This Week & Next (Feb 7, 2014)

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Governor Proposes FY ’15 Budget


The biggest news this past week was Wednesday’s presentation by Governor Snyder for his proposed executive $52.1 billion state budget.  This the first step in the annual legislative budget process, which will likely conclude in June.

As it relates to the $13.8 billion FY ’15 School Aid budget, it’s good to see the news media is rejecting the false rhetoric of the MEA, Mark Schauer and the Democrats and acknowledges that state investments in K-12 education are on the rise.  From our perspective, the biggest issues to address include closing the per-pupil funding equity gap and appropriately addressing skyrocketing costs for the Michigan Public School Employee Retirement System (MPSERS), the state’s teacher retirement program (or the “Zombie That Ate School Funding.”)

As you might guess, some traditional school superintendents praised the budget while others came out swinging by claiming the Governor isn’t going far enough to help schools. It sure is hard to satisfy the BLOB, right Nerd? Please click here to read GLEP’s update on the School Aid budget.

On Thursday the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee held their first hearing on the $13.8 billion FY ’15 School Aid budget.  Kudos to Sen. Howard Walker, Chair, for asking DMB officials why they reduced the expected MPSERS contribution for participating districts, which shifts even more of the liability to the School Aid Fund and non-participating districts.

MEAP, SBAC, ACT, NWEA (We need more acronyms!!)

On Wednesday, the Senate and House Education Committees and Appropriations Subcommittees on School Aid held a second hearing to review options for which test or assessment will be used to replace the MEAP next year and beyond. While MDE prefers the Smarter Balanced Assessment, which was approved in 2010, the Michigan As

sociation of Secondary Principals is leading a passionate advocacy effort to use ACT Aspire. GLEP continues to support adoption of a next-generation assessment which measures student growth, with a preference for computer adaptive models. Stay tuned to this one!!

Rejecting the Soft Bigotry of Low Expectations

Aren’t you sick of hearing that poor kids can’t learn?  So are we. That’s why we were so pleased to read this story about yesterday’s third annual conference to focus on the impact of poverty on education, coordinated by Carolyn Shields, Dean of the College of Education at Wayne State University. GLEP continues to support rigorous standards and high expectations for all Michigan children.  Anything less is unfair and unacceptable for both kids and families.

Was Lincoln a Liberal?

If you’re into that kind of thing, Michael Petrelli from the Fordham Institute today published a new column called “Lies, Damn Lies and the Common Core,” which takes a look at some of the false information being tossed around all over the country about these common sense standards. He leads with “frustration over our opponents’ seemingly unlimited willingness to engage in dishonest debate.  And then he gets testy.

Good News for a Detroit Charter

Thanks to TV host Ellen DeGeneres for contributing another $25,000 this week to Detroit Achievement Academy to support their 2nd grade expansion, which you can see in this clip. She must really like the ways those kids dance!!

Looking Ahead to Next Week

    • Here’s a very optimistic article from Bridge magazine about HB 5223 and HB 5224, the teacher and leader evaluation bills.  Those supporting the bills include the Michigan Association of Secondary Principals and the Michigan Education Association. Many groups, including GLEP, are concerned these bills turn back the clock on the hard-fought teacher tenure reforms passed recently. Whether these bills are on a fast track, or heading off the track, is anyone’s guess – but are expecting continued testimony in the House Education Committee through February.
    • The Saginaw Public Schools is weighing options to balance their books, with the potential closure of 3 schools on the agenda. Enrollment declines and over capacity have contributed to the district’s situation, and a key vote is expected on Saturday, Feb 8. You can click here to see what top MDE officials had to say about the situation.
    • GLEP will be testifying on the issue of school funding equity at the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on School Aid next Wed, Feb 12.  We expect to provide candid, provocative and unusual concepts to the subcommittee, such as funding all children equally with state funds for their K-12 education. There may be a live stream from the committee hearing, but if not, please follow us on Facebook and Twitter for updates.
    • Even though we can’t provide any details just yet, GLEP will be meeting next week with a high-ranking member of the Governor’s inner circle of advisors; with a key member of the legislature and with a like-minded issue advocacy organization to continue our work to help kids.

That’s all for this week. Take Care!!

GGN (signature)