This Week & Next (June 17, 2016)

Governor Prepares to Sign DPS Rescue Bills
As Governor Snyder prepares to sign the $617 million package of bills recently passed by the legislature to rescue the Detroit Public Schools (DPS) from financial and academic ruin, the fallout continues from folks on both sides of the issue. A few days ago the Detroit News told us the DPS deal offers hope to the district, and they also had a pretty good story abouthow the final deal came together, while today the Executive Office released a video in conjunction with the guest editorial viewpoint from John Walsh, Strategy Director for the Governor, in which he says the compromise bills are certainly much better than a bankruptcy that would have cost at least $2,000 per student in every district of the state.  House Ed Chair Amanda Price (R-Park Township) say’s “it’s a bright day for kids in Detroit,” and Coalition Co-Chair Tonya Allen urged folks to get past the political debate and encouraged us all to prepare for the hard work before us to improve academic outcomes for Detroit students.  Michigan Capitol Confidential reminds us that rhetoric tops facts in DPS debate. On the flip side, DPS Board member (in exile) Lamar Lemmons is threatening to file a lawsuit to stop the legislation from being implemented, andDetroit Democrats bash the plan on video, we read DPS leads the nation in truancy and the state’s leading universities are saying that too many DPS students aren’t ready for college. Ingrid Jacques from the Detroit News reminds us the deadline to file to run for the new DPS board is July 26.

Gary Jensen named CEO for East Detroit Public Schools
The State Reform Office had previously announced it was planning to appoint a CEO to manage the academic activities of four schools in the East Detroit Public School system.  After hitting a speed bump in the form of a lawsuit from the district to halt this action, today it was announced Gary Jensen will become the CEO of Bellview Elementary, Pleasantville Elementary, Kelly Middle School and East Detroit High School. All four schools have been among the lowest-performing public schools in the state for a number of years. Jensen, MASB’s 2014 “Principal of the Year” at Lakeview High School in Montcalm County, was most recently an Account Manager for ACT. This is the first time Natasha Baker, the State Reform Officer, has appointed a CEO to manage a failing school in the state, and the office has plans to name additional CEO’s in other failing districts in the months ahead. Click here for Jensen’s bio and contract with the state.

Which Detroit schools will be closed?
With passage of HB 5384 (Garcia), and the presumed exit of the Emergency Manager in Detroit by the end of the year, there will be a new era of school accountability for failing schools in the state’s largest school district under Natasha Baker and the State Reform Office. Specific language in the DPS rescue package requires that any school performing in the Bottom 5% for three consecutive years shall be subject to closure, unless the State Reform Officer believes that closure would result in an “unreasonable hardship” for students. We think trapping kids in chronically-failing schools is the greater hardship for Detroit children. There are between 30-40 schools in Detroit that have been on the Bottom 5% list year after since 2012, and it is expected most of these schools will experience a serious intervention from the state, or be closed, once the next bottom 5% of the next “Top to Bottom” list as published by September 1, 2016.

Betsy DeVos named one of the state’s most influential women
Reaching outside of Detroit for the first time, Crain’s Detroit Business recenBetsyDeVostly named the 100 most influential women in Michigan. Among these CEOs, executive directors and company founders in business, academia, nonprofits and public policy was our own Betsy DeVos, Founder and Board Member of GLEP, among her many other achievements. Congrats to Betsy!!

Jeb Bush on Saving America’s Education System
After re-assuming the top leadership position at the Foundation for Excellence in Education, or ExcelinEd, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush wrote a provocative column this past week in the National Review entitled “Saving America’s Education System.” In the piece, Bush advocates that we massively disrupt our education system if we want to ensure our long-term national and economic security. We need to end “assigned” schools, allow parents a wide variety of choices and have funding to follow children over institutions. It’s a good read and we welcome Governor Bush back to the education reform movement.

GLEP to release first phase of candidate endorsements on Tuesday
The Great Lakes Education Project (GLEP, yep, that’s us) will be making our first round of public endorsements in the 2016 Michigan House of Representatives campaigns on Tuesday, June 21. Statewide and regional press releases will announce these initial endorsements, which are expected to focus on incumbent members of the legislature. Check us out on Twitter and Facebook for Tuesday’s announcement, and we’ll have a full listing of endorsed candidates in next week’s newsletter.

Education Reform News Clips

Next Week

Monday, June 20

  • Charter Schools USA School Leader Training Conference featuring GLEP’s Gary Naeyaert

Tuesday, June 21

  • GLEP Announces Candidate Endorsements

Wednesday, June 22

  • Student Statesmanship Institute, Week #2 at the Capitol Building

Thursday, June 23

  • USED Secretary John King to testify in U.S. House Education Committee

Friday, June 24

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