This Week & Next (Apr 17, 2015)

Authorizer Accountability Town Hall Meetings in Flint and Grand Rapids Next Week
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           RSVP here
  • The, April 23   Grand Rapids  Salvation Army, Kroc Center    RSVP here
  • Tue, April 28   Lansing            LCC Board Room                  RSVP here
  • Thu, April 30   Detroit             Starr Detroit Academy            RSVP here

“Our Children, Our Choice” campaign launched this week

A new public information campaign, called “Our Children, Our Choice” was launched this week by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. This series of a dozen video vignettes features parents from Detroit who support school choice. Check it out!!

U.S. Senate Education Committee Passes Bi-Partisan Federal Education Bill
The U.S. Senate Education Committee, led by Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), passed the Every Child Achieves Act of 2015 this week, a bill to re-write ESEA/NCLB, on a 22-0 vote. 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. During the committee hearing, senators adopted 30 amendments and debated/withdrew dozens more, including the most partisan of issues: allowing Title I dollars for low-income students to follow them to the public or private school of their choice; beefing up accountability systems by requiring states to identify their poorest-performing schools; and ensuring Title I funding equity. Some of these stickier issues may still be raised when the bill is debated on the floor of the Senate. 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.

GLEP Pushes “Education Innovation Zone” for Detroit
GLEP continues to meet with key education stakeholders and policy leaders to discuss our first-in-the-nation “Education Innovation Zone” proposal to reimagine educating students in the Detroit area. 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.

Mississippi passes ESAs for Special Needs Students
Yesterday, Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant signed into law the Equal Opportunity for Students with Special Needs Act (SB 2695). The new law allows parents to create a customized education for their children with special needs. Mississippi becomes just the third state in the nation to authorize Education Scholarship Accounts (ESAs), joining Florida and Arizona, an innovative choice program that empowers families with the financial freedom to choose the right school or learning environment for their child. GLEP is currently engaged in high-level discussions about creating a similar approach in Michigan.

ABC’s of School Choice Report Released for 2015
The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice has released its 2015 edition of The ABCs of School Choice: The comprehensive guide to every private school choice program in America. This publication provides an overview of which options are available throughout the United States, from vouchers, educational savings accounts, school choice scholarships, and tuition tax credits to alternative models for schooling like charter schools, homeschooling, online learning, and private school access. Michigan is NOT included in this report, but we’re working on it!! Click here to download the report.

Education Reform News Clips

Next Week

Monday, April 20

  • Meeting with U.S. Representative Mike Bishop (R-Rochester), member of the House Education Committee, on ESEA/NCLB reauthorization

Tuesday, April 21

  • Senate Education Committee
  • Introductory Meetings with Key Legislators
  • Charter Authorizer Town Hall Meeting – Flint

Wednesday, April 22

  • House MDE Appropriations Subcommittee

Thursday, April 23

  • House Education Committee
  • Charter Authorizer Town Hall Meeting – Grand Rapids

Friday, April 24

  • 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