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Our View: Michigan can learn from other states how to end its 'education recession'
April 20, 2014
hollandsentinel.com
By: Sentinel editorial board
We all know about Michigan’s painful economic recession. It began well before the national recession and cut much deeper — of the 2 million jobs lost in the United States between 2000 and 2009, roughly half were in Michigan. Less well known is Michigan’s educational recession — the slide in our national ranking in student testing over the past decade. And while our economy has turned the corner, the educational recession continues today.

That’s the conclusion of a recent report on education in Michigan by Education Trust-Midwest. It makes for sobering reading. The report is packed with charts showing Michigan near the bottom of national educational rankings. Michigan ranks in the bottom five states in student achievement improvement between 2003 and 2013 in the key areas of fourth-grade reading and math, as measured by the National Assessment of Educational Progress; we were one of six states that actually lost ground in fourth-grade reading over the past decade. Ours has been an equal opportunity recession — white, African-American, Hispanic, rich kids, poor kids, charter schools and traditional public schools, all have fared poorly.

The report compares Michigan with Massachusetts, the nation’s leading state in educational performance, and Tennessee, a historically low-performing state that has made huge strides in the past decade. There’s no silver bullet those states are using to increase learning, but Education Trust-Midwest believes they both offer lessons for Michigan.

Massachusetts, which would rank second in the world in math if it were its own country, is known for its rigorous standards and its demanding high school graduation test. The state emphasizes professional development for teachers, funnels extra funding to school districts with high concentrations of poverty and imposes strict standards of quality and accountability when authorizing charter schools.

Tennessee has developed a long-term, comprehensive, research-based reform effort with an emphasis on evaluating and improving teachers, while drawing support and input from all stakeholders, from educators to the business community to students themselves.

What the two states have in common is a sustained focus on reform, based on data instead of politics, and a recognition of the importance of quality teaching. Michigan’s educational reform efforts have come in fits and starts (our strict high school graduation requirements are one positive in our favor). But much of the public policy focus on education over the past decade here, Education Trust-Midwest notes, has been on charter schools and school choice, which, as the statistics indicate, haven’t done anything to improve actual student achievement. And our state has made little progress in developing a coherent policy on evaluating teachers and helping them improve.

It’s painful to read how poorly our state is faring compared to the rest of the nation, but it’s information we need to know to improve. We’ve spent so much time here comparing school districts to one another that we seldom look at the bigger picture. We can improve the quality of classroom teaching, demand accountability and direct state funding where it’s needed most, but doing so will take cooperation from educators, legislators and other stakeholders, with a focus on results instead of ideology and a commitment to stick with reform over the long haul. Our economic recession has passed — we’re long overdue for our education recession to end as well.
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    Monday, December 23, 2013    
When charter schools fail, close them Los Angeles Times
Charter schools make a basic promise to students, parents, school districts and the state: They operate with greater autonomy and flexibility than ...
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Greeley charter school population near top in Colorado, nation Greeley Tribune
The parents of 300 students crowd into the gymnasium at University Schools on Wednesday in Greeley. University Schools expanded by 500 students ...
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CPS says no to charter schools, but Michael Madigan says yes Chicago Sun-Times
Like most charter schools, Concept Schools` Chicago Math and Science ... Their only other option, school officials said, was to default on loans they ...
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Charter Schools Serve More Low-Income Students Than ... Michigan Capitol Confidential
In his newspaper blog, Battle Creek Enquirer reporter Justin Hinkley stated that because school choice doesn`t provide transportation, low-income ...
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Bill 237 clarifies charter school procurement Pacific Daily News
Aline Yamashita, R-Tamuning, amends the Academy Charter School Act of 2009 to include language that requires the charter school to adhere to ...
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Pasco school lost charter because of grades Tbo.com
LAND O` LAKES — Athenian Academy of Pasco, which lost its high-performing charter school status this year because of low grades from the state, ...
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Morning report: Dog whistle politics, Pussy Riot released, charter ... Arkansas Times (blog)
I also challenged Newton to get the Walton billionaires to test their charter school faith by taking over one of the worst Little Rock schools as it`s ...
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The Legacy Project and The Horizon Science Academy Charter ... ChicagoNow (blog)
Chicago public schools are not equal, enters a new public school model - Charter Schools. Chicago is clearly developing two different school systems.
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Two of three Wildwood schools stay the course Daily Commercial
Wildwood received a “C” for 2012-13, after two straight years of receiving a grade of “B.” South Sumter received a “B” and the charter school received ...
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Schools just want money back Trib- Today
The Grinch, a.k.a. charter schools (or, ``for profit``), continues to plunder ``under our tree`` and to steal our money. The evidence against these thieves of ...
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DC public school students making good progress Washington Post
Additional analysis, The Post`s Emma Brown reported, showed the system`s gains equaled or exceeded those of the city`s public charter schools in ...
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Purchase needs senators` OK: Legislative approval required to buy ... Pacific Daily News
Approval: Guahan Academy Charter School students play during recess on the Tiyan school campus on Dec. 4. The property is currently owned by ...
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     Leadership Governance...
Governance is THE job of Charter Boards, and the MACSB offers a framework for Board governance that will put you in command of your Academy while keeping you out of the trenches.

This model, which we title "Leadership Governance", is accurately based on the proven Policy Governance model (created by John Carver) which we have successfully tailored for Michigan Charter Boards.

The MACSB offers an efficient and informative presentation on Leadership Governance. Contact us for further information or to arrange a presentation to your Board.
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Call: (517)819-4777 or eMail: LeadershipGovernance@macsb.org
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Time to Look at Ourselves
Vol. 2No. 6
When Charter Boards set written performance expectations, the major focus should always be in the area of Student Achievement, although establishing expectations in the Management area is also important because it speaks to issues of prudent and ethical administrative actions.

But the “expectations” model for governance promoted by the MACSB has a special feature that helps Board focus on an often overlooked area….the performance of the Board itself!

Most Boards seldom engage in any form of true introspection, usually because there are no standards or criteria to measure against.  But MACSB offers a practical way to make it happen.  It is done by establishing written expectations for Board performance and assessing performance against those expectations.

In this area, a Board establishes expectations for itself in the following categories:

  • Governance Approach & Style
  • Meeting Agenda/Protocol
  • Board President
  • Board Code of Conduct
  • Board Committees
  • Governance Education
  • Administrator Relations

These expectations are not a substitute for or redundant to Board bylaws.  They are quite different (but complementary) in that they address topics directly related to “governance”  rather than structure.  And these performance expectations are also monitored and self-assessed by the Board based on internal survey of individual Board members.

Performance reports and assessments in this area are typically produced two times a year, each covering about half of the expectations categories.  Again, Boards can conduct these assessments on their own or tap into the MACSB automated reporting system that produces the survey documents for completion by each Board member and then compiles the results for Board deliberation.

An important by-product of these Board performance expectations is that they also serve as a helpful screening process for selecting Board candidates.  Rather than expect candidates to face the traditional tasks of “figuring out” what membership means and wading through the 1,000 page policy manual that current members have long forgotten, candidates see the written, Board-developed standards that show how your Board intends to operate. 

Board expectations also help preclude membership by those with strange or unknown agendas.  They know what is expected and what isn’t!  In other words, candidates and current members can substantively determine if there is likely a good “fit”…kind of a Match.com for member recruitment.

The value of this approach cannot be overstated.  Continuity of the Board’s governance style is essential to effective performance.  And many Boards have paid the price for arrival of a member with delusions of individual authority, especially when coupled with a hidden agenda and no real knowledge of how the Board operates.

In future Board Bits issues we will provide examples of how Boards can address a variety of issues and decisions based on the governance philosophy that underlies the MACSB Leadership Governance model.


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