Dept. of Education Speaks Out Against Proposed Legislation

By: Shannon Kantner Email
By: Shannon Kantner Email

"These are like a Band-Aid, rather than coming up with a solution to the problem."

-Joseph Martineau, Department of Education Deputy Superintendent for Accountability Services

The State Board of Education wants state lawmakers to leave the educating to the ones in the classroom.

In a joint statement, the state superintendent and entire board said they oppose a couple of new bills in the house: one that would flunk third-graders who don't pass state reading tests, and another that would change the school rating system.

The state board said if the laws pass, it would only bring frustration and confusion to schools across the state.

"These are like a band-aid, rather than coming up with a solution to the problem," said Joseph Martineau, Department of Education Deputy Superintendent for Accountability Services.

The state board of education believes third-grade reading level requirements and the school accountability system are issues they should handle. In this case they say leave it to the experts, not the lawmakers.

"Fixing a problem like that is not simple," Martineau said. "We've got to take the appropriate steps. We've got to take the appropriate actions."

The board believes action is missing from the third-grade reading proficiency bill. The state board of education wants a plan in place to help the students, not just flunk them. But Representative Amanda Price, (R) - Park Township, said she had one goal in mind when she introduced the bill.

"To increase third-grade reading levels, and right now 33 percent of our kids are not reading at a third-grade level," Rep. Price said. "This is really critical that we need to get this done."

Representative Lisa Posthumus Lyons, (R) - Alto, feels just as strongly about her bill, which would change the current color rating system for schools - that's barely been in place for a year - to a letter-grading system.

"It's about transparency, it's about being clear, concise, understandable, and transparent, both for the parents and the public," Rep. Lyons said. "But also for the schools, who will know what they're expectations are and try and meet the mark."

The state board said it's open to improving upon the system already in place, but that a new one would do more harm than good and reduce flexibility moving forward.

"It creates all kinds of turmoil in the schools that we would really rather not see," Martineau said.

Both representatives said they remain optimistic about their bills, and they're not giving up, but they are a work in progress. They do hope to find a balance with the state board of education.

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