Governor Granholm signs hard-fought school reforms

Governor Granholm has signed a package of major education reforms that advocates say will be a crucial step toward improving Michigan's schools. State officials hope the new laws will help the state win federal school-reform grants.

State officials hope to qualify for as much as $400 million in federal "Race to the Top" funds. But Governor Granholm says the reforms are long overdue even if Michigan doesn't get a dime. The new rules will phase in an 18-year-old dropout age, tie teachers' paychecks and job security to student performance, and allow the state to intervene in Michigan's worst-performing schools.

"Now," she says, "everything will be focused on, Is this child learning? What is the growth in this child's education over the course of a year?"

The state will conduct a national search for a school turnaround chief whose job will be to identify and fix failing schools. The state is in the process of wrapping up its application for "Race to the Top" funds.