There’s a lot going on in the world of education and education policy in Michigan; testing season has begun in schools with the MSTEP, a DPS bailout still looms over the state Capitol, and a discussion is bubbling up over whether bathrooms in schools should consider transgender students.
A recent kickback scheme was uncovered among some DPS principals, and the scandal has emboldened Republican leadership at the Capitol to be more heavy-handed with the district as the Legislature considers a $715 million bailout plan.
State Superintendent Brian Whiston says he has been involved in conversations with lawmakers and the governor over how to turn DPS around. He says they’re discussing how to deal with financial problems and corruption, but also early childhood education, graduation, instructional time, literacy rates, career preparedness and technical training. He says he hope the Legislature will consider those things as it crafts the final DPS legislation.
“We’re going to have to put the child at the center of this if we’re going to fix this,” he says.
During a State Board of Education meeting this week Whiston and the board members heard public opinion on a set of guidelines the board is considering for recommendation to all districts in the state regarding treatment of LGBTQ students. During that meeting Republican state Senator Patrick Colbeck [R-Canton] testified against the proposed standards.
“It’s not bullying or peer pressure that leads to higher rates of AIDS in the LGBT community,” Colbeck said, as quoted in the Detroit Free Press. ”No policies protect kids who get good grades and carry a trombone.”
“I disagreed with the senator’s comment,” says Whiston. ”[But] he has a right to share his point of view… The bottom line is no student should feel threatened or bullied at school.”