This Week & Next (Apr 10, 2015)

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GLEP Proposes “Education Innovation Zone” to Reimagine Education in Detroit
GLEP recently proposed a first-in-the-nation “Education Innovation Zone” to address educating students in the Detroit area. In response to the long-anticipated recommendations of the Coalition to Save DPS (see next story), highlights of our plan include having the Emergency Manager relieve DPS of all teaching responsibilities, re-purpose district assets and supervise the district’s role as a taxing authority in order to satisfy the district’s operational and capital debts. Further, DPS would be replaced with a new and unique “Education Innovation Zone,” (EIZ) for independently-managed schools that agree to meet annual academic standards for proficiency and growth. Students in the zone would receive an annual $8,000 “Opportunity Scholarship” from the state to cover basic operational funding at the school of their choice, public or private. GLEP believes this would create a performance-based system of schools where student learning comes first, given the high standards, rigorous expectations and competitive enrollment environment. We’re currently sharing our proposal with key legislators and policymakers. Click here for our press release and here for a Gongwer article on the proposal.

Reaction Mixed to Detroit Coalition Recommendations
Recently, the Coalition for the Future of Detroit Schoolchildren, a group of education, political, union and other stakeholders, released their formal recommendations to improve education in Detroit. Key provisions of their recommendations include the following:

  • Return DPS schools to the elected board and remove the Emergency Manager;
  • Eliminate the EAA and return these 15 chronically-failing schools to DPS;
  • Have the state pay at least $350 million in DPS debt; plus more in the future;
  • Create a new commission, appointed by Mayor Duggan, with veto power over all charter schools in the area (which schools can open, which schools will be closed, and where schools shall be located); and
  • Require an organizational audit of DPS.

Initial reaction to the coalition’s report included glowing support from StudentsFirst-Michigan and Crain’s Detroit Business, moderate support from the Detroit Free Press, while Detroit News columnist Daniel Howes suggests thecoalition’s plan could be a step backwards for students in Detroit, while Editorial Page Editor Nolan Finley suggestsletting Detroit decide the fate of their schools. Governor Snyder says he is examining the recommendations closely, and members of the legislature are getting ready to weigh in after their two-week Easter Recess.

GLEP to Participate in Authorizer Accountability Town Hall Meetings
StudentsFirst-Michigan has invited GLEP to participate in four upcoming town hall meetings to review the issue of charter school authorizer accountability in the state. We will be joining key elected officials and leaders of other education stakeholder groups for these events. GLEP will be discussing our “Education Innovation Zone” proposal at these events, which includes expanded choice, authorizer accreditation and Opportunity Scholarships to improve education outcomes for students. These town hall meetings, open to the public, will be held as follows:

  • Tue, April 21   Flint                 UM-Flint, Kiva Theater
  • The, April 23   Grand Rapids  Salvation Army, Kroc Center
  • Tue, April 28   Lansing            Lansing Community College, Admin Board Room
  • Thu, April 30   Detroit             Starr Detroit Academy

U.S. Senate Drops Bi-Partisan Federal Education Bill
U.S. Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA), leaders of the Senate Education Committee, have just introduced the Every Child Achieves Act of 2015, a bill to re-write ESEA/NCLB. Key features of the bill include reducing the federal role in education and providing more autonomy for states to decide on academic standards, how to evaluate teachers and what to do about low-performing schools. Unfortunately, Title I portability was nixed as part of pre-introduction compromise. The Senate Education Committee is slated to take up the bill on April 14. A House version of the ESEA/NCLB re-write has passed in the House Education Committee and is pending on the floor of the U.S. House. Click here for the USA Today story.

Students in Detroit charters show better gains than DPS
A recent article by Lori Higgins in the Detroit Free Press acknowledges results from a recent study showing the average Detroit charter school student is showing stronger academic improvement than their peers in Detroit Public Schools. The report, released last week by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) at Stanford University, mirrors findings from previous reports that found charter students in Detroit showing more improvement than DPS students. Another reason to retire DPS and expand school choice in Detroit.

Education Reform News Clips

GLEP in the News

Next Week

Monday, April 13

Tuesday, April 14

  • State Board of Education meeting (click here for the agenda and here for livestream)
  • Senate Education Committee
  • Introductory Meetings with Key Legislators
  • U.S. Senate Education Committee takes up ESEA/NCLB re-write bill

Wednesday, April 15

  • Senate Education Committee
  • Introductory Meetings with Key Legislators

Thursday, April 16

  • House Education Committee
  • Lapeer County GOP Meeting

Friday, April 17

  • Publish “This Week & Next” e-newsletter

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