This Week & Next (April 25, 2014)

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GLEP Makes Early Endorsements in Nine Legislative Campaigns
On Monday this week, prior to the candidate filing deadline, GLEP announced early endorsements in the following campaigns for the State Senate and State House of Representatives:

    • Senate District #5:      former Rep. Shanelle Jackson (D-Detroit)
    • Senate District #16:    Rep. Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake)
    • Senate District #25:    Sen. Phil Pavlov (R-St. Clair Township)
    • Senate District #28:    Rep. Peter MacGregor (R-Cannon Township)
    • House District #42:     Lana Theis (R-Brighton)
    • House District #79:     Rep. Al Pscholka (R-Stevensville)
    • House District #86:     Rep. Lisa Posthumus Lyons (R-Alto)
    • House District #98:     Karl Ieuter (R-Midland)
    • House District #107:   Rep. Frank Foster (R-Petoskey)

GLEP’s endorsement process includes an examination of past voting records, personal interviews and results from the organization’s extensive candidate questionnaire.  We will make additional endorsement announcements in the weeks ahead. If you’re a candidate for State Senate or State House and would like to be considered for an endorsement, please click here to access our 2014 Candidate Questionnaire. Please note our submission deadline of May 1, 2014 for the primary election.

State of Washington Loses NCLB Waiver – Will Michigan Be Next?
Yesterday, US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan fulfilled his pledge to pull “a few” state waivers when he notified the Washington (state) Department of Education that he was revoking their flexibility waiver from NCLB provisions (you know, that pesky national law requiring 100% of students to be proficient). The primary reason for the revocation was the state’s lack of progress in developing the teacher evaluation system outlined in their application.

Supt. Flanagan has been warning Michigan policymakers that lack of legislative action on approval for a next-generation test to replace the MEAP will likely result in our waiver being revoked and the loss of at least $1 billion in federal funds.  At least one lawmaker seems willing to call Flanagan’s bluff here.  This is a high stakes game of chicken, for sure.

While GLEP can’t say with certainty what USED has up their sleeve, we should recognize that Washington State has been on USED’s “high risk” list for some time, as have Arizona, Kansas and Oregon (all due to teacher evaluation issues). And since Michigan has yet to be placed in the “high risk” category, which is a logical precursor to actually losing a waiver, it seems unlikely Michigan is in any immediate danger. Also, loss of the waiver impacts the flexibility of using federal funds more than the actual appropriation of federal funds. Stay tuned.

Michigan High School Cracks Top Ten in Annual US News & World Reports’ Ranking
Americas-Best-High-SchoolsIn the annual ranking of the top high schools in the United States by US News & World Reports, we offer a tip of the hat to the International Academy in Bloomfield Hills for being named the #9 high school in the entire country! Rounding out Michigan’s top high schools are: Grand River Preparatory High School in Kentwood (charter), Troy High School, Frankenmuth High School, City Middle/High School in Grand Rapids, Saline High School, Black River Public School in Holland (charter), Rochester Adams High School, Okemos High School and Birmingham Hills Andover High School.

Grand Haven Tribune Slams Anti-Charter Legislation, Questions MEA Influence
In a refreshing and scathing editorial questioning the motives of Sen. Hoon-Yung Hopgood (D-Taylor), the Grand Haven Tribune took aim at SB 682, a bill he sponsored which the newspaper claimed would “cripple the charter school movement” in the state. Good job!!

Kansas becomes 19th school choice state, 40th program
The American Federation for Children, the nation’s voice for educational choice, today celebrates Kansas for becoming the 19th state and 40th program nationally AFC_Logoto offer low-income and special needs children educational choice. Gov. Sam Brownback (R-KS) signed the scholarship tax credit program into law this week, among other educational reforms and funding increases. “Kansas’s new scholarship tax credit program will empower parents and provide children with the necessary educational options they deserve,” said Betsy DeVos, chairman of the American Federation for Children. “I want to applaud Gov. Brownback for his leadership and commitment to helping low-income and special needs children,” DeVos continued.

When the Circus Comes to Town
From this excellent column from David Brooks, the Common Core education standards are being attacked on the right because they are common and on the left because they are core. Governor Snyder also commented at his Education Summit this week that we should leave politics at the door when dealing with important education issues, like higher standards. We agree with Mr. Brooks and Governor Snyder.

Higher Performance Requires Better Teachers
We all support increased rigor and higher standards in public education, especially if we’re going to improve academic performance and prepare our school children for college and meaningful careers. And we have a lot of work to do in Michigan!  But while we focus on reading proficiency and ACT scores for students, let’s not forget about teachers, as they’re the ones primarily responsible for the day-to-day work in the trenches of public education. Check out this thoughtful piece from Amber Arellano (Education Trust-Midwest) and Steve Cook (MEA), which looks at the need for training and resources to assist our professional teachers in doing their jobs even better in the future.

GLEP in the Media

Next Week

Monday, April 28

Tuesday, April 29

Wednesday, April 30

  • House Education Committee: Expected to vote on HB 5223-5224, the Teacher & Administrator Evaluation bills. GLEP supports passage of these bills.
  • Senate Education Committee is expected to meet.

Thursday, May 1

  • Charter School Board Day at the Capitol, hosted by the Michigan Council of Charter School Authorizers.

Friday, May 2

  • Professional development event hosted by Grand Rapids Public Schools featuring Jamie Vollmer.

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