This Week & Next (Jan 20, 2017)

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Betsy DeVos Pushes School Choice in Confirmation Hearing
We hope you had the chance to watch Betsy DeVos’ 3-hour confirmation hearing before the Senate HELP Committee on Tuesday evening. You can download her prepared remarks here. We think Betsy did extremely well, especially given the hyper-partisan nature of the hearing and continued attacks from the left who oppose her support for school choice. 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 the members of the Senate HELP Committee, which is scheduled to vote on her confirmation on Tuesday, January 31. And please use #StandWithBetsy in social media.

2016 “Top to Bottom” Rankings Out; GLEP calls for closure of 38 failing schools
The MDE released the annual “Top to Bottom” ranking for 2016 on Friday, and the State Reform Office subsequently released the list of 38 chronically-failing schools in the state, each of which has been in the lowest performing 5% of all public schools for 2014, 2015 and 2016. This list includes 25 schools in Detroit (16 DPS, 8 EAA and 1 charter) and 13 outstate schools (12 traditional public and 2 charters). 12 of the 38 schools have been on the lowest-performing 5% list each year since it was created in 2010. The SRO is planning to announce specific interventions for these schools in the next 30-45 days. Consistent with state law, GLEP is calling for the closure or restructuring of these 38 schools.

Another $3 billion wasted on failing schools
President Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) injected $3 billion into the federal School Improvement Grants (SIG) program, which awarded grants to states that agreed to implement one of four school intervention models in their lowest-performing schools. Each of the models prescribed specific practices designed to improve student outcomes. Despite the sizable investment, comprehensive evidence on the implementation and impact of SIG has been limited. Using 2013 survey and administrative data from nearly 500 schools in 22 states, a new report from the Institute of Education Sciences focuses on whether SIG had an impact on student outcomes. Findings show no evidence that SIG had no significant impacts on math or reading test scores, high school graduation, or college. Well, that’s another $3 billion we’ll never get back. Let’s hope the Trump Administration doesn’t plan on incentivize failure and spend good money after bad with these failing schools.

3 Ways Detroit Charters Outperform DPS
There has been considerable attention on the performance of public schools in Detroit over the past few months, and if you believe the national media narrative fueled by teachers’ unions and left-wing advocacy groups, you’d think that charter schools in Detroit perform as bad, or worse, than the Detroit Public Schools (the worst urban school district in the country).  Well, the FACTS are that students in Detroit charter schools outperform DPS in both proficiency (MEAP; M-STEP) and student growth (CREDO). Writers Jason Bedrick (Cato Institute) and Max Eden (Manhattan Institute) took a deeper dive into the data and published a piece in EducationNext this week which confirms the truth. Citing the CREDO studies, the Mackinac Center research, and data from Excellent Schools Detroit, it’s very clear that Detroit charters outperform DPS. Period.

Florida Supreme Court Supports School Choice
After years of legal wrangling, on Wednesday the Florida Supreme Court decided 4-1 todismiss a union-backed challenge to the state’s tax-credit scholarship program. Upholding Florida’s Tax-Credit Scholarship marks a monumental moment in the lives of the more than 90,000 students who are able to receive a quality education through the program. The overwhelming decision is a powerful reminder to entrenched special interests that when policymakers work hand-in-hand to help families, students win. Another win for the good guys!

National School Choice Week Event in Detroit on January 27, 2017
Mark your calendars, folks!! GLEP and our friends at the Mackinac Center, MAPSA and others are hosting a major event during National School Choice Week. Our event, scheduled for 1:30 – 3:00 pm on Friday, January 27, 2017 at the Wright Museum for African American History in Detroit, will feature keynote speaker Dr. Steve Perry, founder and principal of Capital Preparatory Magnet School, Best-Selling Author, and Education Contributor for CNN and MSNBC. You will not want to miss this free event, so click here to RSVP.  Hope to see you there!!

Education Reform News Clips

Next Week

Monday, January 23

Tuesday, January 24

  • 1:1 meetings with new Representatives

Wednesday, January 25

  • 1:1 meetings with new Representatives

Thursday, January 26

  • 1:1 meetings with new Representatives

Friday, January 27

  • National School Choice Week event in Detroit

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