“[A 2010] report found that of 39,199 DPS students tested as young children, only 23 had no lead in their bodies.”
As parents, we work hard to protect our children from everyday dangers – obvious, and not so obvious. For those of us who were doing home repair or renovation while our children were young, a big concern was making sure that our little ones did not ingest lead that was a standard element of paint sold before 1978. Those who are able can spend considerable amounts testing for lead and then having it carefully removed or encapsulated.
Not all children are so fortunate.
In a new study of children in Detroit Public Schools, students with blood levels of lead historically considered low, but above the new, lower threshold set last year, were 50% more likely to score poorly on the state MEAP tests. Even children with lead levels below the new limit were one third more likely to score poorly on their MEAP exams.
Maybe school reform is not the “civil rights issue of our time.” Perhaps child health – including the right for children to have their brains develop without the effects of poisons – is the civil rights struggle we should be waging today.
Michigan Parents for Schools views on HB 6004 (H-1)
Thursday, November 29, 2012
While we appreciate that several concerns have been addressed in the H-1 substitute for HB 6004, sadly our main objections remain.
The bill assumes that the EAA will be successful. While there are provisions for a school “graduating” from the EAA, there are no provisions for handling a school that fails to improve under EAA control. Instead of calling the EAA into question, such schools are likely to be subjected to an endless round of restructurings and turnarounds – devastating the school, its students, and the local community.
Is this EAA “solution” so promising and certain that it’s worth stripping away community control? Better to implement a solution that can be done with the community, rather than to it.
Testimony of Michigan Parents for Schools on HB 6004 to the House Education Committee, Rep. Lisa Lyons, Chair – November 19, 2012
Madam Chair and members of the Committee,
We write to you, on behalf of public school parents and concerned citizens from across the state of Michigan, to express our concerns about House Bill 6004. While our reservations range from the very broad to the very specific, they are sufficient for us to ask you not to report this bill out to the full House. In fact, we believe that effective approaches to the problems HB 6004 seeks to solve require a very different approach.
There is no question that a substantial portion of our public school student population is struggling, and that a number of our public schools are in turn having great difficulty meeting the needs of those students. We welcome efforts by the State, through the Michigan Department of Education, to provide focused assistance to struggling schools. But the approach in this bill is light on help to, and heavy on punishment of, local districts.
The “student centered learning” concept presented in last week’s testimony is an interesting and promising approach to teaching, but it is not new. In fact, we have heard similar ideas discussed in a number of districts around the state. The problem, as always, is implementation — especially in a regulatory environment that punishes mistakes.
FLASH - The pressure is working! Help stop the EAA "state takeover" bill in committee!
To all of you who have sent messages regarding HB 6004 - the EAA or "state takeover" bill: Thank You!!
For those of you who haven't yet had a chance to contact your State Representative, the time is NOW.
Call House Education Committee members TODAY!
Click below to read the latest alert!
Legislative leaders have committed to push through a long list of bills during this "lame duck" session, including two that could be devastating to public education as we know it.
I realize that sounds over-the-top, but take a look at the bills on the fast track:
- House Bill 6004 makes a new state-wide school district, the Education Achievement Authority, which can take over the "bottom 5%" of schools, and perhaps others - while the local district has no say. The EAA is free to hand these schools over to for-profit charter management companies, and in fact it can charter new schools anywhere in the state (whether the schools there are failing or not). The EAA would be run by a board appointed by the Governor, and even the elected State Board of Education would have no say in its work.
- House Bill 5923 would create a host of new forms of charter school, including selective admission schools, boarding schools, single-gender schools, and potential store-front schools operated by cultural organizations, businesses and other groups. Part of the mission given to the EAA in HB 6004 is to implement these provisions.
Find out more! Click below to read the full alert.
Our recent action alert about pending bills that would roll back some of Michigan’s high school graduation requirements generated more internal comment than any recent topic. We believe this is a conversation we need to have as a state, because it shapes what we mean by an “excellent” education and the resources needed to provide one. Let us know your thoughts!
Got art? Got algebra 2? Got music? Got economics? Got Spanish? Maybe no longer.
Many of you know that Michigan Parents for Schools was founded to work for stable and adequate funding of public education in Michigan. Of course, the reason we care about funding is that it directly affects the quality of the education we can offer to the children of this state. Money alone cannot guarantee an excellent education, but it is impossible to do right by our children and communities if our schools do not have adequate resources.
As parents, we know that a quality education is not just memorizing facts, or learning just enough math or vocabulary to get by. The world is changing, and we need our kids to be ready – for citizenship as well as work. A well-rounded education helps children become well-rounded adults. But the ability of our schools to deliver that kind of education is increasingly under threat.
Here’s the latest: some of our lawmakers want to “improve” our school curriculum by dumbing it down. Several bills are now before the state House Education committee that would relax Michigan’s high school graduation requirements. And subjects that aren’t required are more likely to be on the chopping block in lean times.
We’ve updated our legislative briefing on the “school choice” package of bills to reflect the passage of both SB 618 (charter caps) and SB 619 (“cyber” charters), as well as other legislative action.
The update document is in PDF format, and we will be updating it regularly as the bills make their way through the Legislature. The download link is at the end of the article.
The document is current as of 6/15/12, reflecting the bills as reported from committee or as passed by the Senate or House.
The Muskegon Heights “model,” where education is turned over to charter schools and the local district remains as a shell to pay off the district’s debt, looks to be spreading to Highland Park as well. Is this an omen? What can we do?
Renowned education historian Diane Ravitch posted a story on her blog today about the Muskegon Heights and Highland Park stories, under the title Death Watch for Public Schools in Michigan.
UPDATE: 14 June. The state House of Representatives today passed a revised version of SB 1040, a bill that aims to restructure the public school employee retirement system. The changes in this compromise bill are less dramatic than those proposed in the Senate version, but they still represent a substantial change in retirement benefits for future employees and increased costs for current employees. While some financial pressure is being taken off local school districts, the added costs of the transition will still come out of the School Aid Fund. Absent other measures to increase revenues to the SAF, this bill will not remove the burden on the education budget in the near term.
However, the state Senate, which had approved a version forcing all new employees into a defined contribution plan, adjourned for their summer break today without voting on the bill. They resume session on 18 July.
This message went out to our mailing list this morning. We’re reproducing it here for anyone who is not yet a subscriber to our list.
This newsletter focuses on the bills before the state House to make changes to the Michigan Merit Curriculum (the state’s high school graduation requirements). While the bills differ, they agree on eliminating the foreign language and arts requirements; they also reduce requirements in science, math, and social studies.