This Week & Next (Apr 8, 2016)

DEC becomes the focus of DPS Debate
A recent addition to the pending legislation overhauling Detroit Public Schools is rekindling a long controversy on whether the charter school model of education itself has succeeded in Detroit. The proposed Detroit Education Commission, as written into the bill package that cleared the Senate last month, could decide where and whether schools can locate or expand in Detroit and set the criteria for closing any schools that under perform. The House expects to take up the reform legislation after it returns from recess next week. But groups like the Michigan Association of Public School Academies and the Great Lakes Education Project that advocate for charters and school choice have already gone on an offensive against the commission in talks with legislators and the media, calling it a threat to choice and a panel beholden to Detroit’s mayor and the traditional school district for its own future. Click here to continue reading this Crain’s Detroit Business article. 

Four Questions about the DPS Reform Bills
According to the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, the following are 4 key questions folks should be asking about legislation to reform education in Detroit:

  1. What are taxpayers getting for the money legislators are sending to Detroit?
  2. Why do Republican lawmakers want to make choice and competition yield to bureaucratic control and rationing?
  3. Who wants the Detroit Education Commission?
  4. Why is the commission concerned about charter schools but not about the cross-district schools of choice program?

We couldn’t agree more, and please click here to read their answers. GLEP continues to engage legislators in efforts to protect school choice and uniformly address failing traditional and charter public schools.

Democrats crying “wolf” again?!?!

The hue and cry from Detroiters and Democrats that we need to reign in those maverick charter schools is the same thing they said when the charter cap was lifted in 2011. They were exaggerating then, and they are exaggerating now. Can’t we just trust parents to make choices for their kids?

How to NOT Win Friends and Influence People
Tonya Allen, CEO of the Skillman Foundation and Co-Chair of the Coalition for the Future of Detroit Schoolchildren, recently went on the warpath in the media to criticize members of the legislature who are debating the $715 million taxpayer-funded bailout of DPS. If you listened to her appearance on WDET, Ms. Allen went out of her way to characterize those serving in Lansing (presumably the House Republicans) as “the worst of the worst” legislators. We believe Dale Carnegie is turning over in his grave.

State Education “Leader” Opposes State Intervention in Failing Schools
As if we needed even more evidence that what’s wrong with education in Michigan is the lack of consensus at the top regarding academic expectations. Dr. Cassandra Ulbrich, Vice President of the State Board of Education, recently penned a guest editorial viewpoint in the Detroit Free Press where she advocates AGAINST the State Reform Office following their statutory responsibility to assign a CEO to oversee for a number of schools in a chronically-failing school district. We know Dr. Ulbrich and her majority colleagues on the SBE weren’t too keen on having the SRO actually do their job when they were under the control of the MDE, and this helps explain why the office was moved by Governor Snyder to the Department of Treasury, Management and Budget. Now that the SRO is in DTMB, we should let them do their job and help turn around poor schools. It’s worth a shot, right?

Coast to Coast, States Hop on the school Choice Bandwagon
Vouchers for private schools. Vouchers for religious schools. Vouchers for special education. Tax credits. Money for charter schools. Public funding measures are moving the school-choice movement into unconventional territory in statehouses from Washington to Wisconsin to right here in Maryland. In short, parents and voters are pushing the right buttons, and lawmakers and governors are trying to beat their buzzers. Take Wisconsin. Just last week, Gov. Scott Walker, who couldn’t gain traction among conservatives and Republicans in the race for the White House, signed the Special Needs Scholarship legislation, one day after he endorsed conservative Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. The state law allows a child with a disability to receive funds to attend a private school at any time during a school year. The law was necessary because parents of special-needs children felt stymied. Click here to continue reading more of Deborah Simmons’ column in The Washington Post.

Washington Charter Schools Saved by Legislature and Governor
Washington Governor Jay Inslee has decided to let the Legislature’s charter school fix become law without his signature. His decision marks the first time a Washington governor has let a bill become law without his signature since 1981. The governor said he let the bill become law, despite his reservations, because he did not want to close schools. “What’s important is that the schools and the sector remain open,” said Maggie Meyers, spokeswoman for the Washington State Charter Schools Association.” The nonprofit charter association has led the campaign to keep charter schools open in Washington state while lawmakers debated an answer to the Washington Supreme Court on its decision that the state’s charter school law adopted by voters in 2012 is unconstitutional. Click here to read more.

GLEP candidate questionnaire deadline is April 15
All 110 members of the State House of Representative are up for election this fall, and there are 40 open seats in what will be a high-turnout Presidential year election cycle. If you know someone running for State Representative this year, the GLEP candidate questionnaire is now available.  E-mail notification has been sent to all filed candidates, but if a candidate hasn’t yet filed to run, they should email Beth DeShone, GLEP Advocacy Director, and request our questionnaire. Candidates are only considered for endorsement by GLEP if they return the questionnaire, and the submission deadline is April 15.

Education News Clips

Next Week

Monday, April 11

Tuesday, April 12

  • Legislature returns from Spring Recess
  • Senate Education Committee

Wednesday, April 13

Thursday, April 14

  • House Education Committee
  • Capital Issues Forum at SBAM

Friday, April 15

  • Hug an IRS Agent Day!!

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