A five-bill, bi-partisan package to do away with the high school portion of the Michigan Education Assessment Program (MEAP) has been introduced by Sen. Wayne Kuipers, R-Holland, chair of the Senate Education Committee, and other legislators. The Michigan Education Alliance recently submitted a report to Kuipers on the pros and cons of switching to the widely used ACT achievement test. The legislation does not name a specific replacement test, but most observers believe its language makes it likely that the ACT would be selected. Gov. Granholm said recently she was listening to the debate and had not made a final decision. The state board of education recommends maintaining the MEAP as the state test.

The legislation is now pending before the Senate Education Committee.

A bill that would allow residents to recall intermediate school district (ISD) board members for failing to meet expectations is on its way to the governor for signature or veto. The legislation, introduced by Rep. Ruth Johnson, R-Holly, would also have required popular elections for all ISD board members, rather than having them chosen by local school board officials. However, opposition to that clause forced sponsors to substitute language that would allow popular election of ISD officials only if 25 percent of registered voters in that district sign a petition to place the issue on a local ballot. A provision for a 12-year term limit on ISD board members was stripped out, as well. The bill is one of many introduced by Rep. Johnson and others aimed at reforming ISDs.

A state Senate panel is looking into the Department of Education’s decision to base one-third of its school report card grade on a school’s own self-evaluation after news reports revealed that most Detroit-area schools gave themselves to preserve their state accreditation status. Sen. Wayne Kuipers, R-Holland, chairman of the Senate Education Committee, said the committee will hold hearings, and that his initial reaction is that self-grading should be eliminated.

Michigan’s Superintendent of Public Instruction must evaluate every felony and serious misdemeanor conviction of a teacher under legislation recently signed into law by Gov. Jennifer Granholm. The law gives the state greater authority to suspend the teaching certificate of a person who has been convicted of certain specified felonies or misdemeanors, and places that authority with the state superintendent rather than with the state board of education. The superintendent is prohibited from reinstating a teaching certificate without first declaring that the teacher was fit to serve in a school. The law establishes an expedited timetable for certain procedural actions prior to suspension, and requires quarterly reports to the Legislature informing lawmakers how many teacher suspensions have occurred.

Legislation has passed the state House to authorize a refundable tax credit of up to $100 for classroom supplies that public or private elementary school teachers and administrators purchase out of their own pockets. House Bill 4261, introduced by Rep. Paul Condino, D-Southfield, grants the tax credit to teachers and administrators in secondary schools, and a companion bill, HB 4525 grants it to educators in elementary schools. In debate over the bill, some lawmakers argued that it would be better to adequately fund schools so teachers wouldn’t need to spend their own money. Those who won the day pointed to the discovery of Detroit school district warehouses that were full of supplies that never made it to schools.

After passage, the bills were referred to the Senate Finance Committee.