Gov. Rick Snyder proposed a sweeping agenda of change for Michigan public schools that he said would dramatically improve students’ academic performance, quality of teachers and the choices students and their families have for schools.
• A new Michigan Office of Great Start-Early Childhood to consolidate early childhood programs and funding. It was the first change Snyder discussed this morning in his special message on education. He said the focus on early childhood programs will result in a greatly improved academic achievement through school and the rest of their lives.
• Removing the cap on the number of charter schools in districts that have at least one academically failing school as determined by the state. He said a dozen or more school districts would likely qualify but he didn’t name them.
• School districts that show improved academic improvement would get bonus money on top of their regular state allowance. Snyder has set aside in his proposed budget $300 million for that purpose. School districts also would be required to create an online dashboard for the public to view progress. Those that don’t could be penalized.
• Anti-bullying legislation to improve school safety. The Legislature has balked at new restrictions during recent years.
• Teacher tenure would be based on a five-year probationary period with new standards for proficiency drafted by the state Board of Education. Teachers that don’t meet basic proficiency levels for two years could be fired.
• Higher certification standards for teachers and allowing those without teaching backgrounds, such as professional engineers, to be able to teach math and science with an alternative certification. He also said if teachers are laid off seniority should not be the determining factor. Teacher unions are certain to oppose that change.
• Districts should be required to take students from other districts if they have room for the students.
• He wants annual reviews for teachers, with at least 40 percent of each review based on student achievement.
• He said high-performing students should have more opportunities to take college-level classes that would count toward their diplomas and also as college credit.