Any Time, Any Place, Any Way, Any Pace
Q: Is this a “voucher” proposal?
A: No, this is not a voucher proposal. This proposal does not allow funding for private schools, and only pays for public education, as current law requires. A “voucher” proposal would give students and parents the ability to choose private schools. Currently, parents and students may choose more than one public school for their education – that doesn’t make this a voucher plan.
Q: Doesn’t my neighborhood school know best how to educate my child?
A: Maybe. A neighborhood school may be the best option for your child. However, with 38% of 3rd graders not proficient in reading at the 3rd grade reading level, it is quite possible your neighborhood school may not be providing the education your child needs. This proposal recognizes that ALL parents should be able choose the best educational option for their child.
Q: How is a parent supposed to work a full-time job and transport kids to three different schools during the course of a day to “unbundled” his or her education?
A: Perhaps your child will not need to travel to different schools. This proposal will better accommodate your child’s needs by providing quality on-line instruction at home so travel may not be required. In other cases, this proposal will allow some schools – ones that will excel at providing student-centered learning – to bring teachers to students. Schools may begin to resemble university centers at your local community college where, for example, a University of Michigan professor may travel to a community college to teach. Under this proposal, a traditional high school may educate your child for 3 or 4 days a week, and on the remaining 1 or 2 days, your child may attend a different school focused on math and English. The most important point is this proposal will allow the maximum flexibility for parents to choose what is best for their child.
Q: What is wrong with the existing school model of one school delivering all of my child’s education?
A: If your child is excelling in that environment, then nothing is wrong with it. However, many Michigan students are falling dramatically behind and are not college or career ready upon graduation. We have, until now, based our education system on an agrarian calendar modeled after the industrial-factory assembly line. Students learn in different ways, and it is incumbent upon our education system to teach each child how they will best learn.
Q: What is the role of technology in this proposal?
A: Technology is rapidly changing the delivery of education services. In the past, technology was little more than an added layer for the teacher and administrator; for example, an electronic grade book, instead of a paper one. This old way of thinking how best to use technology does not contribute toward a student-centric education system. Technology is now able to help a teacher direct each individual student’s education. A great example is the “flipped classroom,” where technology enhances teachers’ ability to teach on an individualized basis. In a flipped classroom, a student reads the material or views lectures online away from school and receives tutoring from the teacher to help them reach mastery in the material. In this environment, the teacher is able to help each student with individual problems. The teacher is no longer the primary source of content, but helps each student along his or her individualized learning path.
Q: Won’t this proposal devastate my local school district?
A: This proposal will help your school district become more individual student-focused and current to meet the learning needs of today’s students vs. following an outdated industrial-factory model. If your local school district still uses yesterday’s industrial-factory model to educate your child, they may face some challenges.
Q: How will this proposal impact class size?
A: Class size will still remain a local decision. However, this proposal will allow more flexibility to provide individualized instruction. For example, what if 35 students in a school require a remedial course in math, but the school only has physical space for 30? Currently, 5 of those students would most likely be placed in a general math class, where they may continue to fall behind. Under this proposal, a district could seamlessly offer a remedial math class to those students at a neighboring school district or online. Our public education system is no longer about learning in a 900 square-foot room. Learning occurs in a variety of locations under a variety of methods; this proposal allows Michigan’s public education system to teach our children in new and developing ways.
Q: Wouldn’t this proposal allow out-of-state “for profit” companies to raid our public education dollars?
A: No. A private company could not offer courses to a student and be paid with dollars from the State School Aid Fund. All courses must be offered by a school district. Today, school districts purchase computers, textbooks, paper, health insurance and all sorts of supplies from “for profit” companies to deliver education services, including technology and online courses. This proposal keeps the power to select vendors for all educational services with locally-elected or authorized school boards.
Q: How is “unbundling” proven to work?
A: Student-centric models of education have a proven record of success. Brain and instructional research have repeatedly proven that all pupils learn in different manners and achieve mastery using different pathways. Michigan’s current public education system does not encourage support for differentiated instruction and fails too many of our children. By failing to give our students the ability to read at 3rd grade proficiency levels, we have sentenced 38% of Michigan students to continue to fall behind without hope of ever catching up and, quite possibly, to a lifetime of failure. Our current system must become current to meet the needs of ALL children.
Q: Won’t this proposal take money away from school districts, particularly urban ones?
A: Not necessarily. This proposal gives financial incentives to student-centric schools that provide successful individualized education to their pupils as demonstrated through performance indicators. This proposal will not reward schools based simply on how many kids are present on “count day.”
Q: Won’t this proposal make it difficult for a school district to budget and plan? Won’t the district have to be prepared for zero students and one million students at the same time?
A: The goal of Michigan’s public education system is to educate our kids. This proposal will initially make budget planning for districts more complicated. This temporary inconvenience, until adults and systems can adjust, is well worth the investment necessary to keep kids first.
Q: What are the rules regarding athletics?
A: Every school in the state is a member of the Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA), which is the private entity charged with governing and regulating high school athletics. This proposal does not issue new regulations on high school athletics and leaves the regulatory decisions to the MHSAA.