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Our take on developments in school funding and policy.

Legislative briefing on the "school choice" package - update

We’ve updated our legislative briefing on the “school choice” package of bills to reflect the passage of both SB 618 (charter caps) and SB 619 (“cyber” charters), as well as other legislative action.

The update document is in PDF format, and we will be updating it regularly as the bills make their way through the Legislature. The download link is at the end of the article.

The document is current as of 6/15/12, reflecting the bills as reported from committee or as passed by the Senate or House.

Death watch for our public schools?

The Muskegon Heights “model,” where education is turned over to charter schools and the local district remains as a shell to pay off the district’s debt, looks to be spreading to Highland Park as well. Is this an omen? What can we do?

MIPFS Legislative Update - curriculum changes (June 2012)

This message went out to our mailing list this morning. We’re reproducing it here for anyone who is not yet a subscriber to our list.

This newsletter focuses on the bills before the state House to make changes to the Michigan Merit Curriculum (the state’s high school graduation requirements). While the bills differ, they agree on eliminating the foreign language and arts requirements; they also reduce requirements in science, math, and social studies.

End of the last illusions

Past commitments to school aid fade away

Updated with final conference report

None of the school aid budget proposals for next year offer significant help to our struggling local school districts. Overall funding is essentially flat, though the dollars are allocated differently in the various proposals. For a detailed breakdown of the final budget and the alternatives as passed by each chamber, please see this companion story.

Nevertheless, the budget bills do outline some major changes in how we fund our schools:

  • Use of the School Aid Fund to support community colleges and state universities is now a permanent feature (the final conference report includes intent language to change the name of the SAF to the “Comprehensive Education Fund”);
  • The commitment to maintaining the funding stream for K-12 education has been seriously eroded – for example, with the failure to replace earmarked revenue lost when the Michigan Business Tax was ended.
Special sections: 

Muskegon Heights schools to be replaced with charters?

Both MIRS News and the Grand Rapids Press are reporting that the emergency manager running schools in Muskegon Heights has proposed replacing the public school district with a network of charter schools.

Testimony on virtual ("cyber") charter bill - SB 619, 1-18-12

The House Education Committee held more hearings today on the remainder of the bills in the so-called “parent empowerment” package. We offered testimony opposing one bill in particular: Senate Bill 619, which would remove any limits on the number or enrollment of entirely online charter schools, called “cyber schools” in the bill. While the use of online learning has been growing, the focus of this bill is on K-12 schools which have no physical location and serve students entirely over the internet.

Plus ça change....

When would you guess the following two sets of quotes were written? You might be surprised.

Departments: 

Testimony on "School choice" package to Senate Education Committee, 9-20-11

We delivered testimony on 20 September to the Senate Education Committee, asking its members not to move forward with charter expansion, new kinds of charters, or teacher privatization.

The bills before the committee would remove the numerical and geographic limits on charter schools, introduce a new kind of charter, the “conversion school,” expand “cyber schools,” and allow schools to privatize their teachers.

Legislative alert: "charter school package" could dramatically undermine our schools



Dear supporters of public education,

Much-anticipated legislation was introduced today that would dramatically reshape the public school landscape in Michigan. We cannot afford to wait and see how the legislative process works itself out - we must start making our voices heard now. Use the Michigan Parents for Schools advocacy system to contact your Senator!

The four-bill package, driven by co-sponsor Sen. Phil Pavlov (R-St. Claire), was just made available to the public today - coinciding with the start of hearings on these bills in the Senate Education committee.

The bills can only be described as an assault on traditional public schools in this state.

Achievement: Right answers, or right questions?

An interview in Education Week helps to highlight some of the issues that are crucial to education but don't get a lot of discussion.

Ed Week columnist Anthony Cody's interview with business consultant Steve Denning is worth a read for anyone interested in the content of our education.

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