This Week & Next (Jan 22, 2016)

DPS Reform Bills (Finally) Introduced
Last week, Sen. Goeff Hanson (R-Hart), Chair of the School Aid Appropriations Subcommittee, introduced SB 710 and SB 711, bills to address financial issues at the Detroit Public Schools. The key features of the bill include the following:

  • Retire DPS and fund $515 million bailout of existing DPS operational debt via 18 mill non-homestead property tax ($70 million per year for 7-10 years)
  • Create a new “Detroit Community School District” (DCSD) and provide $200 million in “seed money” for the new district (to be repaid by DPS)
  • The DCSD would report to the Detroit Financial Review Commission, which would include the new district Superintendent and the President of the elected School Board
  • The DCSD would be run by a locally elected Board of Directors, with elections in Fall 2016
  • The DCDD will create an advisory body to develop a “Master Plan” for education
  • Use  the State Reform Office and CEO to address failing schools in the city
  • Mandatory closure of charter schools that are on bottom 5% list for 3 of 5 years

What’s NOT included in these bills, which had been in earlier drafts, are the following:

  • The Detroit Education Commission, with a politically-appointed CEO with the singular power to open, close, and relocate all schools in the city, including charter public schools
  • A mandatory enrollment system which gives the DEC the power to enroll students at schools in the city
  • A mandatory city-wide transportation system

Again, GLEP continues to work with key legislators to ensure that any education reforms in Detroit will preserve school choice, keep parents in charge of their children’s education, and increase accountability over poor performing schools. SB 710 and 711 have been referred to the Government Operations Committee, and hearings are expected to begin soon.

A spirited forum on “Detroit Public Schools: Quality, Accountability, and Governance,” hosted by the MSU IPPSR, was held in downtown Lansing on Wednesday with the following panelists: Dan Varner, CEO, Excellent Schools Detroit; Gary Naeyaert, Executive Director, Great Lakes Education Project; Kristi Bowman, Professor of Law, MSU; and Sarah Reckhow , Assistant Professor, MSU Department of Political Science. Each panelist discussed their perspectives on DPS before the forum was opened to audience participation. It was a full house of legislators and their staff, lobbyists, academic university faculty and researchers, news media and concerned citizens at this timely forum given the Governor’s “State of the State” address the night before and the recent introduction of bills to reform DPS. Click here to read the MIRS story about the forum, and click here to download GLEP’s presentation.

New legislation to crack down on illegal teacher strikes
The continued teacher “sick-outs” in Detroit Public Schools, done to support disgraced former AFT President Steve Conn and to protest the proposed financial bailout of DPS and conditions in city schools, have been condemned by Governor Snyder, Mayor Duggan, Senate Majority Leader Meekhof and House Speaker Kevin Cotter. Yesterday,DPS.Strike.Burton Phil Pavlov (R-St. Clair Township), Chair of the Senate Education Committee, introduced three bills (SB 713; SB 714; SB 715) aimed at discouraging teacher sick-outs by providing tougher fines and penalties for teachers and unions involved. The bills will increase fines and may lead to loss of certification for teachers who organize and participate in these type of work stoppages, as well as punish unions that coordinate or encourage sick-outs. More than 80 schools were closed on Wednesday in Detroit due to a teachers’ sick out. Click here to listen to Sen. Pavlov’s interview with WDIV TV-4 on these bills.

Friedrich Case Heard at SCOTUS
The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments last week on a case that could end mandatory union dues and fees for public sector workers, which are currently required in about half the states in the country. The case is Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, and involves whether requiring teachers and other government employees to pay union dues or fees viFriedrichsolates their right to free speech. Rebecca Friedrichs and her fellow plaintiffs are California teachers who have been forced by law to pay a union as a condition of their employment in a public school. GLEP is paying close attention to this case and will report updates.

School Choice Supporters Flood Tallahassee Streets to Demand End of Voucher Lawsuit
Nearly 11,000 people, including Martin Luther King, III, packed the streets of Tallahassee Tuesday morning to demand a stop to a lawsuit which would end a statewide program which allows around 78,000 low-income minority students to attend private and religious schools of their choosing. Over 200 buses shuttled supporters of the program to the state’s capital city Tuesday morning for the rally. Supporters came from far and wide, some leaving home at 1:30 a.m. from all the way in Miami-Dade County. Click here for more information, or here for a story from The 74 Million.

It’s National School Choice Week!!
January 24-30 is National School Choice Week 2016, which will featuring more than 16,140 events across America, making it the largest celebration of educational opportunity in U.S. history.  Please watch the video below, and feel free to share it on social media so that your friends, family, coworkers, and neighbors can learn more about the movement.

Education News Clips

Next Week

Monday January 25

  • National School Choice Week

Tuesday January 26

  • National School Choice Week
  • Senate Education Committee

Wednesday January 27

  • National School Choice Week Tweet-Up
  • Senate School Aid Appropriations Subcommittee
  • Joint House Education and School Aid Committees

Thursday January 28

  • National School Choice Week
  • House Education Committee

Friday January 29

  • National School Choice Week

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