Bill Schuette says failing schools must improve or face consequences

Republican governor candidate Bill Schuette is making reading improvements for young students a centerpiece of his education platform.

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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Mon, 10/08/2018 - 1:38pm

"or face the consequences" yeah right. Close schools, get rid of "bad" teachers etc. Same old, same old. Putting teachers or schools on notice isn't going to change anything, haven't we been down this road how many times before?

Tue, 10/09/2018 - 12:42am

Your choice seems to be keep doing the same things and watch results continue declining. Without notification how will they know how serious there problem is, they haven't fixed it yet so they aren't showing worthwhile change.

I would say it is better to learn from success and replacing what is failing, then waiting for those who are failing to figure out what to do.

When you were in school did everyone in your classroom get A's or D's or was there a distribution for the A's to D's and most in between? Did you and friends in the class know who would do well and who would struggle even when the year began? Why, everyone was in the same classroom, same teacher, same lessons, same books, etc. and yet the results were expected to be differ?

Why are you so afraid of putting people on 'notice' people aren't satisfied with the results kids are achieving? I want the professionals to take these results personally and start thinking differently because we need change. I want the professionals to realize that they aren't doing the learning, it is the students, that they aren't delivering the results, it is the students, that means what needs to change is the students, so the professionals need to be thinking differently, thinking about why and how students learn, why some students succeed and why others fail and how to we change the failing into the learning students.
You seem to think placing blame is what is needed whether it is the list you offer or ask are doing blaming others for having such a list. Truly smart people won't place blame, they would go to those who succeed at learning asking them how and why and they would listen.
If you truly want change in the results, the poor performing schools/district need to be put on notice they must change because doing the same as they are now is not effective, and that they need look elsewhere for how to help the students change. We have been down this road for generations because people only talk about the past and aren't asking about the future, aren't asking about who actually does the learning, who is actually takes the tests, who decides whether they learn of not. Even you only talk about adults and fail to mention the role/responsibilities of the students in their learning. Until the education 'professionals' realize that it is the student that does the learning and the professionals need to change so the students want to learn so they will study and the results will improve. The professionals have changed yet so putting them on notice maybe the only way to get their attention, as long as there is follow through.

Sat, 10/20/2018 - 6:30pm

define failing......

Tue, 10/23/2018 - 7:41pm

You seem to think, the same way a lot of parents I have dealt with in the past think. My student isn’t learning, so it must be the teachers fault. Never mind the fact that their student comes to school tired, with a bad attitude, traumatized by things they have seen at home, hungry, etc. A TEACHER CANNOT FORCE A STUDENT TO LEARN!!! We live in a society where laziness is accepted. You complain about “bad teachers”, yet no one says a word about “bad parents”. Education is a three legged stool. In order for it to be successful, the teacher, the student, and the parents must be committed.
*On a side note, merit based pay in public education has been proven ineffective multiple times.

Mon, 10/08/2018 - 3:36pm

Has not most of this been done all ready and failed. Seem like the same old GOP education talking points.

Mon, 10/08/2018 - 8:03pm

One way to improve educational outcomes is preschool for all children starting at age 3. And this is the one thing he wants to "look at".

Mon, 10/08/2018 - 9:44pm

why don’t you try facing some consequences, bill? then we’ll talk.

Tue, 10/09/2018 - 5:03pm

Bill Schuette is a DeVos puppet. Teachers are busting their ass and all Republicans can do is say schools are failing. In truth, Lansing is failing. Demonizing teachers and underfunding school systems since they gained power in 2010. Whitmer for governor!

Wed, 10/10/2018 - 4:58pm

What will Ms. Whitmer do differently, what will teachers do differently that will change the students' desire to learn? How will they change the learning process that will change how students learn and what they have to do to learn?
Even demoralized people have to have a way to change what they are doing if they are to influence a change in results? What are the change you believe they will make?

Wed, 10/10/2018 - 6:32pm

With this interview, B.S. has proven that he has zero knowledge when it comes to enacting policy that will promote improved schools. There are a ton of model schools across the country that are beating the odds . . . outperforming their expectations. When are we going to start asking the right questions? Such as: What can we do as state leaders to support our schools in achieving excellence? What schools should we look to as models? What are they doing with their programming, funding, structure, options flexibility, etc. that makes them so successful? How can we support our schools in achieving this same success?

Is "putting them on notice" our key to success? Nope. I have no problem shutting down horrible schools and helping those kids to find better places to get their education. But we really need to set our goals higher than that. Getting rid of the worst won't get us any closer to excellence.

The laws our state has passed over the past several years aimed at governing our schools into greatness - teacher and administrator evaluation, graduation requirements, etc. , haven't come close to hitting the mark. These strategies haven't been the keys to success at any of the model schools, nor will they be the keys to success in Michigan schools. They do more harm than good because they force schools to spend time, energy, and funds on jumping through legislative hoops that do nothing to improve educational outcomes.

B.S. is preaching more of the same.

Thu, 10/11/2018 - 5:26pm

Do you believe there is a difference in those schools you mention that are succeeding and those Schuette is talking about putting on notice? Do what differences do you see in those that are succeeding and those you would be willing to shutdown? Shouldn't those schools with students that aren't meeting expectations be told what they need to be doing and given notice to how long they have to change what they are doing before shutting them down? It seems that when you describe what you are willing to do it is much like what Schuette is talking about doing.

One of the key factors in many of such as the KIPP schools started in 1995 is the role/responsibilities the student has in their learning, I would like to hear more from both candidates about applying this in Michigan schools.

Chuck Jordan
Sun, 10/14/2018 - 11:55am

If holding schools means closing them down, what will that accomplish? Why is the school "failing?" Is it the students? the teachers, the principal, the curriculum, the number of students in a classroom, the number of students with parents who don't care, the number of students with learning disabilities, behavior problems? Is it the building with an environment that reduces learning? Why not try to fix the problems of every school for every student especially ethnic minorities?

The market mindset creates and has created winners and losers. I am thankful that it has helped many students to find a better school, but I am saddened that we cannot even attempt making each student's education better. Closing schools has not improved education in Michigan. More of it will?

Mon, 10/22/2018 - 5:07pm

I wish there was a love button for your comment. There are so many factors (that you listed), that many don't consider.