A large number of MEA members have stepped forward to serve on a newly created committee that will help guide the state’s implementation of the new federal law that replaces the No Child Left Behind Act.
More than 300 educators applied to be part of the 24-member panel, which will provide feedback on Michigan’s plan to comply with the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Teachers with a background or interest in leadership were given preference in the selection process, according to the Michigan Department of Education (MDE).
MEA member Jane Porath, an eighth-grade math teacher at Traverse City East Middle School who was selected for the Michigan Teacher Leadership Advisory Council (MTLAC), said she wanted to play an active role in improving education policy in the state.
“I’d like to see a very process-oriented, action-oriented plan for how we can best implement ESSA in a way that benefits our students and our teachers,” said Porath, a board member of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics and the math department chair at her school.
Earlier this month, state education officials announced they were beginning discussions about Michigan’s ESSA plan with the U.S. Department of Education (USED). Federal officials are asking for more details and clarification of the state’s plan.
Michigan State Superintendent Brian Whiston said some additional details have been provided since the plan was submitted in April, but he also urged federal officials to adhere to the intent of the federal law – which returned control of large swaths of education policy to states.
“We’re focused on Michigan and we will continue to work with the feds as long as they respect what the stakeholders in Michigan have expressed in our plan to do what is best for Michigan kids,” Whiston said.
Michigan’s ESSA plan outlines new directions in assessment, accountability, supports for schools and students, and educator quality.
Still unclear is exactly what form a new accountability system will take to replace the old top-to-bottom rankings of schools and color-coded report cards.
The plan state officials submitted after 18 months of work by several action teams included three options for a school accountability system: A report card where each school would receive a single grade based on several performance measures; a report card where each performance indicator receives an A-F but no overall grade is assigned to the school; and a dashboard system that displays school performance data but no ratings of any kind are given.
The plan said that if the state Legislature implemented its own accountability system by June 30, it would use that system. Absent that, the Michigan Department of Education has indicated it would use the transparency dashboard as its default system.
The members of the new advisory panel will meet in the Lansing area in August and conduct online meetings outside of school hours during the 2017-18 school year. The two dozen teachers on MTLAC represent a cross-section of the state:
Jane Porath, Traverse City
Nicole Willison, Petoskey
Katie Lee, Alpena City
Heather Gauck, Grand Rapids
Amber Kasic, Holland
Rez Kayto, Ann Arbor
Kevin M Tobe, Haslett
Robyne C Muray, Lansing
Laura Chang, Vicksburg
Michael Whalen, Kearsley
Aimee Torok, Grand Blanc
Jeff A Croley, DeWitt
Jonathan Starkey, Sturgis
Gina Wilson, Ypsilanti
Becky Godin, Holly
Beth Gonzales, Wayne County
Matthew Homrich-Knieling, Detroit
Ciera Searcy, Detroit
Jasmine Bates, Van Buren
Chris Woods, Calumet
Gina Pepin, Escanaba
Andrew Neumann, Bay Arenac
John Barnes, Saginaw
Kymberli Wregglesworth, Onaway