Encourage innovative school leaders

Jul 11, 2019 by

Republican lawmakers are reviving common-sense bills that would offer schools some welcome flexibility. The opposition — echoed from last fall — to the bills is indicative of the broader problems facing Michigan education.

The bills, introduced by state Reps. Brad Paquette, R-Berrien Springs, and Kathy Crawford, R-Novi, would authorize innovative school districts and are similar to legislation former House Education chairman Tim Kelly championed last fall. His bills made it out of the House but stalled in the Senate.

Kelly is out after being term-limited, so it’s good to see his idea survive. Lawmakers envision giving schools additional freedom to put new programs in place, and to prioritize competency-based learning, which focuses on a student’s mastery of a subject versus time spent in the classroom.

Some districts are already implementing this style of learning, but they must get annual waivers from the state Education Department — and all the paperwork can be discouraging.

The legislation would allow districts that wish to become “innovative districts” the ability to extend their school year and frees them from having to adhere to the current post-Labor Day start. It would also allow schools that are granted permission to do more without needing waivers, including avoiding the strict provision of providing 1,094 hours of instruction over 180 days.

Source: Editorial: Encourage innovative school leaders

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