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.

Senate passes SB 137; Dems call it “Republican license to bully”

On a 26-11 vote, the Senate passed SB 137 that requires schools districts to have an anti-bullying policy. The bill sparked heated debate, with Democrats criticizing the bill for the loopholes that allow bullying to still happen. Sen. Rick Jones (R-Grand Ledge) is sponsor of the bill.

As passed, the bill provides no real protection against bullying. It allows bullying comments which stem from religious beliefs; it lists no protections for homosexual or disabled students; and it excludes cyber-bullying.

Sen. Gretchen Whitmer (D-East Lansing) blasted the bill for having holes big enough “to drive a Mack truck through and was “worse than doing nothing.” In passionate support of her “no” vote on the bill, Whitmer called the legislation a “Republican license to bully.”

Senate Committee hears testimony on HB 4059

The Senate Reforms, Restructuring and Reinventing Committee heard testimony today on HB 4059 which would prohibit a school district from entering into a contract that pays union officials for time spent conducting union business. 

Video contest goes green

Consumers Energy is sponsoring a statewide student video contest that features how renewable energy can make a difference in the world. The winning school will receive a $5,000 prize for the most original video. Students can sign up through their high school administrator. Only one video per school is allowed and the deadline is November 15. Go to www.greenscenescontest.com for more information.

Senate Committee takes up HB 4059

This Wednesday, the Senate Reforms, Restructuring and Reinventing Committee will take up HB 4059 which would prohibit a school district from entering into a contract that pays union officials for time conducting union business. The bill was introduced by Rep. Marty Knollenberg (R-Troy). Supporters of the bill say that money should be going into the classroom and not into the pockets of union officials and union dues should fund union activities

Flanagan won't make teacher certification dependent on evaluations

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Mike Flanagan is now backtracking on some aspects of the administrative rule changes for teacher certification issued last month.

Citing his position as final authority, Flanagan is now assuring teachers that the new rule stripping teachers of their certification if they did not receive three consecutive evaluation ratings of “highly effective” or “effective” will be removed.

Senate passes so-called education reform bills

Today, the Senate passed SB 619, 621-623, 709, and 710—all part of the so-called education reform package. The bills passed on party-line votes with SB 619 barely squeaking by.  The bills have been referred to the House Education Committee. Only SB 624—mandating schools of choice—is left after tie bars to the bill were broken.

Despite testimony and research showing cyber schools are not an effective alternative to traditional schools, SB 619 removes all limitations on cyber schools. Democrats offered five amendments—one to limit the amount of state aid a cyber school student would receive to 50 percent; another to require a cyber school website that included management and third-party vendor contracts; and another to make the student/teacher ratio be equivalent to that of public schools—but all of them failed. Sen. Hoon-Young Hopgood (D-Taylor) chastised the Senate for “putting on the blinders” about the effectiveness of cyber schools.

School employee relatives barred from school board

Citing a blatant conflict of interest, Sen. Joe Hune (R-Hamburg) last week introduced SB 773 which would prohibit the spouse, child, parent or sibling of school employees from serving on the district’s school board. 

No sound rationale for ban on union dues deduction

In a brief 15-minute meeting today, the Senate Reforms, Restructuring and Reinventing Committee heard testimony on HB 4929 by its sponsor, Rep. Joe Haveman (R-Holland). The bill would prohibit the payroll deduction of union dues from an employee's paycheck. SB 636, a similar bill sponsored by Sen. Arlan Meekhof (R-West Olive) is also being considered by the Committee.

Will third time be the charm for RTT funds?

Michigan is making its third application to receive a Race to the Top (RTT) funds. So far, 35 states are vying for $500 million for education reform.

National Opportunity to Learn Campaign comes to Lansing Nov. 15

Mark your calendars for Tues., Nov. 15 when the National Opportunity to Learn Campaign (OTL) will be at the Radisson Hotel in Lansing to discuss the basic principles required to provide meaningful education to all of Michigan’s children. The program runs from 9 a.m. to noon. You can RSVP at www.middlecities.org .

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