New State Superintendent Takes Job, Up to 3 Off-Days Per Week

At GLEP, we are fighting to give students innovative options in the classroom, our great public school teachers the resources they need, and voters the accountability from state policymakers they deserve.

To that end, we hope you’ll join us raising the alarm as the state Department of Education welcomes a new Superintendent – Michael Rice – with a contract granting him up to 3 paid days off per week between now and the end of the year.
 
We’re holding the Department accountable to deliver A-F grades for Michigan schools to every parent in the state, as well. Students head back to school in just a few weeks.  We’re committed to ensuring Lansing delivers them the best possible education.
/campaigns/sitesapi/files/images/648799522/BethDeShoneSignature_sm.pngBeth DeShone
Executive Director, Great Lakes Education Project
https://campaign-image.com/zohocampaigns/268876000014843836_zc_v86_saywhat1.png
“The Michigan Department of Education may choose to create confusion because the federal plan requires some different information, but there is no reason that should stop them from providing that information in a more transparent fashion for parents.”
 
“Our students bring home report cards each year so parents can monitor their progress. Families deserve the same level of transparency and accountability from their children’s schools.”
 
“People tend not to think about back-to-school shopping as an event like Christmas or Black Friday, but it is by far bigger than the winter holidays,” Mark Mathews, vice president of research development and industry analysis for the National Retail Federation, told MLive in an interview.”
https://campaign-image.com/zohocampaigns/268876000015038004_zc_v12_accountabilityalert1.png
State Board Gives Incoming Superintendent 66 Paid Days Off in 2019, Almost 6 Times Number Given Most Public School Teachers

Michael Rice last week became the state’s new Superintendent of public education, and the state Board of Education welcomed him with a gold-plated pay and benefits package big enough that if invested differently, could hire six (6!) new public school teachers.

 
Most outrageous?  The $216,000 annual contract offered by State Board of Education Chair Casandra Ulbrich immediately gives Mr. Rice 36 days of sick leave and 30 days of vacation time.  Under the contract, Rice could work as few as 2 days per week between August 1st – his first day on the job – and the end of the year.
 
According to an analysis by the Thomas Fordham Institute, teachers get on average about 12 combined sick and personal days per year, less than one-fifth the amount given Rice before he spends a single hour on the job.
 
Michael Rice’s gold-plated pay and benefits package is a slap in the face to public school teachers and students across the state, and he should give it back. 
https://campaign-image.com/zohocampaigns/268876000014843836_zc_v107_matters2.png
Michigan parents are expected to spend nearly $700 over the next month as they prepare their students to head back to school.  Parents invest in our schools and they invest in our teachers, because they deserve it.
 
Rice’s contract tells teachers and administrators where the State Board of Education’s priorities really lie – and that from the start they have no real plan to hold the Superintendent accountable. (It’d be hard to hold any employee accountable when you give him 3 paid off-days per week.)
 
The state could hire 6 new teachers, complete with benefits for what the Board of Education is spending to butter up the next Superintendent.  The Board is unprepared and ill-equipped to do the right thing, but Michael Rice still has that opportunity.  Rice can prove to teachers they really matter to him by refusing the Board’s plan to make him rich on the backs of Michigan students.
https://campaign-image.com/zohocampaigns/268876000014843836_zc_v86_action1.png
Contact the state Board of Education today and ask them to reverse course on the Superintendent’s outrageous, gold-plated benefits package.
You go out of your way to fully invest in your child’s education. The Board should not divert hundreds of thousands of dollars to pay an employee it only expects to work 2 days per week.


Welcome to ChangeEd

Welcome to changeEd, the new regular newsletter of the Great Lakes Education Project. At GLEP, we are laser focused on delivering results for Michigan students. That means innovating at the state Capitol and in school districts across Michigan to boost student performance, innovate in the classroom to meet the unique needs of our kids, in addition to supporting great local public charter schools and the certified public school teachers who innovate every day to support Michigan’s kids.

/campaigns/sitesapi/files/images/648799522/BethDeShoneSignature_sm.pngBeth DeShone
Executive Director, Great Lakes Education Project
https://campaign-image.com/zohocampaigns/268876000014843836_zc_v86_saywhat1.png
“Regardless of how much more we spend on top of the nearly $15 billion we already do, my advice is to stop funding systems and begin funding children. Directly.”
 
“A closer look suggests that Hecker’s example illustrates why public charter schools are needed in the city with the nation’s worst urban school district.”
 
“Overall, teachers in Michigan are well paid.The state’s average teacher salary, which was adjusted to the cost of living, is the ninth highest in the country.”
https://campaign-image.com/zohocampaigns/268876000014843836_zc_v86_innovationalert1.png
Foot Dragging at Michigan Department of Education Means Parents May Not See Report Cards
 
Last winter, the legislature approved an innovative reform that would empower students, parents and teachers by giving every public school in the state letter grades – A, B, C, D or F – in five key areas. The grades are to be based around student proficiency and growth in reading and math, and are set to go into effect in the upcoming 2019-2020 school year.
 
The first school report card is required by law to head home to parents this September!
 
The Michigan Department of Education is required by law to develop by August 1 the system for assigning and delivering the grades. That’s just weeks away, but the Department is dragging its feet. The law says parents should expect their school’s grades in September, but without urgent action in Lansing, parents may not see them.
 
Parents and reformers across Michigan are demanding the Department comply with state law, and provide parents with the transparency they deserve.  As lawmakers work through the summer, we’re encouraging them to hold the Department accountable, as well.
https://campaign-image.com/zohocampaigns/268876000014843836_zc_v107_matters2.png
Our students bring home report cards each year so parents can monitor their progress.  Parents deserve the same level of transparency and accountability from their children’s schools.  Unfortunately, some schools are failing our students in reading and math, but empowering parents with more information will drive improvement across the state.  Parents deserve transparency.  They deserve A-F school report cards.
https://campaign-image.com/zohocampaigns/268876000014843836_zc_v86_action1.png

Contact your lawmaker today and ask them to hold the Michigan Department of Education accountable, and to ensure parents receive report cards this September!

 

 

Tell lawmakers: Parents deserve A-F school report cards.  Ensure the Department of Education complies with state law and provides parents with school performance transparency!


This Week & Next (3/3/17)

Trump pushes school choice to Congress
On Tuesday, during his first formal address to Congress, President Trump (R) joined previous Presidents George W. Bush (R) and Barack Obama (D) when he identified education as the “civil rights issue of our time.He asked lawmakers to “pass an education bill that funds school choice for disadvantaged youth, including millions of African-American and Latino children. These families should be free to choose the public, private, charter, magnet, religious, or home school that is right for them.” While details are thin at this point in time, education stakeholders have been writing about various possibilities here, from directly funding a federal voucher program or creating a federal tax credit scholarship program, similar to what has been done in a dozen states. This will likely be the “cornerstone” education program of the Trump presidency, and we’ll have more details as they become available. President Trump and Secretary DeVos are also visiting a private school in Florida today. Continue reading

This Week & Next (02/24/17)

Governor Delays Action on Failing Schools
Yesterday, Governor Rick Synder put out a press release announcing that the State Reform Office, run by Natasha Baker, would be postponing until May any formal announcements about the fate of the 38 schools identified as chronically-failing.  The SRO was in the midst of a 30-45 day review period, where announcements were expected in early March. As a result of public pushback, and lawsuits against the state filed by Kalamazoo Public Schools and Saginaw Public Schools, the Governor would like the State Reform Office to work more closely with Superintendent Whiston and the MDE on researching and communicating various intervention options to local school districts. The Governor reiterated his understanding that absent closure, major restructuring and interventions will be needed in at least these particular schools.   Reaction to the Governor’s announcement was mixed, and GLEP continues to advocate that chronically failing schools must be replaced or closed. MLive has published an interactive map showing other school options nearby the 38 chronically-failing schools in the state. Continue reading

This Week & Next (2/17/17)

Legislative subcommittees start FY ’18 school aid budget work
Both the Senate and House Appropriations Subcommittees on School Aid held initial hearings this week to discuss the Governor’s proposed $14.3 billion School Aid Budget for FY ’18.  As mentioned last week, some of the key issues in the proposed budget are:

  • Increasing the minimum foundation grant by $100 to $7,611 per pupil and increasing the basic foundation grant by $50 to $8,279 per pupil, reducing the funding equity gap to $668 per pupil through the 2x formula;

Continue reading

This Week & Next (2/10/17)

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos Takes the Helm
On Tuesday, the U.S. Senate voted 51-50 to confirm Betsy DeVos as the next U.S. Education Secretary. All GOP members (except 2) voted YES and all DEM members vote NO, requiring Vice President Mike Pence to cast the deciding vote. The following are a few media stories and editorials from this past week: Continue reading

This Week & Next (Feb 3, 2017)

Betsy DeVos Confirmed by U.S. Senate HELP Committee
On Tuesday, the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension (HELP) Committee voted to confirm Betsy DeVos as the next U.S. Education Secretary on a straight-party 12-11 vote. Having all GOP members vote YES and all DEM members vote NO continued the hyper-partisan nature of continued attacks from the left and those who oppose her support for school choice. Wednesday and this morning, the Senate cleared the way for a floor vote, which is likely to occur on Monday or Tuesday. The following are a few media stories and editorials from this past week: Continue reading

This Week & Next (Jan 27, 2017)

Betsy DeVos Confirmation Vote on Tuesday
The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension (HELP) Committee has scheduled a confirmation vote for Betsy DeVos to become the next U.S. Education Secretary at 10:00 am in Tuesday, January 31. You can click here to watch the hearing live. As has been the case since she was nominated, this remains a bitter, hyper-partisan process with continued attacks from the left and the teachers unions who oppose Betsy’s support for school choice. The following are a few media stories and editorials from this past week: Continue reading

This Week & Next (Jan 20, 2017)

Betsy DeVos Pushes School Choice in Confirmation Hearing
We hope you had the chance to watch Betsy DeVos’ 3-hour confirmation hearing before the Senate HELP Committee on Tuesday evening. You can download her prepared remarks here. We think Betsy did extremely well, especially given the hyper-partisan nature of the hearing and continued attacks from the left who oppose her support for school choice. The following are a few media stories and editorials from this past week: Continue reading