State House and Senate to meet in education reform conference

Lawmakers continued education-reform negotiations Thursday at the state Capitol. The package of reforms would allow the state to compete for federal "Race To The Top" money.

Lawmakers did vote on some of the education reforms to ready to the bills for a negotiation panel between the House and Senate next week. House Education Committee Chairman Tim Melton says they are close to reaching an agreement.

"For the most part, we're there, just some details inside there of how we do those things is what we'll have to negotiate next week."

Melton says there is still some dispute over how charter schools should be regulated, and when they should be allowed to move into failing school districts.

Lawmakers do appear to have agreed on one of the key reforms - a bill that would allow aspiring educators to receive teaching certificates through alternative programs. The measure is intended to attract teachers from specialized fields, such as math and science. Opponents of the bill say Michigan already has more qualified teachers than it has teaching positions available.