Thursday, February 9, 2012

Cyber School Bill and Dual Enrollment Bills move to the House Floor

FROM MEA "Capitol Comments" -

This morning, the House Education Committee reported out SB 619-623 and 709-710 with amendments that differ from the original Senate-approved bills. Despite evidence and testimony that full-time virtual schools are not an effective replacement for a traditional public school education, all of these bills on cyber schools and dual enrollment were sent to the full House on a largely party line vote.

SB 619, which lifts the two-year, two-school cap on cyber schools, passed with a substitute that impacts cyber schools of excellence. Through Dec. 31, 2013, only 15 contracts for a school of excellence that is a cyber school can be issued by a public university or community college. After that date, the number is raised to 30.

Nine Democratic amendments failed. The amendments—the majority proposed by Rep. Lisa Brown (D-West Bloomfield)—addressed transparency and accountability issues. One of her amendments would have prevented cyber school expansion until a required two-year report was released this year; another would have required all cyber school exams to be proctored to prevent cheating.

Even though the bill passed along party lines with 10 yeas, 8 nays and one pass, Republicans Rep. Tom Hooker voted no and Republican Rep. Kurt Heise passed.
SB 621, also reported out with a substitute, allows any district or charter school located in an ISD—or in a contiguous ISD-- to receive state aid if they provide classes to private and home-schooled students.

Democrats were successful in amending SB 622 before it was reported out. SB 622 expands dual enrollment and Rep. Rudy Hobbs (D-Lathrup Village) inserted language that requires at least one parent to be a Michigan resident in order for an out-of-state student to take advantage of state aid funds for college classes. Other changes to the bill dealt with course restrictions. The remaining dual enrollment bills—SB 623 and 709-10—were also reported out.

Our priority, as MEA/WLEA members should be to contact state representatives and urging them to vote NO on SB 619. Tell them: Cyber schools are a risky for-profit adventure that will only benefit corporations and CEOs. There’s no evidence that students, public education or this state will see any benefits.

Please use your home email accounts: Click on the following link that will take you to the MEA legislative action site. You can find your representative and email from that service! QUICK AND EASY!