Special Report
Education Funding

Michigan Senate Panel OKs Education Law Changes

By The Associated Press — December 01, 2009 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Michigan lawmakers revved up their pursuit of up to $400 million in federal cash for schools Tuesday as a Senate committee approved bills that would allow the expansion of charter schools, create alternative paths for teacher certification and provide a framework for reorganizing failing schools.

The cash may provide the incentive for Michigan to make changes that lawmakers have discussed for years.

The bills could be voted on by the Republican-led Senate later this week. The Democrat-led House, which already has approved some similar measures, also continued discussions Tuesday about what could be done to win Race to the Top money offered by the Obama administration.

The competition will reward states that make significant changes to improve schools. The money is of particular interest in Michigan, which is in the process of cutting state aid to schools by a minimum of $292 per student.

The federal stimulus money would not be used as a direct replacement to the lost state aid, education officials say, but it could boost funding for some school-related projects.

States must apply for the federal funding by mid-January.

“It is an opportunity we cannot afford to pass up, but the due date is quickly approaching,” Republican Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop said in a statement.

Some educators and teachers unions oppose some of the changes the Senate committee agreed to Tuesday, including a proposal that would provide an interim teaching certificate for people coming to schools from other professions with as little as an additional semester of college coursework.

The goal would be to attract top-notch math and science teachers to Michigan schools. But some educators argue the state doesn’t need more teachers, particularly at the elementary school level. Many new graduates of Michigan universities already must move out-of-state to find teaching jobs and thousands more teachers could be laid off next year if state funding cuts take effect.

“We do not have a teacher shortage,” Robert LeFevre, director of legislative and legal affairs for the Macomb Intermediate School District, told lawmakers.

Other measures would allow charter school operators with a good track record to expand in Michigan. Some Democrats opposed that measure in the Senate committee because the legislation does not provide money to cushion the blow for traditional K-12 schools that may lose students to new charter schools.

Legislation that would set up a process for turning around failing schools has been criticized by some educators as too vague or giving too much discretion to the state superintendent of schools or the federal government.

The Senate soon plans to take up bills that would tie teacher evaluation to student performance and test scores as part of the effort to win Race to the Top cash.

The Michigan House has passed legislation with similar themes and more bills are expected in the near future. The House, Senate and Gov. Jennifer Granholm would have to agree on final versions of bills before any changes to state law could be made.

Granholm said the next three weeks are critical in Michigan’s effort and that lawmakers must work together.

“We’ve all got to be on the same page in a very short amount of time,” she said.

Copyright 2009 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Budget & Finance Webinar
Innovative Funding Models: A Deep Dive into Public-Private Partnerships
Discover how innovative funding models drive educational projects forward. Join us for insights into effective PPP implementation.
Content provided by Follett Learning
Budget & Finance Webinar Staffing Schools After ESSER: What School and District Leaders Need to Know
Join our newsroom for insights on investing in critical student support positions as pandemic funds expire.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Student Achievement Webinar
How can districts build sustainable tutoring models before the money runs out?
District leaders, low on funds, must decide: broad support for all or deep interventions for few? Let's discuss maximizing tutoring resources.
Content provided by Varsity Tutors for Schools

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Funding When There's More Money for Schools, Is There an 'Objective' Way to Hand It Out?
A fight over the school funding formula in Mississippi is kicking up old debates over how to best target aid.
7 min read
Illustration of many roads and road signs going in different directions with falling money all around.
Education Funding Explainer How Can Districts Get More Time to Spend ESSER Dollars? An Explainer
Districts can get up to 14 additional months to spend ESSER dollars on contracts—if their state and the federal government both approve.
4 min read
Illustration of woman turning back hands on clock.
Education Week + iStock / Getty Images Plus Week
Education Funding Education Dept. Sees Small Cut in Funding Package That Averted Government Shutdown
The Education Department will see a reduction even as the funding package provides for small increases to key K-12 programs.
3 min read
President Joe Biden delivers a speech about healthcare at an event in Raleigh, N.C., on March 26, 2024.
President Joe Biden delivers a speech about health care at an event in Raleigh, N.C., on March 26. Biden signed a funding package into law over the weekend that keeps the federal government open through September but includes a slight decrease in the Education Department's budget.
Matt Kelley/AP
Education Funding Biden's Budget Proposes Smaller Bump to Education Spending
The president requested increases to Title I and IDEA, and funding to expand preschool access in his 2025 budget proposal.
7 min read
President Joe Biden delivers remarks on lowering prices for American families during an event at the YMCA Allard Center on March 11, 2024, in Goffstown, N.H.
President Joe Biden delivers remarks on lowering prices for American families during an event at the YMCA Allard Center on March 11, 2024, in Goffstown, N.H. Biden's administration released its 2025 budget proposal, which includes a modest spending increase for the Education Department.
Evan Vucci/AP