Talks on MI school reforms stall over charter expansion

The Legislature is expected to meet into the night as negotiations continue on reforms that would help the state compete for federal education reform money.

The talks have been stop-and-go all day as Democrats and Republicans failed to agree on many details - including rules for allowing new charter schools to compete against public schools with high dropout rates and low test scores.

If the Legislature does not complete work on the package, Michigan won't have a shot at $400 million in federal "Race to the Top" funds. Republican Wayne Kuipers chairs the Senate Education Committee.

"The money to me is inconsequential," he says. "The federal government decided to dangle money to get states to adopt real reforms, so let's adopt real reforms."

Democrats say it's Republicans who are standing in the way of school reforms.

Lawmakers were hoping to wrap up work tonight for 2009, but legislative leaders say they might have to delay the Legislature's winter break.