Senate education reform package still alive in House Education Committee

The Senate’s so-called education reform package (SB 618-624) is still being debated in the House Education Committee. On Wednesday, the Committee took up SB 621, 622, 709 and 710.

SB 621 expands the list of providers of classes to private and home-schooled students beyond an ISD to a contiguous district or charter school. SB 622, 709 and 710 expands dual enrollment provisions under the Post-Secondary Enrollment Act.

Supporting testimony praised the legislation for offering more educational opportunities to all Michigan students and being fiscally prudent—all at the same time. Committee members, however, repeatedly questioned the financial aspects of the bills—especially the rate being charged students by community colleges and universities.

John Duffy, MEA Local 1 President and 6-E Coordinating Council Chairperson, spoke in opposition to the bills, but with a focus on SB 619 which expands cyber schools. Criticizing them for being motivated solely by profit, Duffy used a local example to make his point.

“Republicans and the Mackinac Center criticize the Utica superintendent for the $300,000 salary she earns for overseeing the district and its students and administrators. They claim it’s a waste of taxpayer dollars. Yet, the CEO of K12, the largest for-profit charter school management company in the country, earns $5 million and for supervising fewer students and taking in record profits at the expense of tax dollars and state aid.  And that’s not a waste?”

Duffy went on to criticize the other pieces of legislation for subsidizing the education of home-schooled and private school students with public school money. “It’s an assault on public education.”

When asked how much money is needed to fund public schools, Duffy replied,” How about we start with the $1 billion that was taken away from them?”

MEA President Steve Cook submitted written testimony on SB 619 prior to the holidays, which can be read at here.