This Week & Next (April 4, 2014)

The Legislature is on a 3 week recess, so let’s catch up on some education reform issues here in Michigan and across the country.

New Report Confirms Michigan is Going Backwards in Reading (Ouch!!)
A report released yesterday by the Education Trust-Midwest, titled “Stalled to Soaring: Michigan’s Path to Educational Recovery,” highlights sobering data about Michigan’s dismal education performance, citing a decade of NAEP data. Highlights of the study include the fact that Michigan ranks in the bottom five states for student learning progress and is one of only six states to post lower 4th grade reading scores in 2013 than 2003. And this isn’t an urban phenomenon – as Michigan’s results statewide are also poor.  Reacting to the report in the media, GLEP said “It’s embarrassing to be so far behind the other states in the Midwest and the nation and the world.”
ETM.10YearReading.Apr2014[NOTE: Graphic from Education Trust Midwest]

Rep. Harvey Santana bucks his caucus and sticks up for kids
SANTANAIn a passionate floor speech during debate over passage of a bill to address the state’s chronically failing school districts, Rep. Harvey Santana (D-Detroit) takes on his party and the traditional school lobby, which was violently opposed to the bill.  The bill passed 56-54, and we applaud Rep. Santana’s courage and willingness to fight for both choice and educational improvements for his constituents.

Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired about Common Core
Kevin_ChavousKevin Chavous, one of the nation’s leading voices for education quality and choice, drafted this piece on the state-by-state infighting over adopting college- and career-ready standards.   According to Chavous: “Not only are education reformers embroiled in a growing verbal death match, but partisan politics has once again taken precedence over doing what’s right for kids. Increasingly, where one stands on the Common Core debate is a new political litmus test akin to one’s political party bona fides. But we continue to lose kids because far too many schools don’t work for them. Every 26 seconds a child drops out of school in our country.” 

Here’s a new short video from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in support of the Common Core State Standards.

Read to Succeed Bills in South Carolina Are on the Right Track
According to this convincing guest op-ed from Barbara Harfield, a curriculum specialist in Charleston County School District, she was dead set to oppose the “Read to Succeed” bills pending in South Carolina. But when she actually read the bill and understood that the goal wasn’t simply retention (which doesn’t work as an isolated strategy), but rather a central focus was on preventing retention by helping students succeed, she now supports the bill. The SC bill is very similar to the 3rd Grade Reading bills GLEP is supporting in the Michigan legislature.

Stanford Scholar Looks at Debate over Charter Schools
Credo’s Macke Raymond, one of the nation’s leading researchers on public school performance, penned this excellent viewpoint on the critical debate over charter school performance in EdWeek. It is definitely worth your time to read her column and share it with your colleagues. Quoting Raymond:

Maligned and revered, exemplified or reviled, almost every discussion about charter schools involves a tangle of differing histories, theories, values, and facts. Worse, many times, the parties to the discussion aren’t even aware they’re operating on different planes of discourse. A sort of mental grid-lock often results.”

Local Superintendent Caught up in His Own Spin
Dr. Michael Rice, Superintendent of the Kalamazoo Public Schools, penned a guest editorial viewpoint lamenting the “fact” that school funding has gone down under Governor Snyder and the Republican legislature. Unfortunately for Dr. Rice and the rest of the DEM/MEA/Schauer spin team, further digging by The Mackinac Center shows that the per-pupil foundation grant (and total funding) for his district has actually increased, and includes a quote from GLEP. Here’s another article from this week on how the MEA is misleading voters on the issue of school funding.

Bi-Partisan Push Includes $300 million to Expand Quality Charter Schools
A new bill has been introduced in Washington, D.C. to consolidate $300 million in federal grant programs help charter school developers open new schools, including incentives for states to develop charter schools and making it easier for proven charter school operators to open more schools.

Want to be Endorsed?
Please click here if you’re a candidate for State Senate or State House and would like to be considered for an endorsement from GLEP in the 2014 election cycle.

Next Week

The Michigan Legislature is not in session (it’s called an “in district work period”) for the next two weeks (through April 18), and we’ll add calendar items when they return.

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