More changes to public education in Snyder’s new proposals

Last year’s legislative onslaught of so-called education reform proposals shouldn’t have come as a surprise. In his April 2011 special message on education reform, Gov. Snyder gave marching orders to legislators to lift the charter school cap, overhaul teacher tenure, tie teacher evaluation to student performance, encourage unchecked growth of cyber schools and tie funding to student achievement.

Now, eight months later, Snyder has updated his list of education reform proposals to reflect legislative changes. He’s also added some new initiatives which give us a glimpse into this year’s political agenda. His emphasis is still on alternative forms of education—especially cyber schools—which dismantle public education and sell it off to private companies.

With the goal of creating a “public school system that reaches higher and seeks to compete in the global economy,” some of Snyder’s new proposals call for:

  • Requiring school districts to use school aid funds to provide “school-owned internet-connected devices."

  • Use the "Education Achievement Authority" to aggressively deal with academically and financially failing school districts.

  • Expand the pool of available K-12 teachers to adjunct instructors and university or community college faculty.

  • Allow multiple public or non-public schools to use a public school building.

  • Create new forms of schools such as international cultural schools, employer-sponsored schools and single-gender schools.

Just as in his first message, the Governor doesn’t provide many specifics on how these projects will be funded other than to say school aid funds will be used—that’s the same school aid fund that was slashed so CEOs could have their tax breaks. The State Board of Education is recommending that any budget surpluses—hundreds of millions for the School Aid and General Fund—be used to help school districts meet the new set of reforms. Snyder has hinted that there may be no cuts to education funding in his new budget.

Last spring, Snyder’s proposals formed the playbook for the Legislature’s agenda. Will it happen again?