This Week & Next (Mar 18, 2016)

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House Passes $50 million “mini-bailout” for DPS
The House Appropriations Committee and the full House of Representatives passed both HB 5296 (Pscholka) and HB 5385 (Poleski) on Wednesday and Thursday this week. HB 5296 is a FY ’16 supplemental appropriations bill which provides $50 million to cash-strapped DPS, which means the district will not run out of money during the current school year. HB 5385 extends the responsibility of the Detroit Financial Review Commission to include supervising the finances for DPS. The full $715 million bailout and
other Detroit education reform bills are still in committee. Bridge Magazine asked if the full DPS bailout is little more than a band aid. During Wednesday’s hearing a number of
individuals testified, at the invitation of Rep. Brian Banks (D-Detroit), and most of them continued the false narrative that DPS was a model district with great cash flow and strong academic performance before Governor Granholm appointed Robert Bobb, the district’s first Emergency Manager, in 2009. GLEP continues to engage legislators in efforts to protect school choice and uniformly address failing traditional and charter public schools. The House Appropriations Committee is expected to continue working on the DPS reform bills when they return from a two-week legislative recess on April 12.

Senate DPS negotiations stall
The Senate Government Operations Committee did not meet again this week, and it appears negotiations over the $715 million DPS reform package have hit a speed bump. This is good since GLEP learned the a new “phantom” substitute of SB 710 put forth by Sen. Geoff Hansen (R-Hart) included language confirming the primary goal of the Detroit Education Commission is to increase enrollment in the new traditional school district at the expense of charter public schools. Next week the full Senate is expected to pass the $50 million supplemental appropriations bill for DPS which passed yesterday by the House.  The Senate will continue work on the broader DPS reform bills when they return from a two-week legislative recess on April 12.

GLEP proposes $8,600 per pupil foundation grants                                                                        
On Tuesday and Wednesday this week, GLEP’s Gary Naeyaert testified before the House and Senate Appropriations School Aid Subcommittees with our recommendations on the $14 billion FY ’17 School Aid Budget. Currently, the state invests roughly 80% of K-12 funding in the per-pupil foundation grant and 20% goes to categoricals, resulting in a minimum grant of $7,391 per pupil and a maximum grant of $8,169 per pupil, and a funding equity gap of $778 per pupil.

Governor Snyder’s Executive Recommendation for the FY ’14 School Aid Budget would increase funding for the foundation grant by $150 million using the 2x formula, resulting in increases of $120 per pupil for students at the minimum grant level and $60 per pupil for students at the maximum grant level, reducing the funding equity gap to $718 per pupil. In the long term, and once the legislature reforms MPSERS, GLEP recommends investing at least 90% of K-12 funding in the per-pupil foundation grant and spending 10% on categoricals, which would result in a uniform foundation grant of $8,600 per pupil, eliminating the funding equity gap, while still providing over $4 billion for targeted special needs.

For FY ’17, GLEP is pushing for the legislature to support increasing the per-pupil foundation grant and reduce the funding equity gap; continue $379 million of “at risk” funding and $24 million in targeted investments to improve 3rd grade reading proficiency; support a next-generation student testing assessment that measures individual student growth; eliminate Higher Education from the SAF but pay all state costs for Community Colleges; and move towards “Average Daily Attendance” rather than count days for enrollment. Both the House and Senate Subcommittees are planning to report their version of next year’s School Aid Budget next week.  Click here our full powerpoint presentation and click here for our one-page overview.

K-3 Reading bill gets another hearing in Senate Education Committee
HB 4822, the K-3 Reading bill, had a hearing in the Senate Education Committee this week. The goal of the bill is to increase third-grade reading proficiency by focusing on early annual assessments, parental involvement and targeted interventions for struggling readers.  A number of interest groups testified on the bill, but the highlight of the hearing was the testimony of 4th grader students from Cummings Elementary School in Grandville, who had done significant research and came to Lansing to voice opinions both pro and conon the bill. GLEP continues to work with Chairman Pavlov on clarifying which students will be targeted for assistance, potential changes to improve parental and local school involvement, and including reporting requirements in the bill. The committee is likely to vote on the bill on Tuesday, March 22 and the full Senate could vote next week before the spring recess. Click here to contact your State Senator and urge them to vote “YES” on HB 4822.

“Your Child” Ed Reform Effort Launched; Public Throws Shade at Education
Yesterday, a new public education reform effort, called “Your Child”, was launched in Michigan. Supported by Eileen Weiser, State Board of Education, the campaign was kicked off with release of a survey conducted by the Insyght Institute to gauge opinions on a variety of education-related topics. According to the 1000 sample survey, 76% believe that public education is not the state government’s top priority, with 68% believing that Michigan schools receive too little funding. In contrast, only 6% feel schools receive too much funding.  When asked to grade the state’s education system, 3% of respondents gave an A and 14% gave a B, 43% gave Cs, 27% Ds and 8% Fs.  There were a number of other interesting findings from the survey:

  • 46% believe public education has gotten worse in the last few years;
  • 66% believe some or no children are receiving the highest quality education;
  • 55% believe the condition of public school buildings are in fair or poor condition;
  • 65% are very concerned that 4th grade students rank 41st in reading and 42nd in math;
  • 63% said more money spent on education alone will not improve student outcomes.

You can read more on this from an article in yesterday’s Detroit News, in which our schools appear to be earning a failing grade from parents. Stay tuned for more on this new effort.

Arthur Brooks’ Conservative Plea: “Let’s Work Together?”
As president of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), Arthur Brooks is changing the way conservatives think about poverty and opportunity.  Conservatives and liberals both believe that they alone are motivated by love while their opponents are motivated by hate. How can we solve problems with so much polarization? In his latest TED talk, Brooks shares ideas for what we can each do as individuals to break the gridlock. “We might just be able to take the ghastly holy war of ideology that we’re suffering under and turn it into a competition of ideas,” he says. Watch this talk and learn how Globalization, Free Trade, Property Rights, Rule of Law, and entrepreneurship is winning the war on poverty.

Education News Clips

Next Week

Monday, March 21

Tuesday, March 22

  • Senate Education Committee, with Natasha Baker, SRO; 8:00 am
  • House School Aid Subcommittee, 10:30 am
  • Senate Education Committee, re: HB 4822, 12:00 pm

Wednesday, March 23

  • Senate School Aid Subcommittee, 8:30 am
  • House MDE Subcommittee, 10:30 am

Thursday, March 24

  • House Education Committee, 9:00 am

Friday, March 25


Gary G. Naeyaert
Executive Director