Your Guide to Michigan Education Reform Proposals

Find out what the bills entail, where they are in the legislative process, the pros and cons, and when an informational meeting will be held near you.

State House and Senate committees on Wednesday will consider portions of a proposed education reform package that has sparked howls of protest throughout Michigan.

The bills' timing coincides with the waning terms of "lame duck" lawmakers who have only a few weeks left to serve and little to lose by potentially pushing through parts of the controversial legislation that would transform education in Michigan.

Supporters argue underperforming schools and achievement gaps necessitate the reforms, which they say would make students more competitive when they enter college or the work force. But opponents say the measures are moving too quickly, do not provide proper regulations for new schools and would strip communities of control over their local districts and instead put the power in the hands of corporations and the state.

To help readers make sense of the proposals, Patch has put together a handy tutorial on the education reform package.

What's on the table

(See the attached PDFs to review the full bills.)

House bill 6004 and Senate bill 1358: The bills require a survey of all public school buildings and empower the state Educational Achievement Authority to make decisions about how to use vacant buildings currently under the control of local school districts. On Wednesday, the House Education Committee will consider bill 6004 and the Senate Education Committee will discuss bill 1358.

House bill 5923: The bill would issue special designations for single-gender, online and "globally competitive" schools, the latter of which could recruit students from anywhere in the world. International students would pay tuition to attend Michigan public schools. The bill also lets employers sponsor public schools. It is awaiting a hearing in the House Education Committee.

Michigan Public Education Finance Act: Gov. Rick Snyder commissioned the draft measure that was created by the Oxford Foundation, an educational think tank. The 302-page proposal would replace the School Aid Act of 1979, which determines how public schools are funded. The draft measure allows students to choose which district they attend; permits per-pupil funding splits so students can attend more than one district; expands online learning; provides $2,500 per semester to students who graduate early, up to $10,000; and converts the school year to an all-year configuration. It is available to review at oxfordfoundationmi.com. The draft bill is expected to be introduced as part of Snyder's budget presentation in February, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Pros and cons

“I think it will potentially drive real change for better learning. So, in that respect, if you believe schools are not doing a very good job today and you believe they do a better job afterward, then yes, it could be disruptive for some people’s careers. People spent as much time analyzing the reforms as they spend with rhetoric." – Lansing attorney Richard McLellan, who drafted the Michigan Public Education Finance Act, on mlive.com

"These bills set the stage for a complete corporate takeover of our public schools, and the Michigan Public Education Finance Act represents the 'final nail in the coffin' and death of Michigan's public school system. In a nutshell: Our public schools will not be public anymore. They will be controlled by Wall Street." – Rep. Ellen Lipton

Learn more

A series of informational meetings has been schedule throughout Oakland County to help answer questions about the proposals. The schedule is as follows.

  • Wednesday, Nov.28, 4 p.m. Novi High School
  • Wednesday, Nov. 28, 6:30 p.m. 24062 Taft, Novi 48375
  • Thursday, Nov. 29, 4 p.m. Farmington Schools – Ten Mile Building
  • Thursday, Nov. 29, 6:30 p.m. 32789 W. Ten Mile, Farmington
  • Monday, Dec. 3, 4 p.m. Rochester High School
  • Monday, Dec. 3, 6:30 pm. 180 S. Livernois, Rochester 48307
  • Tuesday, Dec. 4, 4 p.m. Clarkston Jr. High School
  • Tuesday, Dec. 4, 6:30 p.m. 6595 Waldon Road, Clarkston 48346

[Leave a comment to share your opinion about the proposals!]

Conny November 28, 2012 at 02:01 PM
My opinion on these bills can be boiled down to just one word: UNACCEPTABLE. Be heard and tell Lansing that you oppose these bills. Our public schools should not be run for profit. Ellen Cogen Lipton has our backs in Lansing for sure, but she can only do so much to protect us -- so it's imperative that anyone who cares about the education of our children speak up and be heard in Lansing. Coming out en masse is the only thing that will stop them from pushing these bills through.
marla jansen November 28, 2012 at 02:40 PM
Thank you Leslie for publishing all of the dates! I hope that people realize how important it is to weigh in and not stay focused on their own school buildings thinking this won't impact them. As a parent in a focus school with an "achievement gap" I am appalled with all of this. I love the diversity at Norup; that's why we are there. A broad range of capabilities is not a bad thing.
Leslie Ellis December 02, 2012 at 02:42 AM
Marla, you're welcome. I was happy to provide the information and appreciate your comment!


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »