Amber Arellano: Challenging Work in Making Michigan Achieve for All Students

Last week, Amber Arellano, executive director of The Education Trust-Midwest, joined MiWeek host Christy McDonald to discuss the state of education in Michigan and the challenging, critical work necessary to make Michigan a top ten education state.

View the full interview on Google+:


U.S. House passes education bill reauthorization

On Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015, an update to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and replacement for No Child Left Behind.

“While there are aspects of the Every Student Succeeds Act about which we have real misgivings, our overarching goal was to make all groups of children matter and to ensure that, when any group of children consistently lags behind, somebody has to act,” said Daria Hall, Vice President for Government Affairs and Communication at The Education Trust. “We believe the bill approved by the House today meets that test.”

Specifically, the bill includes the following fundamental protections for vulnerable students:

  • State-adopted academic standards for all students, aligned with the demands of career and college;
  • Annual statewide assessments, to provide objective and comparable data on student performance;
  • Statewide accountability systems that include gap-closing goals for student outcomes, ratings based on the progress of all students and each group of students, and the expectation of action when any group of students is consistently underperforming; and
  • Attention to, and a commitment to addressing, inequities in access to ineffective, out-of-field, and inexperienced teachers.

Additional analysis of protections for vulnerable students is available in The Education Trust’s statement on House passage of the bill.

The bill passed the House 369-64. Representative Justin Amash (R – Cascade Township) was the only member of the Michigan delegation to vote against the legislation. Debate on the legislation in the U.S. Senate begins at 10am today. A live stream of the debate is available here.

Capitol Update

House Committee on Education heard testimony on Thursday aboutHouse Bill 4136 (R – Lucido). If passed, the legislation would require all high school students to get a passing grade on the civics portion of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services naturalization test, as a part of the Michigan Merit Curriculum’s civics requirement, and Michigan’s high school graduation requirement.

How would you do? Click here to take an online practice test.

Senate Committee on Education held a second hearing on Michigan’s poorest performing schools. During the hearing, lawmakers pressed Karen McPhee, education policy director for Governor Rick Snyder, and Natasha Baker, the State School Reform Officer, on how the state would improve education for the 100,000 Michigan students attending schools in the bottom five percent for student academic performance. Lawmakers also pressed for answers on why past efforts have not led to improvement in more of the low performing schools.

A third hearing on the topic will take place on Wednesday, December 9 at 8:30 am. Veronica Conforme, Chancellor of the Education Achievement Authority, and Cindy Schumacher, executive director of the Governor John Engler Center for Charter Schools at Central Michigan University, will present.

Upcoming Meetings

State Board of Education. Tuesday, December 8 at 9:30am. Ladislaus B. Dombrowski Board Room, Fourth Floor, Hannah Building.The agenda is available here.

Senate Committee on Education. Wednesday, December 9 at 8:30am. Room 110 of the Farnum Building. Agenda: Presentations on work related to the topic of Michigan’s academically failing schools.

House Appropriations Committee. Wednesday, December 9 at 9am. Room 352 of the State Capitol Building. Agenda:

  • House Bill 4388 (McCready – R) regarding an expansion of permissible use of sinking funds by school districts to include school security improvements and technology.

Click here for full update.