March 26, 2013

Contents of this issue:

  • Contracts bypassing RTW could cost districts, universities
  • School funding higher than decade ago, despite MSU prof’s claim
  • Foreign language requirement may be dropped
  • Education Achievement Authority bill passes House committee
  • Legislators consider allowing schools to opt out of Common Core 

Contracts Bypassing RTW Could Cost Districts, Universities

LANSING, Mich. – Legislation passed by the Michigan House appropriations subcommittees would limit state revenues for districts and public universities that approved employee contract extensions between Dec. 10, 2012, and March 28, according to The Oakland Press.

Rep. Al Pscholka, R-Stevensville, told The Press that schools are approving extended contracts in order to bypass the state’s new right-to-work law, which prohibits employees from being forced to pay union dues or fees as a condition of employment.
The Press reports that school funding would be reduced for districts and universities that approved a contract during that time that did not cut costs at least 10 percent compared to the previous contract.
The House School Aid Appropriations Committee passed a bill that would limit performance funding and technology infrastructure grants for school districts that passed contracts without achieving significant savings, according to The Press.
SOURCE: The Oakland Press, “Extending contracts could cost Michigan schools funding,” March 20, 2013
FURTHER READING: Michigan Capitol Confidential, “College Admits Cooperating With Unions To Sidestep Right-to-Work Law," March 22, 2013

School Funding Higher Than Decade Ago, Despite MSU Prof’s Claim

LANSING, Mich. – In a widely circulated open letter to Gov. Rick Snyder, Michigan State University Professor David Arsen claimed that Michigan school funding had fallen by 24.5 percent during the past decade — a claim that is incorrect, according to Michigan Capitol Confidential. Capitol Confidential is published by the Mackinac Center.

Arsen’s analysis excluded billions of additional school revenue, including revenue from Intermediate School Districts and revenue from the federal government that went to bolster district operating budgets, Michigan Capitol Confidential reports.
According to an analysis posted by Michigan Capitol Confidential, inflation-adjusted revenue for Michigan school districts actually increased by 1.2 percent since 2002, and is 22.3 percent higher than it was in 1995.
SOURCE: Michigan Capitol Confidential, “Despite Claims, Michigan School Funding Higher Than a Decade Ago; Way More Than Decades Past,” March 18, 2013
FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Michigan Per-Pupil Revenues Hit All-Time High in 2011; $13,400 per Student,” June 26, 2012

Foreign Language Requirement May Be Dropped

LANSING, Mich. – A bill sponsored by Rep. Phil Potvin, R-Cadillac, would let Michigan students meet Algebra 2 and foreign language course requirements by taking computer science courses, according to The Detroit News.

Potvin’s legislative director told The News that: “Many students in Michigan are looking to enter the skilled trades fields instead of going to college. Expanding ways to accomplish a student’s educational plan through greater flexibility in the graduation requirements will better prepare them for the next step in their journey.”
The Michigan Department of Education opposes easing state graduation requirements, according to The News. The bill will be considered this spring, The News reports.
SOURCE: The Detroit News, “Michigan may drop foreign language rule for schools,” March 18, 2013
FURTHER READING: Michigan Education Report, “New high school graduation requirements in action," May 6, 2008

House Passes Education Achievement Authority Bill, Adds Limits

LANSING, Mich. – A bill to expand the state’s Education Achievement Authority passed out of the Michigan House on Thursday, with 57 legislators voting in favor and 53 opposed, according to The Detroit News.

The latest version of the bill allows schools to escape EAA takeover contingent upon the approval of state officials, The News reports.
Opponents of the legislation charge that takeover exceptions could be subjective, according to The News. “It could easily lead to cherry picking,” Michigan Association of School Boards Executive Director Kathy Hayes told The News.
The bill would also limit the EAA to running up to 50 schools, according to The News.
SOURCE: The Detroit News, “House passes bill to grow school recovery district,” March 22, 2013
FURTHER READING: Michigan Votes, “2013 House Bill 4369: Codify “education achievement authority” for failed schools” 
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “EAA Bill Has Problems,” March 22, 2013

Legislators Consider Allowing Schools to Opt Out of Common Core

LANSING, Mich. – On Wednesday, the House Education Committee considered a bill that would allow schools to opt out of the common core standards the state Board of Education adopted in 2010, according to the Detroit Free Press.

The Free Press reports that experts testified before the committee that the standards aren’t rigorous and won’t improve student outcomes, among other things.
Ze’ev Wurman, a former U.S. Department of Education official, told the committee that students will actually exit high school less prepared, according to the Free Press. “You’re going to end up with more remediation,” the Free Press reports Wurman told the committee.
SOURCE: Detroit Free Press, “Experts urge Michigan lawmakers to rescind ‘mediocre’ standards for student learning,” March 20, 2013
FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “National Education Standards Will Stifle Innovation, April 26, 2011