Issues and legislation

Information on the current legislation and legislative news.

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Education Reform 


 

'3 percent case' sent back to MI Court of Appeals for reconsideration

The Michigan Supreme Court is sending the "3 percent case" back to the Michigan Court of Appeals for reconsideration. The case involves the constitutionality of PA 75 of 2010 to require all school employees to pay an extra 3 percent into a fund for retiree health insurance. The Court vacated the prior ruling of the Michigan Court of Appeals which agreed with the Court of Claims that the practice is unconstitutional. The state Supreme Court is sending the case back there for reconsideration.  

The Court of Appeals must also consider what issues in PA 75 have been superseded by the Supreme Court's decision in the PA 300 case. And they are to deal with any outstanding issues that may emerge regarding PA 75 that were not affected by PA 300.

ESEA rewrite will finally get a hearing on U.S. Senate floor

The Senate's version of the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Act (ESEA) will finally get a hearing on the full U.S. Senate floor starting tomorrow on July 7. In mid-April, the Senate Education Committee approved the Every Child Achieves Act (ECAA) a week after it was introduced by co-sponsors Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA). 

Snyder would support changes to SB 103

Two weeks ago, Gov. Snyder's education advisor led House Education Committee members to believe that the Governor opposed SB 103, the teacher evaluation bill sponsored by Sen. Phil Pavlov (R-St. Clair), chair of the Senate Education Committee. Under direct questioning, Karen McPhee replied that Snyder did not support the bill in its present form. 

However, last week his media spokesperson said that Gov. Snyder has taken no position on SB 103, but would support some changes to the bill. So far, the bill has had four hearings in Committee that still has not voted to discharge the bill.

Pavlov's bill emphasizes local control with districts allowed to choose whatever evaluation tool they wish. There are no provisions for training and no standards by which to judge those evaluation tools. MEA lobbyist Christina Canfield spoke in opposition to the bill, saying the bill is not in the best interest of teachers or children.

Last year, the House plan for teacher evaluations was very different from SB 103. That set of evaluation bills never made it through lame duck last year. Those bills set standards for the evaluation tools districts use; emphasized training for evaluators; and created a much fairer evaluation system for teachers. The MEA remains hopeful this year's House Education Committee will introduce similar amendments to SB 103.

Court rules that educators aren’t police officers when reporting abuse

The U.S. Supreme Court has unanimously ruled that teachers and educators should not be put in law enforcement roles when they carry out their duty of reporting suspected child abuse or neglect. The National Education Association (NEA) filed an amicus brief in the case, Ohio v. Clark, stating that “educators’ valuable role as mandatory reporters and caregivers should not be compromised.”

SAT replaces ACT next year as indicator of college readiness

More changes in testing are in store for Michigan students. This year it was the Michigan Student Test of Educational Progress (M-STEP); next year, on April 12, 2016, high school  juniors will be taking the SAT for the first time, instead of the ACT, as an indicator of how prepared they are for college. Earlier this year, the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) awarded a three-year contract to the College Board that will administer the SAT for free.

 

Teacher evaluation bill is on House Education’s agenda this week

The House Education Committee will be taking up teacher evaluation legislation this week, but the current Senate version still doesn’t provide a teacher evaluation system that is based on research, protects teachers or is a fair process.

Senate passes teacher evaluation bill with some improvements

The Senate passed its version of a teacher and administration evaluation bill last week. SB 103 is very different from the 2014 House bills (HB 5223 and HB 5224) which received wide support, but those bills did not make it through the Senate Education Committee last year. 

Snyder proposes two separate school districts for Detroit

Gov. Snyder’s K-12 education plan to restructure Detroit splits the district into two separate ones—one to pay off the $483 million debt, and one to oversee enrollment and other district functions.

President Cook sends members’ comments on M-STEP testing to State Board of Education

In a memo to the State Board of Education, MEA President Steve Cook again addresses the continued issues members are having trying to implement the Michigan Student Test of Educational Progress (M-STEP). Accompanying the memo is a sample of some of the hundreds of comments MEA members provided about their experience with the testing. The memo is a follow-up to Cook’s open letter last week to Gov. Snyder.

MEA urges postponement in using M-STEP results because of testing problems

EAST LANSING, Mich., April 21, 2015 — In an open letter to Gov. Snyder and state education stakeholders, MEA President Steve Cook is asking that data from the Michigan Student Test of Educational Progress (M-STEP) not be used this year in teacher evaluations, district rankings, or for any other purposes. The letter details numerous problems associated with the test, which is now in its second week of implementation in school districts across the state.

Cook said, “After just five days, we’re hearing loud and clear from our members just some of the many problems associated with M-STEP. It’s impossible to believe that this test could be an accurate measure of student growth. We can’t use unreliable data to judge teachers and school districts.”

The letter points out that M-STEP is taking huge amounts of time away from classroom instruction and curriculum. In some cases, a whole school day is absorbed with testing, when only a few hours were scheduled. Teachers reported that students are not finishing the test and were “locked out” of completing the test later.

Since M-STEP is an online test, computers and computer labs are unavailable to other students and classes to do their work. In many schools, computer labs are in school libraries which are now off limits during the testing period.

In too many cases, a school district’s infrastructure isn’t able to provide the technology needed for administration of M-STEP. A middle school test coordinator spent the first days of the testing window working with computers locking up or crashing; insufficient server capacity, equipment failures, and software issues. “It seemed M-STEP became an assessment of a student’s ability to manipulate the technology, and less a test of what a student learned.”

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