State “speaks out” about closing low performing schools

LANSING, Mich.(WLNS) – The State School Reform Office says it plans to hold the state’s failing schools accountable warning they could close by next June.

While the State School Reform Office has the authority to close schools this would be the first time the office would be pulling the trigger.

Right now, 17 schools in Mid-Michigan are on the state’s priority list.

But the State School Reform Office says just because these schools are on the list does not mean they will close their doors for good.

The mission for the State School Reform Office is to turn priority schools into the highest performing schools in the state. State Reform Officer Natasha Baker says it’s an effort to help Michigan schools not hurt them.

“This is a not a system based on punishment it is an opportunity for folks to do what some of those high districts have done or higher districts have done when they have been identified as priority,” said Baker.

In 2014 more than 100 Michigan schools ranked in the bottom 5% but Baker says districts should not assume the state would close that many schools.

“We are not closing one-hundred schools we never submitted that had anything about closing 100 schools to anyone,” said Baker.

The state is basing the school closings on the last three years of test scores from the MEAP and M-STEP.  Lansing Superintendent Yvonne Caamal Canul says the move will cause more harm than good.

“I am alarmed as an educator that closing a school would seem at all to anyone would be a reasonable option for kids, families and communities,” said Camaal Canul.

And while Camaal Canul understands Michigan schools need to live up to a set of standards, she says the rules seem to be benefiting the state while ignoring Michigan children.

“We all understand what accountability is about. but when you change the rules in mid-stream on accountability than it just seems unfair,” said Camaal Canul.

The State School Reform Office wants people to know no decisions have been made yet about potential school closings.

On September 1st, the office will release a list of schools that could potentially close in the future.

To check out the priority list click here.

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