LANSING — State Representative Adam Zemke (D-Ann Arbor), Democratic vice chairman of the House Education Committee, said today that the state’s lack of transparency on decisions about school accountability has reached a new low with the announcement that an unknown number of schools will be closing by next June. Recently moved from the Department of Education into a department overseen by the governor’s office, the State School Reform/Redesign Office (SRO) has announced that a large, unknown number of low-performing schools will be closed after this school year. The SRO announced that the final year of the MEAP test and previous two years of the M-STEP test would be used to determine which schools close. This decision is despite prior assurances from the state Department of Education that these latter test scores, which incorporated the new Michigan standards, would not be held against them.
“The decision to close an unknown number of schools, based on data from two entirely different tests without any clear, consistent and transparent processes to help schools improve, is completely irresponsible. This will leave Michigan families in flux, wondering what their options will be for their children’s education going forward,” Rep. Zemke said. “Thanks to the state’s mysterious closure decision-making process here, we don’t even know how these extreme decisions about our children’s futures are being made. This is an egregious course of action by the SRO.”
As of 2014, the last year the list of the bottom 5 percent of low-performing schools was released, more than 100 schools could close next year, with dozens of those schools being in Detroit. However, Detroit’s charter schools benefit from a reconstitution loophole, allowing them to survive potential closures. Traditional schools in Detroit do not have such a loophole, and will therefore suffer the most due to these mysterious closures.
“This is just another example of Republicans making backroom deals and decisions behind closed doors at the expense of our children’s future, and it is absolutely unacceptable,” Zemke said. “All schools must be treated equitably, consistently and transparently so that every young Michigander is given a chance to succeed.”