Bob Kefgen's blog
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.
Discussion is ongoing in both chambers related to school accountability systems and changing the current state law on intervention in academically struggling schools (this marks the fifth straight week for testimony in the Senate Education Committee and the second week for the House Education Reform Committee). Where these discussions are going to lead and what the timeline is for action is unclear…especially since school accountability is also wrapped up in the discussion on Michigan’s ESSA plan, which is currently out in a draft form for public comment.
Early Thursday morning, the state House of Representatives defeated a bill that would have rolled back the state's income tax rate—at a cost to the state's general fund of over $1 billion—and put even greater pressure on the School Aid Fund to absorb general fund costs. The narrow defeat (52 yeas to 55 nays) came after a marathon session that started on Wednesday afternoon, but with at least three more months to go before 2017-2018 budgets are finalized, this issue could resurface.