Government and Community Affairs
First State Board of Education Meeting of 2022Posted by Lamar Weir on 1/12/2022 3:00:00 PM
State Board of Education – January Meeting
Over the holiday break the Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus swept through our city and nation, we entered the new year with open minds and new strategies to combat the pandemic. It will take our collective efforts to restore a sense of normalcy in our schools and society at large. On January 11, 2022, the State Board of Education met to discuss an agenda that includes statewide teacher shortages, COVID-19 safety measures, teaching our students a “comprehensive history” in classes, and recent educational legislation.
Teachers deserve to teach an unfiltered historical truth without fear of discipline and bringing financial penalties to their district. Students, particularly those of African descent, have unique life experiences that their white peers cannot relate to. They should be able to discuss them in the classroom. While State Board of Education members Synder and McMillin are against the teaching of a comprehensive history, also deemed Critical Race theory by legislators, in schools, many of the board members OPPOSE SB 460 (which would ban Critical Race Theory and the 1619 Project, and defund school districts that teach them) and adopted a resolution to send to Michigan Legislators. The District also opposed the bill with our petition.
COVID-19 Safety Protocols
COVID-19 safety protocols such as universal masking policies, surveillance testing, and vaccine mandates continue to be a debated issue nationally. Coming into 2022, Detroit’s COVID-19 positivity rate was ~40%. Given the severity of this pandemic, we cannot just “go back to normal” as both Republican board members suggested. Although the State Board of Education failed to pass a resolution regarding pandemic safety measures, the District is staying diligent in ensuring we are following the most up-to-date COVID-19 Safety Measures possible. While all staff members participate in weekly testing, please register your DPSCD student for COVID-19 Testing to protect our community.
Addressing teacher shortages is the 7th goal of Michigan’s Department of Education Strategic Plan. Unfortunately, having an adequate number of certified teachers in classrooms is directly tied to adequate and equitable funding for school districts. Michigan has ranked last in the nation for educational revenue growth and is still recovering from the 2011 budget cut that caused staff layoffs. Despite the recent passing of the historical budget increase, more investments into teacher certification training programs and recruitment programs are needed. The State Board of Education passed a resolution to encourage legislators to increase the school aid fund and find strategic ways to develop and attract more teachers to the state.
The State Board of Education meets on the second Tuesday of each month at 9:30 am. These individuals are elected by the eligible voters, and we encourage you to attend these meetings, provide public comments, and make sure that you are registered to vote!
Michigan Must Fund LiteracyPosted by Lamar Weir on 12/8/2021 1:30:00 PM
After years of not making investments in education a priority, Michigan legislators have begun placing emphasis on supporting our students. On December 2, the Michigan Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on K-12 Education met jointly with the Michigan Department of Education to discuss how to improve students' reading abilities and provide more reliable internet services to schools and communities who need it most.
State Superintendent Rice led a presentation which showed that before the pandemic, MI students were improving in reading proficiency according to standardized tests. In 2015, MI students ranked 41st in the nation, but by 2019 that ranking had improved to 32nd. Despite the significant jump, many legislators are hoping to implement a package of dyslexia bills for additional support to early elementary students and provide educators with more training. DPSCD was also awarded a grant through the Michigan Department of Education to create a literacy plan. This includes diversifying the literature students have access to so that their libraries include more authors of color.
As you may recall, there was a literacy lawsuit won by Detroit families over the lack of adequate support from the state for our students. During the meeting, Detroit Caucus member Rep. Shri Thanedar reminded the other legislators that Governor Whitmer assured the Detroit families that DPSCD will receive an additional $94 million dollars to support its schools. Unfortunately, as it stands today, there is still work to be done. We must continue to push our legislators for the funding our students need. Our future depends on it
UPDATE! Petition to Stand Against Anti-Critical Race Theory Legislation!Posted by Lamar Weir on 11/16/2021 3:45:00 PM
The House and Senate Education Committees continue to hold hearings on a series of controversial school policy issues including Critical Race Theory (CRT). Earlier this year, Senator Lana Theis, Republican Committee Chair from Brighton, introduced Senate Bill 460, and Committee Member Rep. Andrew Beeler introduced House Bill 5097. These bills prohibit the instruction of Critical Race Theory and curriculum such as the 1619 Project and impose a 5% school aid penalty for districts who are found in violation. Plainly stated, DPSCD would lose state funding for teaching about slavery, Jim Crow, and the history of systemic racism in this country. Some Michigan legislators continue to follow a national trend of introducing legislation that rolls back civil liberties such as voting rights, LGBTQ rights, women’s reproductive rights, and more.
The District has been highlighted by Chalkbeat, for its leadership in taking a strong stance against any legislation that hinders teacher and student voices.
We must ACT NOW to ensure that we not only protect our school funding, but we must also ensure that school districts are enabled to provide honest and accurate instruction. Our fight for equitable funding and equitable policies in our state government continues on. Raise your voice today! Be heard. Please consider signing our petition to show the state legislators you stand for freedom of speech for educators and students!
(The links above will take you to the Voter Voice website where you can sign the petition or email your legislators.)
UPDATE! ACT NOW! Critical Race Theory Ban Now Passes House Education CommitteePosted by Lamar Weir on 11/5/2021 10:00:00 AM
Republican Michigan Legislators continue to find ways to promote censorship, fear, and silence the voices of our educators and students. Last week Senate Bill 460, sponsored by Senator Theis, was passed out of the Senate Education Committee. The bill if passed by the House and signed by Governor Whitmer would ban the instruction of Critical Race Theory in public schools AND school districts who are “caught” face a 5% penalty in state aid. This occurred even though “CRT” is not taught in any Michigan K-12 schools.
This week, Representative Beeler’s legislation (House Bill 5097) passed the House chamber with a vote of 55-0 and is now headed to the Senate for approval. Want to know why only 55 members voted?! Detroit Caucus member, Representative Cynthia A. Johnson (D, House District 5) was not allowed to testify in opposition to the bill.
Nevertheless, this bill would ban any instruction or dialogue that states race or gender play any role in our experiences. Opinions around racism and sexism would be banned from expression. Like the Democrats, we must continue to take a strong stand against this dangerous rhetoric.
(The link above will take you to the Voter Voice website where you can email or call your state legislators.)
ACT NOW! Critical Race Theory Ban Passes Senate Education CommitteePosted by Sherisse M. Butler on 10/27/2021 2:52:00 PM
Voter Voice Action Alert: Critical Race Theory Ban Passes Senate Education Committee
The month of October not only brings about spooky Halloween fun, but it also has made for an eventful time in Michigan’s legislature. The House and Senate Education Committees continue to hold hearings on a series of controversial school policy issues including Critical Race Theory (CRT). Earlier this year, Senator Lana Theis, Republican Committee Chair from Brighton, introduced Senate Bill 460.
This bill prohibits the instruction of CRT and curriculum such as the 1619 Project and imposes a 5% school aid penalty for districts who are found in violation. Plainly stated, DPSCD would lose state funding for teaching about slavery, Jim Crow and the history of systemic racism in this nation. In reality, CRT is not a part of the Michigan Merit Curriculum or the District's curriculum.
- Supporters of Senate Bill 460 argue that CRT spreads Marxism in our schools and that it would teach students to hate themselves and their ancestors.
- Opponents of Senate Bill 460 state that it removes local decision-making from our schools, encourages the defunding of our public school districts, and creates an environment of surveillance in which teachers and students cannot have open discussions without fear of retribution.
Some Michigan’s legislators continue to follow a national trend of introducing legislation that roll back civil liberties such as the voting rights, LGBTQ rights, women’s reproductive rights, and more. Five states (Tennessee, Idaho, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Iowa) have passed bills similar to Senate Bill 460, and dozens of others are attempting to do so.
We must ACT NOW to ensure that we not only protect our school funding, but we must also ensure that school districts are enabled to provide honest and accurate instruction. You may recall that the School Board passed the Anti-Racist Declaration in the summer of 2020. As a District, the Board committed to ending racism, bigotry, hate and violence in any form; providing honest and transparent information of District culture and practices; and developing and implementing an Equity Strategic Framework.
We must continue to fight for equitable funding and policies in our state government. Raise your voice today! Be heard. Please consider sending a letter to your state legislators or contacting them via telephone.
(The link above will take you to the Voter Voice website where you can email or call your state legislators.)
Michigan Legislature Passes Historic $17B School Aid BudgetPosted by Sherisse M. Butler on 7/1/2021 6:50:00 PM
We are proud to announce that due to the collaborative efforts of our Michigan Legislature and Governor, on June 30, 2021, the school aid budget passed both the chambers. This $17 Billion dollar budget is a historic and timely investment in public education here in the State of Michigan. It reflects months of advocacy and outreach from our community and education advocates.
This budget closes the equality gap by making the minimum and target foundation allowance equal. The majority of Michigan schools receive that same base level of funding, $8,700! Because of the historic increase in K-12 funding, DPSCD's per pupil allotment increased from $8,142 per student to $8,700 per student! WOW!
The fight is not over, but we applaud our legislative leaders for taking a leap toward adequate and equitable funding. We have not achieved equitable funding until special education is fully reimbursed and significant increases are made in at-risk and english language learner programs.
Nevertheless, we express gratitude to our advocates who raised their voice and to our legislators who have heeded the call to educational equity.
Significant Funding Highlights include:
School Nurses and Counselors $240 Million
Reading Scholarships $155 Million funds for reading scholarships administered by Grand Valley State University
Special Education Reimbursement $44 Million increase
Great Start Readiness Program (GSRP) $8,700 per child
Special Programs $1.0 Million for innovative community libraries; $3.75 Million for YMCA Youth in Government
Michigan State Board of Education Meeting - June 8th, 2021Posted by Sherisse M. Butler on 6/28/2021 5:40:00 PM
Michigan State Board of Education Meeting - June 8th, 2021
The Michigan State Board of Education convened virtually on June 8th for their monthly meeting. All board members were in attendance. The Board heard testimony from Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, Chief Medical Executive for the State of Michigan. In addition, members received informational presentations on proposed revised MI Out-of-School Time (MOST) standards, the MI Blueprint for Comprehensive Student Recovery, and the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) state plan for 2022-24.
Dr. Khaldun testimony highlights:
- Since April 11th, Michigan has seen a consistent downward trend in case rates across all age groups.
- 59.7% of Michiganders aged 16+ have received at least one dose of a vaccine.
- Over 8.4 million doses administered in Michigan.
- Fully vaccinated students who remain asymptomatic will not be required to quarantine if exposed to COVID-19.
- Broad mask mandates in Michigan to be lifted on July 1st.
State Superintendent Rice provided his monthly report:
- Detailed Gov. Whitmer’s proposal to expand pre-K to an additional 22,000 four-year-olds in Michigan through a $405 million expansion of the Great Start Readiness Program (GSRP) over the next three years. This expansion would be financed through a combination of state dollars and federal COVID-19 relief funds.
- Emphasized the importance of narrowing the digital divide in Michigan schools.
- Almost all end-of-year assessments have been completed and submitted. However, the distribution of test completion rates is uneven across the state.
- 65% of Michigan’s 6th & 7th graders took the M-STEP assessment.
- Urges suspension of the A-F accountability system for this school year.
MI Blueprint presentation:
- District plans must be multi-year to support a comprehensive recovery for all students.
- Investments in holistic student supports are needed:
- School nurses
- Social workers
- Regular opportunities for physical activity
In several comments, Board Members Snyder (R) and McMillin (R) expressed opposition to elements of the MI Blueprint they considered to be promoting “critical race theory.” Both members also lodged their opposition to COVID-19 restrictions during Dr. Khaldun’s testimony.
Board President Ulbrich (D) expressed opposition to SB 218, banning transgender athletes in high school sports, during her report.
State Board of Education Update- MayPosted by Sherisse Butler on 5/21/2021 10:00:00 AM
The May 2021 meeting of the Michigan State Board of Education was held remotely on May 11th. State Superintendent Dr. Michael Rice delivered an update on Michigan’s response to COVID-19, the effects of pandemic learning on Michigan students, and the MI Department of Education’s (MDE) priorities going forward. In particular, Superintendent Rice offered recommendations for how best to utilize the $3.5 billion in federal funds the state is receiving for K-12 education from the American Rescue Plan.
Superintendent Rice outlined the following priorities for MDE:
- Early Childhood Education expansion:
- Districts can make an investment in preschool with federal dollars not typically available. Investing in children early on will benefit students in our state for years to come.
- Health & Wellness:
- HVAC replacement/upgrades, windows able to open and close for ventilation
- Expand programs in trauma-informed care, implicit bias training, social and emotional learning, and hire more mental health professionals in Michigan schools.
- Michigan’s Teacher Shortage:
- Expand programs allowing school support staff to become teachers
- Increase teacher pay (especially for starting positions)
- Reduce or eliminate barriers to recertification to encourage educators to remain in the profession. At least 1,000 former educators have expressed to MDE an interest in returning to the profession.
- School Accountability:
- Superintendent Rice called on legislators in Lansing to take action on third grade reading retention requirements, student testing performance being tied to teacher evaluations, and A-F grading in light of pandemic learning’s effects.
Following the superintendent’s report, the Board heard from Gloria Chapman, assistant director of MDE’s Office of Partnership Districts, on the partnership program and its implementation in DPSCD and other districts across the state. Chapman highlighted the receipt of Comprehensive Literacy State Development Grants by DPSCD and three other partner districts, as well as the collaborative efforts of MDE Partner Districts to provide students with food, technology, and social/emotional learning support during the pandemic.
The Board heard informational presentations from Easterseals Michigan on their work with behavioral health services in Oakland County Schools and from two Michigan Teachers of the Year from Oak Park and Portage Schools. Finally, a data presentation on the Top Ten Strategic Education Plan’s secondary learning expansion goal detailed the overall increases in both enrollment and completion of Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, Early Middle College, Dual Enrollment, and Individualized Education programs by Michigan students, while also recognizing areas with room for growth.
The Michigan State Board of Education will meet again on June 8th, 2021.
House and Senate FY22 K-12 Budget UpdatePosted by Sherisse Butler on 4/26/2021 1:30:00 PM
Alas! State Budget Season is steaming ahead. Last week both the Senate and the House introduced the FY22 budgets and the House introduced a FY21 School Aid Supplemental, which allocates federal stimulus funds. This is only the beginning of the budget process. Now that we have an Executive, House and Senate budget, the negotiations can begin.
Want to know a cool fact about school funding? School districts and the State of Michigan have a different budget cycle. DPSCD's budget cycle begins on July 1, whereas the budget cycle for the State of Michigan is October 1. Timely adoption of a School Aid Budget is very important for school districts!
Let your representatives know that we need them to act quickly.
Here are a few details about the budget:
- Increases the foundation allowance by $50 - $100 per pupil using the 2x formula
- Does not provide increases in at-risk funding; expands definition to include Pre-K
- Increases School Mental Health funding by $4.3M
- Eliminates $400K DAPCEP funding
- Retains extended continuity of learning plan otions
- Increases the foundation allowance by $125 - $250 per pupil using the 2x formula
- Does not provide increases in at-risk funding
- Increases School Mental Health funding by $20M; separately funds the UM Trails program
- Fully appropriates remaining $4.1B of federal ESSR formula grant funds.
- $840M ESSR-II (CRRSA)
- $3.3B ESSR-III (ARP)
- The funding is tie-barred to HB 4082, which modifies the executive’s transfer powers. The act would cap administrative transfers to $200K max
Stay tuned for the latest news in Lansing!
Senate FY22 K-12 Budget Expected This WeekPosted by Sherisse Butler on 4/20/2021 12:00:00 PM
Things in Lansing have been quiet for a few weeks, but that is certainly about to change. The State Budget Season will resume this week, as the Senate K-12 Appropriations Committee has posted for 8 AM on Thursday.
Earlier this year, Governor Whitmer introduced the FY 22 Executive Budget. As is custom, Michiganders must await both chambers of the Legislature to introduce their budget proposal before all parties come together to negotiate.
Stay tuned for more updates later this week.