'SEE' legislation aims for level playing field in Michigan education
LANSING — State Representatives Terry Brown (D-Pigeon), Charles Brunner (D-Bay City) and Rashida H. Tlaib (D-Detroit) have introduced legislation they are calling the âSEEâ? bills, short for School Efficiency and Equitability. The lawmakers introduced the bills in response to the recently passed education budget for fiscal year 2014-15, which funds some public school districts at $50 per pupil while giving some charter and cyber schools $175 per pupil, despite not incurring many of the same costs.
Brown’s bill, House Bill 5694, limits the growth of charter schools. The bill caps the number of charter schools in Michigan to 200 or the number of charters operating when the bill becomes law, whichever is fewer. With declining enrollment, it’s hard to justify the need for creating new districts. Brown is open to revisiting the cap as the number of students in the state increases.
“A significant portion of charter schools in Michigan are run by for-profit corporations. I think it’s wrong to prioritize making money over helping our children learn,” Brown said. “Parents need quality choices for their kids, but unlimited charter and cyber schools is troubling, especially as it drains funding from other successful schools, large and small.”
Brunner sponsored HB 5696, which prohibits public schools, charters and intermediate school districts from requiring employees to sign nondisclosure agreements. Any contractor that provides personnel to those districts also must not force their employees to sign a nondisclosure agreement.
“Our education system is supposed to be transparent — that’s why we have elected school boards that are accountable to members of the community,” Brunner said. “If school employees are aware of any activity that would make parents question whether to send their children to that school, we deserve to know about it.”
Tlaib introduced HB 5695, which ensures that charter and cyber schools that lease real estate do so at fair market value, assessed by an independent appraiser. It also caps the appropriation to cyber schools to 50 percent of the minimum per-pupil allowance that public schools receive.
“Cyber schools have extremely low costs and don’t have to transport their students. It’s ridiculous that some would receive $175 more per pupil when the increase for some public schools is only $50,” Tlaib said. “We need to have a level playing field so that all Michigan kids have the opportunity to get a great education.”
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I’m State Representative Rashida H. Tlaib, and I serve Michigan’s 6th House District.
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State Representative Rashida H. Tlaib
6th House District