This Week in Politics in 5 Sentences (or Fewer)
The State Board of Education kicked off last week with a full-day special meeting to discuss the state's preliminary ESSA plan. The meeting was, at times, contentious as some of the more strident members pushed back against elements of the plan (a letter-grading system for schools in particular), MDE's timeline (which some argue is overly aggressive given the change in leadership at the federal level), and even tangential issues like Michigan's academic content standards (repealing the Common Core was a campaign issue for the two newly-elected members). President Donald Trump's nominee for Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, was confirmed by the US Senate this week on an unusual 51-50 vote with Vice President Mike Pence forced to step in in his capacity as President of the Senate and break a 50-50 tie when two GOP senators joined the 48 Democrats in voting against confirmation. Governor Snyder rolled out his budget on Wednesday…a budget that features a per pupil increase, a significant expansion of At Risk, and an additional $50 per pupil for high school students among other things. The Senate Education Committee closed out the legislative week with a meeting Thursday afternoon where they grilled Michigan's School Reform Officer Natasha Baker on her office's handling of a recent announcement that 38 Michigan schools were at risk of being closed due to their academic performance.