This Week & Next (Dec 11, 2015)

President Obama signs ESSA to replace ESEA/NCLB
Yesterday, President Obama signed into law S. 1177, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which replaces the outdated Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and No Child Left Behind (NCLB) laws, which expired years ago. ESSA was passed by the Senate (85-12) on Wednesday and by the House (359-64 ) last week. This bill provides additional flexibility for states to use computer adaptive testing for accountability, and in selecting intervention strategies for the poorest-performing schools. Click here to read more about ESSA.

Detroit education remains a hot topic
Another legislative week has gone by without any bills being introduced to address education reform in Detroit, and legislators will only be in town one more week this year. But that hasn’t stopped a continuous stream of related activities, of course! Yesterday, a number of Detroit teachers staged another “sickout” that forced 7 schools to close and stranded 4,000 students who wanted to learn. Even Governor Snyder jumped in the fray and ridiculed the teachers in social media over the work stoppage. It was a tough week for the Education Achievement Authority (EAA), as the Board of Regents at Eastern Michigan University postponed a vote over whether to continue the inter-local agreement which created the EAA; and thenthree high-ranking staff, including a star principal, were indicted on federal charges of bribery and tax evasion.  Also, the Detroit Federation of Teachers, reeling from internal strife caused by the firing of their own president, turned over daily operations to the American Federation of Teachers. This is pretty ironic when you consider the primary goal of the DFT is to oppose Emergency Managers or any state takeover of dysfunctional local school districts. Again, GLEP continues to work with key legislators to ensure that education reforms in Detroit will preserve school choice, keep parents in charge of their children’s education, and increase accountability over poor performing schools.

Detroit a Top Ten city for school choice
More than twelve million American students exercise some form of school choice by going to a charter, magnet, or private school—or opting for homeschooling—instead of attending a traditional public school. Countless others use district-wide lotteries, attendance waivers, or interdistrict transfers to attend public schools other than the ones in their neighborhoods. But some cities are significantly more “choice-friendly” than others…and some are downright hostile. Using nearly fifty markers of “choice friendliness,” this new report from the Fordham Institute shows which American cities are the best and worst for school choice. Spoiler Alert: Detroit is #10, which is very good news for students and families!

EAA and CMU discuss failing schools at Senate Education Committee
On Wednesday, the Senate Education Committee continued their hearings on failing schools in the state. Testifying at the hearing was Veronica Conforme, Chancellor of the Education Achievement Authority (EAA), and Cindy Schumacher, Executive Director of The Governor John Engler Center for Charter Schools at Central Michigan University.  While admitting the EAA had a “wobbly” start, Conforme focused on plans to convert the lowest-performing schools into the highest-performing schools in the state.  Data collected thus far doesn’t fill us with confidence that this conversion is taking place. CMU, on the other hand, currently authorizes 62 schools with 32,000 students in enrollment. In the past decade, CMU has approved 24 new schools (less than 10% of applicants) while closing 16 poor-performing schools. CMU believes its role as an authorizer is to ensure that school aid funds are spent properly and that students are learning. When a school fails to improve, CMI will either reconstitute the school or make the difficult decision to cease operations of the school. Wouldn’t it be great this was the approach with ALL public schools?

State Board of Education adopts “top 10 in 10” policy goals
On Tuesday, the State Board of Education adopted a number of high level policy recommendations on how to make Michigan a Top 10 State in 10 Years.  With additional feedback on priorities, goals and metrics from key stakeholders, the MDE/SBE will expand upon these policy recommendations early in 2016. GLEP is participating in four stakeholder workgroups hosted by Superintendent Whiston that are focused on the following topics:

  • Making MI a Top Ten State in 10 Years
  • Funding
  • Accountability
  • Assessment

GLEP believes Michigan is already a “Top 10” state when it comes to our financial investment in education, even though we’re closer to the “Bottom 10” states when it comes to academic performance. Click here to read GLEP’s recommendations to the State Board of Education on how to improve public education in the state.

Detroit charter school choir performs at The White House
What a treat it was for the show choir from the Detroit Academy of Arts & Sciences (DAAS) to perform at The White House for their Annual Holiday Reception. The choir also performed a private performance for President Obama and the First Lady Obama. DAAS’s choir has performed on the Ellen Degeneres Show, America’s Got Talent, and they’ve been invited to NBC’s “Today Show,” for a special holiday performance taping on December 15.

Education News Clips

Next Week

Monday, December 14

Tuesday, December 15

  • 1:1 meetings with key Senators re: DPS and HB 4822

Wednesday, December 16

  • 1:1 meetings with key Senators re: DPS and HB 4822

Thursday, December 17

Friday, December 18

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