Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Michigan Catholic Conference Vice President for Public Policy and Advocacy Tom Hickson and Policy Advocate Paul Stankewitz today testified before the House Education Committee in support of legislation that streamlines policies that benefit non-public school students.
The legislation before the committee was Senate Bills 621, 622, 623, 709 and 710. The bills are part of a wider package of education reform measures that seek to provide parents with greater educational options for their children.
Senate Bill 621 expands current shared time options for non-public school students who are looking for non-core class instruction from a local public school if the student’s school does not provide the class. Currently, students and non-public schools may request the instruction from their local or contiguous public school district, or charter school within those boundaries. SB 621 would expand shared time opportunities for non-public schools and students out to the Intermediate School District (ISD) as well as the contiguous ISD. Public schools are able to capture a portion of the state’s foundation allowance for each student that participates in the program.
Senate Bills 622, 623, 709 and 710 address the state’s dual enrollment policy, which allows high school students to enroll in a post-secondary institution class while still enrolled in high school. Current policy mandates non-public school students to first enroll in a non-core class in the local public school district before dual enrolling at the post-secondary school. The legislation would eliminate that barrier as well as expand the number of dual enrollment classes in which a student may enroll.
Additional bills in the package include an expansion of the number of charter schools that may open in the state. Governor Snyder signed the bill into law in late 2011, which allows for additional schools over the next two years, then an elimination of the number that are allowed. An expanded number of cyber schools, allowing for a public school to transform into a charter school, and a statewide school of choice bill are also included in the package.
Michigan Catholic Conference believes this package of bills will help create a more robust public school system in Michigan while acting as a “community builder” for both public and non-public schools. A vote on the shared time and dual enrollment bills, which have already passed the State Senate, is expected soon.