This Week & Next (Sept 30, 2016)

Attorney General says failing Detroit schools can be closed
On Wednesday, Attorney General Bill Schuette issued an opinion confirming the state’s authority to close chronically-failing traditional and charter public schools. At the request of Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof (R-Olive Twp) and House Speaker Kevin Cotter (R-Mr. Pleasant), Schuette confirmed a clear reading of PA 192 that any public school included on the bottom performing 5% lists for 2014, 2015 and 2016 can and should be closed, unless such a closure would result in “undue hardship” for students because there aren’t any school options in the area. Attorney General opinions have the force of law

unless overturned by the courts.  GLEP has confirmed 31 DPS/EAA schools and 4 Detroit charter schools are on the Bottom 5% list for both 2014 and 2015, and the 2016 list is expected be announced on November 1.  The AG opinion attracted front page media attention from the Detroit Free Press, the Detroit News, and MLive; and the expected push back from Detroit Democrats who oppose accountability. The Governor’s Office has not yet commented publicly on the AG opinion.

Nevada Supreme Court upholds ESAs
Yesterday, the Nevada State Supreme Court dismissed constitutional challenges to Nevada’s education savings account (ESA) program, finding that the program is designed for educational purposes and there is no prohibition to parents using ESAs to send their children to private or religious schools. The ESA program empowers parents to use the money allocated by the state to educate a child, approximately $5,100, to seek other educational options for their children, including private school, home-school, tutoring, educational therapies, and other educational expenses. However, the Court disagreed with and struck down the existing funding mechanism for ESAs. More than 8,000 applications for ESAs have already been filed by Nevada families wishing to participate, but all have been put on hold pending resolution of the legal challenges. The Governor and the legislature has a special session scheduled this fall, within which a technical fix for ESA funding could be addressed.

Duggan: ‘Ultimate challenge’ facing Detroit schools
Mayor Mike Duggan said Tuesday he hopes the state will be a full partner on a developing plan for delivering student services in Detroit public schools, suggesting it could be “one of the greatest government redesigns Michigan has seen.” In a talk to more than 400 state employees in Lansing, Duggan sketched the outlines of a “community schools” model that would see a single government entity provide student assistance that would otherwise be the responsibility of various agencies at the city, state or federal levels. Calling it an “ultimate challenge” that must be faced, Duggan said Detroit teachers “are dealing with children who have no heated home, who haven’t had their clothes cleaned in a week and who may be hungry.” Click here to read more from The Detroit News.

Shifting to Competency-Based Education: A Tale of Three States
There is momentum growing in states across the U.S. to replace the traditional, time-based education model with a system that is better designed to equip students for the demands of the modern workforce. Our current system moves students through grade levels based primarily on their age, regardless of their depth of understanding. By not ensuring mastery, the current system can push students forward who are not yet ready, leaving them with gaps in critical knowledge or fundamental skills that must be remedied later. Concurrently, the traditional system often prevents students from excelling more quickly, engaging more deeply in their interests or pursuing additional academic challenges. There are new, more learner-centered approaches that simultaneously address challenges with the current system and illuminate a promising path forward. Competency-based education (CBE and also referred to as mastery or proficiency-based) is a system where students advance to higher levels of learning when they demonstrate mastery of concepts and skills regardless of time, place or pace. Shifting from the current system to one that is fully competency-based is comprehensive and can appear prohibitively complex. Each state has a unique policy landscape and political environment, and the path towards a competency-based system will reflect that. Policy, Pilots and the Path to Competency-Based Education: A Tale of Three States, produced by ExcelinEd in partnership with Getting Smart, features the stories of how Idaho, Utah and Florida launched CBE pilot programs. The three featured states had the same goal, but took different paths. Click here to read more from Karla Phillips in Getting Smart.

Deadline Approaching for NCSI Art Contest
The National Institute for Charter Schools is hosting the 2016 Charter Schools Art Contest, and this year they’re asking students in to illustrate what they’d like to be when they grow up. A scientist? A musician? An athlete? A doctor? President of the United States? Students are asked to create a picture of what they want to do when they’re older and send it to the NCSI for a chance to win $250! The contest is open to students in kindergarten through fifth grade. Students can use crayons, pencils, paint, chalk—whatever material they want—to show where they see themselves in the future. Entries are being accepted until October 31 and winners will be announced the week of December 12. Prizes will be awarded for the first, second, and third place winners. A special prize will also be given to the whole classroom with the most and best entries. Click here for all of the contest details.

Education Reform News Clips

Next Week (no legislative session)

Monday, October 3

Tuesday, October 4

Wednesday, October 5

Thursday, October 6

  • CMU Charter Schools Annual Conference w/Kevin Chavous in Novi

Friday, October 7

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