The first week of April will mark the beginning of the legislative spring break and, unsurprisingly, the legislature is scrambling to tie up some loose ends and check a few last boxes before they head home for a two-week hiatus. Little information has leaked about the details of what either chamber is going to put forward in their respective budget proposals (which are due out this coming week), but both the House and Senate K-12 budget subcommittees held their last week of testimony and will meet on Tuesday and Wednesday respectively to report out their versions of the 2017-18 School Aid budget.
The Michigan House of Representatives is once again debating changes to the Michigan Merit Curriculum (MMC). A four-bill package was taken up for testimony this past Tuesday in the House Workforce and Talent Development Committee. Taken together, the bills (HB 4315-18) would make changes to the requirements around algebra II; world language; visual, performing, and applied arts (VPAA); and health.
Compared to other efforts to amend the MMC, this package of bills is somewhat less sweeping in scope. Still, it represents yet another potential change in the ongoing saga of proposed MMC amendments. Here is a breakdown of each of the three concepts bing debated:
The public comment period on MDE's proposed Every Student Succeeds Act plan closed this week, but not before MASSP submitted feedback and the State Board of Education adopted a resolution during their meeting this past Tuesday to make a transparency dashboard rather than a letter grade system the default state accountability system if the legislature fails to enact something else. The State Board also made headlines when they adopted a resolution at that same meeting urging the Legislature to allow withholding of state funding from districts with Native American mascots, though the resolution has no impact on districts and legislation on the subject seems unlikely to make it through the legislature.
The House Committee on Michigan Competitiveness met Wednesday to take further testimony on HB 4192, a bill that would force Michigan to abandon our current content standards and assessments. This was the second hearing on the bill, but no vote was taken and none is currently scheduled. MASSP's Director of Government Relations Bob Kefgen was one of a number of people to testify in opposition to the bill, which saw very little support during the hearing.
The K-12 budget appropriations subcommittees in both chambers continued testimony this week on various components of the Governor's budget proposal from Michigan's Math & Science Centers Network to regional data hubs. The Senate Families, Seniors and Human Services Committee voted out SB 103-106, a problematic package of bills that would impose common, statewide definitions around truancy and absence and prescribe steps districts would have to take in the case of chronic absenteeism, but without addressing long-standing concerns from educators including a lack of follow-up from the legal system or the loophole related to home schooled students.