Education reform passes

LANSING, Mich. - New charter and cyber schools, state takeover of failing schools, an end to some union protections for teachers and a new dropout age of 18 are considered the key elements of education reform that passed the state Legislature Saturday, according to The Detroit News.

Gov. Jennifer Granholm said she will sign the bills, which are expected to boost Michigan's chances to gain a share of $4.35 billion in Race to the Top federal stimulus funding for schools, The News reported.

The Michigan Education Association and American Federation of Teachers-Michigan support most of the package, including alternative teacher certification and use of student test data in teacher evaluations, according to The News.

The bill will create a "turnaround czar" in the Michigan Department of Education to oversee takeovers of failing schools and also allow high-quality charter public schools to become "Schools of Excellence" which could then open a second school themselves, The News reported. The Legislature is expected to make it easier to discharge "ineffective" teachers and also to establish merit pay programs for the most effective educators.

The Detroit News, "Michigan lawmakers pass education reform," Dec. 19, 2009

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "The Great Charter School Debate," Dec. 21, 2009