This Week & Next (2/10/17)

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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:

To get a sense for how Secretary DeVos is handling herself on her first few days on the job, here’s a quote from Betsy DeVos’ remarks on Wednesday before the entire 4,500 staff of the US Department of Education:
“I’m committed to working with everyone and anyone, from every corner of the country, from every walk of life, from every background, and with those who supported my nomination and those who did not; to protect, strengthen and create new world-class education opportunities for America’s students.”

Governor Snyder presents FY ’18 budget, mixed news for education
On Tuesday, Governor Snyder proposed his $56.3 Billion FY ’18 state budget, which is the first step in the legislative budget process. For the School Aid Budget, the Governor proposed a $12.3 billion school aid budget, which is $1.6 billion higher than his first budget in 2011, a 15% increase since 2011.  Specific features of the Governor’s proposed budget are as follows:

  • 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 (there are nearly 150 foundation grant levels in between the basis and the minimum).
  • This increase will reduce the equity funding gap to $668 per pupil (down from $2,300 per pupil when Proposal A was passed in 1994).
  • An additional $50 per pupil increase for students in high school.
  • A $150 million increase for “at-risk” funding, bringing this categorical to $529 million, which is $220 million more than it was for many years before last year (72% increase). At-risk funds are primarily used to improve early literacy and college-career readiness.
  • A proposed cut of $1,500 per pupil for students enrolled in cyber charter schools, but no change in funding for students enrolled in 100% online instruction via traditional public schools.

GLEP will continue to push for a uniform foundation grant for all K-12 students in the state – regardless of grade level or school type – with additional funding provided for special needs and at-risk students. The Senate and House Appropriations Subcommittees will be reviewing the Governor’s proposed budget in hearings that begin next week in Lansing.

Senate Education Committee hears from SRO’s Natasha Baker
On Tuesday, the Senate Education Committee, chaired by Sen. Phil Pavlov (R-St. Clair) held their second hearing on the issue of revising the state’s school accountability systems. As a follow-up to last week’s bashing of state intervention efforts, this week Natasha Baker, the State Reform Officer, presented on the operations of the office in what could be described as a spirited interchange with committee members. Baker also provided Senators with detailed information on the 79 schools that have been released from the “priority” list as well as the 38 schools identified for “enhanced interventions” by the state. A formal announcement as which schools will be closed and which will receive other major improvement efforts will be made in early March, according to Baker. Also, this week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution to scrap the final federal regulations on school accountability written at the 11th hour of the Obama Administration. State Superintendent Brian Whiston is expected to submit a “final” school assessment and accountability plan to the State Board of Education (and the public) on February 14.  It is GLEP’s hope that MDE won’t submit any plan to USED until the department has come to a clear understanding with legislative leaders as to the key components of the state’s new accountability system, which will be included in any replacement of MCL 380.1280c later this year.

DPS to Sue the State to avoid school closures
If you need further evidence as to how far the traditional school lobby will go to avoid accountability, the DPS Community District has decided to sue the state to avoid any intervention in their failing schools.

Education Reform News Clips

Next Week

Monday, February 13

Tuesday, February 14

  • 1:1 meetings with new Representatives
  • Senate Education Committee
  • House School Aid Appropriations Subcommittee on Governor’s FY ’18 Budget
  • State Board of Education Meeting

Wednesday, February 15

  • 1:1 meetings with new Representatives
  • Senate School Aid Appropriations Subcommittee on Governor’s FY ’18 Budget

Thursday, February 16

  • 1:1 meetings with new Representatives
  • Capitol Issues Forum
  • House Education Reform Committee, presentation by ExcelInEd on ESSA

Friday, February 17

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