Teacher Preparation Programs in the Balance: Legislative Updates from Lansing

From time to time, it is important to check on policy movements and draſt legislation that can impact music education in the state of Mich- igan. Currently, there is a package of bills in the Michigan House that has the potential to dramatically affect music teacher preparation. In this article, I discuss these various bills and note how each one specifically attempts to alter teacher preparation in the state. I also note ways for music educators to respond. To give context to this discussion, I first begin with a primer on who controls public education rule making in Michigan, as this is relevant to un- derstanding the overall process.

Education Governance in Michigan— Who is in Control?

Several different entities are involved in edu- cation governance in Michigan. As is true of local school districts, there is a board/executive structure in place. In Michigan, the State Board of Education includes eight voting members with eight-year terms, and each member is elected with a partisan ballot. Te board then works with an executive, called the “Chief State School Officer” or CSSO—in Michigan, this is the state superintendent (technically titled the “Superintendent of Public Instruction” or SPI). Te Superintendent, appointed by the board, oversees the Michigan Department of Educa- tion, a state agency. In addition, the legislature is directly involved in education governance. Rules for processes such as teacher licensure and preparation are described in the “Revised School Code,” a statute established in 1976 and continually amended and updated through public acts.

Te structure described, however, is by no means true of every state. For example, most

Ryan Shaw

states—thirty-six—feature appointment of board members by state governors. Fur- thermore, some elect the CSSO by partisan/ non-partisan ballots, or feature students as non-voting members of the state board, and several states have no board at all (National As- sociation of State Boards of Education, 2018). In addition, Michigan’s structure has oſten led to messy disputes and arguments. Because of the partisan election of members, the board has oſten been deadlocked and meetings have been contentious (McVicar, 2017a). In addition, Governor Snyder has tangled with the Depart- ment of Education for control of accountability power, moving the School Reform Office from under the department’s purview before moving it back to MDE control (McVicar, 2017b).

State legislators also exert direct control, further complicating the governance process. Where- as the State Board of Education, the SPI, and the Department of Education create specific implementation of policies and monitor com- pliance, the legislature and governor create the overarching rules and policies. As an example, the Michigan legislature created a “soſt law” on teacher evaluation in 2011 (Public Act 102). Tis was “soſt” because it was composed of broad principles only and lacked in specifics. It was then the job of the aforementioned agen- cies to determine how to set up the statewide system. In terms of teacher preparation restric- tions—which I turn to next—the legislature is currently at the draſting stage for policy.

Teacher Preparation Bill Package

A package of bills aimed at reforming teacher preparation institutions was introduced in the Michigan House by Republicans on Febru- ary 20, 2018. Te bills, HB 5598-5605, would


Policy & Advocacy

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