This Week & Next (Mar 20, 2015)

Whiston Named State Superintendent by State Board of Education
Late Wednesday, the State Board of Education announced the selection of Brian Whiston, Dearborn Public Schoolsto become the next Superintendent of Public Instruction, replacing the retiring Mike Flanagan. The three finalist candidates (Whiston, Vickie Markovitch, Oakland ISD and Scott Menzel, Washtenaw ISD were interviewed in Lansing on Wednesday. It was a fairly contentious debate among SBE members, which we believe provides further evidence for the need to have the State Superintendent appointed by the Governor (just like every other state department).  In any event, GLEP looks forward to sharing our K-12 education policy priorities with Superintendent-Designate Whiston between now and when he officially takes office on July 1.

Stanford University Reports Charters Outperform Traditional Schools (AGAIN)
CREDO at Stanford University released another report this week that demonstrates that students in urban charter public schools are experiencing greater learning gains that demographically similar students in traditional public schools, especially in Detroit. Despite the fact that overall proficiency is still an issue for nearly all urban schools, this study is yet another validation of the charter sector in public education. Student growth is a critical component of bringing at-risk students to grade level and preparing them for college, careers and life. Click here to read the CREDO report for Michigan.

Governor Moves State Reform Office from MDE to DTMB
It’s been a busy time as Governor Snyder recently issued Executive Order 2015-9 to move the agency charged with turning around Michigan lowest performing schools – the School Reform Office – from the MDE to the Department of Technology, Management and Budget (DTMB). The State Reform Office’s responsibility is to establish policies and procedures for turnaround struggling schools. The office also controls the State School Reform/Redesign District, created in 2010 as an option to take control of failing schools. To date, the reform office under the MDE has not placed ANY chronically failing schools in the reform district. GLEP supports a more aggressive policy towards failing schools. Despite concerns voiced by members of the State Board of Education (who have now threatened to file a lawsuit against the Governor) and the Coalition to Save DPS, we believe this is a bold and necessary move to improve educational opportunities for students trapped in failing schools.

Michigan Earns an “A” in National Report Card on Charter School Laws
The Center for Education Reform, an education advocacy and reform group based in Washington, D.C., released its annual “Charter School Laws Across the States Rankings and Scorecard” this week, and Michigan is one of only five states to receive an “A” grade. The report said, “Michigan’s truly independent charter authorizers have written the book on responsible authorizing. With one of the highest closure rates in the country (22 percent), most states could learn a thing or two from these responsible authorizers working collectively on a path-breaking accreditation process.” Click here for the full report, with Michigan featured on pages 47-48.

Alabama becomes 44th State to Allow Charter Public Schools
Yesterday, the Alabama House of Representatives voted 58-41, with the Senate concurring, to send SB 45 (the School Choice and Student Opportunity Act), a bill allowing Alabama to offer students access to public charter schools, to Governor Robert Bentley for his signature. The School Choice and Student Opportunity Act will allow for start-up public charter schools, which are newly created public schools, and conversion public charter schools, which are existing public schools that have a desire to operate as a charter.

Scholarship Tax Credit Program Proposed in D.C.
U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and U.S. Representative Todd Rokita (R-IN) have reintroduced the Educational Opportunities Act, a bill to create an individual and corporate tax credit for donations that pay for scholarships for students to attend a private school of their parents’ choice. The bill would allow qualified families to receive scholarships from nonprofit scholarship granting organizations (SGOs) that would pay or defer the cost of private school tuition or other related educational expenses. The bill creates an individual federal tax credit of up to $4,500 and a corporate credit of up to $100,000 for donations to qualifying, non-profit SGOs. Currently, there are 17 tax credit scholarship programs in existence nationwide – including in Florida and Indiana – which provided more than $660 million in scholarships to students in the 2013-14 school year.

McLellan Roast a Landmark VIP Event
GLEP was pleased to participate in the Roast of Richard McLellan on Wednesday, a fundraising event hosted by the Michigan Political History Society in East Lansing.  McLellan is the state’s foremost legal expert on the Michigan Constitution and the Revised School Code. A dozen “Roasters” kept hundreds of participants in stitches during the night. GLEP’s guest at the events included Senator Phil Pavlov, Chair of the Senate Ed Committee; Senator Geoff Hansen, Chair of the School Aid Subcommittee; Rep. Amanda Price, Chair of the House Ed Committee; Rep. Tim Kelly, Chair of the School Aid Subcommittee; and Rep. Daniela Garcia, Vice Chair of the House Ed Committee.

Two Great Job Opportunities
If you know someone with a passion for conservative policy, there are two exceptional opportunities available in Michigan, and click below to more information and to apply:

Education Reform News Clips

GLEP in the News

Next Week

Monday, March 23

Tuesday, March 24

  • House School Aid Subcommittee to debate Chairman Kelly’s recommended budget
  • Senate Education Committee
  • Introductory meetings with new legislators

Wednesday, March 25

  • Senate School Aid Subcommittee to debate Chairman Hansen’s recommended budget
  • Introductory meetings with new legislators

Thursday, March 26

  • House Education Committee, featuring Cari Miller, ExcellinEd, on early literacy
  • MANS lunch event with Friedman Foundation

Friday, March 27

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