Posted on 06/29/15 at 12:26pm

This Wednesday, Brian Whiston takes over as the new State Superintendent. In an interview with the Detroit Free Press, he talks about standardized testing, school funding, charter and cyber schools, deficit schools and teacher evaluations.

Posted on 06/29/15 at 12:27pm

Michigan delegates to NEA's Representative Assembly will join more than 7,000 educators on their way to Orlando to help set education policy and talk about what's best for students. The annual meeting starts July 3 and runs through July 6.

Posted on 06/22/15 at 5:38pm

SaveOnEnergy.com is looking for the best lesson plans for teaching students about energy. By submitting your plan, you have a chance to win a $500 Teacher Grant for your classroom. Save On Energy.com will be awarding six $500 grants in the form of Visa Reward Cards to be used toward classroom materials and activities. SaveOnEnergy.com is a resource for consumers on all aspects of energy and sustainability.

Posted on 06/22/15 at 5:25pm

Lt. Gov. Brian Calley is holding meetings around the state with parents of special education students to gather input on their experiences with the state’s special education system. To reach even more parents, Calley also launched an online survey which will be available through August. 

Posted on 06/22/15 at 5:31pm

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.”

Posted on 06/30/15 at 9:19am

With the passage of Michigan’s Public Employment Relations Act in 1965, teachers finally went from begging to bargaining. Thanks to PERA, all public school employees have the right to negotiate for fair wages, quality health care benefits and decent working conditions.

Deadline extended for MIP and Social Justice Institute registration

The chance to save $25 by registering early for the 2012 Minority and Women Leadership Program (MIP) and the Social Justice Institute has been extended to Aug. 10. Until then, the registration fee is $50. After that date, the registration fee increases to $75.

And if you want to save even more, register online at the Members Only site and you’ll only be paying $40 to attend both conferences. You can also download the program.

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Michigan finally gets NCLB waiver

Michigan finally received a waiver from No Child Left Behind (NCLB) mandates. In the latest round of announcements, Michigan joins Mississippi, South Carolina and the District of Columbia. So far, 32 states have received waivers with eight states being conditionally approved.

School aid rewrite will change how the pie is sliced

One of Gov. Snyder’s goals in his April 2011 education message was to change how schools are funded and it seems a group he has appointed will help him accomplish that.

Richard McLellan, a former advisor to Gov. John Engler, is leading the group which intends to rewrite the 1979 School Aid Act with the focus on school aid following the student, rather than going to school districts. To accomplish that, the group is determined to make the School Code and the Act work together and incorporate changes that take into consideration “reforms” like unlimited charter schools and cyber schooling. McLellan is a strong supporter of school choice and vouchers. He helped draft the Kids First Yes! ballot proposal in 2000 that would have allowed school vouchers for students who are in supposedly “failing schools.” The proposal was soundly defeated by voters.

In a public hearing last week, McLellan announced the rewrite goal is to “provide more flexibility to families in sending their kids to the school district they wish their child to attend.” The group is getting its inspiration from Snyder’s education message of providing education “any time, any place, any way, any pace.” McLellan doesn’t intend to add any more money to the school aid fund which currently provides $14 billion for education, but instead focus funding based on performance—another item on Snyder’s wish list.

When McLellan took comments from the audience, the theme shifted away from money to how Michigan students are educated. State Superintendent Mike Flanagan, a resource for the group, was joined by others who encouraged the group to consider the design of the current education system and decide what a school should look like.

Legislators still tinkering with school policies

Even though SB 1040 couldn’t get anywhere in yesterday’s one-day legislative session, some other bills affecting school districts and school employees did.

Senate can’t get its act together on retirement reform

 

Sen. Phil Pavlov (R-St. Clair) and Sen. Mark Jansen (R-Grand Rapids) tried all day to convince fellow legislators that their plan to shut down the current hybrid system and put all new hires into a defined contribution plan was the logical path to reforming the retirement system.

The new plan also called for a return to retirees paying 20 percent of their premiums instead of the 10 percent the House proposed. And there was no help for paying off the system’s stranded costs caused in part by the privatization of jobs.

Their plan couldn’t get traction with legislators, but then neither did the House’s version (H-3) of SB 1040 which was defeated on a 16-22 vote. The issue now goes to a six-member conference committee appointed by Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville and House Speaker Jase Bolger.

Every Democrat voted against the bill and was joined by Republican Senators Brandenburg, Colbeck, Hune, Jansen, Jones, Meekhof, Nofs, Pappageorge, Pavlov, and Proos.

Professional Issues in Higher Education Conference

Mosaica ‘buys’ Muskegon Heights schools

The new Muskegon Heights Public School Academy will be run by Mosaica Education, Inc., a charter school management company established in 1987 and based in New York. Mosaica beat out the Leona Group, a Phoenix-based charter school management company. Mosaica currently operates six charter schools in Michigan.

Is a 'right to read' a civil liberty?

Last week, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed an unprecedented “right to read” lawsuit against the Highland Park School District claiming that the district deprived students of an opportunity to “attain basic literacy.”

Seven ballot proposals heighten importance of Nov. election

On Nov. 6, voters will be deciding the fate of seven ballot proposals--six constitutional amendments and one law repeal. The last time there was this many proposals on the ballot was 1982, when three constitutional amendments and three laws were being voted on.

SB 1040 rears its ugly head again

When the Legislature returns for one day on July 18, it's expected the Senate will take up the unfinished business of SB 1040. While the House passed its version of the bill, the Senate adjourned on June 14 before taking any action.

The Senate will take up the House version which includes the prefunding of the retirement system, giving new hires the option of a defined contribution plan, and a freezing of the retirement rate for school districts. All along, there have been Senators interested in forcing all new hires into a defined contribution plan, but at issue is the cost of such a move. The House version calls for a study analyzing the cost benefit.

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