Education
12:18 pm
Wed April 27, 2011

Governor Snyder: Move education system into one built for technological age

In a speech at the United Way for Southeastern Michigan's office in Detroit this morning, Governor Snyder laid out his plans for reforming Michigan's education system.

It's a system that Snyder said needs to be transformed from one "still rooted in the days of a mostly farm-based society to one that prepares students for the technological age of today and jobs of tomorrow."

Snyder says the need for reform is clear. In a message to the state legislature that outlined his broad plans, he noted the following statistics:

  • A total of 238 Michigan high schools have zero college-ready students based on the spring 2010 ACT test
  • Only 16% of all students statewide are college-ready based on the ACT taken in spring 2010 as a part of the MME
  • Fewer than 50% of students are proficient in writing based on fall 2010 MEAP data in grades 4 and 7 and spring 2010 Michigan Merit Examination (MME) data for grade 11
  • Michigan ranks 21st in the country in total current expenditures per-pupil, yet it ranks 39th in the nation when it comes to fourth grade math proficiency and 34th in reading proficiency

Here's a summary of Snyder's education plan:

Early childhood development

Proposing to consolidate a myriad of early childhood programs and resources into a single office of early childhood development. The new Michigan Office of Great Start – Early Childhood will be located at the Department of Education.

Performance-Based System of Schools

Snyder says school funding should not just be tied to "head counts" but also to academic performance. He proposes a bonus to schools who show growth in academic performance.

He also proposes that "a portion of the state foundation allowance" be given to schools "that pay no more than 80% of employee health care premiums or control costs in other ways."

He says he wants individual schools to implement a publicly available performance "dashboard" to measure success.

Snyder wants to increase the number of charter schools operating in the state by lifting caps on them in districts and to allow a charter program to operate more than one school.

Wants Intermediate School Districts to compete with local school districts in a open bidding process for services.

Snyder says he'll hold failing districts accountable by using the new Emergency Manager legislation "soon."

Snyder will introduce new anti-bullying legislation to make schools safe.

Any Time, Any Place, Any Way, Any Pace Program

Snyder says school districts should not be allowed to "opt-out" from accepting out of district students. He plans to push these districts to open their doors to other students.

He also says "education opportunities should be available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year."

To that end, Snyder says he wants to open up more opportunities for online learning, increased access to college credit programs in high school, and to allow students to move through high school "at their own pace" that would allow students to "test out" of high school early, if they choose to.

Performance-Based Teaching

Snyder wants the State Board of Education and Department of Education to "re-fashion the certification and approval of teacher education institutions" and is asking the Board and Department to "raise the bar" for certification tests.

He's asking the State Board of Education and Department of Education to put in place a performance-centered assessment of teachers so good teachers can be rewarded and failing teachers can be replaced.

Snyder says he also wants to create a "master teacher" category so good teachers can continue to teach instead of entering school administration positions to advance their careers.

And finally, Snyder says he wants to revamp the tenure program. Under his plan, teachers seeking tenure must show three years of good performance before they can achieve that status. Snyder says teachers that are shown to be ineffective, "should forfeit the rights and privileges secured by tenure."

In conclusion, Snyder wrote that it was time to modernize Michigan's school system:

"Like the Model T car or the one-room schoolhouse, our education system did what we asked of it at the time – but that time has passed. The dramatic influences of globalization and technology on today’s society demand a more prepared, skilled and sophisticated work force. Equipping tomorrow’s workers with the tools to master these critical skills is our obligation today.