Legislators Literally Just Failed Their Own Schools

Hastily Rewritten Bill Passed at 3am is a Sorry Excuse for Policymaking

LANSING — Educators blasted legislators in the Michigan House of Representatives this morning for voting to implement a misguided letter grading system for schools in the middle of the night that will result in schools in their own districts being unfairly labeled with failing grades and offered no help to improve those scores when it happens.

“Educators, school boards, parents and business leaders from across Michigan have spoken out against this poorly thought out legislation because it does nothing to help schools or our students. Instead, it will only stigmatize countless schools across the state and further set back the education community’s efforts to improve the quality of education we are providing our students,” said Dr. Russell Pickell, Superintendent of Riverview Schools. “In a lame-duck session unfortunately characterized by a hyper-partisan agenda, it seems that even our schools and our students aren’t safe from politics being put ahead of good policy in the middle of the night.”

The bill, much of which was rewritten at the last minute with no input from educators, would require the Michigan Department of Education to develop a system to assign letter grades to schools on specific criteria with an unelected board appointed by the Governor & Legislature being given oversight of the process. The design of the legislation would ensure that a certain percentage of schools would be given failing grades, unfairly stigmatizing students, teachers and their community.

“I’ve yet to meet an educator that doesn’t believe in good accountability measures for our schools, but this plan isn’t good nor does it in any way improve accountability for our schools,” said Mark Greathead, TCA Vice-President and Superintendent of Woodhaven-Brownstown Schools. “This legislation will only amplify the problems our schools are already facing and we strongly encourage the Senate to now reject it and instead work with educators on a plan that will actually help Michigan’s schools and bring real accountability improvements that we can all agree will work.”

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The Tri-County Alliance for Public Education is a coalition of education leaders committed to fighting for strong K-12 schools across Michigan. Comprised of Superintendents from every district in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties, they are collectively responsible for educating over 500,000 students.