This Week & Next (Feb 3, 2017)

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Betsy DeVos Confirmed by U.S. Senate HELP Committee
On Tuesday, the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension (HELP) Committee voted to confirm Betsy DeVos as the next U.S. Education Secretary on a straight-party 12-11 vote. Having all GOP members vote YES and all DEM members vote NO continued the hyper-partisan nature of continued attacks from the left and those who oppose her support for school choice. Wednesday and this morning, the Senate cleared the way for a floor vote, which is likely to occur on Monday or Tuesday. The following are a few media stories and editorials from this past week:

If you’d like to support Betsy DeVos, please click here and send a quick note to your members of the U.S. Senate and urge them to support her confirmation.

Senate Education Committee looks at new school accountability system
On Tuesday, the Senate Education Committee, chaired by Sen. Phil Pavlov (R-St. Clair) held the first hearing on the issue of revising the state’s school accountability system(s). For those keeping track, Michigan currently uses three different accountability systems: 1.) the “Rainbow Report Card” to assign one of 6 colors to identify school performance; 2.) the “Top to Bottom” percentile ranking for all schools; and 3.) the “Priority, Reward and Focus” school designations. While much of Tuesday’s hearing focused on complaints about how the State Reform Office has operated, especially in light of the recent announcement of 38 schools identified – for the first time in state history – to receive “enhanced intervention” by state. Unfortunately, there was little discussion on how to help improve student performance. Notably, the U.S. House of Representatives is moving to revise (or eliminate?) some of the final federal guidelines on implementation of ESSA, which only makes this issue more problematic. We believe MDE shouldn’t submit any plan to USED until the department has come to a clear understanding with legislative leaders as to the key components of the state’s new accountability system that will be included in state law this year.  These negotiations, if not concluded prior to the April 3 submission deadline, means that MDE should plan on the September 18 submission deadline.

Let it Rip on Failing Detroit Schools
There’s been plenty of angst and activity since the State Reform Office released the list of 38 chronically-failing schools in the state, as these schools are eligible for enhanced intervention or closure by the state.  We wish there was as much energy and outrage focused on the fact that so many schools have been failing so many students for so many years. Last Sunday,GLEP’s Gary Naeyaert appeared on “Let it Rip” on Fox TV-2 in Detroit with DPSCD Board Member Lamar Lemmons to discuss the state’s approach to failing schools. Informative and entertaining.

School Choice Week Event a Big Success in Detroit!!
GLEP, MAPSA and the Mackinac Center hosted a major event to celebrate National School Choice Week last Friday at the Charles H. Wright Museum for African American History in Detroit. The event featured keynote speaker Dr. Steve Perry, founder and principal of Capital Preparatory Magnet School, Best-Selling Author, and Education Contributor for CNN and MSNBC. With musical and dance performances from local students. Click here for a short video from the event.

Education Reform News Clips

Next Week

Monday, February 6

Tuesday, February 7

  • 1:1 meetings with new Representatives
  • Senate Education Committee
  • U.S. Senate Confirmation vote for Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary

Wednesday, February 8

  • 1:1 meetings with new Representatives

Thursday, February 9

  • 1:1 meetings with new Representatives
  • House Education Reform Committee

Friday, February 10

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