Education funding, curriculum changes get Governor’s signature

Gov. Snyder has signed the new 2014-15 education budget into law which provides $15.8 billion to all levels of education in Michigan. 

HB 5314, now PA 196, provides an additional $50 to $125 per student for all schools; the lowest-funded districts could receive up to $175 per student. Community colleges will see an average 3 percent increase while funding for universities will increase 5.9 percent with that amount varying by school. In order to get their entire funding, universities have to keep any tuition increases under 3.2 percent. At the other end of the education spectrum, $25 million in the reserve fund will be allocated for early childhood programs as need is determined. The deadline for such action is Dec. 15.

To see what this means for your school district or higher education institution, go to www.kidsnotceos.com. The site has been updated to reflect the budget Snyder just signed into law. All the information can be downloaded to share with members and the public.

The Governor also signed HB 4465 which becomes PA 208. It gives students more flexibility in meeting some of their high school graduation requirements and makes changes to the Michigan Merit Curriculum.

For example, a student can take welding or another career tech class with the necessary math requirements. If the Department of Education and the State Board of Education approve, the student can use those classes toward meeting the state math requirement. The student can also meet half the requirement of two years of a foreign language with a career tech or art class. Plus, foreign language courses taken before ninth grade can count for credit. Finally, a student needing a year of health and physical education credit can earn that with a half-credit of health coupled with extracurricular activities.

In addition to fulfilling the science requirement through the required chemistry or physics classes, a student can take anatomy, agricultural science, or a course that provides at least parts of either chemistry or physics objectives assessed on the Michigan Merit Exam.

The new law also requires that students be informed about career and technical offerings and about a personal curriculum option that will allow them to still earn a diploma if they diverge from normal graduation requirements.

All along, supporters of the changes have insisted that not every student is going to college and career and technical programs should be considered a viable alternative to the Merit Curriculum requirements. MEA was part of the work group reviewing graduation requirements. While MEA supports the idea of flexibility, it has concerns over changes made to foreign language requirements.