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Michigan’s nonpartisan, nonprofit news source

Bill Schuette says failing schools must improve or face consequences

Attorney General Bill Schuette is putting struggling Michigan schools on notice: Shape up or face the consequences if he becomes governor.

“You have to look at schools and see how we can make them improve and function better,” Schuette said in an interview. “But if a school … isn’t doing the job, then we need to make sure that we help the parents and help the children … Education and outcomes. That ought to be our focus and nothing but that.”

Schuette, the state’s Republican nominee for governor, stopped short of saying he would actively close schools but he has supported school closings in the past.

In 2016, he issued a legal opinion as attorney general aimed at clearing a path for school closures in Detroit.

Asked for clarification, Schuette’s campaign spokesman, John Sellek, said that Schuette “believes all options should be on the table because the main focus must be on achieving the best outcome for each child, as soon as possible.”

Schuette’s remarks came during an hour-long interview last week with reporters from the Detroit Journalism Cooperative, which includes Chalkbeat, Bridge Magazine and four other nonprofit news organizations.

Democrat Gretchen Whitmer, the former state senate minority leader, was one of six gubernatorial primary candidates who sat down for similar interviews in July. She has been invited to do another interview now that she’s the Democratic nominee but that has not yet been scheduled. (Schuette did not do an interview during the primary.)

Oct. 26 update: Read about our one-hour interview with Gretchen Whitmer
Related: As governor, Whitmer would create a ‘Detroit-specific strategy’ for K-12 education​

In his sit-down with the DJC, Schuette took questions on a range of subjects including on these crucial education issues.

On how Michigan funds schools: He called for a “review” of state K-12 education spending, adding “we need to focus on outcomes.”

On whether schools serving children with greater needs should get more funds: “(W)e have to look at how we can provide greater training for teachers and for those who have a challenge in terms of their student population.”

On school accountability: He called for an A to F grading system that would lead to improving schools getting extra funds. “I believe in incentives,” he said.

On whether Michigan should provide pre-K to all 4-year-olds: He said he’ll consider it.  “We ought to look at every idea and if it doesn't work then try something else,” he said.

 

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