Legislative Alert

Earlier personal curriculum

Students could request a modified math curriculum earlier in their high school career under House Bill 6247, introduced by Rep. Hoon-Yung Hopgood, D-Taylor, and approved by the House of Representatives on Sept. 25. The bill would allow students who have completed ninth grade and 1.5 credits in math to request a "personal curriculum," allowing them to receive a high school diploma based on 3.5 math credits rather than the four credits that state law requires.

In the past, students could not request a personal curriculum until they had successfully completed 2.5 credits in math. Parents and some school officials have said in hearings around the state that Michigan's new high school math requirements are too rigorous for some students.

Students can request curriculum modifications in other subjects as well. Currently, modifications are developed by a group including the student, a parent or guardian and a school counselor or psychologist. House Bill 6247 would add one of the student's high school teachers to that group.

The bill was adopted by the House in an 88-15 vote.

Track this item online at: www.michiganvotes.org/2008-HB-6247


Charter school issue added to bus driver bill

Proposed legislation would allow a school district to share the criminal background check required for substitute bus drivers with another school district if the bus driver gives permission. Senate Bill 1252, introduced in April by Sen. John Gleason, D-Flushing, was approved by the Senate in a 20-18 vote. The sharing could save time and money in cases when a driver works for more than one district, a Senate Fiscal Analysis said. Background checks cost about $50 each.

The voting reflected disagreement not over the bus driver checks, but over an amendment added to the bill regarding charter public schools. The amendment would continue to allow charter schools to transfer their enrolled pupils to another public school and allow the receiving school to give enrollment priority to those students.

In effect, the amendment would continue to help K-8 charter schools to ensure their graduating eighth graders a spot in a public charter high school by "transferring" them to the school. This procedure is already allowed under a provision of Public Act 1 of 2008, but that provision was scheduled to be repealed as of Dec. 1, 2008. The amendment would remove the repeal.

The bill was referred to the House Education Committee.

Track this bill online at: www.michiganvotes.org/2008-SB-1252


Report travel expenses

Elected officials, including board of education members, would have to report the source of all travel expenses greater than $100 that are paid by an outside entity if House Bill  4142 is adopted by the Legislature.

Introduced by Rep. Steve Bieda, D-Warren, in 2007, the bill initially put the threshold at $50. It was reported out of the House Ethics and Elections Committee on Sept. 23 with a recommendation that the threshold be increased to $100 and that House members approve it.

The measure would require that elected officials report twice a year any contributions or subsidies given to them or to immediate family members by outside groups for travel. They would not have to report contributions from the unit of government which they serve. The report would include the duration, nature and purpose of the travel. Reports would be open to the public.

Track this bill online at: www.michiganvotes.org/2008-HB-4142