Flanagan: Solve your differences

LANSING, Mich. - State school Superintendent Michael Flanagan asked lawmakers and teachers unions Thursday to settle their differences and clear the way for Michigan to apply for up to $400 million in federal funding for public schools, The Detroit News reported.

To do that, Michigan must open the door to more charter schools, make it easier for qualified people to become teachers, and connect the dots between individual teachers and their students' performance on standardized tests, The News reported.

The state has until January to submit an application for Race to the Top funds, which will be allocated to states primarily on the grounds of how ready they are to implement measures to improve teacher quality, expand use of data and address failing schools.

"We have to have a number of pieces of legislation or we will not win Race to the Top," Flanagan told the House Education Committee, according to The News. "Colorado and some other states are exceeding the requirements. If we don't exceed the minimums we're going to lose the race."

The Michigan Education Association opposes some of the reform ideas, The News reported.

MEA lobbyist Dave Stafford told the committee that if teachers are evaluated on the basis of student scores, some teachers will be reluctant to take on hard-to-educate students, The News reported. He also said that the MEA opposes alternative certification of people with nonteaching degrees.

The Detroit News, "State schools head urges compromise on reforms," Nov. 13, 2009

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Our Educational Investment," Nov. 13, 2009