Saturday, December 19, 2009

Legislature Passes "Race to the Top" Reforms

After a week of sometimes bitter disputes, the legislature today approved sweeping education changes to expand the number of high-quality charter schools -- including two new online "cyber schools" -- raise the dropout age from 16 to 18, and give the state stronger authority to take over 5% of the state's academically worst schools.

The reform package was needed for the state to qualify for up to $400 million in extra federal funds, under President Barack Obama's Race To The Top initiative to improve education. Gov. Jennifer Granholm and legislative leaders have called for an agreement by the end of the year in order to apply for the federal grant in January.

"It wasn't pretty, but we got it done," said Rep. Tim Melton, D-Auburn Hills, who led negotiations for House Democrats with Senate Republicans.

Congratulations. Now go home and be with your families.

Curious about the online schools. Will be watching to see how that goes, assuming we do win some funding out of this. In the (distant) future, I believe we will see more and more education online; it's cheaper than running a building, more flexibility with scheduling and pace of learning. Socialization might become an issue, but extra curriculars like sports, music, etc would still require a physical presence, so maybe that would be enough. This would be a start down that road.

The best thing about all this? The Legislature is done for the year! They can't annoy us again for about a month! Woo hoo, Merry Christmas!

Wish I could say the same about Congress...