Huge News from the Michigan Department of Education: No Funding for CCSS, at Least for Now

From MLive:

Michigan Department of Education website to be shut down today
Lori Higgins,
October 1, 2013

The Michigan Department of Education’s website is expected to go dark today because the Legislature has failed to act on allowing the department to spend money to implement the Common Core State Standards, which are integrated throughout the site.

In a memo that went out to school administrators statewide Monday, MDE officials said the site — www.michigan.gov/mde — has to be taken down.

The budget bill the Legislature approved earlier this year — which went into effect today — bars the MDE from spending any money on implementing the standards or an exam that would be based on the standards until the Legislature weighs in on whether the state should move forward.

The House on Thursday approved a resolution allowing the MDE to move forward with implementation, but the Senate hasn’t taken it up. A joint meeting of the Senate Education Committee and the Senate subcommittee on K-12 committee funding is scheduled for 2 p.m. Wednesday to discuss the Common Core. It’s unclear when the full Senate might take up the resolution.

“If we cannot expend funds on any information, or support and assistance to local schools, then we have to scrub our entire website and restore pages as they are deemed fit,” State Superintendent Mike Flanagan said in the Monday memo.

The MDE website isn’t the only thing impacted by the lack of legislative action. MDE is now in violation of a waiver it received from the U.S. Department of Education last year — a waiver that allows the state to bypass some of the strict rules of the federal No Child Left Behind law. One of the conditions of the waiver was that states adopt college and career readiness standards, which the Common Core standards are considered to be.

For more detail, see this email from the Michigan Department of Education’s Leah Breen:

Dear Colleagues,
Due to the Michigan Senate not providing an “affirmative action” to allow the Michigan Department of Education to continue implementation of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) by the beginning of the October 1, 2013-14 state fiscal year, the Department is prohibited by state law from providing information, support and assistance on either the CCSS or the Smarter Balanced Assessments (SBAs).

Because so much of that information is integrated throughout the MDE website, the website will be taken down while any and all CCSS and SBA information is identified and removed. We will be restoring unaffected information as it is cleared.

Additionally, the following work within the Office of Professional
Preparation Institution will be temporarily suspended at 11:59 p.m. tonight, September 30, 2013.

1. Recommendation of candidates within MOECS
2. Approval of applications within MOECS
3. Educator Preparation Institution Performance Score
4. Program approval
5. Standards revision
6. Title II, Part B grant support
7. Accreditation visits
8. Technical assistance related to State Standards or activities affiliated
with those standards
9. Other, not yet identified activities

Each component of our work will be reviewed carefully. As we determine that those activities are not in violation of the current restrictions, we will communicate this information to our constituents and restore the services.

We appreciate your understanding while we work through this situation, especially as it pertains to the prohibition for staff to communicate and provide technical assistance to you on affected issues. We look forward to resolution so that we can go back to providing the support you expect and deserve.

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About RR

Assistant Professor of English Education at Grand Valley State University.
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