U.S. Department of Education

Proposals for making college debt-free have become all but mandatory for Democratic candidates on the presidential primary campaign trail. Hillary Clinton rolled out her plan at a campaign stop in New Hampshire on Monday.  Called the “New College Compact,” the proposal would cost $350 billion over 10 years.

Frankie Riley and Emily Rau can tell you all about their own school's educational philosophy, but don't know much about the common core. Their school has has little trouble implementing the standards thus far.
Sarah Alvarez

A brief update on exactly where the state stands with the Common Core State Standards to refresh our collective memory is probably in order.

Michigan’s Board of Education has adopted the educational standards designed for students across the country. But last spring the legislature, concerned primarily, although not exclusively about local control, made it impossible for the state to spend any money implementing the Common Core. At the time, Governor Snyder essentially said policy makers would revisit the issue in the Fall.

Well, it’s Fall. 

'The standards are now starting to catch up'

Schools all over Michigan are back in session and integrating the standards into their classrooms, eager to get students ready to be tested on the new standards possibly as early as 2015.  As for the politics, state lawmakers are likely to revisit the standards tomorrow.

brina.head / Flickr CC / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

The Washington Post is convening three governors (NM, DE, MS) and several State School Superintendents to talk  this morning about third grade reading scores. That indicator may get more attention in Michigan now that there is a plan for expanding early education.

High quality preschool is linked to better third grade reading scores. And third grade scores are very accurate predictors of high school graduation.

Now that the state budget seems to insure that more kids in Michigan will have access to high quality preschool, the state will need to focus on third grade outcomes to judge, in part, its investment. 

The Annie E. Casey Foundation, of Kids Count fame, is funding the panel as part of what is being called the Campaign for Third Grade Reading. The foundation also put out a special Kids Count data book on third grade reading scores.

All across the country, it's not pretty. A full 68 % of kids in fourth grade are below reading level nationwide. Michigan has 70% falling behind by fourth grade.

The Michigan legislature last week passed a budget that stripped funding for implementation of new "common core" education standards. The standards are an attempt to get states on the same page when it comes to evaluating students. The Washington Post dives into why Tea Party groups now see the Common Core standards as a major issue, and why they're fighting the standards across the country.

Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

Update: The state House has passed the proposed School Aid budget, including the $65 million increase for early education. 

The annual legislative brawl over how to spend the state's money is expected to come to a close this week in Lansing. The budgets currently under consideration include many changes. One of the biggest is a nearly 60 percent increase in the state's funding for early education.

The governor initially proposed a $65 million increase for the Great Start Readiness Program (GSRP) in his budget. The proposal went back and forth as it made its way through the legislature this year, but it's now looking like the governor will get his way. 

Yesterday, the White House released its budget proposal for the coming fiscal year, and we got our first detailed look at how the President intends to pay for his plan to make preschool available to all four year olds in the country. Basically, he's going to make smokers pay for it.

First, some bullet points: 

Balancing the budget on the backs of... guess who?

Apr 9, 2013

President Barack Obama will be releasing his budget tomorrow. Already, organized labor and others who side with the President more often than not are upset with cuts he's willing to make (likely to be around $200 billion worth). 

The Republican leadership in congress isn't happy with the budget either. Most Republicans don't want to raise taxes in order to help raise revenue and decrease the deficit. 

Accusations the budget is getting balanced on the back of seniors, children and people in poverty can seem like tired political rhetoric. But, those are the people that disproportionately rely on government services.

So as the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities points out in a handy chart, for the last few years it's true these groups have borne the brunt of the budget battle.  

lfmuth/ flickr

 This week, the state legislature began its first hearings on Governor's Snyder's proposal to more than double preschool funding in Michigan over the next two years. Yesterday, I went to a joint House committee to get a sense of where lawmakers stand on the proposal. It was clear that many lawmakers are sincerely trying to do their job, and really investigate whether the preschool investment is worth it for taxpayers. But, some of the things I heard were pretty weird. 

Here's a list of the weirdest:

1. "It seems to me, the perverse incentive is to take the family and rip it apart."

Preschool is immoral? Or just political?

Feb 19, 2013

After President Obama threw his cards on the table and said he wanted preschool to be available for everyone in his State of the Union address, preschool moved squarely into the political realm.

Official portrait

 Governor Snyder delivered his budget proposals to the state legislature today. Here are a few highlights relevant to disadvantaged kids in Michigan: