This Week in Politics in 5 Sentences (or Fewer)

Bob Kefgen's picture

On Tuesday, the House Law and Justice Committee passed a trio of bills (HB 5130-32) that would change the law around expulsion and school attendance of a pupil convicted of criminal sexual conduct when the victim attends the same school. Under the revised bills, being found guilty by the courts of criminal sexual conduct against another student in the school (even if the incident occurred off-campus) would be a zero tolerance offense (subject to the seven factors that schools are now required to consider in all suspension or expulsion cases). The House Judiciary Committee took its' first testimony Tuesday on a package of Senate bills (SB 103-106) to overhaul Michigan's truancy statute, which – while well intentioned – are nevertheless fraught with problems since the common definitions and policies they they would impose would be unworkable in many districts (e.g. a definition of "excused absence" so specific that it could force districts to count some absences unexcused even with a note or call from a parent). Finally, the House Education Reform Committee took up two issues; first, reporting out legislation that would repeal the state's current school accountability law (commonly referred to as Section 1280c) and instead impose an A-F letter grade-based accountability system on schools (despite Michigan's recent switch to a Parent Dashboard as part of the state's plan to comply with ESSA) and second, taking testimony but not voting an eight bill package to overhaul the requirements for Michigan's teacher preparation programs, which is likely to be the subject of further committee debate in the coming weeks. The bills (HB 5598-65) would make a variety of significant changes to the requirements that teacher preparation programs would have to fulfill in order to garner state approval, including requiring that programs provide a degree warranty, offer more diverse teaching experiences to prospective teachers, and provide instruction in things like classroom management and using data to inform instruction (a full summary of the ball package is available here).