This Week & Next (July 8, 2016)

GLEP takes on The New York Times
In a guest editorial viewpoint published this week, GLEP’s Gary Naeyaert corrected a number of incorrect statements in the recent New York Times story trashing Detroit’s charter school sector. Naeyaert commented that the Times’ article leads one to believe the existence of charter public schools and school choice is somehow the cause of poor academic performance in the city. To the contrary, charter schools serve as life rafts for parents fed up with the historic and chronic failure of DPS, a system rife with graft, corruption and greed as too many adults have been literally stealing the futures of thousands of school children for decades. You might also want to read Jay Greene’s provocative blog post titled “Grasping at Straws Over Detroit’s Charter Schools.

Local school boards keep fighting Lansing
It shouldn’t surprise us how far local school districts will go out of their way to avoid accountability or any involvement from the state. But since the state government provides 80% of all K-12 funding, the state has a fiduciary responsibility to play a meaningful role in both the academic and financial operations of our local school districts. Yet this week the former DPS board of directors continued their quixotic fight against any and all efforts by the state to impact Detroit schools, even if it’s to provide $665 million to pay off the district’s debt.  This past week they’ve upped the ante by filing another lawsuit against the state rescue of the district.  Also this week, the East Detroit Public Schools filed another lawsuit to stop a state-appointed CEO from taking over four chronically-failing schools in the district. We can only imagine the lawsuits that will come when the State Reform Office implements the new mandatory closure of failing schools in Detroit this fall. Shameful.

5 charters just closed. How many failing DPS schools will be closed?
According to media reports, 5 charter public schools were closed for poor performance this month, and only 1 of these schools had appeared on the “Bottom 5%” list during the past 4 years. That’s accountability, folks. We can’t wait to see how many of the 20 DPS/EAA schools that have been on the “Bottom 5%” list for each of the past 4 years will be ordered closed by the State Reform Office as required under the new DPS reform legislation in September. Stay tuned!!

Media manipulation is everywhere, folks
It can be very aggravating when the news media engages in the selective use of partial information to make an incorrect point. Just yesterday the Detroit Free Press ran a story with the following headline: “Michigan Spending on Prisons Far Outpaces Education.” This story probably leaves you with the false impression that we spend more on corrections than K-12 education in the state.  You see, there is no mention in this article as to how much the state actually spends on either of these policy priorities, but references growth over the past 30 years in each policy area. Well, the facts are that state spending on corrections in FY ’08 was $2.1 billion and FY ’16 spending is $1.9 billion, which is a reduction of $200 million. Meanwhile, state spending on K-12 education in FY ’08 was $12.9 billion and it is $14.2 billion in FY ’16, an increase of $1.3 billion. It took 3 clicks and less than a minute at the Senate Fiscal Agency website to confirm both the total amount and the growth in spending in Michigan favors education over corrections in recent years. Please remember that sometimes you have to go beyond the headlines, and beyond the article itself, to figure out the truth. That is all.

The Promise and Pitfalls of Virtual Charter Schools, From Education Next
A 2015 report from the Center for Research on Education Outcomes at Stanford University found that students enrolled in online charter schools aren’t performing as well as their peers, and many observers have argued that online-only charters should be put out of business. Are today’s virtual charter schools as bad as their reputation suggests? What, if any, are their virtues? Tom Vander Ark, CEO of Getting Smart, makes the case for allowing virtual charters, and Greg Richmond, President and CEO of the National Association of Charter School Authorizers, presents the other side. What do YOU think about virtual charter schools?

Education Reform News Clips

Next Week

Monday, July 11

Tuesday, July 12

  • Sen. MacGregor Golf Outing at Scott Lake Country Club

Wednesday, July 13

  • Senate and House Session (no votes scheduled)

Thursday, July 14

Friday, July 15

  • ESSA External Advisory Committee Meeting

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