School reform clears Senate panel

LANSING, Mich. - A Senate committee Tuesday signed off on bills allowing more charter public schools, alternative teacher certification and ways to reform failing schools, with the full Senate expected to take up the legislation this week, according to The Associated Press.

The state House already has approved some similar measures, according an AP report printed in The (Mount Pleasant) Morning Sun. The reform measures are intended to improve Michigan's chances of winning money through the competitive Race to the Top program,

School officials said the federal stimulus money would not be a direct replacement for lost state aid, but could boost funding for school projects, according to AP.

Alternative certification is intended to attract new science and math teachers by allowing career-changers into the classroom more quickly, AP reported, while the charter school measure would allow charter operators that have demonstrated success to expand in Michigan.

The Senate also plans to take up bills that would tie teacher evaluation to student performance and test scores, according to AP. Educators and teachers unions have criticized some or all of the reform measures.

The (Mount Pleasant) Morning Sun, "Senate panel OKs school proposals," Dec. 2, 2009

Michigan Education Report, "State Ignores $600 Million for Schools," Nov. 13, 2009