This Week & Next (May 1, 2014)

GLEP Holds First Campaign Training Workshop
On Saturday, April 26, GLEP hosted our first “Campaign Training Workshop” for Republican and Democratic candidates and campaign managers in targeted ultra-competitive primary races. The full-dayCampaign School event, taught by leading political, campaign, media and finance professionals, focused on how to draft a campaign plan; fundraising; volunteer coordination; education policy issues; social, earned and paid media; compliance; and other campaign activities.  Participant feedback has been very positive and we’re scheduling another workshop in the coming weeks.

Vote on Teacher Evaluation Bills Postponed in House Education Committee
On Wednesday, HB 5323 (O’Brien) and HB 5224 (Zemke), bills to create a teacher and administrator evaluation system, were poised for a vote in the House Education Committee.

However, tension over tactics and messaging by an advocacy group resulted in the postponement of the vote. While the H-4 substitute versions adopted in committee are not yet available on the legislative website, key features of the bills include:

  • 40% of a teacher’s year-end evaluation is based on student growth and assessment data,
  • Students will not be assigned to an ineffective teacher for 2 consecutive years, and
  • Teachers who earn an ineffective rating for 3 consecutive years will be dismissed.

Because language was removed from the bills that would have negatively impacted teacher tenure reforms and restricted selection of the state’s testing assessment, GLEP is supporting passage of these bills. Once these bills are passed in committee and reach the full House of Representatives, we’ll support their passage in conjunction with HB 4625 (Lund), the performance pay bill.

Food Fight over Common Core Assessments, Teacher Evaluation and NCLB Waivers
Here’s a very good article on the current situation re: NCLB waivers in other states, which provides some context to inform Michigan’s current debate over assessments, teacher evaluation and such. Like gawkers who can’t stop staring at a train wreck, you can also click here for a peek at the dysfunction in South Carolina between the Board of Education and the State Superintendent on testing.

The Status of Student Testing in Michigan
The Michigan Education Assessment Program (MEAP) test has been administered to students for over 40 years, and this Michigan-specific paper-and-pencil test hasNO MEAP done a good job of measuring student proficiency on a given day.  In 2010, the State Board of Education adopted new college-and career-ready academic standards and began transitioning to a student assessment to replace the MEAP. Make no mistake, the MEAP has got to go!!

While various education interest groups continue to line up in support of implementing one specific test or another (with the requisite questioning of motives at every turn), GLEP continues to advocate for adoption of a next-generation assessment aligned to our academic standards which measures both proficiency and individual student growth. Data from such an assessment, collected and used properly, can be used to improve teaching and learning; to fairly evaluate teachers; and to provide meaningful information on school accountability. GLEP wants to get this done right, even if it’s not done right away. Click here for a concise overview of the national and state efforts on both standards and student assessments.

This issue is being hotly debated within the context of the FY ’15 School Aid Budget, with different language being passed by the Appropriations Committees in the Senate and the House. The budget is likely to be finalized soon after the Revenue Estimating Conference on May 15, which is the semi-annual event whereby the state’s top bean counters from DMB, SFA and HFA get together and publish updated estimates of state and school aid revenue for the coming year. Stay tuned!!

Wake up, Michigan! Our High School Grad Rate is Lacking
Despite the fact that Associated Press reminds us that Michigan’s high school graduation rate remains below the national average, traditional education apologists from Diane Ravitch to Steve Cook and Vickie Markavitch continue to argue that our schools are doing just fine and that reform efforts are somehow unnecessary. This data confirms what we know. For the sake of students in school today and future generations, we CAN and MUST do better!!

From a Detroit Charter School to the Ivy League: One Student’s Journey
For those of us at GLEP, we love it when a real face is put on our everyday work to promote quality educational choices for all children. That’s why we’re so glad to bring you the story of Daniel Felix, a senior at Cesar Chavez Academy in Detroit. Daniel has already been accepted at Harvard, Stanford, Princeton (all Ivy League institutions) and the University of Michigan. Daniel attributes choice in public education as one of the factors that impacted his success. Thanks to the Mackinac Center for this story and video!

GLEP to Make “Fair Funding” Presentation at State Board of Education
In a continuing process of inviting stakeholder groups to present ideas and recommendations on Michigan School Organization and Finance, GLEP will be making a presentation to the State Board of Education on Tuesday, May 13.  We will be advocating our proposal to eliminate the nearly $1,000 per pupil equity funding gap by creating a uniform foundation grant of $8,250 per pupil, while still investing $4.6 billion in targeted funds for special purposes. Does this sound familiar? We hope so! At this particular meeting, we’ll be joined in making presentations by the following organizations: the Gretchen Dziadosz, MEA; Ray Telman, Middle Cities Education Association; and Steve Norton, Michigan Parents for Schools. Talk about your skunk at the family picnic!!

GLEP in the Media

Next Week

Monday, May 5

Tuesday, May 6

  • House Education Committee. Vote expected on HB 5223 & 5224  (Teacher and Administrator Evaluation bills)

Wednesday, May 7

  • Fundraising Reception for Sen. Phil Pavlov (R-St. Clair Township)
  • StudentsFirst Michigan Advocacy Day in Lansing
  • Senate Education Committee

Thursday, May 8

    • Career Day at Dearborn Academy

Friday, May 9

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