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Legislation designed to give Michigan the nation's toughest anti-human trafficking laws were signed today by Gov. Rick SNYDER.
In all, 21 different pieces of legislation became law, including a new life sentence for human traffickers and the establishment of a Human Trafficking Commission within the Attorney General's Office. Those attempting to solicit a prostitute under 18 now will face a felony also.
For the full article, see "21 Anti-Human Trafficking Bills Signed Into Law", Inside MIRS Today, October 16, 2014.
Other topics covered include:
MIRSNews.com is available via the MSU Library electronic resources page. Access is restricted to the MSU community and other subscribers.
West Michigan superintendents agree with a group representing top national education officials about the need to evaluate the number of tests students are given and scrap those that are of poor quality and redundant.
The Council of Chief State School Officers, which includes Michigan's Mike Flanagan, and the Council of the Great City Schools pledged their commitment on Wednesday, Oct 15, to addressing the unnecessary and poorly designed tests educators say waste teacher and student time. Their statements come amid growing criticism that students are tested too much.
“Tests are an important way for schools and parents to determine our students' academic needs, and gauge how well our children are progressing toward being college or career ready by the time they graduate," said Council of the Great City Schools Executive Director Michael Casserly.
He said they hope the process creates a better way for the nation to assess the students' learning.
For the full article, see Monica Scott, "Too much testing? West Michigan superintendents respond to message from education groups", MLive, October 16, 2014.
Michigan’s school funding cuts among the nation’s deepest since 2008
Future workforce, ability to compete in global economy at risk, report warns
– Michigan ranks 15th worst in the country in depth of cuts to school funding since the start of the recession, a new report finds. These unnecessary cuts weaken our schools and could make it harder for the next generation of American workers to compete for highly skilled jobs in the global economy.
Michigan has cut investment in K-12 schools by 9.5 percent since 2008, a deeper cut than 32 other states, according to a report released by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a nonpartisan policy research organization based in Washington, D.C. The report looks at state support of the per-pupil foundation grants across the states.
“Sadly, education spending cuts have hampered our ability to educate children in Michigan who are among the next generation of American workers,” said Gilda Z. Jacobs, president and CEO of the Michigan League for Public Policy. “Unless we reverse course, there will be negative consequences for Michigan’s economy,”
State revenue declined sharply during the recession. But instead of addressing budget shortfalls by taking a balanced approach that includes new revenues, Michigan and other states relied very heavily on cuts to state services, including education.
Michigan is one of 20 states that continued to cut education funding this year, even as the economy recovers, leaving spending per student $615 below pre-recession levels, taking inflation into account.
Reducing investment in schools has long-term economic consequences. Quality elementary, middle, and high school education provides a crucial foundation that allows children to go on to succeed in college and in the workplace.
Many schools across Michigan are trying to implement proven reforms to strengthen their schools and better educate students, such as reducing class sizes, improving teacher quality, increasing learning time, and expanding early education. But these improvements cost money and deep funding cuts undermine their efforts. In fact, state spending cuts have forced many schools to move in the wrong direction.
Lansing schools, for example, eliminated art, music and gym teachers at elementary schools, while other districts report bigger class sizes, teacher pay and transportation cuts and fewer janitorial services. Forty-six districts are in deficit spending.
“At a time when the nation is trying to produce workers with the skills to master new technologies and adapt to the complexities of a global economy, states should be investing more — not less — to ensure our kids get a strong education,” said Michael Leachman, director of state fiscal research at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and co-author of the report released today.
The Center’s full report can be found at: http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=4213
Source : Judy Putnam, Michigan League for Public Policy, October 16, 2014.
Education funding has taken a front row seat in the current political debate. Claims and counter-claims about changes in state funding for K-12 education abound. As a result, citizens are left scratching their heads about what to believe.
To help clear up some of the confusion, the Citizens Research Council of Michigan (CRC) is releasing a new report on the topic, Making Sense of K-12 Funding. The report explores the recent history of K-12 funding, discusses the important factors affecting the amount of money that school districts receive, and analyzes how much money is available to deliver classroom instruction.
"After listening to the back-and-forth on the issue, we decided it was time to set the record straight," said Craig Thiel of CRC. "While the raw numbers show an absolute increase in state funding in recent years, this fact alone does not paint a complete picture of public school finances -- the actual situation is much more nuanced," added Thiel.
CRC's new report answers three fundamental questions:
1) "Is school funding up or down compared to four years ago?"
Here the answer is an unequivocal 'up'. While total state funding is up over $1 billion from FY2011 to FY2015, the increase is almost exclusively earmarked to satisfy school employee retirement costs, specifically legacy costs arising from the financial market downturn and state retirement system reforms.
2) "Has education funding gone up as much as it could have?"
Here the answer is 'no'. State tax policy and budget decisions effectively stretched the School Aid Fund, leaving fewer dollars available for distribution to K-12 schools. The personal income tax and business tax reforms of 2012 substantially reduced the amount of state tax revenue deposited in the School Aid Fund. Also, lawmakers decided to fund certain state higher education appropriations from the School Aid Fund. Combined, these decisions have effectively reduced the amount of state resources schools receive.
3) "Are individual school districts better off today than they were four years ago?"
An answer to this question is far less definitive. While the amount of per-pupil funding is up, districts are paying higher retirement bills. This leaves fewer resources for other school expenses. Also, total funding at the district level is greatly influenced by the number of students enrolled. Because declining enrollment is a pervasive issue across the state, the vast majority of traditional public school districts must manage with less non-retirement funding.
CRC's report is available at no cost on the Citizens Research Council's website.
Founded in 1916, CRC works to improve government in Michigan. The organization provides factual, unbiased, independent information concerning significant issues of state and local government organization, policy, and finance. By delivery of this information to policymakers and citizens, CRC aims to ensure sound and rational public policy formation in Michigan. For more information, visit http://www.crcmich.org
Nancy Derringer, "GOP hunts votes in the D" : The Republican National Committee opened an African-American engagement office in overwhelmingly Democratic Detroit. Early returns are a bit fuzzy.
Sandra Svoboda, "Regular Detroiters get their day in bankruptcy court" : U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes gave 15 ordinary Detroit retirees, appearing without lawyers, an opportunity to appear at the city’s bankruptcy trial to voice their objection to the restructuring plan.
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