This Week & Next (Oct 17, 2014)

Early literacy bills earn support from Grand Rapids Public Schools
The Grand Rapids Public Schools is poised to become the first traditional school district to publicly endorse HB 5111 (Price) and HB 5144 (Stallworth), bills aimed at improving early literacy through a comprehensive approach including early screening and assessments, reading improvement plans, parental involvement and potential retention (as a last resort). According to this MLive article, GRPS Superintendent Teresa Weatherall Neal says district will support the bills based on changes made to the bills in the legislature. As one of the state’s largest school districts, the support of GRPS for these bills would be very meaningful. Also, Bridge Magazine published a guest editorial viewpoint from GLEP this week which explains changes in the bills since introduction and urging the legislature to pass these bills before the end of the year.
A-F Letter Grading Passes in Arkansas
Most Arkansas public schools will soon be graded in much the same way as students. The Arkansas Board of Education on Thursday approved a new A-through-F rating system that will replace the older practice of rating schools on a 1-to-5 scale. The system mirrors the approach GLEP supports in HB 5112 (Lyons), which would adopt this same type of school accountability system in Michigan. Rather than using MDE’s convoluted and confusing “Rainbow Report Card”, this A-F system relies on proficiency and growth data to judge schools. Currently, 15 states use the A-through-F rating system, including Florida, Alabama, Texas and Oklahoma, according to the Denver-based Education Commission of the States.

K-12 spending gets even more attention in Michigan
The issue of education funding remains the hottest topic in the state, with two new reports and continuing media coverage this week. According to a new report from the Citizens Research Council, the state’s leading non-partisan research organization, overall state investment in K-12 education has gone up by over $1 billion under Governor Snyder and the Republican legislature.  A national study was also released this week by the “progressive” Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, in which authors claim Michigan’s K-12 education funding is 9.5% lower than it was in 2007 (prior to the recession) – yet this study uses inflation-adjusted numbers and only includes the per-pupil foundation grant, which represents about 65% of all K-12 spending. Michigan Public Radio weighed in as well, with a “he said, she said” story that highlights competing claims here. GLEP will be updating the MiKidsFirst.Com website early next week to include state spending for FY ’14-15, which is the highest funding level in history.

Michigan teachers the highest paid in the country
Michigan teachers enjoy the highest median salaries in the nation when adjusted for cost of living, according to a reportfrom WalletHub, a personal finance social network. The report ranked Michigan 10th best in the nation for average starting salaries and first for median annual salaries. Michigan also ranked 18th for the average number of hours worked by teachers. Food for thought.

National group grades Snyder & Schauer on key education issues
The Center for Education Reform, the nation’s leading voice for education reform, has created a web-based voter’s guide (Education 50) to evaluate candidates for Governor in all 50 states on key education issues such as charter schools, school choice and teacher quality. Click here for the comparison confirming Governor Snyder’s support for these key issues compared to Mark Schauer’s opposition.

Scholarship student urges Florida teachers union to drop scholarship lawsuit
A new video spotlighting a former Florida tax credit scholarship student is urging the Florida teachers union and Florida School Boards Association to drop its lawsuit against the nation’s largest private school choice program. The ad first appeared in Florida TV markets during this week’s gubernatorial debate between Charlie Crist and Rick Scott. Sponsored by the Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO), the video features Denisha Merriweather, who became the first member of her family to graduate from college and is now headed to graduate school. The 13-year-old scholarship program serves more than 68,000 students this year, two-thirds of them black or Hispanic.

UPDATE: Still No Superintendents Have Signed the “School Accountability Pledge”
MAPSA’s “School Accountability Pledge” is still available for signing by any traditional public school superintendent willing to operate under same accountability, transparency and oversight laws as Michigan’s charter public schools. We keep waiting for just one superintendent to sign it, and when they do we’ll let you know right away!

Education Reform News Clips

Next Week

Monday, October 20

  • First school aid payments made to school districts

Tuesday, October 21

Wednesday, October 22

  • Senate Education Committee

Thursday, October 23

  • Education Town Hall at Wayne County Community College

Friday, October 24

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