Jul 20, 2011

Michigan Education Law Expected To Boost Teaching And Learning In The State [Or, Let Me Lie To You, Suckers]

With Republican and Democratic lawmakers looking on, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder signed new legislation into law this week that is expected to dramatically improve education in the state.

The new law requires that teachers and school administrators undergo rigorous, fair and transparent evaluations along with the professional development they need and want. Currently, teachers are evaluated infrequently and often complain the professional development they receive isn't targeted to their specific needs.

The new Michigan law also makes an important change to how teachers are retained. Before the law was enacted, schools that were going through budget cuts had to lay teachers off by seniority rather than based on job performance. Now, a teacher's work will kids will be the most important factor in determining who stays and who goes. That's critical to ensuring we keep our best teachers in the classroom.

The law also states that parents must be alerted when their children are placed in classrooms with teachers who have been evaluated as ineffective. Parents are the best advocates for their kids, but they can't speak up and demand better if they don’t have all the information at hand.

Shannon, a parent from Kentwood, was among the StudentsFirst members who turned out for the signing. "I am so excited to be a part of a new beginning in Michigan where all students have a chance of reaching their potential with great teachers," she said.

Last, the law reforms tenure so that this benefit is reserved for effective teachers.

Throughout the state, parents, students, educators and policymakers have come together to improve education in Michigan. The need is great. Only a third of the state's 4th graders were proficient on a federal reading test. With newly enacted changes, however, Michigan is on track toward ensuring children have access to great teachers and improved schools.

Please check out photos from the signing here.

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