LANSING, MI –
Michigan has failed to make it to the final round in the competition for as much as a half-billion dollars in school-reform funds. Lawmakers worked feverishly through December to complete a school reform package to qualify for the funds. The reforms include making it easier for charter schools to compete with traditional schools that have high dropout rates or low test scores. And teachers will now be evaluated based on students performances.
State Representative Tim Melton chairs the House Education Committee. He says the reforms are worthwhile with or without the federal money.
"I feel like we did so much, and even in comparison to some of the states that were selected, so I don't know if it's how we packaged our application, or how it was sold or it was a lack of signatures from our union friends that hurt us, or the reforms didn't go far enough," he says. "I don't know."
Teachers unions say now Michigan will have to carry out its school improvement plans without the money to fund them. The Michigan Education Association and the Michigan Federation of Teachers say the state's new education laws are too harsh on teachers and chip away at collective bargaining rights.
There will be a second round of applications for Race to the Top funds due in June.