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Sen. Patrick Colbeck Proposes "New School" Thinking in Education Funding

The first-term Michigan senator from Canton says he thinks the government should focus first and foremost on students, reward good teachers and channel dollars more effectively into Michigan classrooms.

By Sen. Patrick Colbeck, R-Canton

“Old school” is a term I find myself referencing more and more often as the state struggles to address its funding shortfall without negatively impacting our education system. The debate seems to have become entrenched in the “old school” way of thinking.

Yet this “old school” format has not solved the chronic funding shortages or dampened the cries for new money from the state’s unions. Continuing to follow this same path will only lead to the same result. I propose it is time we change the debate, do away with old school thinking and start to look at solving the problem from a “new school” perspective.

Old school thinking uses threats and scare tactics to bully the state into funding concessions. It frightens parents by telling them that teachers will be laid off, class sizes will increase and sports and other extracurricular activities will be cut. This old school thinking seeks to punish our students and teachers rather than enact true reform to our education system.

We need to enact a new way of thinking about school reform. This “new school” thinking places the focus on educating students, rewarding quality teachers and cutting costs through compensation and structural reforms that do not adversely impact the classroom.

There is a national movement to reform our schools led by former Washington, DC public schools chancellor Michelle Rhee that I believe embodies this “new school” way of thinking. Known as Students First, the organization seeks to put the needs of students and teachers first instead of the special interest groups or wasteful bureaucracies.

The policy agenda of Students First can serve as a blueprint for real reform in Michigan. The premise is simple: elevate the teaching profession by valuing teachers’ impact on students, empower parents with real choices and real information and shift spending of taxpayers’ money to get better results for students.

Our current system of teacher retention and compensation is outdated and unsustainable. It does not recognize and reward excellent teachers. We need to shift the focus away from tenure, last-in first-out policies and automatic step increases and onto teacher performance and effectiveness. Excellent teachers should be rewarded and encouraged.

In addition, we need to increase opportunities for parents to be involved in the education of their children. Expanded school choices, greater transparency in education spending and insight into school and classroom operations will allow parents more input in the system.

Finally, we need to reexamine how our tax dollars are being spent. The problem is not insufficient funding; the problem is an ineffective use of our education dollars. An analysis by the Hoover Institute at Stanford University found that higher spending does not result in a better education.

In fact, the study concluded that “expenditures per student have increased over time, and the distribution of the expenditures has been according to popular emphasis: The level of teacher education has increased, teacher experience has increased, and student-teacher ratios have fallen. But the desired outcome—student achievement—has remained flat.”

The analysis concluded that it is not a lack of resources but rather the way the money is being allocated that is preventing real improvement in education and suggests that by rewarding high performing teachers through a more effective compensation plan our students will benefit from a better education.

Governor Snyder’s budget proposal includes $12.2 billion for the school aid budget out of a $45.9 billion overall budget; meaning over 25 percent of the state’s budget would go to school aid. We don’t need to spend more, we need to spend smarter.

This leads us back to the concept of a “new school” approach to education in Michigan. A new school approach will focus first and foremost on our students, reward good teachers and channel dollars more effectively into our classrooms. Over the next several weeks, I will be laying out a more detailed plan to achieve these results as we move Michigan away from the “old school” style of education management and toward the new and I look forward to a productive discussion about the best way to achieve educational excellence in Michigan’s schools.

DeeDee March 29, 2012 at 10:21 PM
Plus, they deserve something to put back for retirement. People keep wanting to put all of societies' problems on teachers. At my friends' school the teachers have the burden to solve problems with tardiness, kids not turning in homework and classwork, and overall apathy. This is sad. These are problems that should rest squarely on the parents and the students themselves. I object to the silly use of tests that waste instruction time. But, the biggest problem with the charter business models is that they are run from the top down and teachers get very little respect. There is a great deal of nepotism and cronyism and the state of Michigan is at fault for allowing this to go on. People should not be allowed to make a profit off of education. I'm sorry but you are flat out wrong. Goodbye for now I'm going to go play the lottery since as I told you my retirement was smashed to pieces in the downturn.
dswan March 30, 2012 at 02:25 PM
Another link for your consideration: It's not just parents that are concerned about supervision at P-CEP, according this survey P-CEP teachers are overwhelmingly concerned: http://www.p-cap.org/pdf/code_conduct_comparison.pdf Lastly, the Center for Michigan is conducting a survey on education policy, I encourage everyone to share their input. http://www.thecenterformichigan.net/
DeeDee April 02, 2012 at 04:15 AM
NEWS FROM THE FRONT...my friend's school just got thier 6th Spanish teacher for the year and an new principal installed. My friend feels like he has slid down the rabbit hole into a surreal educational netherworld where a full staff never remains in place and administrators are placed who have absolutely no experience in the classroom.Remember-low pay, no real raises in 4 years and no matching 401k. But I have to continue to tell my friend's story. But I feel like David felt battling Goliath. I know that the people who have lined up against my friend and his colleagues have far more moeny and power. But often people with a great deal of power and money are surrounded by psychophants who never say "you are wrong" and politicians don't have the guts to stand up to them either. So I have to keep fighting the good fight for my friends. So I will keep battling the lies and propaganda. But, good news is on the horizon- I heard that the big three plan on hiring a great number of people soon. So what does that mean? My friend and his colleagues will be running out the doors of thier charter. All of his colleagues have already said they looking for new jobs. Absolutely no one wants to stay. No One! Who are the losers here? The children of the city who will never have a stable education. The children who have alredy been shortchanged becasue they don't have any classes involving the arts and none that involve any vocational training or extra interests. But who will win? The "CEO" and
DeeDee April 02, 2012 at 04:33 AM
his family. The "lords of the manor" who rule with impunity all the while making a profit and building an aristocracy off of the taxpayers dime. Yes. The business model works well for the arisotcracy. 10 years from now if the authorizer revokes your charter you have made a fortune. What a world. So my challenge to Senator Colbeck, Gov. Snyder, and others who have voted to lift the cap. When are you going to do something to end the absolute corruption involved in charters? I want to know? Do they not realize how corrupt they look? When everyone takes a closer look at what is happening don't they realize that they will be attached to corrupt people? Also, why on earth was Snyder appointing Covington? A Broad grad. who left KC schools in shambles. BEWARE MIchigan. It's amazing what money can buy. http://parentsacrossamerica.org/2011/09/warning-to-michigan-parents-and-teachers-about-john-covington/ http://www.mlive.com/news/detroit/index.ssf/2011/09/improvement_did_not_happen_kan.html Remember when you asked Debbie about religious schools? Here is something I keep reading about: Go look up info. about the Gulen Movement. Do you see the danger in not keeping schools under control of a representative democracy? As far as your fear tactic about PCEP- of course every parent worries about their children. But of course, you are trying to undermine a district in Colbeck's area. I hope he stands up for the district. Well time to go. I would have written earlier but I was busy
DeeDee April 02, 2012 at 04:35 AM
watching March Madness. Unfortunately the team I picked didn't win. Well, tomorrow my friend will slide back down the rabbit hole. Pray for his safe journey. And pray that he and his colleagues will be delivered from evil.

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