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Michigan lawmakers move forward with repealing "failing schools" law

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The Highland Park school district is almost out of cash. The state is working on a solution to keep kids in school.

Lawmakers are considering a repeal of a law that allows the state to shut down low-performing schools.

The so-called “failing schools law” determines Michigan’s worst-performing schools based on their test scores. Schools on the list for too long could be closed for good.

Although many were in favor of getting rid of the “failing schools law,” some lawmakers say they’re concerned about how schools would be held accountable without the law.

Bill sponsor and chair of the Senate Education Committee, Senator Phil Pavlov, R-St Clair, said they are still working on a new accountability plan.

“We are gonna continue working with the administration and with the [State] Department [of Education] to find a solution that fits for everybody,” he said. “Get an accountability system in the state of Michigan that works and is predictable, and is reliable.”

The state School Reform Office recently released a list of 38 schools that could close due to multiple years of low performance.

Leslie Boyd traveled from Detroit to testify at the senate committee hearing Tuesday. One of her sons goes to Michigan Technical Academy – which is one of the 38 schools identified by the state School Reform Office as being eligible for closure due to multiple years of low performance.

Boyd said the current system is flawed.

“You have people that haven’t sat there,” she said. “You have people that have not went to the schools personally. You have people making decisions that don’t know exactly what each school is going through and what each school’s individual needs are.”


Boyd said she thinks the government needs to put itself in the children’s and parents’ shoes before deciding to close schools.

Before becoming the newest Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network, Cheyna Roth was an attorney. She spent her days fighting it out in court as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Ionia County. Eventually, Cheyna took her investigative and interview skills and moved on to journalism. She got her masters at Michigan State University and was a documentary filmmaker, podcaster, and freelance writer before finding her home with NPR. Very soon after joining MPRN, Cheyna started covering the 2016 presidential election, chasing after Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and all their surrogates as they duked it out for Michigan. Cheyna also focuses on the Legislature and criminal justice issues for MPRN. Cheyna is obsessively curious, a passionate storyteller, and an occasional backpacker. Follow her on Twitter at @Cheyna_R
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