Gov. Snyder Outlines Plans For Education Reform 4-27-2011 - WNEM TV 5

Gov. Snyder Outlines Plans For Education Reform 4-27-2011

Gov. Rick Snyder is calling for allowing unlimited charter schools in failing districts, along with changes aimed at getting ineffective teachers out of Michigan classrooms and allowing more students to attend their schools of choice.
During an address Wednesday at the United Way for Southeastern Michigan office in Detroit, the Republican governor said he plans to set up a new office to coordinate early childhood education funding.
He also wants to have lawmakers pass bills that would allow administrators who must lay off teachers to not base layoffs on seniority and require universities with education majors to make sure students are competent.
David Hecker, president of the Michigan chapter of the American Federation of Teachers, said he supports many of the changes but has reservations about how teachers are evaluated.
Central to Snyder’s plan is a dramatic shift from viewing different levels of education as separate stages to viewing them as part of an integrated system, beginning with early childhood education all the way up through the completion of an advanced degree. Making that change requires giving teachers and schools more freedom to find solutions, measuring performance, holding districts accountable for results and giving students more options to succeed.
“This plan is about moving away from the outdated model of the past and giving teachers and students the tools they need to succeed in the future,” Snyder said. “We have to start looking at students as individuals with different abilities that need to be taken into account, but also as individuals with unlimited potential to achieve.”

Read the governor's Special Message on Education Reform and Michigan Education Dashboard documents.

In laying out his case for reform, the governor noted that Michigan ranks 21st in the country in total current expenditures per-pupil, according to the most recent data from the National Center for Education Statistics, yet it ranks 39th in the nation when it comes to fourth-grade math proficiency and 34th in reading proficiency. Fewer than 50 percent of students are proficient in writing, and perhaps most startling of all, a total of 238 Michigan high schools have zero college-ready students based on the spring 2010 ACT test.
“These numbers make it clear that our educational system is not giving our taxpayers, our teachers, our parents or students the return on investment that it should,” Snyder said. “Instead of focusing so heavily on funding levels, we need to talk about what really works and what doesn’t when it comes to helping kids learn.”

To bring greater accountability to Michigan’s educational system, the governor is implementing a “State of Education in Michigan” dashboard that will serve as a statewide report card. To help parents make better-informed decisions about their children’s education, the governor is also asking schools to create their own easy-to-understand dashboards. Using these and other measurements, the governor proposed that a portion of the state school aid be tied to academic growth. School districts that demonstrate student growth in reading, math and other subjects will receive a bonus under the governor’s plan.
“By rewarding growth and not just proficiency, students in poorer districts or those who have fallen behind their peers will not be forgotten. Instead, they will be viewed as having the most to gain, giving school districts an incentive to make sure they improve,” Snyder said.
Another departure from the way schools are funded now is to develop what the governor calls an “Any Time, Any Place, Any Way, Any Pace” learning model, in which funding follows a student rather than being exclusively tied to a school district. Snyder said making this change will give students more opportunities to participate in dual enrollment, blended learning and online education opportunities. To make this change work, the governor proposed giving school districts more control over seat time regulations, length of the school year, length of the school day and week, and more flexibility when it comes to instruction and traditional configurations of classrooms.
The governor also proposed giving parents more options by ensuring every school district participates in “Schools of Choice.” Under the governor’s proposal, residents of a local district will still have the first opportunity to enroll, but schools will no longer be able to refuse out-of-district students. Additionally, the governor proposed lifting the cap on the number of public charter schools in any district with at least one academically failing school. To give students more opportunities to earn advanced degrees, the governor is challenging every school district to offer college credit opportunities.
“Providing open access to quality education without boundaries is essential,” Snyder said. “One of the complaints I hear most from teachers is that regulations prevent them from working with each student's individual learning styles. It’s time we let schools focus on teaching and hold school districts accountable by measuring results.”
Performance-based teaching is at the heart of education reform, Snyder said.
“As parents, we expect a lot from teachers and that’s exactly the way it should be,” Snyder said. “To see our students succeed, we must expect the best, and we must provide the tools, support and environment students need to reach the high expectations we have set.”
Snyder laid out a series of steps the state can take to enable great teaching, including raising the bar for teacher certification tests, restructuring the tenure system so that it rewards demonstrated years of effective teaching rather than time in the classroom and replacing current continuing-education requirements with ones that are clearly linked to teacher skill-building.
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