Snyder yanks school reform office from Dept. of Education

By cori

Michigan’s worst-performing schools are on notice: If their plans for improvement aren’t working, the state is ready to take action.

Gov. Rick Snyder Thursday signed a controversial executive order transferring the state school reform office —and its staff —from the Michigan Department of Education to a state office that is directly under his control -- the state Department of Technology, Management and Budget.

His motivation? “The governor feels like there needs to be a more proactive approach to addressing these most struggling schools, to benefit the kids that are in them,” said Sara Wurfel, spokeswoman for the governor.

And what will it mean to the schools? Their improvement plans will be analyzed to see if they’re working, and if they aren’t other options will be considered, Wurfel said. That could mean anything from closing the school to turning it into a charter to replacing the principal or replacing half the staff. It could also mean removing the schools from their districts and placing them in a state reform district.

The move affects 138 schools whose academic performance has them currently ranked in the bottom 5% of all schools statewide. It also affects another 74 schools identified in previous years that have gotten off the list but are still under the oversight of the office. State law requires those schools develop improvement plans, and the state reform office monitors those plans and holds the schools accountable.

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