Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Aligns to OUR Purpose (By Design)

Bold ideas: Online study, payouts

Snyder‘s education plan has innovative reforms to reward schools’ success

   Gov. Rick Snyder will propose Wednesday financial rewards to individual schools that show exceptional academic progress.
   The money could be divided among the teachers or used in other ways they choose, according to a source familiar with the plan.
   It’s among reforms in a special message on education Snyder will deliver at 10 a.m. at the United Way for Southeastern Michigan in Detroit.
   Snyder also wants to allow students to choose online classes they can complete at home or other sites, rather than comply with state rules that they be in a classroom at least 1,098 hours a year.
   “There are some kids who learn better reading and looking at words than they do listening to a lecture,” said Bill Rustem, Snyder’s director of strategy.
   Rustem said it would be up to school districts to set guidelines for online programs, which education experts say can work well for both advanced students and those who perform poorly in traditional classes.
   Snyder also will call for changes in teacher tenure laws and charter schools in his education message. He delivered a similar address on local government reforms in March.

Best way to track results is measuring, Snyder says

Educators need more incentives, training

   EAST LANSING — Gov. Rick Snyder told several hundred educators Monday to get used to the idea of measuring students’ performance.
   He’ll talk a lot about that Wednesday, he said, when he delivers his special message on education in Detroit.
   “We have to put much 
more emphasis on proficiency, on growth, on measurements and results than we have had in the past,” Snyder told the Governor’s Education Summit, an annual gathering of mostly teachers and school officials. “It’s about really delivering results for these kids, to show the whole system needs to be geared to say each child gets a good year’s education each and every year.”
   He said teachers and administrators must be given more incentives and training to improve the schools.
   “The way to approach it is not to get down on people, it’s not to approach it with blame,” he said. “It’s not (to) be negative with one another. It’s about how we look to the future and be positive and build on that as an opportunity to succeed together.”
   That means more autonomy for individual schools and teachers, and a system to financially reward outstanding
teachers who can mentor others, he said.
   State schools Superintendent Michael Flanagan called for a deregulation of schools, such as eliminating minimum numbers of hours or days students must attend each year. Instead, schools would set their own guidelines for students
to meet state academic goals.
   “My goal is to take away as many regulations as we can but hold people accountable for academic growth,” Flanagan said.
   A person familiar with Snyder’s plan said the governor won’t call for eliminating the minimum hours requirement, but will ask to give districts options, such as online learning programs for some students.
   Snyder’s speech is much anticipated, as the Legislature wrestles with how much to cut from state aid to 
school districts. Snyder has called for $300 per pupil less than the current year for all districts, but the Republican-controlled House and Senate are considering slightly different cuts.
   Snyder has often spoken of moving to an education culture that depends more on measured outcomes than on debates over money.
   He also will talk about an 
education system that begins with prenatal care programs.
   “I hope he will set some big audacious academic goals for us to accomplish in Michigan like they have done in other Midwestern states like Missouri, Kentucky and Illinois,” said Carol Goss, president and CEO of the 
Skillman Foundation, in a response to the Free Press. She has met with Snyder to discuss education ideas.
   She said she hopes Snyder will propose more public-private partnerships, more accountability, and giving students more career alternatives than going to college, which does not suit some.
   In his remarks Monday, Snyder pointed to the United Way’s early childhood programs as an example of how the state could join with private ventures.
   Snyder also has met twice with philanthropist Eli Broad, a Michigan native and head of the Broad Foundation 
, which has aggressively funded some education initiatives.
   “They talked about using their expertise in education to help supplement what we’re doing to get a handle on not only the Detroit school system, but other public school districts, and what kind of innovative 
practices are out there,” said Snyder’s chief of staff Dennis Muchmore.
   Democrats, who’ve sharply criticized Snyder for his proposed cuts to schools and universities, were wary about his Wednesday speech.
   “I’m ready to work with the governor if he’s serious about giving our children a quality education, but his actions are speaking louder than his words,” said Rep. Lisa Brown, D-West Bloomfield, minority vice chair of the House Education Committee.

Skillman Foundation CEO Carol Goss

State Superintendent Michael Flanagan

File photo by PATRICIA BECK/Detroit Free Press
   “The way to approach it is not to get down on people, it’s not to approach it with blame,” Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder said Wednesday of measuring student performance. He spoke at the Governor’s Education Summit in East Lansing.