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Lessenberry talks about new teacher evaluations, redistricting, and the sex scandal aftermath

Sep 9, 2015

Credit user jdurham / morguefile

This Week in Michigan Politics, Jack Lessenberry and Christina Shockley discuss how student growth will be a big part of teacher evaluations this year, why redistricting won't happen, and what will happen to the political careers of Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat after the sex scandal


Half of teacher evaluations will be based on student growth

School is back in session and this year, student growth will play a bigger role in teacher evaluations.  Last year, student growth was considered a "significant" factor, but local leaders were the ones to decide what "significant" meant.  Now, student growth will comprise 50% of a teacher's evaluation.

Lessenberry says teachers are saying this isn’t fair.

“There’s a considerable sentiment that you need more local control.” Lessenberry says. “What works in Grand Rapids, may not work in Marquette. What works in Detroit may not work in Holland.”

Michiganders want redistricting, they just don’t want to do the work to change it

Michigan Radio teamed up with Public Sector Consultants to conduct a poll of 600 likely voters.  One of the topics was how Michigan's district lines are drawn. The poll found majority support--among Democrats and Republicans-- for overhauling the way that's done. About two thirds of Michigan voters say the current system of legislative redistricting is too political.

Lessenberry says legislative districts in Michigan are heavily gerrymandered in favor of Republicans.

There's general support for an independent commission to draw the district lines, but Lessenberry says there isn’t enough “oomph” to create any change.

“The problem with changing it is you have to have a committed movement with some money behind it to get a ballot proposition or a constitutional amendment,” Lessenberry says.

What will happen to Courser and Gamrat

A special committee meets again today to go over possible disciplinary action against state Representatives Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat.  An investigation found the two used state resources to cover up an affair.

Lessenberry says the chief of staff for the Speaker of the House has signaled that he wants to expel Courser, but allow Gamrat to stay with severe censure, meaning her major committee assignments and some of her staff would be taken away. 

Gamrat spoke to her constituents for the first time yesterday since the scandal broke. She apologized and asked for censure.