The fourth (and hopefully final) week of Lame Duck is underway, with legislation mandating letter grading for schools narrowly winning passage in the Senate, a new drain on School Aid Fund dollars being promoted, and rekindled consideration of new education savings accounts that again try to move public money to private entities.
Senate Passes A-F Bill
HB 5526, a bill requiring an A-F grading system for Michigan public schools, passed the State Senate last night, after Gov. Snyder helped lobby for key votes among Senate Republicans. The bill passed despite opposition from the Michigan Department of Education, which warned prior to the vote that the proposed system might violate the federal “Every Student Succeeds Act” (ESSA) and threaten Michigan’s federal education funding.
While more analysis is forthcoming from MEA about the details of the legislation, it’s important to note that this bill is a vast improvement from an earlier version in Lame Duck. While this is still a bad bill that doesn’t help Michigan students or schools, it no longer contains a new commission to oversee the system that’s unaccountable to the incoming State Board and Governor. MDE retains control over the system and we will work with them (and anyone else willing to work on the issue) to use this system to truly support struggling schools.
New Raid Proposed on School Aid Fund
Michigan’s School Aid Fund should be getting $180 million in new funding from online sales tax revenue – but a new proposal would divert that money away from schools to road and environmental projects.
The loss of these new funds – which would work out to about $120 per student – misses an opportunity to close the nearly $2,000 per pupil gap in K-12 funding determined by the School Finance Research Collaborative’s adequacy study.
MEA has produced charts showing the potential funding lost for school districts given current pupil counts – and have calculated how much that means in every State House and State Senate district. Contact your legislator and share those district figures with them – urge them to vote against this new funding scheme.
Long-Dormant Bills on Education Savings Accounts May See Movement
A package of bills that passed the Senate over a year ago may have new life, as rumor is the House will consider SBs 544-548, which would create an expensive new government bureaucracy to fund pay-to-play public school services and extracurricular fees through parent savings plans. The plan also could represent a slippery slope towards additional public money making its way to private entities. Read more about the legislation and contact your State Representative to oppose SBs 544-548.
Release Time Bill Still Pending in House
Please continue to contact your State Representatives to oppose the bills that would ban union release time – learn more and take action here.
MEA President Urges Snyder to Stand Up for Democracy
This year’s lame duck legislative session has stood out for its disgraceful attacks on democracy and attempts to flout the will of Michigan voters. In a Dec. 19 “Labor Voices” column in The Detroit News, MEA President Paula Herbart called on Gov. Rick Snyder to listen to the people. Read Herbart’s column.