Monday, January 11, 2010

Here’s the DFER press release on the historic reforms passed in Michigan last week (plus an article below):

Big, Wet, Snowy, Sloppy DFER Kiss To Michigan Dems For Leading Passage of Historic RTTP Bill

While states all over the country continue to refine their legislative packages so that they can be more competitive in the federal "Race To The Top" reform contest, we wanted to take a brief moment on this snowy Saturday night to congratulate Michigan Sen. Buzz Thomas (D-Detroit) and Rep. Tim Melton (D-Pontiac) for leading the charge behind the passage of historic education reform legislation earlier in the day.

The leadership of Representatives Shanelle Jackson and Bert Johnson also was crucial to the legislation's passage.

As Melton noted in one press account, Michigan political leaders did about 20-years worth of reform work in one legislative package. Working around the clock for much of the last week, Michigan legislators approved groundbreaking plans to allow for the expansion of high quality public charter schools, link student performance data to teacher effectiveness, and mandate state intervention for the persistently lowest-achieving schools in the state.

Charter schools that deliver exceptional academic success, especially those with high achievement among at-risk students, will have the opportunity to become 'Schools of Excellence' under the legislation, which will allow for the replication of additional high-quality charter schools and attract the nation's best charter school models to the state.

Said Michigan DFER Director Harrison Blackmond: "We salute Senator Buzz Thomas and Representatives Tim Melton, Shanelle Jackson and Bert Johnson for their leadership and courage to break the traditional mold and support something that is so critically important to Michigan families. This is the most significant education reform legislation in Michigan since1994. We want all Democrats who supported it to know that MDFER has their back."

Gov. Jennifer Granholm, who lobbied for the passage of the RTTP legislation to better position Michigan to win a piece of President Obama's $4.35 billion education reform prize, has indicated she will sign the bills into law. The unions representing the state's public school teachers issued a statement saying they supported most of the legislative package, except for portions that would end union protections over employment, tenure, and pay for teachers who are ineffective.

For more about the Race To The Top contest, visit


Fed cash spurs Michigan lawmakers on education reforms

Karen Bouffard / The Detroit News

Lansing -- A monumental education reform package designed to win federal funding is headed to the governor's desk and will dramatically change K-12 education in Michigan.

Bills passed by state lawmakers Saturday link teacher pay and job security to student achievement, allow for state takeovers of failing schools, raise the high school dropout age to 18 and create fast-track certification of teachers.

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