Week one of lame duck is in the books and while MPSERS is certainly foremost in many people's minds, there are plenty of other issues at stake as the legislature wraps up its 2015-2016 session. An income tax proposal has surfaced that could end up costing schools hundreds of millions of dollars; seclusion/restraint legislation is still out there; zero tolerance reform is also a possibility. Lets walk down the list of what's happening so far this lame duck session.
Income Tax Shift
Last week, we walked through the pre-Lame Duck rumors about a possible MPSERS reform bill. This past Wednesday, the Senate Appropriations Committee reported out a three bill package that would close the MPSERS pension system for new hires and instead move them into a 401k-style system. Those bills are now awaiting a vote on the Senate floor, but no vote has yet materialized.
Differentiating is imperative for learner success and is critical if we wish to close the achievement gaps that exist within our schools. When differentiation is present educators have clarity over what we want students to be able to DO and KNOW (learning targets connected to standards) and HOW we will know they have learned it (assessment thought success criteria and performance tasks). Once this is clear we can then focus on differentiating the CONTENT, PROCESS, PRODUCT, and ENVIRONMENT.
Written by Donna Boughner, Principal at Grayling High School and Region 2 Representative on the MASSP Board of Directors
Our school system is very fortunate to be recognized throughout the state of Michigan as a district that is "beating the odds." We believe in a collaborative learning environment to do what is best for all students. We have invested time and money into quality professional development specific to understanding poverty, improving grading practices for learning, and expanding our toolbox of instructional best practices.
Senate action on MPSERS seems imminent. The discussion is currently centered on closing out the MPSERS system for new hires only and transitioning these employees into a 401(k) style plan. Regardless, the potential for unintended consequences is high when a bill like this moves hastily.
Michigan's public school employee retirement system is complex. Any changes need to be carefully considered lest they raise costs for schools, impact benefits for current employees, or hurt the future of the education profession. Lame Duck is NOT the time to make sweeping changes.