Schools expect to be lame duck target
Historically schools have been a clear target of lame duck legislation which occurs after the election, but before the new legislature is seated on January 1. We expect that to be true again after the upcoming election on November 8, particularly when legislative terms are ending. In 2012, nearly half of the education bills that were approved, were acted upon during lame duck. A change as small as one additional paragraph or sentence to a bill may severely impact public education.
So what can be done to protect the future of our children and our schools? For the next few months we must have a more intense focus on communicating with the legislature. We need to prepare our staff, our parents, and our community to step up and raise their voices with clear, concise, unified messages as they advocate for what’s best for kids.
Fortunately, the West Michigan Talent Triangle led by Chris Glass is one of the best advocates for our region, yet there are still destructive items that get slipped into laws at the last minute. Areas that we need to watch are: MPSERS (staff retirement and pensions); assessment discussions (M-STEP and others); Energy Legislation (legislation that could leave our districts with no choice when it comes to energy providers); critical teacher shortages, and reporting requirements. I strongly encourage you to go to www.wmtt.org click on subscribe so that you can stay on top of these developments. You will also find many helpful resources on the website including a thumbs up or down indicator for proposed legislation. Encourage others to subscribe as well!
I am also part of two state committees focused on new federal legislation: the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) with the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) and the Professional Growth and Leadership Committee with MASA. In each of these groups, we are working on new required measurements that better compare schools, and training and support for superintendents in the field. Each of these groups, as well as the legislative committee I am on, has provided the Muskegon Area with great opportunities to be represented in Lansing.
The Muskegon Area also received amazing positive comments from MDE and other school leaders from the east side of our state during one of the large group discussions in Lansing. In essence, they recognize how our schools and our ISD collaborate so well with the community, local organizations, and Ottawa and Kent ISDs. I feel very fortunate to be part of this work and I look forward to working with others to make our great county an effective model of how to improve outcomes for kids. This truly reflects the great work of our local districts and ISD staff, our school boards, and the many partners we have in our county and in our region. Good stuff!
Dr. John Severson
Muskegon Area ISD Superintendent