Accountability for All 2016

Michigan charter school authorizers’ performance overall has improved marginally over the last year, but remains terribly low compared to leading education states’ charter sectors. That’s one of the key findings from a new report from the nonpartisan Education Trust-Midwest.

Three Michigan public universities – Northern Michigan University (NMU), Eastern Michigan University (EMU) and Saginaw Valley State University (SVSU) – are the state’s worst performing authorizers today. Indeed, their performance is so low, about 80 percent of charter districts authorized by NMU, EMU and SVSU perform below Detroit Public Schools for African American students in science, according state data. About 19,000 students attend schools authorized by NMU, SVSU and EMU today.

The report also proposes Michigan adopts its first performance-based system of authorizing, in which authorizers earn the privilege of taking millions of taxpayer dollars to open, expand and maintain public charter schools in the state.  ETM also celebrates high-performing authorizers such as Grand Rapids Public Schools, Washtenaw Intermediate School District and Grand Valley State University.

“Charter authorizing should be a privilege — not an entitlement — that should be earned and maintained by consistently strong performance,” said Amber Arellano, executive director of Education Trust-Midwest. “Learning matters in the lives of children; it needs to matter for Michigan school charter authorizers, too.”

As Arellano told Michigan Public Radio last week, Ed Trust-Midwest’s new report calls on State Superintendent Brian Whiston and the Michigan Legislature to finally hold authorizers accountable for their schools’ performance.  Said Arellano: “This is about leadership.”

Governor Proposes Key Education Investments

On Wednesday, Governor Snyder presented his 2016-17 executive budget recommendation. His school aid budget includes a two percent increase from last year, totaling just over $14 billion. The budget proposal includes:

  • An increase of $150 million to the foundation allowance, which sets per pupil funding. Under the Governor’s recommendation, per pupil funding would range $7,511 – $8,229.
  • Continued investment of nearly $24 million for early literacy. Funding would go to professional development, diagnostic tools, teacher coaches and early interventions. The Education Trust-Midwest believes that strategic investments in evidence-based policies to improve early literacy are key for making Michigan a top ten education state.
  • Continued investment in educator evaluations of $10 million. Teaching quality is the most significant in-school factor for improving student learning. Last year, EdTrust-Midwest was proud to stand with Governor Snyder and legislative leaders in passing Senate Bill 103 (Pavlov – R), which established a new framework for quality evaluations and support. Continued investment in educator evaluations and support is necessary for the challenging work of implementation.
  • Short-term daily operations support for Detroit Public Schools and $72 million per year to fund a new Detroit district. Funds would come from tobacco settlement revenue and continue for 10 years.

An initial investment of $19.3 million for Flint schoolchildren, expanding early education programs, nutritional services and resources for monitoring the social, behavioral and developmental needs of children in Flint. An additional $9 million is also proposed for Michigan school districts to test school water for lead contamination.

Capital Update

This morning, the Senate Education Committee joint with Senate Appropriations K-12, School Aid & Education Subcommittee met for a presentation by Brian Whiston, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, related to topics of Michigan’s academically failing schools and the federal reauthorization of Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

Committee on Government Affairs. Last week, the committee heard testimony on SBs 710 and 711(Hansen – R), both related to Detroit Public Schools, for the second time. Click for video of the February 9 hearing and the February 4 hearing.

Another hearing on the legislation is scheduled for today, February 16 at 12:30 pm in the Senate Hearing Room – Boji Tower. Click here for a live stream of the hearing.

During the State Board of Education meeting last week, State Superintendent Brian Whiston presented proposed goals and strategies for making Michigan a top 10 education state in 10 years. Click here for a video of the meeting.

Upcoming Meetings:
House Appropriations School Aid Subcommittee. Tuesday, February 16 at 10:30 am. Room 426 of the State Capitol Building. Agenda: Overview of the FY 2016-17 Executive Budget Recommendation for School Aid.

Senate Appropriations K-12, School Aid & Education Subcommittee. Wednesday, February 17 at 8:30 am. Appropriations Room, 3rd Floor of the State Capitol Building. Agenda: Overview of the Governor’s FY 2016-17 and FY 2017-18 Budget Recommendations for School Aid/K-12 and the Michigan Department of Education.

House Appropriations Education Subcommittee. Wednesday, February 17 at 10:30 am. Room 426 of the State Capitol Building. Agenda: Overview of the FY 2016-17 Executive Budget Recommendation for the Department of Education.

Please click here to read full Michigan Education Update.