014. This reminds us how far the traditional school lobby will go to maintain the adult-focused education system. Those of us trying to create a more student-focused education system will always be outspent, but our passion for kids means we’ll never be outworked!
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