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Michigan schools are failing special needs students. But we can fix it.

The following excerpt is from an guest opinion column by Dave Meador, vice chairman and chief administrative officer or DTE Energy Co. and chairman of the board of the Autism Alliance of Michigan. Read the full column here.

A new report by The Education Trust-Midwest, “Michigan’s School Funding: Crisis and Opportunity,” shows how our state has failed the equity challenge by a wide margin. When it comes to making sure our schools have the funding to ensure all students receive the services they need, we are in the bottom five in the nation.

The impact of Michigan’s failure to support students based on need affects a student’s opportunity for preparation for post-secondary education and success in employment. Cumulatively, the impact on our state’s pool of talent is catastrophic, and a major reason why many employers today are saying they can’t find workers to fill available jobs — making equitable school funding a business issue and an economic development issue.

I understand this issue personally. While fighting for my daughter, who is on the autism spectrum, to get evidenced based services required by Federal law we were often told the law is an unfunded mandate. This is a big reason why, in some years, only 50% of Michigan’s students with an IEP have left high school with a diploma compared to 90% in other states.

Under Michigan’s education system, every child should have access to a good education, no matter his or her zip code, English-speaking capability, family income or ability. Keeping this promise requires school funding that meets the need of each student. This will move our children and state forward.

Read the full column here.

Accountability for charter schools, authorizers the focus of new report

new report is reigniting a discussion of appropriate oversight and accountability for charter schools in Michigan, along with the universities, community colleges and others that are responsible for opening and overseeing charter schools. The central finding of the report is that current oversight of charter school authorizers is largely inadequate, and often out of the public eye.

Improving Oversight of Michigan Charter Schools and Their Authorizers was released by the Levin Center at Wayne State University Law School, and commissioned from the nonpartisan Citizens Research Council of Michigan. The Levin Center ‘s mission is to promote effective oversight at all levels of government – federal, state, and local.

Key findings and recommendations from the report echo research from the Education Trust-Midwest. Our 2015 report, Accountability for All: The Need for Real Charter school Authorizer Accountability in Michigan, and Accountability for All: 2016, similarly highlighted shortfalls in accountability for the authorizers overseeing the public education of nearly 10 percent of Michigan students. Yet five years later, new research find that concerning gaps in accountability and oversight remain.

Join the Ed Trust-Midwest Team

The Ed Trust-Midwest team is growing and we are looking for talented, dedicated and equity-minded future colleagues! Are you or someone you know interested? Find all open positions and apply online at edtru.st/MICHJOBS.

Open positions include:

Capital Update

HOUSE EDUCATION COMMITTEE will meet today, March 3 at 9:00 a.m. in room 521 in the House Office Building. Agenda:

  • Senate Bill 171 (Stamas, R), eliminating the sunset in the foreign language, arts or CTE requirement under the Michigan Merit Curriculum.
  • House Bill 4483 (B. Carter, D), requiring the Department of Education to create or adopt a model cursive writing curriculum, which school could elect to use.
  • HB 5257 (Johnson, R), extending the sunset and making certain changes for some public school retirees to return to work without loosing retirement benefits.
  • HB 5470 (Miller, R), eliminating quarterly, in-person presentations on financially distressed school districts to relevant legislative committees.

JOINT CAPITAL OUTLAY SUBCOMMITTEE will meet Wednesday, March 4 at 3:30 p.m. in room 519 of the House Office Building. Agenda: project presentations from Eastern Michigan University, Wayne State University, Monroe Community College, Montcalm Community College, St. Clair Community College.

SENATE UNIVERSITIES AND COMMUNITY COLLEGES APPROPRIATIONS SUBCOMMITTEE will meet Thursday, March 5 at 3:00 p.m. in the Gast Appropriations Room in the capitol building. Agenda: testimony from Catherine Brown with the Institute for College Access and Success.

Tweet of the Week

@mistudentaid:A4: People may be surprised at the doors that can open upon completing the  @FAFSA . Most times, the FAFSA is the gateway application to be considered for federal, state, institutional and sometimes private aid sources as well. #StudentsCantWaitChat  @EdTrustMidwest