This Week & Next (July 3, 2015)

Senate Passes Road Funding Package in Lansing
Yesterday, the State Senate passed a $1.5 billion package of bills to address road repair funding in the state, and the bills were passed largely on party-line votes. Two of the bills has votes of 19-19, which led Lt. Governor Brian Calley to cast the tie-breaking vote to pass the bills. Highlights of the package include a 15 cents per gallon increase in the gas tax (phased in over 3 years); an increase in the diesel tax to match the gas tax; the transfer of $700 million per year from the General Fund to the Michigan Transportation Fund; increases in vehicle registration fees; and the potential eventual reduction of the personal income tax rate to 3.9%. The bills now go to the House for their consideration. There doesn’t appear to be a direct impact on K-12 funding in these bills.

First Media Q&A with Brian Whiston, State Superintendent
In a wide-ranging interview with Lori Higgins of the Detroit Free Press, incoming Superintendent of Public Instruction Brian Whiston covers a lot of territory, including working with the board to draft an action plan, student testing, education funding and others. Whiston confirmed that key education stakeholder groups – including GLEP – will be invited to make presentations at the August meeting of the State Board of Education meeting on how to make Michigan a “top ten” state for education performance. Stay tuned!!

Nevada Passes K-3 Reading Law
Kudo’s to Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval, who recently signed SB 391, the Read by Three Act, creating a comprehensive K-3 Reading Program in Nevada. In order to improve early literacy and student achievement, this new includes early identification and parental notification of reading deficiencies, intensive reading interventions for students in need of additional support and, as a last resort, retention at the end of third grade with more intensive interventions. Sounds eerily similar to the K-3 reading program GLEP is advocating for in Michigan, and a bill soon to be introduced by Rep. Amanda Price (R-Park Township), Chair of the House Education Committee. GLEP strongly supports this effort!!

The Surveys Say: Support Increases for Charters & Choice

Support for Charters and Choice Increases in Michigan
From a recent exhaustive study released by the Institute of Public Policy at Michigan State University, public support for charter schools and school choice is at an all-time high in the state. Other key details here.

Majority of American’s Support School Choice
Results from a recent national survey conducted by the Friedman Foundation confirm that a majority of American’s continue to support school choice. Click here for an overview and here to download the full report.

Over 90% of Parents in Louisiana Support Their Scholarship School
Results from the annual parental Satisfaction Survey, conducted by the Louisiana Federation for Children (LFC), the state’s voice for educational choice, along with the Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO), a national organization advocating for parental choice on behalf of low-income and working-class black families, found that more than 91 percent of parents participating in the Louisiana Scholarship Program say they are satisfied with every aspect of the program, which allows students to escape failing or underperforming schools by switching to the participating private school of their choice.

National Alliance Urges Passage of NCLB Reauthorization in D.C.
In an open letter to Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray, (D-WA), Nina Rees, President of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools,  urged the Senators to pass S. 1177, the Every Child Achieves Act of 2015.  Rees commented that the legislation provides a strong foundation for moving forward with reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) in a bipartisan manner and that the updates to the Charter Schools Program (CSP) will strengthen public education by supporting the growth of high-quality public charter schools and increasing educational opportunities for all students. The Senate and House are planning to take up the NCLB rewrite as early as next week.

The End of Teacher’s Unions? One can only hope!!
In a thoughtful opinion piece written by Andrew Rotherham from BellWeather Education, he makes the point that we may be facing the end of organized teacher unions based on the willingness of the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association case. This case could end the practice of charging “agency fees” to teachers who chose not to join the union, which would likely impact the viability of these unions, especially in “Right to Work” states like Michigan. For another look at this issue, check out yesterday’s article from EdWeek.  GLEP will be watching this issue closely, and we’ll certainly keep you up-to-date on developments.

Education News Clips

Next Week

Monday, July 6

Tuesday, July 7

  • Senate in Session

Wednesday, July 8

  • Senate in Session

Thursday, July 9

  • Senate in Session

Friday, July 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!!

Happy July 4th,

Gary G. Naeyaert
Executive Director