Monday, August 22, 2011

"Any Time, Any Place, Any Way, Any Pace!" (Digital Learning Model)


Schools of Choice bill coming

Legislature likely to get proposal this week as foes from Detroit, suburbs gear for fight



By CECIL ANGEL FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER
   An education reform package that includes mandatory Schools of Choice and cyber schools could be introduced in the state Legislature as early as Wednesday, the chairman of the state Senate Education Committee said.
   “It’s a good possibility on Wednesday, the 24th, we’ll have part of the package ready for introduction,” said state Sen. Phil Pavlov, R-St. Clair Township.
   The education package also addresses charter school caps and school aid. The package is 
part of Gov. Rick Snyder’s proposed “Any Time, Any Place, Any Way, Any Pace” public school learning model.
   Education Committee hearings on the package will begin Sept. 7, Pavlov said.
   Mandatory Schools of Choice is emerging as the most controversial part of the education package.
   Opposition is strong in the heavily Republican Grosse Pointes. In heavily Democratic Detroit, three legislators have said they are opposed to state-mandated Schools of Choice because, they said, it will negatively 
impact Detroit Public Schools.
   “I don’t want the state to help usher children from one community to another at the expense of the community where they are,” said state Sen. Bert Johnson, D-Highland Park, whose district includes the Grosse Pointes and part of Detroit.
   State Sen. Coleman A. Young II, D-Detroit, said every proposal out of Lansing that was supposed to help DPS has hurt it. He cited the 1999 state takeover that was supposed to improve the district academically.
   At the time, the district had 180,000 students, a $93-million fund balance and a $1.5-billion 
bond project. Under state control, DPS wound up with a $200-million deficit, he said.
   “I don’t think the state should be imposing another mandate on the city or any other city,” Young said.
   State Rep. Lisa Howze, D-Detroit, said mandatory Schools of Choice “would further impact DPS’s ability to stabilize.”
   Last week, the Grosse Pointe Woods City Council passed a resolution against mandated Schools of Choice.
   The Grosse Pointe Woods-based Michigan Communities For Local Control has set up a Web site at www.miclc.com   and is contacting other school districts to build opposition.
   Peter Spadafore, assistant director of government relations for the Michigan Association of School Boards, said the MASB has been talking with the Snyder administration and legislators about the bill.
   Based on the ongoing discussion, the bill likely will include “universal choice K-12 up to capacity. The problem is how to define capacity,” he said.
   Spadafore said the MASB is opposed to mandatory Schools of Choice. “We feel that decision should be made by the local school district,” he said. “By mandating Schools of Choice, it’s just a solution looking for a problem.”

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