Hertel Says School Closings List Shows Disinvestment in Classrooms

Funding cuts, testing changes create confusion for teachers, students
Friday, January 20, 2017

LANSING — State Rep. Kevin Hertel (D-St. Clair Shores) reacted today to the Michigan School Reform Office (SRO) releasing its list of schools in the bottom 5 percent of performance across the state. These schools, labeled Priority Schools, are subject to sanction by the SRO up to and including school closure.

“Kelly Middle School — which is on this list — the East Detroit School District, and Macomb ISD have worked to create improvement from 2014,” Hertel said. “The governor has an education study that says we need to spend at least another $1,200 per student in order to adequately fund our schools. We all have to invest in students and believe in educators, instead of picking winners and losers based on tests that have changed over the years coupled with inadequate funding of our public schools.”

One alternative school in Eastpointe, Kellwood Elementary, has been added to the list, and the East Pointe District’s Kelly Middle School is in its third year as a priority school. This continuing placement on the list leaves the school subject to further sanctions and accountability measures. However, not all agree with the weight being given to this assessment.

“I am pleased, however, to see that of the 79 schools coming off the Priority Schools list from last year are three East Detroit schools and one South Lake District school,” said Hertel. “I am proud to see that despite fiscal constraints and new testing programs, we have seen multiple schools be released from the list. I look forward to working with the educators in my district to continue to improve student outcomes.”

Over the next few months, the SRO, headed by Natasha Baker, will conduct research on the priority schools to determine the best “next steps.” Kellwood and Kelly Middle School will likely undergo further reforms. The SRO, part of the Department of Technology, Management, and Budget, works separately from the State Board of Education to determine what the next steps for these schools will be.