This Week & Next (Feb 12, 2016)

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Governor Recommends $60-120 per pupil increase in FY ’17 Budget
On Wednesday, Governor Snyder and John Roberts, State Budget Director, outlined their proposed $55 billion budget for the state in FY 2016-17, including $14 billion for School Aid. A highlight of this budget was his proposal to invest $150 million to increase the per pupil foundation grant by $120 for those at the minimum grant level and $60 for those at the maximum/base grant level.  This will bring the Minimum foundation grant to $7,511 per pupil and the Maximum/Basic grant level to $8,229 per pupil, narrowing the funding equity gap to $718 per pupil. We are currently analyzing the proposed school aid budget and will have more to report next week, as the budgets are presented to the Senate and House Appropriations Subcommittees on School Aid.

More DPS Hearings – More Talk about Charters
The second hearing on SB 710 & 711 (Hansen), the DPS reform bills, were held on Tuesday this week in the Senate Government Operations Committee. A number of groups provided testimony this week and you can click here to download their complete presentations.  Most of the discussion continued on issues not directly included in the bills.  GLEP continues to work with key legislators to ensure that any education reforms in Detroit will preserve school choice, keep parents in charge of their children’s education, and increase accountability over poor performing schools.  The committee is expected to have their next hearing at 12:30 pm on Tuesday, February 16.

Video from IPPSR Forum Available
You may remember the spirited forum on “Detroit Public Schools: Quality, Accountability, and Governance,” hosted by the MSU IPPSR, which was held in downtown Lansing a few weeks ago that featured the following panelists: Dan Varner, CEO, Excellent Schools Detroit; Gary Naeyaert, Executive Director, Great Lakes Education Project; Kristi Bowman, Professor of Law, MSU; and Sarah Reckhow, Assistant Professor, MSU Department of Political Science. Each panelist discussed their perspectives on DPS before the forum was opened to audience participation. It was a full house of legislators and their staff, lobbyists, academic university faculty and researchers, news media and concerned citizens at this timely forum given the Governor’s “State of the State” address the night before and the recent introduction of bills to reform DPS. Click here to access the full video of the event, and click here to download GLEP’s presentation.

House Ed Comm passes School Calendar bills
Yesterday the House Education Committee passed HB 5193 and HB 5194 (Garcia), bills that provide districts with more flexibility in scheduling the schools year and also removes the school calendar from the list of issues debated during contract negotiations. The bills now move to the full House of Representatives.

Detroit Classrooms Are Not Overcrowded
The DPS teacher sickouts have received national media attention for the poor conditions in which teachers say they must work. However, the claims of classroom overcrowding appear to be baseless, according to class size information received by the Mackinac Center from the school district under a FOIA request. Media reports have parents, teachers and union officials claiming classes of more than 40 students are common. But the average, or mean, classroom size in Detroit Public Schools is 22.45 students, with the median class size at 24. Courtesy of the Mackinac Center.

Ellen & Lowes Donate $500K to DPS Elementary School
Spain Elementary-Middle School has been at the center of an uproar over poor conditions at Detroit Public Schools, and the cries for help have reached Ellen DeGeneres, who has a history of swooping in to support kids in the city. The talk show host put together a monster donation package with the help of Lowes and pop star Justin Bieber, appearing via video feed before screaming children and staff at the school and presenting a $500,000 check. Lowes is contributing the bulk of the donation to help make desperately needed repairs at the school. (courtesy of M-Live)

Michigan Ranks 43rd for K-12 Achievement
Just out this week, a new ranking from EdWeek on school quality in the country, and again it’s pretty bad news for Michigan, which ranks 43rd in the nation for academic achievement quality.

Michigan Charter School Essay Contest
The National Charter Schools Institute is proud to sponsor the 2016 Charter Schools Essay Contest. This year’s theme is: “What My Charter School Means to Me.” The contest is open to students in middle school and high school. Student are invited to tell their story and share what their charter school means to them. Is it a safe place with a great teacher that cares? Is it a special class or program? Is it being prepared for college and life? Entries are being accepted until April 1 and will be reviewed by a panel of qualified judges. Prizes will be awarded for the first, second, and third place winners in the middle school (grades 6-8), and high school (grades 9-12) divisions. First place winners of each division will be invited to Lansing for special recognition during National Charter Schools Week, May 2-6.

Education News Clips

Next Week

Monday February 15

Tuesday February 16

  • Senate Education & School Aid Committees, w/Supt. Whiston, 8:30 am
  • House School Aid Subcommittee to review FY ’17 School Ed Budget, 10:30 am
  • Senate Government Operations Committee hearing re: DPS bills, 12:30 pm

Wednesday February 17

  • Senate School Aid Subcommittee to review FY ’17 School Ed Budget, 8:30 am

Thursday February 18

  • House Education Committee, 9 am

Friday February 19

Do you support what GLEP is doing to improve education in Michigan? Please considermaking a donation to help us continue our efforts, and all contributions are very much appreciated!!


Gary G. Naeyaert
Executive Director