There's a variety of reforms for individual school districts, but a few key statewide changes from healthier food at school lunches to annual teacher evaluations.
Many local school districts are moving to full-day kindergarten classes this year in order to receive the maximum amount of kindergarten funding from the state. The change means restructuring for some schools, but educators say it could help kids conquer tougher curriculum and be better prepared for first grade.
Also new this year - every school district and charter school in Michigan must have an anti-bullying police in place, a requirement of "Matt's Safe School Law," which lawmakers passed last year. The law is named after Matt Epling, an East Lansing teen who took his own life in 2002 after being bullied. Districts' anti-bullying policies must include a statement prohibiting bullying, a procedure for reporting bullying, and a procedure for investigating bullying, among other things.
Also, school cafeterias will be serving more nutritious meals under new guidelines. You'll see more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains on the menu, and less saturated fat, trans fat, and sodium. The USDA also calls on schools to limit calories based on the age of children, serve potatoes just twice a week, and only offer fat-free or low-fat milk.
Furthermore, as part of a new state law, teachers welcoming back students this year have all undergone evaluations. The mandate for annual reviews in all K-12 districts is to ensure only the top-rated educators return to classrooms today.