Posted on 07/28/14 at 5:45pm

According to the latest KIDS COUNT Data Book published by the Baltimore-based Annie E. Casey Foundation, Michigan ranks 32nd when it comes to a child's overall well-being compared to other states. Michigan dropped one slot in ranking from last year, making it the worst-performing state in the Great Lakes region. 

Posted on 07/28/14 at 5:46pm

Michigan isn't the only state looking to establish stricter guidelines for charter school authorizers. A policy brief by the Education Commission of the States (ECS), reports that while 42 states have charter school legislation, only  33 states have authorizing bodies that are responsible for approving and overseeing charters schools. But only 15 of those states have set standards for authorizers.

Posted on 07/28/14 at 5:47pm

More families will be able to qualify for free and reduced-priced meals with the new household income guidelines established by the Michigan Department of Education (MDE). The guidelines will determine eligibility for the 2014-15 school year and will be effective through June 30, 2015.

Posted on 07/21/14 at 11:40pm

The Michigan Department of Education (MDE) is advising teachers not to change their lesson plans, despite the fact that the MEAP, instead of Smarter Balanced assessments, is being used next spring. The Legislature made that choice when they passed a state budget that requires the MEAP. MDE previously recommended Smarter Balanced.

Posted on 07/21/14 at 11:51pm

The Great Lakes Center annually releases a recommended "summer reading list" for educators. The list evaluates the so-called education reform movement and whether or not those reforms really work.

Posted on 07/15/14 at 11:23am

The Sunday, July 13 edition of the Lansing State Journal covered the issue of teacher evaluations in its "A Greater Lansing Outlook" section. Included is a column by MEA President Steve Cook, "Teachers support bills for fair evaluations," highlighting MEA's involvement in writing HB 5223 and HB 5224. 

Council recommends pilot for new statewide evaluation system

The Michigan Council for Educator Effectiveness—charged with developing an evaluation system for Michigan teachers—is recommending that the state start with a pilot program for the 2012-13 school year, rather than rushing into a new, untested program. The pilot will cost the state approximately $6 million.

SB 1040 remains unchanged

So far, no substitute has been offered to SB 1040--a sweeping attack on school employee retirement benefits.

Senate K-12 budget is more of the same: CEO’s not kids

What a difference a day makes in the Legislature when it comes to the education budget!

On Wednesday, the Senate passed a $12.7 billion K-12 budget on a 25-13 vote that made changes to the Appropriations Committee version in school aid and funding for standardized testing.

Emergency Manager repeal likely headed to court

In a split 2-2 decision, the Board of State Canvassers failed to approve the Public Act 4 referendum that would have put the repeal of the controversial Emergency Manager law on the November ballot.  That tie likely means the proponents of the repeal –which MEA supports –will be taking their case to court for a final ruling.

House passes cyber school bill, other “ed reforms”

Update: Rep. Kate Segal (D-Battle Creek) lost her request to reconsider the vote on SB 619 to expand charter schools, but she was successful in her request for a roll call vote on the immediate effect of the bill. The 57-52 vote failed to get the necessary two-thirds majority, so SB 619 will not go into effect until next spring.

April 26, 2012—House Republicans managed to strong-arm enough votes to barely pass SB 619—legislation to expand cyber schools—on a 56-54 vote. Thanks to intense lobbying efforts from MEA members and many other groups, the bill was vastly improved from the original passed by the Senate.

Fifteen amendments were offered, but only six Republican ones were adopted. There was no debate or explanation of any of the amendments. 

With the amendments, the bill now reads:

  • Through Dec. 31, 2013, there can only be five statewide authorizing bodies for cyber schools. The number can double the following year, but there can be no more than 15 after Dec. 31, 2014.
  • Cyber school enrollment can’t exceed 2,500 in the first year; not more than 5,000 in the second year; and no more than 10,000 in the third year and beyond.
  • The Department of Education can stop the authorization of any new cyber schools if the number of students enrolled is more than 1 percent of the total student enrollment in public schools for the 2012-13 school year. In 2014, the limit is 2 percent.

Teacher Day/School Family Day is May 8

Each year schools and communities observe Teacher Day/School Family Day with local celebrations that pay tribute to the contributions school employees make to our communities and to society in general.

Constitutional amendment would require full disclosure from universities

What looks suspiciously like more retribution for universities, Rep. Tom McMillin (R-Rochester Hills), Chair of the House Oversight, Ethics and Reform Committee, is proposing a constitutional amendment (HJR PP)requiring state public universities to annually report every expenditure they make. Universities would then have to create an online report showing what was bought from whom and professors’ salaries.

Still no full replacement guarantee for personal property repeal

While reforming the personal property tax (SB 1065-1072) is taking a back seat to budget debates, the Senate Tax Policy Committee continues to take testimony.

Legislature can’t agree on how schools can spend limited new monies

Budget season is in full bloom in the Legislature, with votes being held on budget bills moved by various appropriations committees. In most cases, those committees were stingier in their proposals than Gov. Snyder’s $48.2 billion proposed budget.

A budget must be in place by Sept. 30, but legislators plan on beating that deadline by having one in place by June 1.

While both the House and the Senate want to give more money to K-12 districts than the Governor does, they don't agree on how the money should be spent. Under the Senate proposal, richer districts would get $100 more per pupil and low-funded districts would get $200 more.

CSR defends middle class in SB 1040 opposition

Prior to the Senate Appropriations Retirement Subcommittee’s day-long hearing on SB 1040, the Coalition for Secure Retirement-Michigan (CSR) held a news conference denouncing the legislation for “undermining the retirement security of current and future school retirees and dramatically increasing employee contributions.” MEA is a member of CSR, which represents active and retired school employees, corrections employees and nurses—the middle class.

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