This Week & Next (May 13, 2016)

Judge Rhodes Confirms DPS Bills Will Limit School Choice
Judge Steven Rhodes, DPS Transition Manager, during the taping of WKAR’s “Off The Record” and confirmed in The Detroit News, today confirmed what GLEP has been saying for over a year, which is that the Detroit Education Commission and the DPS reform legislation is intended to prop up the new traditional district at the expense of parental choice. According to Rhodes, the “traditional school district’s future hinges on limiting the number of competing charter schools…and it will be more challenging for DPS to succeed without some kind of control over the opening of new charter schools.” We hope this admission puts an end to further discussion of the DEC. Click here for GLEP’s press release.


DPS Dominates Agenda Without Being on the Agenda
Even though there were no official hearings or actions this past week, rest assured that many in Lansing were still working hard on DPS reform issue this week. Behind the scenes, advocates continue to press their respective cases and build support in both chambers of the legislature.

In short, bills passed by both the Senate and the House agree to split the district into the OldCo/NewCo format; use local property taxes to pay off 100% of the $515 million in DPS’ operational debt; backfill the SAF with tobacco settlement funds to keep all districts whole; return the new district to local, elected leadership with oversight from the Financial Review Commission; and empower the State Reform Office to address chronically failing traditional and charter schools in Detroit. Key disagreements between the two chambers are limited to the need for the DEC; the specific amount of transition funding needed for the new district; and a number of academic reforms passed by the House that weren’t debated by the Senate, and.

A new report released this week from State Treasurer Nick Khouri confirmed the $515 million in accumulated operational debt at DPS and re-confirmed the administration’s request for $200 million in “transition” funding for the new district. The news is that prior requests included $25 million to assist the new district with “cash flow” issues, which in the new report has been revised to $125 million needed for cash flow. This $100 million change was accomplished by simply lowering other requested items by $100 million. Let’s just say many in the legislature who were frustrated with the lack of financial information from DPS are scratching their head at the fast and loose revisions being published after the legislature has voted on potential solutions for the bankrupt district. Click here to download this new report.

From the media, The Detroit News urged the legislature to pass the DPS bailout but without the Detroit Education Commission working to suppress school choice, the Detroit Free Press focused on the long history of corruption in DPS, and the Mt. Pleasant Sun Times ran a guest viewpoint promoting Speaker Cotter’s approach to the DPS issue.

Education Funding Study (Finally) Submitted to State
The long-awaited, much maligned Education Funding Study commissioned by the state, at a cost of $400,000, has been delivered to the Department of Treasury, Management and Budget by the extended deadline today. The study, demanded by Democrats in road funding negotiations with Governor Snyder that led the failed Proposal 1, intends to determine how much it will costs to bring every student in the state “proficient” with the state’s college and career-ready academic standards. In most states, such studies have been used to gain political or legal leverage in the battle over increasing state investments in public education (or it provides an “excuse” for poor performance by school districts). Considering the research showing little correlation between spending and achievement, GLEP believes this study has little value for policymakers. Public release of the study is expected in the coming weeks.

Harvard Graduate School of Education to host first By All Means event
By All Means is a bold undertaking to address the correlation between a child’s socio-economic status and his or her prospects for educational achievement through two key strategies: deep fieldwork in a select number of cities, and a series of national events at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. In partnerships with six cities (Oakland, CA, Louisville, KY, Providence, RI, Somerville, MA, Salem, MA and Newton, MA), the program will implement improved, integrated systems of child well-being and education that focus on personalization, braiding health and human services with schools, and access to high-quality out-of-school learning opportunities. Click here to read more about By All Means (not to be confused with By All Means Necessary, the radical protest group in Detroit).

The first event, titled “Poverty Matters: Making the Case for a System Overhaul” will take place at the Harvard Graduate School of Education on May 17 (click here for the livestream). The day will include introductory remarks from Harvard President Drew Faust, a morning keynote address by former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, a panel conversation with city mayors, a session moderated by Campbell Brown and other sessions will featuring nationally recognized leaders in the field.

NCSI Student Essay Winners
In celebration of National Charter Schools Week (May 1-7) and to encourage charter school students to show pride in their schools, the National Charter School Institute sponsored the 2016 statewide essay contest with the theme “What My Charter School Means to Me.” More than 200 students from every corner of the state submitted essays.

High School Winners, School and Authorizer

  • Abbey Marshall, Grand River Prep High School, GVSU, 1st Place
  • Brogan Harger, Charlton Heston Academy, LSSU, 2nd Place
  • Jasmine Teutsch, Insight School of Michigan, CMU, 3rd Place

Middle School Winners, School and Authorizer

  • Audrey Broadwater, Holly Academy, CMU, 1st Place
  • Moneebah Ashraf, Central Academy, CMU, 2nd Place
  • Christopher Mangrum, Metro Charter Academy, GVSU, 3rd Place

Entries were reviewed by a panel of qualified judges. Winners were selected based on the originality of their theme; how clearly the theme was expressed; and adherence to rules of grammar, punctuation, and style.  The middle school winner will be invited to a special lunch with House Education Chair Amanda Price and the high school winner will be invited to a special lunch with Senate Education Chair Phil Pavlov. Click here to read this year’s winning essays.

GLEP candidate questionnaire available online
All 110 members of the State House of Representative are up for election this fall, and there are 40 open seats in what will be a high-turnout Presidential year election cycle. If you know someone running for State Representative this year, click here to access the GLEP candidate questionnaire. Candidates are only considered for endorsement by GLEP if they return the questionnaire, and the early submission deadline is April 15.

Education News Clips

Next Week

Monday, May 16

  • American Federation for Children National Summit in DC

Tuesday, May 17

  • American Federation for Children National Summit in DC
  • Senate Education Committee
  • 1:1 meetings with key legislators to discuss DPS reform
  • Poverty Matters: Making the Case for a System Overhaul event at Harvard University

Wednesday, May 18

  • Ferris State University Charter School Event at Dearborn Doubletree
  • 1:1 meetings with key legislators to discuss DPS reform

Thursday, May 19

  • House Education Committee
  • 1:1 meeting with key legislators to discuss DPS reform

Friday, May 20

Do you support what GLEP is doing to improve education in Michigan? Please considermaking a donation to help us continue our efforts, and all contributions are very much appreciated!!

Gary G. Naeyaert
Executive Director