Friday, September 30, 2011

Lead Teacher and Interventionists--Innovative or Budget Cut Result?

Kentwood Schools are using a lead teacher in front of a computer for three classrooms and interventionist certified teachers with no benefits who supervise the classrooms the lead teacher is not in.  Creative problem solving is good.  Is this how we want to solve our budget problems?  Lucy


Contact your Senator today!

Today, the Senate Education Committee may be voting on legislation that would be a financial disaster for school districts and an academic disaster for Michigan parents and students.

If this legislation is voted on in committee, every indication is that the Senate may try to schedule a vote on the floor soon after the committee vote.

This legislation seeks to remove the overall cap on charter schools in the state; create a new class of charter schools, "conversion schools" which can be created at the instigation of the teachers or parents of a traditional public school; remove limits on the number of recently-introduced "cyber schools"; and require school districts to accept non-resident students under "schools of choice" if they have the capacity.

Please take a moment to e-mail your state legislators and encourage them to oppose these bills. Tell them that in combination with the 2011-13 state budget, this legislation threaten the state's promise to provide youth with a quality education. TAKE ACTION and contact your lawmakers. 
Contact Friends of Kent County Schools
Phone: 616.240.2256

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Michigan PTA Update Has a Good Summary of the Parent Empowerment Education Reform Package

Minute Legislative Update
Michigan PTA
Committee for Children’s Advocacy
September, 2011
PTA is the oldest and largest child advocacy association in the United States .  The Mission of the PTA is “To make every child’s potential a reality by engaging and empowering families and communities to advocate for all children.” 
As a member, you are called to advocate for the children in our state and nation.  What does it mean to advocate?  Advocacy is speaking up in favor of something.  In PTA, we speak up for the children of our nation.
The historical goals of PTA are:
  • To promote the welfare of the children and youth in home, school, community and place of worship.
  • To raise the standards of home life.
  • To secure adequate laws for the care and protection of children and youth.
  • To bring into closer relation the home and the school, that parents and teachers may cooperate intelligently in the education of children and youth.
  • To develop between educators and the general public such united efforts as will secure for all children and youth the highest advantages in physical, mental, social, and spiritual education.
In that spirit, we must let our legislators in Lansing and Washington, D.C. know that we are concerned about the millions of children in our nation who live in poverty – nearly 15 million children in the United States, and nearly one of every four in Michigan.  
Children are the hardest hit during a recession, and this is particularly difficult in Michigan due to our high levels of unemployment.  According to Kids Count (part of Michigan League for Human Services), Michigan ranks 47th in the country in terms of family income security.
You may have heard recently about a package of bills presented in the Michigan Legislature called the Parent Empowerment Education Reform package.  Much of this package of bills addresses changes to charter school legislation. 
It is important for you to be informed on issues that affect public education.  Quality education is of utmost importance to our members.  Following is the language of the Charter School Resolution passed by members of the Michigan PTA.  This resolution addresses areas of concern to our membership:
Be it resolved, that the Michigan PTA supports legislation creating charter schools in Michigan that meets the following specific conditions:
Charter schools must conform with the same mandates and requirements as public schools;
Charter schools must not be operated for a profit; not affiliated with non-public, sectarian religious or home­based school (Public funds must not be used for private schools - Michigan PTA continuing position);
Charter schools must be open to all students regardless of sex, race, religion, ancestry, pregnancy, marital or parental status, sexual orientation or physical, mental, emotional or learning disability;
Charter schools must not charge tuition or fees which might preclude attendance and full participation by economically disadvantaged students;
Charter schools must not have any negative impact on currently existing schools;
Charter schools must be funded by new monies made available by the state. The state must continue to improve funding for existing elementary and secondary schools;
Charter schools must be subject to federal and state law which deal with health and safety, prohibit discrimination and must be subject to the Freedom of Information Act and Open Meetings Act;  
A charter school charter may only be granted by a local board of education or an intermediate school district and must be accountable to the authorizing board of education. The board authorizing the charter must be responsible for all the schools it charters;
Charter school teachers must be certified in order to insure the highest standards of teaching;
Charter schools must actively advertise the opening of the school for 2 months before enrollments are accepted, using radio, television, newspaper ads, and mailings to households with potential students within a 2 mile radius of the school building.
Use your voice to speak up for the programs that help to improve the health and welfare of our children. 
You can read more about child poverty and its effects at Michigan ’s Children: , Kids Count Michigan : , and at the National Center for Children in Poverty:
You can find contact information:
State representative at: 
State senator at: U.S. Senators and Congressperson at:

Michigan Parent Teacher Association 
1390 Eisenhower Place, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48108
Phone: 734-975-9500 - Fax: 734-677-2407
Web site:

Linked Documents:

What is All the Fuss About the Personal Property Tax?

Below is some history about this business tax reform.

Below is how the elimination of the personal property tax would affect schools.

Below is how the elimination of the personal property tax will affect a manufacturing town like Muskegon.

Where are the Education Cuts Going to Lead Us?

Below is a guest commentary by a retired Republican Michigan House Legislator describing how cuts to education will devastate our economy.  He remembers how schools were funded under Proposal A.

Below is a Democratic opinion on education cuts.

Below is the Sunday article about how few college educated adults we have in Michigan.  In the past, this didn't matter with regards to income level.  Up until the 1990's, we had above average income due to manufacturing jobs.  We now have below average incomes due to a lack of high paying jobs that do not require degrees as well as a shortage of jobs that do require degrees, resulting in our grads are leaving the state.  Charles Ballard (the MSU economist) has some suggestions at the end of the article.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Our Budget Director Believes our Schools are Overfunded

This article is our budget chief's opinion that public schools are over funded.


Have We Had Cuts for the Last Five Years or Not?!?!

This article points out that our House of Representatives Education Chair does not believe we have had cuts for over 5 years.  It also refers to Friends of Kent County Schools talking points.  Friends is the local education advocacy group in Kent county.  We will be pointing you towards their work this school year.  Lucy

Federal Impact on Schools

No Child Left Behind federal legislation needs to be renewed this year.  What exactly does state accreditation mean?  Lucy

Schools of Choice or Loss of Local Control?

This Fee Press article is about legislation that would force all school districts to participate in schools of choice programs.  While this sounds noble, it is a continuing erosion of local control by the state.


Teacher Tenure Law Passed--Now What?

This article is about the changes in teacher tenure that occurred legislatively this summer.


More with Less?

This article summarizes some of the controversies in education that have been  thrown around over the summer.    Are we graduating too many teachers?  If we are training all these teachers but they are moving out of state, is that the best use of our resources?  How can public school districts do more with less when so much is expected of grads in order to make it in this economy?  Some things to think about.


How is our Economy Really Doing?

Since public education is directly impacted on our economy both in West Michigan and in Michigan as a whole, we need to keep up on exactly how we are doing.  This article from The Center for Michigan gives an overview of all the major metropolitan areas of Michigan.  It reminds us how interlinked we are, especially with Detroit.  The Center for Michigan is a nonpartisan think (and do as they say in their literature) tank focused on reviving Michigan.

Privatizing Services

This article goes over the controversial privatizing of services in public schools.  Schools may be forced into this option, but there is still debate over whether it is the best choice for our schools.


These Articles Point are the Voices of the Great Divide

In this article, Peter Luke interviews an education lobbyist with many years of experience in public schools.

In this article, Peter Luke interviews a Republican House Representative.

This gives a good overview of the divergent world views on public education that our state faces right now.