December 4, 2012

Contents of this issue:

  • Oakland County school officials lobby against reform legislation
  • EAA only Michigan finalist in federal funding competition
  • More than 97 percent of Michigan teachers rated ‘effective’
  • Birmingham board votes against expanded school choice proposal
  • Judge upholds nearly all state reforms to school pensions 

Oakland County School Officials Lobby Against Reform Legislation

PONTIAC, Mich. – Oakland County school officials are lobbying heavily against school reform legislation, according to The Oakland Press. The Press reports that officials’ efforts are concentrated on three bills, and a proposal to update the way taxpayers fund public education.

According to The Press, the three bills Oakland officials are advocating against would allow the Education Achievement Authority to oversee failing school districts throughout the state, allow parents to shut down failing schools and allow new forms of public charter and online schools.

School officials have been holding a series of meetings at Oakland-area schools to advocate that the bills be rejected, according to The Press.
“I just think (proposing all these bills) is a radical and dangerous move for Michigan to take; untried and unproven,” Oakland Schools Superintendent Vickie Markavitch told The Press.
SOURCE: The Oakland Press, “Oakland County education leaders lobby against legislation they fear would create statewide system of privately run charters,” Dec. 1, 2012
FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “A Quick Lesson on School Vouchers," Nov. 29, 2012

EAA Only Michigan Finalist in Federal Funding Competition

LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan Education Achievement Authority is the only Michigan school district to be named as one of 61 finalists in a 2012 Race to the Top competition, according to MLive.

MLive reports that the EAA’s mission is to reform the lowest-performing schools in the state, and is currently operating 15 Detroit-area schools.
According to MLive, the U.S. Department of Education will announce a total of nearly $400 million in awards to between 15 and 25 of the finalists.
SOURCE: MLive, “Michigan Education Achievement Authority is Michigan’s only finalist for ‘Race to the Top’ district funds,” Nov. 27, 2012
FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Effort to Expand State Education Authority Questioned," Nov. 27, 2012.

More Than 97 Percent of Michigan Teachers Rated ‘Effective’

LANSING, Mich. – More than 97 percent of Michigan teachers were rated “effective” or better during the 2011-12 school year, according to The Detroit News.

The News reports that even in the state’s lowest-ranked schools, the vast majority of teachers were rated as effective. According to The News, nearly 94 percent of teachers in the bottom 5 percent of state department-ranked schools were rated as effective or better.
Teacher evaluations were conducted using different methods, The News reports. More than 800 different evaluation systems were used among the state’s conventional schools and charter public schools, according to The News.
However, The News reports that all Michigan schools may soon be required to use a teacher evaluation tool developed by the Michigan Council on Teacher Effectiveness.
SOURCE: The Detroit News, “Michigan schools: 97% of teachers effective or better,” Nov. 30, 2012
FURTHER READING: Michigan Capitol Confidential, “Less Than 1 Percent of Michigan Teachers Rated ‘Ineffective,’” Dec. 1, 2012

Birmingham Board Votes Against Expanded School Choice Proposal

BIRMINGHAM, Mich. – The Birmingham Board of Education has passed a resolution opposing efforts to update how Michigan funds public education, the Birmingham Patch reports.

According to the Patch, less than a week ago the Birmingham board members co-authored a letter to the editor arguing against the school funding update and other education reform bills, saying that “These bills will gut the competitive educational excellence our communities expect and undermine the very structure which supports strong property values.”
The Patch reports that Birmingham board members discussed the school aid update at a Nov. 13 meeting, and voiced concerns that the proposal would threaten Birmingham’s status as “an elite district.”
SOURCE: Birmingham Patch, “Birmingham School Board Formally Opposes State Education Overhaul,” Nov. 30, 2012
FURTHER READING: Michigan Capitol Confidential, “Debate on Education Bills Focuses on Choice,” Dec. 1, 2012

Judge Upholds Nearly All State Reforms to School Pensions

LANSING, Mich. – Ingham County Circuit Court Judge Rosemarie Aquilina last week upheld nearly all of a state law passed to manage school employee retirement costs, according to MLive.

Aquilina temporarily blocked the retirement changes from taking effect, MLive reports, because some school employees were given little time to choose among new retirement plans created under the law.
Aquilina rejected arguments from teachers unions that the law is unconstitutional and contains contract violations, according to MLive.
MLive reports that union officials could not be reached for comment, but that it is expected they will appeal Aquilina’s ruling.
SOURCE: MLive, “Judge OKs big pension, health care changes for Michigan teachers and other school workers,” Nov. 30, 2012
FURTHER READING: Michigan Capitol Confidential, “Hefty School Employee Pensions Burden State Taxpayers, Nov. 19, 2012