Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Oakland Schools superintendent issues ‘Wish List for 2013’

     When the Republican controlled state legislature and Governor Rick Snyder saw the opportunity to make Michigan a Right to Work state among other initiatives last month, education was on the agenda and in particular attention were several bills that would give parents the right to takeover schools and strengthening charter schools. In the end, these measures will most likely be revisited and the only thing that really prevented the passing of the bills is the furor with the education industry and democrats that said there will be blood if the measures will be passed. That brings a story brought out by Diana Dillaber Murray of the Oakland Press who interviewed Dr. Vickie Markavitch of Oakland Schools and gave the Oakland Press her post Christmas wish list.

Oakland Schools superintendent issues ‘Wish List for 2013’

After leading a battle against several proposed changes in operation of schools during December’s lame duck Legislature, Oakland Schools Vickie Markavitch has issued her “Wish List for 2013.”

The superintendent of the regional district that provides services to Oakland County’s 28 public school districts, said she wishes “that we focus our work in public education on those things that matter most and that we don’t get misled by political spin to support partisan agendas — no matter the party originating them.”

Markavitch predicts that how to fulfill Gov. Rick Snyder’s controversial “Any time, any place, any way, any pace” plan without dismantling the existing community-based system of public education is going to be a challenge for the 2013 legislative session.

She fears the proposal could be detrimental to the vast majority of Michigan students.
Markavitch is urging that data presented to the Legislature for proposed changes is documented and factual before any votes are taken.

“We must stay away from untried, unproven, radical reforms and stick with well thought-out reforms that have shown success over the long term.

“We must make sure that ‘any place’ and ‘any time’ do not become ‘any how’ delivered by ‘anyone,’ ” Markavitch said.

The proposal she is referring to was made by the Lansing-based Oxford Foundation-Michigan and currently is under review and has not yet been proposed as legislation.

It would provide $2,500 for each high school semester a student finished early for up to $10,000 for college. It would allow students to take classes online and at any school that would accept them.

Markavitch said she also is wishing to see a study this year on the adequacy and equity of Michigan’s school funding formula; something state Superintendent Michael Flanagan is advocating.
Markavitch said: “My wish list also includes advancing the use of technology throughout the teaching and learning process — blending its use with high-quality instruction.

“This would include greater availability and use of iPads and other mobile devices; integration of instructional applications vetted for quality; and most important, teachers becoming more and more the coach and mentor of learners rather than the developers of lessons.

“Finally, and perhaps most important, is that I wish we would focus very seriously on the greatest roadblock to learning — and that is poverty.

“Data nationwide as well as in Michigan is clear that our children in poverty achieve at lower levels than our children not in poverty. The issues of poverty weigh heavily on children and we have not yet found a way to beat those odds.

“We have many examples of success trending up with some poverty populations, but we have yet to reach and sustain success on a large scale,” Markavitch said.

“On international, national and state measures, education in the United States and in Michigan is moving upward, now we have to take care to keep that positive trend going,” Markavitch said.

This includes meeting the needs of each student while expanding opportunities for all students, she said.

Contact staff writer Diana Dillaber Murray at 248-745-4638 or email diana.dillaber@oakpress, or Twitter @DDillybar.