State Commission: Consider abolishing Board of Education

empty boardroom
john austin

Former State Board of Education President John Austin: “We have a wild west of too many schools.” (Courtesy photo)

A commission convened to offer reforms to Michigan's troubled education system recommends a major shift in oversight power to the governor's office – and the possible abolition of the State Board of Education.

Scheduled to be released Friday, the report by Michigan’s 21st Century Education Commission forwards two proposals that would grant the governor authority to appoint board of education members, while a third proposal would have the governor appoint the state superintendent and "abolish" the SBE. Currently, the eight-member board is elected directly by statewide vote.

“This approach recognizes that the governor is in charge of education and the public has clear accountability measures if they are not pleased with the outcomes,” the report states.

The highly anticipated report also appears to offer support for the continued use of a state assessment that is aligned with the Common Core state standards.

But commissioners could not reach a policy consensus on two other divisive issues in state public education — Michigan’s expansive charter school landscape, and the state’s generous schools-of-choice law, under which more than 120,000 students attend a public school outside of district boundaries.

The 25-member commission, created by Gov. Rick Snyder early last year, was charged with recommending long-term, course-altering changes to the state’s floundering K-12 education system. Michigan public schools have slid into the bottom tier of states nationally over the past decade despite frequent efforts at reform.

Adding more urgency to the challenge are projections showing that the next decade is likely to produce a serious shortage of college graduates or certificate holders to fill the skilled-job openings of employers in the state. Business leaders have lamented that the state’s inability to expand its skilled workforce threatens Michigan’s economic recovery.  

The 146-page report proposes a series of other reforms that sound like an educational Christmas wish list — and would cost upwards of $2 billion more a year if fully funded. The expense is justified, the commission says, by the long-term return on early and sustained investment in Michigan students.   

Among recommended reforms:

  • More funds for at-risk students in high-poverty schools, a strategy the study estimates could cost anywhere from $110 million to $900 million a year.

  • Better teacher preparation, with heightened certification requirements and mandated year-long residency training as part of the four-year college teaching degree.

  • Universal access to community college, by increasing financial aid and requiring areas not in a community college district to join the nearest district and “levy the commensurate millage to participate in this program.” If fully funded, that would cost $400 million a year.

  • Assist poorer communities with funding for building projects. The report states: “Since poorer students generally live in communities with lower property values, districts educating disadvantaged students are often doing so in lower-quality facilities, making success more difficult.” That could cost $200 million a year.

  • Universal preschool for all 4-year-olds. The proposal would remove the income restriction for participation in the Great Start Readiness preschool program and open it to children of all income levels. The report pegs its cost at $390 million a year.

  • Support efforts to consolidate Michigan's 540 school districts, in part by “offering incentives for local districts to voluntarily consolidate.”

The report acknowledges the political headwinds many of these proposals could face, in a state where Republican majorities in Lansing have been focused on cutting taxes rather than raising them. “We are cognizant of the challenges facing policymakers,” the report states. “Taxes are generally unpopular with voters and there is strong competition for state resources.”

But, it added: “At the same time, our current level of investment puts the state's future at risk.”

Education Commission members

Michigan’s 21st Century Education Commission has 25 members including business and nonprofit leaders, educators, teachers union reps and state agency officials:  

  • Dr. Thomas Haas, President, Grand Valley State University

  • Alloyd Blackmon, Whirlpool Co. and Michigan’s Great Southwest Strategic Leadership Council

  • Dave Campbell, Superintendent, Kalamazoo Regional Educational Service Agency

  • JoAnn Chavez, Vice President and Chief Tax Officer, DTE Energy

  • Roger Curtis, Director, Michigan Department of Talent and Economic Development

  • Dr. Randy Davis, Superintendent, Marshall Public Schools

  • Conway Jeffress, President, Schoolcraft College

  • Brandy Johnson, Executive Director, Michigan College Access Network

  • Ann Kalass, President and CEO, Starfish Family Services

  • Doug Luciani, CEO, TraverseCONNECT

  • Matt Oney, Escanaba Area High School physics and chemistry teacher

  • Doug Ross, President, American Promise Schools

  • Cindy Schumacher, Executive Director, Engler Center for Charter Schools at Central Michigan University

  • Kevin Stotts, President, Talent 2025

  • Teresa Weatherall Neal, Superintendent, Grand Rapids Public Schools

  • Eileen Weiser, Member, State Board of Education

  • Nate Walker, The American Federation of Teachers Michigan

  • Scott Hughes, Majority Counsel, Michigan Senate

  • Peter Ruddell, RWC Advocacy

  • Steven Cook, President, Michigan Education Association

  • Brian J. Whiston, State Superintendent

  • Nick A. Khouri, State Treasurer

  • John Roberts, Director, State Budget Office

  • Wanda Stokes, Director, Michigan Talent Investment Agency.

  • Casandra Ulbrich and Richard Zeile, co-presidents Michigan State Board of Education

Starting at the top  

Since the 1960s, candidates for the State Board of Education have been chosen at party conventions and elected by statewide vote. They in turn appoint the state superintendent, who oversees the Department of Education. Any change in the board election process would have to be approved voters as a constitutional amendment.

The author of a recent study that ranked Michigan dead last in the nation in school improvement said it's clear the state needs to do something to shake up its education system. Michigan was the only state ranked by the study in the bottom 10 in four measures of fourth and eighth grade academic growth from 2003 to 2015.

“If nothing is done, the public system of education is going to continue to decline,” said Brian Jacob, a University of Michigan professor and non-resident senior fellow for the Brookings Institution, a nonprofit public policy organization based in Washington, D.C.

Jacob said he considers the lack of a consistent, statewide education policy one of several factors that has fed Michigan's education decline.

“There needs to be some clear line of authority,” he said, adding that making the state superintendent position a gubernatorial appointment is “worth considering.”

But putting that much power over education in the hand of a governor seems all but sure to stir resistance — particularly from standing members of the state board.

“I don’t think that would be a positive thing,” said newly elected board member Nikki Snyder, a Republican.

“That’s very concentrated, centralized power. That doesn’t always represent parents and people best.

“I think the most important thing to remember is that it’s constitutional, that it’s an elected body,” she said. “The best way for people to have access to education policy is to elect members of the state board.”

Charter, choice divide

The commission report said its members were “not able to achieve consensus” on policy regarding either schools-of-choice or the state’s powerful charter school industry, which leads the nation in the number of for-profit charter schools. There are about 300 schools in the charter system and nearly 150,000 Michigan students.

Chaired by Grand Valley State University President Thomas Haas, the commission included representatives from the education, business, government and nonprofit communities.

As debate continues over the quality of charter versus traditional public schools, there is ammunition for both sides. A 2014 Bridge Magazine analysis found some charter schools clustered near the top in academic performance, while others were near the bottom.

Critics say there is too little oversight and accountability over charter school operation and performance, while studies indicate that charters, overall, perform about the same or slightly better than traditional schools. Both modes of public education have vast room for improvement. A 2015 Stanford University study found that just 17 percent of charter students in Detroit were rated proficient in math, compared with 13 percent of students in traditional public schools.

Michigan’s generous schools-of-choice law has also drawn scrutiny, particularly after the recent nomination of West Michigan philanthropist and schools-of-choice advocate Betsy DeVos for U.S. Education Secretary. DeVos has a long record of support for an even broader choice system, as she has backed federal vouchers to let parents send their children to private and religious schools.

A 2016 Bridge Magazine analysis found the state’s schools-of-choice law has contributed to more racially segregated schools in communities across much of the state.

Former State Board of Education President John Austin, a Democrat and persistent critic of the state’s charter a school choice landscape, told Bridge he’s disappointed the report did not tackle how Michigan's charter and school choice systems are regulated. Austin served 16 years on the state board and on the education commission through December, following his defeat in the November election.

“We have a wild west of too many schools, many of which don't educate kids, competing for too few dollars,” Austin said. “We have too many charters that don't perform, and if they don't perform there's no reason for them to exist.

“This is hurting learning outcomes.”

Amber Arellano

Amber Arellano, executive director of the Education Trust-Midwest: “We're not going to be able to spend our way out of this.” (Courtesy photo)

A draft critique of the state’s charter and schools-of-choice laws, which didn't make it into the final report, said: “If anything, evidence suggests the current dynamics of expansive cross-boundary school choice and opening of more than 300 charter school and cyber districts has contributed to student performance declines.”

Austin added he supports many of the recommendations that were made by the commission, including more funding for at-risk schools and for college, and granting the governor’s office more authority over education – but doubts Michigan can make significant gains without reforming its charter and school choice system.

“You are not going to be able to move the needle without it,” he said.

While the commission punted on firm recommendations, the report does, however, offer “ideas to inform future debate” on both charters and schools of choice, including:

  • Improving transportation for families unable to take advantage of school choice options.

  • A statewide assessment by the Michigan Department of Education on the quantity and quality of schools offered in a community

  • Creating a New Schools Certificate of Need Commission to “set the criteria by which a new school would be permitted to open.”

Dan Quisenberry, president of the Michigan Association of  Public School Academies, which represents the state’s charter school industry, disputed Austin's conclusions regarding charter schools.

“There's no facts behind that. I'm  not interested in perpetuating that myth. It really is frustration people are expressing.”

Quisenberry added that performance “for all schools in Michigan, charter schools included, needs to be improved.”

Don’t change state assessments  

Though the report did not use the term, it appears to endorse the state’s continued use of the state assessment that is aligned with the Common Core, a state-approved benchmark used in public school classrooms that lays out what skills students are expected to master at each grade level in math, language arts and other subjects.

“Michigan has adopted rigorous standards that should be maintained to ensure that longitudinal data on student growth remains intact,” the report states. The debate over the state’s testing has recently drawn more scrutiny with the recommendation by the state’s current superintendent, Brian Whiston (a commission member), to once again change the state’s assessment.

Proponents of Common Core say the standards promote critical-thinking and allow parents and schools to measure performance against peers across the state and around the nation. Critics have long derided Common Core as a one-size-fits-all approach to education and contend that such decisions should be made at the local level.  

And while debate over the education policy continues to divide the state, there is growing consensus that Michigan students are faltering.  

A recent analysis by the Education Trust-Midwest, a Royal Oak-based nonprofit education advocacy organization, noted Michigan was one of just five states where fourth grade reading scores fell between 2003 and 2015. While students of color in Michigan have long struggled, particularly in Detroit, less well known is that Michigan’s white and more affluent students have also been falling behind their demographic peers in other states.

The state’s white students, for instance, ranked 49th in fourth-grade reading in national testing, the Education Trust-Midwest analysis noted. And Michigan’s low-income fourth grade students of all races ranked 45th. Meanwhile, fewer than 10 percent of African-American fourth graders in the state were proficient in reading. In eighth grade math, Michigan ranked 38th, down from 34th in 2003.

The business case for change

The stakes are high for Michigan's future, given projections noted by Bridge in a 2015 report that the state will need nearly 800,000 more students with a college degree or training credential beyond high school by 2025 to meet the needs of employers and place Michigan among the nation's 10 best educated states.

To reach that goal, the 2015 report estimated Michigan would need to boost the share of those over 25 with a post-high school credential from 46 percent to 60 percent.

Doug Rothwell, president and CEO of Business Leaders for Michigan, echoed the report’s conclusion that the state’s failure to transform its public schools will have stark consequences.

“It's not just the business community – what's at stake is the future of Michigan,” Rothwell said.

“We've often said there's not a silver bullet to becoming a top 10 state. It requires you to work on multiple fronts. But if you don't have an educated work force, you don't get to play in this new world we are entering into.

“Good jobs are going to go elsewhere.”

The commission report also cited the need to make college “more affordable” for Michigan students. It noted Michigan spent $241 million on college financial aid 10 years ago compared with $110 million today. It did not specify a funding amount needed to accomplish that goal.

Bridge reporting has revealed Michigan ranks 41st in the nation in college financial aid and has the sixth highest tuition rate. Student debt in Michigan has increased by 48 percent in the last four years, making Michigan’s average student loan debt 7th highest in the nation.

Looking to other states

Education Trust-Midwest Executive Director Amber Arellano said, however, that Michigan cannot look to funds alone to solve the state's K-12 education struggles.

“We're not going to be able to spend our way out of this,” she said.

She noted that Tennessee has made significant K-12 strides in the past decade even though it spends considerably less per pupil than Michigan and has a comparable student demographic, a finding similar to that made by Bridge in 2014. Tennessee, in fact, was far behind Michigan in 2003 in fourth grade math but raced past by 2013, ranking 37th to Michigan's 42nd. It led the nation in highest improvement in several key subjects.

The analysis by Arellano’s group attributed much of Tennessee’s progress to a statewide teacher evaluation system, major investment in a statewide performance data collection system and a rigorous program of teacher training. Studies show that students of all races and income levels can achieve significantly greater learning gains from having highly effective teachers in the classroom.

“The quality of teaching is absolutely critical,” Arellano said. “It is the No. 1 in-school factor.”

She added her view that Michigan is “20 years behind the leading states” in developing quality teachers.

A new Michigan teacher evaluation standard passed in 2015 aims to close that gap, as teachers are to be evaluated and given one of four ratings: highly effective, effective, partially effective and ineffective. Teachers rated ineffective three years in a row would lose their jobs under the law, which has yet to be fully implemented.

Former state school Superintendent Mike Flanagan said achieving consensus on all the commission's recommendations could be difficult at best. He retired as superintendent in 2015 after 10 years in the position.

But Flanagan said if he were to single out one reform that would move Michigan forward, it is expanded quality preschool education.

A Bridge Magazine 2012 investigation found that almost 30,000 4-year-olds who qualified for free, high-quality preschool weren’t in classrooms because of inadequate state funding, logistical hurdles and poor coordination of services. The Legislature subsequently added $130 million in funding for the state's preschool program for low- and moderate-income families, enrolling 21,000 more 4-year-olds in the Great Start Readiness program.

Flanagan said he supports expanded preschool for 4-year-olds - and younger.

“Once the 4-year-olds are caught up,” he said, “you go down to the 3-year-olds.

“The biggest bang for the buck in achievement is early childhood education by far. You can spend a lot more money on pre-K and it will pay off big.

“It's the one thing that hasn't been done universally and it will make the biggest difference.”

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Thu, 03/09/2017 - 8:41am

Money saving idea and education for children plus job for stay at home mom!
Homeschooling is the Mother (JOB) a $ 3000 a months ..
children homeschooled in college at age 16......
on the job training at 14 .training and attending business school.
earn money (on the jobtraing)increase every year(100.200.300)
so at age 18 they have a degree and can open there own business<
!(like beauty shop. elcetrion .plumber. mechanic.etc etc )
in case of school install a TV streamline classes from universities/college/teacher with credentials.
install a scanner for test ran through machine(election counts sample)so teacher don't have any homework to take home!
give kid a computer stay in school/
change HOUR to 9PM school children have.get rough more going to school in the dark and cold of winter(may reason kids do not come to school)

Thu, 03/09/2017 - 9:53am

The "pre-k is necessary" shout is just not true. Yes, the world has changed, but reading and writing haven't. Way back when, no one went to pre-school; kids learned to read in 1st grade (the right way with phonics, except when my kids were in school and they decided to drop phonics, and guess what? none of them are readers today) and went on to become CEO's without pre-school. Kids are not learning to read because their teachers aren't teaching it right. They keep trying new fangled styles and keep trying to change things and it hasn't worked. Go back to the way it was done, when kids respected the teacher at the head of the class, and give kids the attention they need. If it's done right, they'll learn to read. It should not be so difficult.

Bob Allen
Thu, 03/09/2017 - 10:59am

If you would like us to return to the old ways of teaching, then how would that work with the new ways that kids are? Or all the ancillary influences on children, teachers and society in general? This is not a blanket denunciation of your comments. I was one of those kids who learned under that old system. And yes, some of the changes in the ways we have educated children, in hindsight, may have been poorly thought out. I just don't think what you advocate is realistic. And as for kids respecting the teacher, maybe we should worry more about the parents respecting the teacher. Finally, I'm sorry to report that education IS difficult. Always has been. That is why the comments section is great for opinion and less so for advocating policy.

Kevin Grand
Thu, 03/09/2017 - 9:17am

Giving Gov. Snyder more power?

Hasn't anyone learned yet from the lessons of the EM law?!?

And the second (third?) idea to "abolish" the Michigan BoE is even more interesting, since the board itself and the selection of its members is specifically enumerated in the Michigan Constitution. Even he will have trouble getting around that obstacle.

I also see the rest of the leaked recommendations having the flight potential of a cement truck.

Increased funding, when there is already a disparate level of funding between Michigan School Districts?

Compulsory taxation, in order to forcabily get Michigan Taxpayers to "contribute" into community college districts?

Political reality notwithstanding, I give Gov. Snyder's Commission an "I" based on what I've read above.

Fri, 03/10/2017 - 8:41pm

Ditto.....well said.....certainly....all that's needed is to increase political power over education....Does Snyder really think we're that stupid?.....Well, yes.....but he's really that will make all of education really, really come alive.

Keith Warnick
Mon, 03/13/2017 - 5:06pm

All you need to do is look at many of the school districts controlled by mayors across the country to know giving a Governor control is a bad idea. Regarding the comments of the advances Tennessee has made, yet claimed to spend less per pupil than Michigan; if I remember correctly, Tennessee was one of the first states to secure Race To The Top grant money around 2010(?). They were also one of 18 States awarded new Preschool development grant money (part of $200+ million) to increase access to high-quality Preschool programs. So maybe we can spend our way out of this?

Deanne Surles
Thu, 03/09/2017 - 10:24am

We don't need to give the Executive Branch any more power regardless of political party. Not a good idea at all. "Fixing" education is not as difficult and complicated as people make it seem. We need to stop trying experiments and do what is proven to work in specific communities. There is no one size fits all approach but there are best practices with proven results.

Ben Washburn
Thu, 03/09/2017 - 11:07am

Ever consider that "reports" of this kind may do more harm than good? From the top to its bottom, it assumes that education is just another consumer service, which has a "top-down" answer! Absolutely nowhere does it encourage parents to take a more active role in the education of their children, other than as consumers. There will be no improvement in our educational outcomes until parents become much more active and positive collaborators, rather than peeved consumers. Mike Flanagan is right about where best cost-wise to start, but only in part. Early childhood is also the best place at which to engage parents as active and positive collaborators in the education of their children. Cooperative nursery schools provide the best example of what really works best. Back when the original Ypsilanti Head Start evaluation was done, parents were expected to come into the classroom and learn how to be such collaborators. Once that positive relationship has been established, parents tend to follow through for the next several years. That critical emphasis has since been lost, as our, either ignorant or irresponsible, politicians have scurried to curry the favor of our ever more economically time-pressed parents. Nowhere in this "report" are the employers of today's parents encouraged to find ways in which to enable those employees to take at least a half-day off once a month to volunteer in the classrooms of their children.
At every point in this report, parents and their employers are led to believe that the "real" answer lies in more focused and harsher "top-down" "management".

Sat, 03/11/2017 - 1:52pm

Very well said. There is a lack of parental involvement in children's lives, and teachers are being expected to compensate for that before academic learning can take place.

Fred Barton
Thu, 03/09/2017 - 11:08am

Is it just me or has anyone else noticed that the decline in performance in Michigan schools began when republican and corporate "reformers" took over? We were ahead of Tennessee, now after years of republican fixes we are behind. Now we have another commission that makes yet more recommendations to fix a problem largely self created. That seems to be the republican way. Identify an issue that could be improved. Then go about making it worse.

Thu, 03/09/2017 - 7:55pm

Gee Fred, schools have been on a slide for the last 30 or 40 years. Snyder has been there for what 6 or 7 years? Where have you been? Selective attention?

John Q. Public
Thu, 03/09/2017 - 10:28pm

Gosh, Matt, you don't think the movement Fred describes began in 2011 with Snyder, do you?

Jim Wencel
Thu, 03/09/2017 - 11:09am

For years our state government was pushing for consolidation of schools as Michigan had more schools than most states. Many small rural schools were fearful that they would be forced to consolidate. Studies have shown schools need to be large enough to provide a comprehensive education for their students which would include gifted programs, vocational/tech programs, special education programs, university prep programs along with the other necessary programs like, physical education, the arts, music, media centers, counseling, food service, transportation and an adequate administrative staff along with appropriate class sizes and schools equipped to provide the above programs but small enough so students do not fall through the cracks. You do not hear much about consolidation anymore because of the push for more charters which for the most part start and stay small. Michigan does not need more schools and certainly not more for profit charters. What we need is schools strategically placed in our urban areas so we have neighborhood schools, we also need career/tech centers that are close to the students they serve especially in our less populated areas. We also need dedicated well compensated teachers and staff members to make sure our schools are successful. What we do not need is what is happening as many teachers are retiring and not being replaced. Charter and other schools that are using long term unqualified substitutes and classes with multiple teachers each school year. Many people are wondering why Michigan schools have fallen so far in every national normed test and the answer is it started with John Engler and the DeVos family pushing choice, for profit charters and a gutting of the once prestigious department of education leaving term limited legislatures with little experience in education making critical decisions along with under funding our schools. School of Choice seemed to be a good idea however it also comes with a lot of baggage. Schools are forced to either try to recruit students or make cuts as enrollments are dropping because of people either moving out of the state or not having as many children along with all the new options including for profit charters. All of this has caused a free fall in our schools and test scores. Public education has been dying a death of a thousand cuts and It is about time we stood up to the Charter lobby, state legislature and governor and do what is best for our schools. What has happened to Michigan and many other states could soon be happening in many states as Betsy DeVos and the congress in DC push for the same programs and situations that have caused the free fall in Michigan.

Thu, 03/09/2017 - 11:33am

Giving that kind of authority to the governor over education policy is just insane.

Martha Toth
Thu, 03/09/2017 - 1:48pm

“The commission report said its members were ‘not able to achieve consensus’ on policy regarding either schools-of-choice or the state’s powerful charter school industry, which leads the nation in the number of for-profit charter schools.” Yet choice and charters are the elephants in the school room. It is not coincidental that, as Michigan went farther and faster into these untested realms than any other state, we were also the only one to decline dramatically in student achievement. These policies have FAILED, yet we cannot even address them. That makes the Commission a failure, too.

Sherry A Wells
Thu, 03/09/2017 - 2:16pm

When did Michigan schools begin to get behind? When Gov. Engler yanked the Office of School Reform from the State Board? The courts overturned that, but Gov. Snyder pulled it out again.
When Gov. Engler pushed to create charter schools and “schools of choice” in 1994?
When the State took over the Detroit Public Schools, in 1999, despite its fund surplus and student achievement above the state average? And permitted its democratically elected board to function for less than 3 years of the last 17 years?
When Gov. Granholm, in 2010, appointed the first Emergency Financial Manager over the Detroit Public Schools, and started the process of E.M.s in only districts with minority and low-income students.
Michigan’s 1835 Constitution created the first independent state school administrator in the U.S. The 1963 Constitution created the State Board of Education. The governor is ex oficio and nothing more—so no appointing a commission to study our education system. The Board does that.
The Board was also charged to “advise the legislature as to the financial requirements.” The legislators consistently underfund our schools.
The first school in Ferndale was on land donated by a farmer. Families built the school and hired the teachers. Local districts know what unique challenges each faces—whether transportation and poverty issues in both rural and urban districts or asthma from an incinerator. The people must not be further removed from seeing to their children’s needs.
I have attended several State Board of Education meetings. The staff are sincerely concerned and working hard to help our children, studying best practices, despite Common Core and whatever “new” system that is foisted on them to the benefit of large corporations.
The State can do a better job? How has that worked in Flint?
Hands off!
Sherry A. Wells
State Board of Education Candidate
Green Party of Michigan 2014, 2016
(Ferndale MI)

John Q. Public
Thu, 03/09/2017 - 8:54pm

Gee, a commission made up largely of CEOs/presidents/executive directors advocating for greater control vested in a single person. Who woulda thunk?

The CFM ought to have a contest. For the next ten instances where a "study" or report is commissioned, let us know who commissioned the study and who appointed the people charged with conducting it. Then we all get to predict the results of the studies prior to the research even being commenced. It'll probably be hard to determine a winner, I'd think, what with all the ten-out-of-ten correct predictions.

“This approach recognizes that the governor is in charge of education and the public has clear accountability measures if they are not pleased with the outcomes,” the report states.

I guess we'll have to wait until tomorrow to see what those measures might be. I'll venture that the primary one is "elect a new governor." You know, at the point where fully one-third of a child's education is in the rear-view mirror before an opportunity to turn the ship occurs.

Kevin Grand
Fri, 03/10/2017 - 6:52am

"The CFM ought to have a contest. For the next ten instances where a "study" or report is commissioned, let us know who commissioned the study and who appointed the people charged with conducting it. Then we all get to predict the results of the studies prior to the research even being commenced. It'll probably be hard to determine a winner, I'd think, what with all the ten-out-of-ten correct predictions."

It's a shame that there isn't a thumbs up button here.

But in any case:


Keith Warnick
Mon, 03/13/2017 - 6:17pm

I didn't see any K-12 'education experts' from the eastern side of Michigan.

Fri, 03/10/2017 - 6:41am

So Snyder appointes a comission with 1 teacher a few top level admin and mostly chartwr and business people and it reccomends he should have more power? Mind blowing! get what you ask for?!?

Barry Visel
Fri, 03/10/2017 - 9:58am

At-risk funding estimate of $110-$900 million? With a gap that big on just one item how are we supposed to believe anything else from this commission?

No students and no designated parent representatives on this commission. ..that's a problem.

Any consideration of dumping the K-12 stepping stones and moving to an "individualized education plan" like Special Ed students have...which, by the way, works hard at requiring parent involvement. Students don't learn all subjects on the same timeline, yet that is how we teach...seems to defy common sense.

Regarding consolidation...I have a cousin who is an architect, who had an account with Las Vegas schools to break up large schools into smaller more manageable sizes (no more than 600 students in a 4-year high school). I haven't seen anything that says bigger is proven to be better.

Fri, 03/10/2017 - 10:36am

This is an overly pessimistic article. Now that Betsy DeVos is the nation's Secretary of Education, we can expect her policies to negatively impact the other 49 states as they already have ours, thus Michigan will likely no longer be dead last...

Tammy R
Fri, 03/10/2017 - 11:51am

The last thing the people need in the State of Michigan is Governor, Snyder to take complete control over the SBE. This will ONLY give him more control, enable him to continue disenfranchising low-income communities/citizens from getting a quality education. He couldn't handle the Detroit Public Schools with the EM, Judge Stephen Rhoades and turned that into a fiasco. Giving the state full control over the SBE would be catastrophic. Perhaps they should consider putting the billions of Lottery money collected every yr., back in to the schools, infrastructure etc. and we all would be better off.

Chuck Jordan
Fri, 03/10/2017 - 2:13pm

Relax folks. This isn't going anywhere. Big waste of time and money and paper.

Dr. Richard Zeile
Sat, 03/11/2017 - 5:46am

I encourage readers to look at the entire Commission's report . They will see that it is less of a plan with interrelated parts than a laundry list of recommendations which can be debated individually. Perhaps some of these have merit, but most, like the supposed benefits of eliminating the State Board, will not deliver the hoped-for results.

Sat, 03/11/2017 - 10:02am

Education needs to be protected from government meddling not run by it.
1. Going forward, if you require a year of student teaching, you will get few teachers. Very few people can afford to work for free for a year.
2. We had Project HeadStart which seems to have vanished. The results were good as long as the child continued to receive help. Without continued help, the effects of the program vanished after 3 years.
3. We need state wide Standardized testing. Not a test made up by the state that can be altered to fit the political rhetoric. The MEAP did little to no good. It was a waste of money and the new test is not much better. Standardized testing for all schools and home schoolers will give a yard stick of comparison. We will finally know what is working in terms of public, charter, private and home school.
4. Separate the k-12 schools from the colleges in funding. Our governor has directed money away from k-12 to the colleges, resulting in school districts being in deficit year after year. School administrations are spending the majority of their time on squeezing nickels instead of teacher support. Every time you see a new building at at community college, that comes at the cost of a school district. Look at Schoolcraft College, the dust never sets there with several new and improved buildings while the neighboring districts haven't built a new school in 40 years and are using old text books.

Michael Ritenour
Sat, 03/11/2017 - 6:07pm

I understand that this is a complex issue and deserves open discussion of all solutions, but the idea of giving more power to the governor is repugnant, considering that the current holder and prior two holders of the office have proved themselves incompetent, oblivious, and/or Machiavellian in so many ways. All offices, commissions, boards, or departments are political to some degree, but the office of the Governor is political by definition, precisely NOT the best path to excellence in education.

Sun, 03/12/2017 - 9:21am

Interesting article clarifying how bad the problem really is. No surprise. Why would an outgoing governor appoint a "bipartisan" panel to study a problem he and his republican cronies have perpetuated over the last eight years.

This is a governor with no governmental experience who has led Michigan to one of the biggest declines in quality of life issues in our history. (Schools, water, infrastructure just to name a few.) Michigan is being used by many business schools as a poster child of how "NOT" to run government.

This republican bought and paid for government has made "business strong" according to our governor, but the most important aspects of life have declined for all but 1%.

Cheryl Matas
Mon, 03/13/2017 - 10:02am

I attended both of the commission's meetings and at no time did anyone advocate abolishing SBE and we did not think it wise to have the Governor appoint a SBE. Doing that would result in a constantly changing educational landscape.

Patrick Maurer
Mon, 03/13/2017 - 3:05pm

Investment in students mean nothing without results and thus far it has failed miserably for all except the educators. There needs to be major changes and it should start with Common Core.

Tue, 03/14/2017 - 9:47am

You obviously have never walked in the shoes of an educator. The chaos that has been caused by the total mismanagement of education in this state over the last generation is profoundly sad.
It is typical of citizens such as yourself to "blame" the educators who are on the front line everyday, responding to the ever changing landscape of the system. The vast majority of educators are committed and loyal, but are also just burned out by the politicization of education. There are states out there doing a fine job, but this current administration thinks they know it all and will decree from on high the best solutions. That is why Michigan is in the sad state it is in, dead last.