This Week & Next (Aug 19, 2016)

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Michigan’s worst schools: To close or not to close?
Last week we told you a battle was brewing over whether failing schools in the state should be closed, which is an option available under state law. Well, the intensity picked up some steam this week. The Detroit News heralded the decision; GLEP’s Gary Naeyaert discussed it on WILS 1320 AM with Dave Akerly, and the following is a sample of media reports from this week:

The issue drew the attention of John Austin, President of the State Board of Education, which used to have jurisdiction over failing schools until the State Reform Office was moved from MDE to the DTMB by Governor Snyder (because MDE/SBE wasn’t doing much to intervene in poor performing schools, naturally), while Lansing Public School officials, and a host of legislative apologists, held a press conference to denounce the state’s effort to address failing schools.

If the traditional school lobby (and their legislative acolytes) were as concerned about improving student outcomes as they are about protecting adult failure and avoiding accountability, we might not even need the State Reform Office. Hmmmm……

DPS Teacher Recruitment Fair
Having students taught be highly effective teachers is the most important factor in student success, and the “new” DPS system is holding a Teacher Job Fair today to attract the best and brightest to fill hundreds of open positions in the state’s largest school district. The District is also seeking certified teachers who have retired or those interested in part-time opportunities. The event will be held from 2:00 – 6:00 pm today at Benjamin Carson High School of Science and Medicine, located at 571 Mack Avenue. Interviews will be held on-site and conditional offers provided to qualified candidates. Applications are being accepted for ALL teaching positions, and there is a critical need in the areas of Special Education, Early Childhood, Secondary Mathematics and Science, World Languages and Bilingual instruction. Candidates interested in being considered for filling any teaching position must visit and complete an online application for the appropriate job posting for admittance to the Teacher Job Fair.

7 new charter schools to open, statewide total remains 300
Seven new charter schools are opening in Michigan this fall. In addition to the seven schools that are opening, six charter schools are closing and another is merging its board with another board. So the total number of charter schools in Michigan this fall will remain unchanged at 300.  It’s worth noting the majority of this year’s new charter schools are sponsored by local traditional public school districts, not universities. Click here to download the comprehensive list of all changes to charter schools this year. Here are the seven new charter schools opening in Fall 2016:
  • Detroit Prep (Detroit): A replication of the highly successful Detroit Achievement Academy, Detroit Prep will be a K-1 school located on the city’s east side. Just like Detroit Achievement Academy, it will add a grade each year. The school leader is Jen McMillan, an acclaimed educator who was the 2015 Michigan Charter School Teacher of the Year. Authorized by Grand Valley State University.
  • Gateway to Success Academy (Scottville). The first charter school in Mason County, Gateway to Success Academy serves students in grades 6-12 with a project-based learning curriculum. Authorized by the West Shore Educational Service District.
  • Highpoint Virtual Academy of Michigan (Mesick/Cadillac): A cyber charter serving grades K-8, educational services and curriculum will be provided by Authorized by Mesick Consolidated Schools.
  • Inkster Preparatory Academy (Inkster): The first public school in Inkster since the traditional school district was dissolved in 2013, Inkster Preparatory Academy will start as a K-4 school. The school will also be offering transportation to all students who live within five miles of the school. Authorized by Central Michigan University.
  • Lake Superior Academy (Sault Ste Marie): The first public Montessori school in the eastern U.P., Lake Superior Academy will start as a K-3 school before adding additional grades. Authorized by Bay Mills Community College.
  • Livingston Classical Academy (Whitmore Lake): Authorized as a cyber school, Livingston Classical Academy says it will be offering a blended curriculum. The school offers a classical education based on the Hillsdale College model. It will start with grades K-9 before expanding to grades K-12. Authorized by Whitmore Lake Public Schools.
  • PACE – The Paris Academy (Genesee): PACE stands for “Paris Academy of Co-Secondary Education,” and has been operating for several years as a program within other school districts. PACE – The Paris Academy is now a standalone cyber charter school serving grades K-12. Authorized by the Genesee School District.

MAPSA hosting school enrollment fair on August 25

MAPSA, the state charter school association, is holding an enrollment fair next week for Detroit-area parents who are still seeking a new school for the 2016-17 school year. The Enrollment Fair takes place from 5-7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 25, at the Ford Motor Company Conference & Event Center, 1151 Village Road, Dearborn. All Detroit-area parents are invited to attend this free event. MAPSA is inviting representatives from high-performing schools in Detroit and the surrounding areas to attend – both charter and traditional public schools. The Enrollment Fair is taking place to help ensure that all students have a seat in a quality school this fall. MAPSA is specifically inviting parents from all schools that have closed this year, including Allen Academy in Detroit. Bus transportation is available to the venue.

Case Dismissed in Lawsuit Against Florida School Choice…. Again
In yesterday’s update regarding school choice lawsuits, I noted that a judge recently denied a request to fast-track one of the two anti-school-choice lawsuits (Citizens for Strong Schools v. Florida Board of Education). Today, a three-judge panel unanimously dismissed the other lawsuit (McCall v. Scott), in which the state teachers’ union alleged that Florida’s tax-credit scholarship program unconstitutionally supported a “parallel” system of public education and violated the state constitution’s historically anti-Catholic Blaine Amendment, which prohibits publicly funding religious schools. Last year, a trial court judge dismissed the case, holding that the plaintiffs lacked standing to bring the case because the scholarships were privately (not publicly) funded and that they were unable to prove that the scholarship program adversely impacted the district school system.  Click here to read more from Jason Bedrick and the CATO Institute.

Jack Nicklaus events raise $3.3 million for Cornerstone Schools
A dinner and a golf tournament— both featuring Jack Nicklaus — raised $3.28 million for Detroit-based Cornerstone Schools, organizers said last week. Nicklaus, winner of a record 18 majors and 120 golf tournaments in his career, was among a celebrity roster for the Turning Point Invitational at the Country Club of Detroit in Grosse Pointe Farms. The total surpassed Cornerstone’s original $3 million fundraising goal for the dinner and one-day pro-am tournament. In the best-ball tournament, a group led by Grosse Pointe native Ryan Lenahan, now a pro golfer in Europe who holds the course record (62), won the day with a combined 25-under-par score. Also in his group was local businessman Jack Krasula, who also is a WJR radio show host. Nicklaus’ team shot 18 under. Playing with him were Tim Rock, Bob Pulte, Harold Voorhees and Tony Earley, the former chairman and CEO of DTE Energy Co. Others golfing included former PGA Tour stars Tom Lehman and Jerry Pate.

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Gary G. Naeyaert
Executive Director