Take Action! Oppose Test Changes

The Michigan Department of Education recently announced significant changes to the end-of-year assessment, the M-STEP, marking the third round of changes in six years. These changes will create disruption for teachers and students, make data less reliable for parents and policymakers, and focus far less on important skills, including critical thinking, problem solving and writing.

Click here to send a letter to Governor Snyder and State Superintendent Whiston telling them that our students and teachers need stability in the classroom – not constant change. Thank you to everyone who has already sent a letter opposing these harmful changes.

King: ‘In Too Many Places, Underperformance Is Not Only Tolerated, but Assumed’

The following excerpt is from an interview with Ed Trust President and CEO, John. B. King, Jr., and ran in The 74 on October 30. It is part of a series of conversations around school accountability. The full article is available here. 

Whether it’s at the district level, the state level, or the federal level, a lot of energy and time is consumed negotiating the terms of those adult arrangements that ought to be spent on helping students get better outcomes…

[T]hose of us who care about educational equity have not yet been successful in building a strong amount of movement around educational equity. In too many places underperformance is not only tolerated, but assumed. I can think of a district in New York, where I was the state chief, where the percentage of kids who were proficient was in the single digits. There ought to be outrage about that; folks ought to be marching in the streets.

Yet in a lot of places people say, “Well, the kids are poor, or there’s challenges in the community, or they’re from single-parent households, so what could you expect?” That added to the assumption that kids who have challenges outside of school can’t learn.

It’s present in too many places, and I don’t think those of us who care about education have done enough to get a strong coalition of the business community, civil rights community, parent groups, educator groups, and — leaders who are willing to stand up and say, “No, that’s not true. Schools can save lives. Schools could be the difference for kids. Schools can be places that help students overcome the challenges that they face outside of the classroom.”

Click here for the full article.

Educational Challenges for Military Families

As we mark the annual observance of Veterans Day this Saturday, November 11, we reflect on the sacrifices of the brave men and women of the United States military, to protect and defend our freedom. This week is also an important time to recognize the challenges facing the military in the future.

According to a brief from the Council for a Strong America, “[p]oor educational achievement is one of the biggest reasons why an estimated 71 percent of young Michiganders are unable to join the military.” At the same time that Michigan is planning to cut back on assessing student’s writing, problem solving and critical thinking skills, “one-fifth of those seeking to enlist in the Army cannot join because of low scores on the military’s entrance exam for math, literacy and problem solving,” according the brief. As a result, educational quality is not just a moral imperative – it is a matter of military preparedness.

Where Tax and Education Intersect

Last week, Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives unveiled H.R. 1, a tax reform proposal that will generate much discussion in the coming weeks.

This week on our blog, we highlight a few proposed chages that impact public education, including phasing out deductions for college tuition and student loan interest payments, tax-advantage savings for private school and eliminating deductions for teachers who purchase classroom supplies out of the own pocket.

Noteworthy News

Capital Update

The House Workforce and Talent Development Committee meets today at 9:00am in room 326 of the House Office Building. The agenda includes a discussion of House Bill 4106 (LaFave – R) which would grant academic credit for paid or unpaid student internships.

The House School Aid and Education Committee meets today at 10:30am in room 352 of the State Capitol Building. The agenda will include presentations on Shared-Time Instruction for Nonpublic Students and Jobs for Michigan Graduates.

The House Education Reform Committee will meet on Thursday, November 9 at 9:00am in room 521 of the House Office Building. The agenda will include a presentation by Excellence in Education on school accountability.

The Senate Education Committee meets Thursday, November 9 at noon in room 1300 of the Binsfeld Building. The agenda will include a discussion of:

  • HB 4665 (VerHeulen – R) regarding referrals to strict discipline academies for certain students; and
  • HB 4735 (Miller – R, Pagel – R and Kelly – R) which expands the definition of eligible institutions for postsecondary dual enrollment, amending sec. 3 of 1996 PA 160 (MCL 388.513)

The State Board of Education will meet on Tuesday, November 14, 2017. The agenda for the meeting will be available here.

Tweet of the Week

The importance of high standards, accountability & going beyond ratings to support improvement. @johnbking @the74 #miched