This Week & Next (Mar 14, 2014)

GLEP Testifies on Funding Fairness at House Appropriations Subcommittee
Budget Post It Note
On Tuesday, GLEP’s Gary Naeyaert provided testimony on school funding that included a long-term strategy to earmark 90% of available state and local funding to create a uniform foundation grant of $8,250 per pupil and reduce categorical spending to 10% of school funding. For FY ’15, GLEP recommends increasing the foundation grant by $150-$300 per pupil by using the 2x equity formula and investing an additional $389 million in the foundation grant. This $389 million comes from $150 million from Governor’s recommended increase; $159 million in “extra” payments towards MPSERS; and $80 million in Best Practices funding. Click here for a copy of GLEP’s presentation.

Michigan Voters Support Fair Funding

Fair Funding Pie Chart

According to survey data released on Tuesday, an overwhelming 87% of all Michigan voters support eliminating the nearly $1,000 per pupil funding equity gap in K-12 education, which is a top priority for GLEP.

Senate Appropriations Subcommittee
On Wednesday, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on School Aid continued to take public testimony on the FY ’15 School Aid Budget, including presentations from the Michigan Association of School Boards and Michigan Association of School Administrators, pushing their “Classroom & Kids” budget proposal, which cuts categoricals and uses more general fund money to increase the foundation grant by $250-290 per pupil (not using 2x equity formula).

Senate & House Education Committees
On Wednesday the Senate Education Committee took testimony on SB 817, sponsored by Sen. John Pappageorge (R-Troy) which would push back the mandatory implementation date for a new statewide teacher and administrator evaluation system from 2013-14 to the 2015-16 school year. This may be necessary since the legislature has yet to pass HB 5223-5324, bills to create teacher and administrator evaluation system.  The House Education Committee did not meet this week.

U.S. Education Committee Examines Charters
On Wednesday the U.S. House Education and the Workforce Committee held a hearing entitled, “Raising the Bar: The Role of Charter Schools in K-12 Education.” According to the Committee, charters empower parents to play a more active role in their child’s education, open doors for teachers to pioneer fresh teaching methods, encourage state and local innovation, and help students escape underperforming schools. Tuesday’s hearing provided members an opportunity to discuss the benefits of the successful charter school model while also exploring opportunities to improve charter school quality and expand access to this valuable school choice option.  Deborah McGriff, President of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (and former DPS Superintendent) is one of the witnesses. Click here to watch a webcast of Tuesday’s hearing, and click here for a media story on the bipartisan support at the hearing.

Teachers’ Union Says Poor Kids Can’t Learn
Poor students don’t learn as well as rich students, and Rochester, NY teachers shouldn’t be evaluated on how their poverty-stricken students perform on state tests. That’s the sad argument the Rochester Teachers Association is making in a recent lawsuit it filed against New York Regents and the state’s education department in the wake of 2012-13 state test results. On the other hand, GLEP believes that all children can learn, and that teachers should be held responsible for academic GROWTH of students in their classrooms.

Ohio Implements 3rd Grade Reading Initiatives
Early literacy matters, and Ohio is implementing the same common-sense and comprehensive approach to early literacy that we’re pushing here in Michigan.  This approach consists of mandatory screening and meaningful interventions for those with early literacy delays in grades K-3. And for those still not proficient at the end of 3rd grade, retention (as a last resort) and intensive interventions are necessary. March is reading month, so let’s get this done!!

Washington Post Takes Slanted View of Ed Reform Organizations
In a slanted view of national education reform groups like StudentsFirst, the American Federation for Children and others, the Washington Post uses selective editing from a Center for Public Integrity report to portray these groups as having undue influence on public policy while neglecting to point out that the National Education Association spent roughly $15.7 million in 2012, nearly five times what relative newcomer StudentsFirst spent. Also, further research indicates the majority of top 20 Political Action Committees in the past 25 years are unions, which give the vast majority of their campaign funds to Democrats which satisfy the needs of union leaders rather than their members. The media must have missed this fact.

Aviation Themed Charter School Coming to Metro Detroit
A grass-roots organization in Taylor is preparing to launch a middle school for 235 students near Detroit Metropolitan Airport that will emphasize a science, technology, engineering and math curriculum based on the aviation and aerospace industries. If the proposed Taylor Academy of Aviation and Aerospace — or TA3 for short — grows as expected, the school most likely will expand into high school grades — similar to West Michigan Aviation Academy in Grand Rapids, said Lorilyn Coggins, president of American Charter Education Services Inc. in Fenton. “We really do want to replicate what they’re doing in curriculum and program activities,” Coggins said. They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!!

TFA to Expand Training Program
Teach for America, which places thousands of freshly minted college graduates in teaching jobs in some of the toughest schools in the country, is rethinking its training program in light of complaints from its own members that they need more preparation for the classroom. The organization announced it will launch a pilot program to offer TFA recruits a year of classes in educational theory and pedagogy, along with hands-on classroom experience, while they are still in college and before they begin teaching full-time.

Want to be Endorsed?
Please click here if you’re a candidate for State Senate or State House and would like to be considered for an endorsement from GLEP in the 2014 election cycle.

Next Week

Monday, March 17

  • Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all those who celebrate this High Holy Day!

Tuesday, March 18

  • Senate Education Committee, agenda TBD.
  • House Appropriations Subcommittee on School Aid to discuss the cost of teacher and administrator evaluation.

Wednesday, March 19

  • House Education Committee, agenda TBD.

Thursday, March 20

Friday, March 21

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!!

That’s it for “This Week & Next.” Let’s keep putting kids first!!

Gary G. Naeyaert
Executive Director