This Week & Next (July 1, 2016)

Governor Signs FY ’17 School Aid Budget
Governor Snyder signed into law the FY ’17 School Aid Budget earlier this week, prior to the start of the school fiscal year which begins today. The key issue in the budget is that per-pupil investments are increasing by $60-$120 per pupil for next school year.  In a budget of over $14 billion, however, nearly the entire focus of the media and local school groups is on the paltry $2.5 million appropriated to reimburse private schools for the health and safety mandates required by the state. While a number of lawsuits are likely, in the end we believe these expenditures will be found to be just as constitutional as those allowing for state funding to cover transportation costs and the teaching of non-core subjects for students in private schools.

DPS Starts Fresh Today
July 1 marks the first day of the school fiscal year, which is also the day DPS died. Per the DPS rescue/bailout bills passed by the legislature, the “old” DPS ceased to exist yesterday, except it will function to collect local property taxes and use this $72 million per year to pay off the $617 million in operational debt and transition funding for the new district. The new district, which will likely be named the Detroit Community Schools District, become a legal entity today. The Financial Review Commission signed off on the first year budget for the district and the interim Superintendent sat down with reporters to discuss the transition this week. At the same time, the outgoing DPS School Board isn’t going down without a fight, as they filed suit to stop the new district from operating and have voted (twice!) to refuse the financial bailout from the state. The deadline to file to run for the new 7-member board of directors is July 26. It’s never boring in Detroit, my friends!!

GLEP endorsed 18 House candidates this week
On Monday, GLEP announced the endorsement of 18 candidates running for the House of Representatives this year. Click here to read more about these “Champions for Children” and why they earned our endorsement. There will be 40 open seats in this fall’s general election, and we hope voters will take the time to learn about the candidates and their positions on key education issues before the primary election on August 2. GLEP will highlight many of these candidates in future newsletters.

K-12 Education Funding Study (Finally) Released
The much anticipated, maligned and over-hyped K-12 Education Funding Study was (finally) released this week. As we predicted, the consultant here (APA) was paid $400,000 to recommend an increase in education funding – as they’ve done in each of the dozen similar funding studies they’ve conducted. Key points for the study are that we lack equity in terms of our per pupil investments and that at-risk students need additional funding to thrive. Duh. The report says “noticeably successful” districts invest $8,667 per pupil.  As you may recall, GLEP has been proposing for years that we more equitably invest K-12 funds in students, and we can do so WITHOUT increasing spending. In fact, our current proposal would result in a uniform foundation grant of $8,600 per pupil while still providing over $4.0 billion for special needs, at risk and ELL programs. And we didn’t charge the state anything for this recommendation.

Three Charters in Detroit Closing
While we wait intently for the State Reform Office to begin aggressively intervene in the state’s poorest performing schools, the charter sector continues their record of accountability as it was just announced that three low-performing charter schools in Detroit have been closed.  The promise of charter schools is that if a school isn’t providing a better choice for parents it won’t stay open. To date, over 100 charter public schools have been closed in Michigan, while the state has yet to close a SINGLE SCHOOL for academic failure.  So much for all that talk from Mayor Duggan, John Austin, Stephen Henderson, Amber Arellano and the other elites that poor-performing charters are simply running amok in the state.

New York Times takes a swipe at Detroit charter schools
On Wednesday, a front page story in the New York Times totally trashed Detroit’s charter sector. Based on the selective use of partial information, and peppered with quotes from anti-charter advocates, the story’s false narrative is that the existence of charter schools and choice has actually created dismal academic outcomes in the city. Despite the author spending considerable time interviewing a number of charter school supporters, none were quoted in the story, this story should have actually run on the editorial page. Response to the NYT hatchet job was swift and cutting, including a takedown from Jason Russell in the Washington Examiner, a damning blog post from respected Jay Greene, and this thorough rebuttal from Michigan Capital Confidential.  It continues to frustrate us that after more than 20 years the Democrats, teachers’ unions and liberal media still want to eliminate school choice for parents. Can’t we all just get along?

Education Reform News Clips

Next Week

Monday, July 4

Tuesday, July 5

Wednesday, July 6

Thursday, July 7

Friday, July 8

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