LANSING, Mich. - School reform measures that would allow parents and teachers to open public "neighborhood schools" passed the Senate Education Committee on Thursday, according to the Michigan Information & Research Service Inc.

The package of bills would allow failing schools to reorganize if a majority of parents or teachers voted to do so, MIRS reported. They would operate under the oversight of a school authorizer.

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives has passed its own school reform package, under which a state-appointed "school reform chief" would have the authority to make changes in failing schools, according to MIRS.

Some type of education reform is needed by December if Michigan wants to qualify for federal "Race to the Top" education stimulus money, Senate Education Chairman Wayne Kuipers, R-Holland, told MIRS.

Critics said the Senate plan would allow organizers to sidestep the existing cap on charter public schools, but supporters said it would give parents more choice in education, MIRS reported.

Michigan Information & Research Service Inc, "Senate Panel Moves Neighborhood Schools Package," Aug. 27, 2009 (Subscription required)

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "A Recipe for Failing Schools," Aug. 27, 2009