This Week & Next (May 8, 2015)

Governor and Legislature Back to Drawing Board on Road (and School?) Funding
You likely noticed Proposal 1 was defeated by a 4:1 margin by Michigan’s voters on Tuesday, which was the worst performance by a state ballot proposal in the past 50 years. Ouch!!  This proposal, if passed, would have increased the state sales tax from 6% to 7% and would have triggered a number of other laws to go into effect, resulting in increased funding of $1.2 billion per year for road repairs, $300 million for schools, $300 million for local governments and $200 million in tax relief for the working poor. All eyes are now on Governor Rick Snyder, Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekoff and House Speaker Kevin Cotter as negotiations being anew on drafting a “Plan B” to address road repair funding needs. There is increased speculation that efforts should focus on a “roads only” solution that can be passed by the legislature. GLEP will continue our engagement on this issue, with a keen eye on the impact for K-12 education.

DPS Converts More Short Term Borrowing to Long Term Debt
DPS, the state’s largest (and most brazen) school district, “borrowed” $85 million from the State of Michigan back in August 2014, in a short term School Aid Note they pledged to repay during the current school year.  Well, the school year is coming to a close and DPS doesn’t seem to have the money to pay off their loan. So what happened?  This week the State of Michigan approved a request from the DPS Emergency Manager to simply convert this short term loan into a long-term debt that is to be repaid sometime during the next 15 years. If this type of “Popeye and Wimpy” method of financing seems familiar (“I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a cheeseburger today”) that’s because it was done in 2005 and again in 2012 – which produced about $300 million of DPS’s current $2.1 billion debt.  As discussions heat up about how to address this financially and academically bankrupt school district, we sure hope the legislature will put an end to this fiscal folly.

GLEP to participate in Education Town Hall
We are pleased GLEP has been invited to participate in an Education Town Hall event hosted by State Rep. Brian Banks (D-Detroit) at 5:30 pm on Monday, May 11 at the Wayne County Community College District – University Center located at 19305 Vernier, Harper Woods, MI 48225. The public is invited, and the following panelists will be presenting their thoughts on pressing education issues in Michigan:

  • Todd Biederwolf, Superintendent, Harper Woods Public Schools
  • Darnell Earley, Detroit Public Schools Emergency Manager
  • Rep. Sherry Gay-Dagnogo (D-Detroit)
  • Lindsay Huddleston, StudentsFirst-Michigan
  • LaMar Lemmons, Detroit Board of Education
  • Gary Naeyaert, Great Lakes Education Project
  • Dan Quisenberry, Michigan Association of Public School Academies
  • Teresa Weatherall Neal, Superintendent, Grand Rapids Public Schools

Update on Education Reform Legislation
In the remaining months before the summer legislative recess, GLEP expects the following issues to be addressed by what will be a very busy state legislature:

  • FY ’16 School Aid Budget
  • Teacher Evaluation
  • K-3 Reading
  • A-F Letter Grading
  • Authorizer Accreditation
  • Detroit Education Reform

National Charter Champions Announced
The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools recognized nine leaders from across the country as Champions for Charter Schools, thanking them for their deep support and commitment to the public charter school movement. Each year, the National Alliance honors individuals at the federal, state and local level who lead the most impactful public charter school initiatives, serve as the most visible charter school advocates and tirelessly support charters as a high-quality public school option for children and their families. Click here to read about this year’s champions.

“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 11

  • Education Town Hall in Detroit

Tuesday, May 12

Wednesday, May 13

  • House MDE Appropriations Subcommittee
  • State Board of Education “Special Meeting” at 1:00 pm
  • GLEP to present at Wayne 14th District GOP Mtg

Thursday, May 14

  • House Education Committee

Friday, May 15

  • Revenue Estimating Conference in Lansing
  • 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