By Dave Reid
Governor Snyder has recommended 30% of the FY 2016 state budget be used to fund education throughout the state. The budget makes many recommendations, including increases in areas such as higher education and community college. Also included in this 30% are several factors that relate to teacher quality. The budget addresses areas including teacher training and professional development, teacher evaluations, and teacher certification. As was discussed in an earlier post on Green & Write, the Senate, and particularly the House, have different ideas of how this money should be spent, but the Governors’ budget proposal is sure to include these important areas involving teacher quality.
Teacher Training and Professional Development
Governor Snyder proposed to increase funding for teacher training, including for his third grade reading initiative. This funding would include a program for early literacy coaches to assist teachers in developing and implementing instructional strategies for students in grades K-3. The Senate is in agreement with this new $3 million proposal.
The Governor is recommending a $330,000 budget cut for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) training for teachers. The Senate agrees with this change, but the House still supports the funding, which was originally allotted for grants designed to professionally develop teachers in areas of STEM. This included an integrative approach to content and organization that stressed outcomes in science and math.
Teacher evaluations have been a tumultuous issue in the state for the last two years (and arguably longer). For this upcoming fiscal year Governor Snyder recommends use of $3.6 million in general funds to help districts implement teacher (and administrator) evaluations. Last year, the teacher evaluation budget included $14.8 million dollars to fund that were tied to the enactment of a new educator evaluation system proposed in HB 5223 and 5224 of the 2013-14 legislative session. However, these bills were never enacted in the 2013-14 legislative session. The Governor is still recommending $5 million ongoing and $900,000 one-time general funds be appropriated to the Michigan Department of Education to implement educator evaluations based on recommendations developed by the Michigan Council for Educator Effectiveness.
The House of Representatives is asking for $14.8 million dollars for teacher evaluations, while the Senate wants to reduce the amount to $650,000. The Senate proposes this money can be used right away, but requires the deletion of the $14.8 million dollars that was tied to HBs 5223 and 5224.
Governor Snyder’s budget also includes $1.8 million to for Michigan teacher certification tests. These funds will be used to adopt a certification test centered around ensuring newly certified elementary school teachers have the necessary knowledge and skills to deliver effective, meaningful, and evidenced-based literacy instruction.
The House and Senate agree with this allotment.
Attention to Teacher Quality
Governor Snyder’s proposed budget increases per pupil spending and educational spending throughout the state. However, the proposal is not without critics. The main concern of people who oppose the budget is money from the K-12 School Aid Fund may be used for things outside of the realm of K-12 education. Additionally, some groups worry this budget will not do enough to give Michigan schools the support they need to be successful.
However, overall it appears the Governor has focused a fair amount of his attention to areas of teacher quality that could help Michigan students. The overall sentiment throughout the state appears seems positive and it seems there is plenty of room for conversation between the Governor, Senate, and House to address these important issues.
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