This Week & Next (April 18, 2014)

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As the Legislature finishes up their spring recess, there are still some key education reform issues here in Michigan and across the country to track.

Highlights and a Side-By-Side Comparison of the FY ’15 School Aid Budget Proposals
We know it can be tricky to follow the comings and goings of the legislature, especially when it comes to the appropriations process. As of today, we’ve had a FY ’15 School Aid Budget proposed by Governor Snyder and initial budgets passed by the School Aid Subcommittees of the Appropriations Committees in the House and Senate.Budget.Gap.April2014

The following are the current and proposed per-pupil foundation grants (Minimum – Basic)

    • Current:           $7,076 – $8,049
    • Governor:        $7,187 – $8,132
    • House:             $7,188 – $8,105
    • Senate:            $7,376 – $8,199

Other key issues in the budget include:

  • Earmarking a portion of “at risk” funding to improve 3rd grade reading and college readiness.
  • Funding a next-generation testing assessment that measures individual student growth.
  • Performance funding earned by students who meet growth thresholds rather than all students.

GLEP is working overtime to prioritize the foundation grant end reduce the funding equity gap for kids in the state.  We’ll keep you informed as other action occurs on the budget. Please click here for a detailed side-by-side comparison of these and other issues in the budgets.

Schauer Releases Warmed Over MEA Rhetoric as Education Plan
Mark Schauer, Democratic candidate for Governor, has just released his education plan for K-12 Education yesterday. The sparse, 5-page document is filled with warmed-over MEA/DEM priorities and unnecessary attacks on schools of choice.  Mr. Schauer spends plenty of time criticizing school which enroll only 8% of students, but the plan is lacking any ideas to improve academic performance at the schools which enroll the other 92% of students. Given that only two-thirds of kids are proficient and less than 20% are ready for college or careers?  Please click here for a copy of the Schauer Education Plan.

Another District Superintendent Caught in the Education Funding Lie
As the statewwb-logoide debate over school funding continues, West Bloomfield School District Superintendent Gerald Hill was quoted in the media that his district is getting less money under Governor Snyder and the GOP Legislature, when in fact his district receives about $515 more per student today than it did in 2010. While his district’s per pupil foundation grant has been reduced from $9,116 in FY ‘10 to $8,676 in FY ’14, the district receives another $7.2 million (or $1,200 per pupil) to pay for such things as special education, adult education and teacher retirement benefits.

Livonia Schools to (Finally) Participate in Schools of Choice
We congratulate the Livonia Public Schools for (finally) making the decision to accept students of choice from other districts.  It appears their motivation may be more about money than providing quality educational opportunities for students and families, however, as the district projects an increase of $500,000 per year in new revenue without any increase in expenses.  It was a bit unsettling to hear one local resident referring to school choice as “prostituting” the district, however.

National Association Highlights Michigan Efforts to Close Low Performing Charter Schools
This week, the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools released a report outlining provisions in Michigan state law, and 10 other states, whereby the poorest performing charter public schools are automatically closed. To date, 70 charter schools have been closed in Michigan for poor performance, because that’s what it means to have accountability in public education. At the same time, do you know how many traditional public schools have been closed in Michigan for academic failure? ZERO!!

Why Michigan is so far behind others in Education?
According to this recent Detroit Free Press editorial, academic performance in Michigan is on the decline – and the expansion of school choice is to blame! Imagine that!  The assertion that expanding school choice has led to poor academic performance in all public schools is unfounded. It seems half of the charter critics claims these schools “cherry pick” only high-performing students, which would result in charter performance that is above average while performance in traditional schools would suffer. Yet this hasn’t happened. The other half of the critics claim that charters perform similarly, or worse, than traditional public schools. This also hasn’t happened. Perhaps these folks should get together and compare notes. The FACTS are that students in charter public schools (2/3 of which are poor/minority) perform better than their demographic peers in traditional public schools while lagging the overall statewide average performance (where only 1/3 of students are poor/minority).

MDE Plans to Add the Color Purple to School Accountability System
In a routine notification to state school districts recently, the Michigan Department of Education explained their plan to add the color Purple to the state’s school accountability system. The system, which many refer to as the “Rainbow Report Card,” already uses five colors (Green, Lime, Orange, Yellow and Red) to indicate overall school performance, and now Purple will indicate schools without proficiency data.  In addition, MDE will be removing the red cell audit rule for the Bottom 30% subgroup. MDE says “these modifications would provide fairness and more meaningful differentiation in overall statuses with minimal additional resources and stakeholder confusion.”  GLEP wonders how changes to the state’s accountability system will impact the state’s waiver from NCLB provisions.  We’ll let you know how this progresses.

GLEP in the Media

Next Week

Monday, April 21

  • 1:1 candidate interviews
  • GLEP Early candidate endorsements announced

Tuesday, April 22

  • MSU Education Policy Center Event: The Cost of Teacher Preparation
  • Candidate filing deadline

Wednesday, April 23

Thursday, April 24

  • Center-Right Meeting, 402 State Capitol

Friday, April 25

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