This Week & Next (May 15, 2015)

Education Town Hall in Detroit
GLEP was pleased to participate in an Education Town Hall event hosted by State Rep. Brian Banks (D-Detroit) this past Monday at the WCCC University Center in Harper Woods. Roughly 70 participants braved the wet weather to listen to a distinguished panel of speakers and local elected officials discuss current issues facing public education. For our part, it was another opportunity to promote our priorities of expanded choice, increased quality and enhanced accountability in education.
State Reform Office moved from MDE to DTMB this week
The State Reform Office/District was officially moved from the MDE to the DTMB this week, following a recent Executive Order, according to a press release from the Governor’s Office.  GLEP believes MDE has been too slow to intervene in chronically-failing schools since creation of the SRO in 2010. In fact, not a single school building has been assigned to the State Reform District in the 5 years it has been available to address our poorest-performing schools.  We look forward to a more aggressive approach to intervention and closure of chronically failing schools under this new leadership.

State Board of Education Discusses Governor’s Plan for Detroit
On Tuesday, Karen McPhee, Education Policy Advisor to Governor Snyder, made a presentation to the State Board of Education on the Governor’s proposal to improve education in the city of Detroit. Kudos to SBE member Richard Zeile for commenting that the appointment of a “Czar” to control the opening and closing of every traditional and charter school in the city is contrary to the trusting parents and supporting school choice. We couldn’t agree more!

New Study Shows Suburban Schools Underperforming
A recent study by the Pacific Research Institute (PRI), a non-partisan think-tank, using 2012-13 MEAP and MME testing data, examined the performance of those Michigan traditional public schools where one-third or fewer of the students are classified as low income. Among the study’s key findings are the fact that among the state’s 677 middle class public schools, 316 (or 47%) have more than half of the students in at least one grade level failing to meet proficiency targets; and in 534 of these schools (or 79%), there exists at least one grade where students performed below the average performance of schools with students of similar demographics. The study recommends, and GLEP agrees, that Michigan lawmakers should consider school-choice options such as education savings accounts and tax-credit programs, which have been enacted in other states. 


Legislative Update
It was announced this week that the State Senate is cancelling their traditional summer recess and will stay in session in Lansing to continue working on a legislative solution to the road funding issue.  At the same time, GLEP expects the following issues will also be addressed by the state legislature in the coming weeks and months:

  • FY ’16 School Aid Budget: With the announcement from today’s Revenue Estimating Conference that the state will have $365 million in additional funding, we can now expect a Conference Committee of key members of the Senate and the House to be appointed to work out the differences between the two different versions of this $14 billion budget bill. GLEP supports reducing categorical spending and continuing to reduce and eliminate the per-pupil equity funding gap in the state foundation allowance.
  • Prevailing Wage: Yesterday, on votes of 22-15, the Michigan Senate approved SBs 1, 2 & 3, which will repeal prevailing wage laws for public constructions projects, including schools. Click here for more information on how this impacts public schools.
  • Teacher Evaluation: SB 103 (Pavlov) has cleared the Senate Education Committee and is ready for a vote on the Senate floor. GLEP supports the bill.
  • Detroit Education Reform: All eyes remain on the Executive Office as it preps bills to enact the Governor’s proposed reforms. We are unsure who will sponsor these bills in the Senate or the House, but GLEP is prepared to support reforms that expand school choice, improve academic quality and increase school accountability.
  • K-3 Reading: The legislative workgroup on early literacy, chaired by John Kennedy (Autocam CEO) is wrapping up their work and bills to create a K-3 reading program in the state are likely to be introduced soon.
  • A-F Letter Grading: Legislation is being drafted to create an A-F letter grading system for school accountability, which will likely be introduced by Rep. Lisa Lyons (R-Alto), the sponsor of HB 5112 in 2013.

Charters Among Top High Schools in Michigan
Congratulations to Black River Public School and Grand River Prep Academy, two charter schools named this week among the BEST high schools in Michigan, according to U.S. News & World Report. Since these two schools ranked #3 and #4 in the state, and the schools coming in at #1 and #2 are both “selective enrollment” schools that only enroll the highest scoring students, Black River and Grand River Prep are the BEST open enrollment high schools in the state!! Way to go!!

GLEP to Participate in AFC Summit Next Week
GLEP’s Gary Naeyaert will be attending the National Policy Summit hosted by the American Federation for Children in New Orleans on Monday and Tuesday next week. Keynote speakers include Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI); Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA); Mary Matalin and James Carville; Betsy DeVos, AFC Chairman; and John White, Louisiana State Superintendent. A variety of breakout sessions will provide opportunities to learn from, and network with, some of the brightest education reform activists in the nation. Look for updates on Twitter and Facebook!

Annual Report Issued on Charter School Movement
According to their just-released 2014 Annual Report, the National Alliance for Charter Public Schools says 2014 was another outstanding year for the public charter school movement. The Alliance continued to solidify support for public charter schools in Congress and in state legislatures, worked closely with their national and local partner organizations to build a stronger movement, and further established themselves as the leading national nonprofit organization committed to advancing the quality, growth, and sustainability of charter schools.

“Our Children, Our Choice” campaign continues
A new public information campaign, called “Our Children, Our Choice” was launched last week by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. This series of a dozen video vignettes features parents from Detroit who support school choice. Check it out!!

Next Week

Monday, May 18

  • AFC National Policy Summit in New Orleans

Tuesday, May 19

  • AFC National Policy Summit in New Orleans
  • Senate Education Committee
  • State Board of Education Retreat

Wednesday, May 20

  • House MDE Appropriations Subcommittee

Thursday, May 21

  • House Education Committee

Friday, May 22

  • Publish “This Week & Next” e-newsletter

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