Gov. signs five bill education packagePublished 10:19am Tuesday, January 5, 2010
By JESSICA SIEFF
Niles Daily Star
As expected, Gov. Granholm signed legislation that would affect state education Monday, as many superintendents and district boards of education continued to weigh their signatures to a memorandum of understanding that could further the state’s chances for a few extra federal dollars.
“These reforms make it clear that improving student achievement will be the driving force in Michigan’s education system,” Granholm said. “We will make student academic growth a key part of how we evaluate teachers, principals and schools, and in the process, enable Michigan to successfully compete for federal Race to the Top funds.”
The five-bill package includes reforms that would all the state to step in when it comes to its lowest performing schools, open the door to the opportunity for more charter schools, require certification for administrators, annual evaluations of teachers and administrators, “create alternative routes to teacher certification,” and raise the drop out age from 16 to 18, to take effect with current sixth grade students.
While many area superintendents said they were not opposed to the reforms, they were skeptical and curious of the details surrounding them, such as to the measures of those teacher evaluations and – should the reforms bolster Michigan to recipient of – just how much that money could cost districts, already on a lean budget, to meet mandates that also have yet to be outlined.
The concerns come out of districts already struggling with reductions in state funding, which came about after the governor and state legislators suffered through yet another budget crisis – a fact that Granholm seems to ignore, replaced with optimism at the opportunity for some federal money.
“These education reforms will make it possible for children throughout Michigan to receive the first-class, 21st century education they need to compete in a global economy,” Granholm said after signing the bills.
The question remains whether reforms will be enough.