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Confirmation hearing for Betsy DeVos tonight

Later today, Education secretary nominee Betsy DeVos will face questioning from U.S. Senators during her confirmation hearing before the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP), beginning at 5 PM EST. A live stream of the hearing will be available here.

As described in our statement following the November nomination of DeVos, if confirmed, she will become Secretary of Education at a critical time. In the next few years, the U.S. Department of Education will play a pivotal leadership role in the implementation of ESSA. This leadership will be critical to ensuring that all states take seriously their responsibility to guarantee that every student has access to the high-quality education that he or she deserves in our country – and fulfills the promise of the American dream of equal opportunity for all children.

In a recent blog post, Kelly McManus of The Education Trust highlighted what we’ll be listening for during Betsy DeVos’ confirmation hearing. Read the full post here.

View the confirmation hearing today at 5 PM here.

State of the State Preview

Tonight, Governor Snyder will deliver his seventh State of the State address in the state House chambers, beginning at 7 PM. A live stream of the address will be available here.

We’ll be listening closely for how Governor Snyder speaks to Michigan’s education sector and the need for real improvement. In particular, we are interested to hear how various efforts – including the Governor’s 21st Century Education Commission and the Department of Education’s plan to implement the Every Student Succeeds Act – can build upon recent progress to produce better outcomes for students.

In recent years, Michigan has adopted high career- and college-ready academic standards, moved to a rigorous assessment system and focused on early literacy and educator effectiveness. These are all important steps, but require thoughtful implementation, ongoing support for educators and students, consistency from state leaders, meaningful and honest accountability, and targeted investments in evidence-based strategies.

View the 2017 State of the State address here.

Noteworthy News

Capital Update

Governor Snyder delivers his 2017 State of the State address tonight, beginning at 7 PM, in the state House chambers. The address will also be streamed live here.

The January Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference was held last week to issue revenue forecasts for the next three years. For the current fiscal year, the General Fund is expected to have $151.6 million more than previously expected and the School Aid Fund is projected to increase $54.6 million above earlier estimates. The full report is available here.

It is worth noting that these projections are not nearly sufficient to offset a December proposal by Governor Snyder to use the School Aid Fund for income tax rebates, which would divert more than $425 million from Michigan schools each year. It would also not be sufficient to cover decreased school funding that would result from plan to phase out the state income tax over 40 years, recently introduced by Rep. Lee Chatfield (R – 107) in House Bill 4001. The income tax generates about $9 billion.

The State Board of Education met last week and elected officers, who will serve two-year terms. Officers are:

Elections for board vice president have been tabled until the February 14 meeting.

During the meeting, the Department of Education also announced that they intend to change the eighth-grade end-of-year test for the fourth time in four years. Notably, the new test – the College Board’s PSAT 8/9 – is the same test taken by ninth grade students and does not align to the content that students are supposed to learn by the end of the eighth grade.

State Superintendent Brian Whiston also reaffirmed his intention to implement a new school accountability system, based on A – F letter grades.

Video of the meeting is available here.

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