This Week & Next (Dec 19, 2014)

Legislature Adjourns Current Session
It was a hectic final week of “lame duck” legislative session, but the State Senate and House of Representatives finished up their work for the 2013-2014 session in the wee hours this morning by passing a flurry of bills that have been in the hopper during the last two years. Key bills which impact public education include the following:

  • Road Repair Funding: After weeks of negotiations, Governor Snyder and legislative leaders announced yesterday, and the Senate and House later passed, a series of bills to increase funding for roads, schools and local governments. The most important measure involves putting a 1% sales tax increase on the May 12, 2015 statewide ballot that, if passed, will trigger a number of other statutory changes that will result in a $1.2 billion increase for roads and a $300 million increase for K-12 education. We will report other details as they are developed.
  • Teacher Evaluation: Negotiation between Senate and House leaders on bills to create an evaluation system for teachers and school administrators continued all week. Unfortunately, an agreement was not reached before the legislature adjourned this morning. We expect this issue to be addressed in 2015.
  • Early Warning System: Bills to create more accountability and reporting for school districts in financial difficulty had passed the Senate and the House Committee, but passage in the full House was not accomplished this week.

Governor Snyder to Announce Education Reforms in January

According to a recent article in the Detroit Free Press, Governor Rick Snyder is expected to announce a series of education reforms early in 2015 to address raising the bar for all Michigan schools in terms of transparency and accountability, along with specific recommendations as to new leadership in Detroit Public Schools. From our perspective, as long as we continue moving towards a system of schools focused on improving academic outcomes for all students in the state – count us in!!

State Board of Education Addresses Funding & Governance
This week the State Board of Education, after months of testimony and discussion, passed a series of recommendations to the Michigan Legislature, focusing on funding and governance of public schools in the state.  The recommendations were passed on a 6-2 party line vote, and while we don’t agree with a number of assumptions in the report (that Proposal A is completely broken; that we’re opening too many new schools; oh. we could go on…), we’re confident the report will receive the appropriate consideration in the legislature. Click here to download the SBE recommendations.

Superintendent Flanagan Says Authorizers Still At Risk of Suspension
Superintendent Mike Flanagan today announced that the 11 charter school authorizers placed in “At-Risk of Suspension” status in August will remain at-risk, at least for now. Given separate announcements this week by Governor Rick Snyder and the State Board of Education (see above two stories), Flanagan has decided to withhold making any immediate suspension decisions. Click here for the MDE press release.
Nationwide Search for State Superintendent Underway
The official search for a new Superintendent of Public Instruction to replace the retiring Mike Flanagan has begun as the State Board of Education recently finalized a contract with Ray and Associates to manage the search process. The application deadline is February 19, 2015, with final interviews likely in mid-March. Initial salary is set at $200,000, and interested candidates can click here to learn more about the position and to apply online.

How the Colbert Report Made Ed Reform Cool – from Alexander Russo
Take a minute to think about how much time and attention the Colbert Report has dedicated to education-related issues during its long run, which ended last night. Colbert’s guests included not only Education Secretaries Spellings and Duncan, but also a who’s who list of mostly reform types like Joel Klein, Wendy Kopp, Charles Best, Bill Gates, Jonah Edelman’s Dad, Emily Bazelon, Maurice Sendak, Geoff Canada, David Levin, Roland Fryer, and Campbell Brown. Click here to access a video clip where Colbert simultaneously mocks and endorses the Common Core State Standards.

Education Reform News Clips

  • NY State Ed Commissioner to leave for federal post (New York Times)
  • Nobel prize winners stress education for all (Detroit Free Press)
  • The one issue that will complicate Jeb Bush’s campaign (Time)
  • How Congress can address over-testing without overreaching (Fordham Institute)
  • Howell Public Schools weighs extended school year (Detroit Free Press)
  • Maryland Governor-Elect says he’ll push for charter schools (Baltimore Sun)
  • Ohio needs better control – and funding – of charter schools (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
  • Detroit Mom: Don’t take away my school choice (Detroit Free Press)
  • 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
    P.S.  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to one and all – and “This Week & Next” will return on January 9, 2015.