review on Thursday that was delayed from previous meetings, the
State Board of Education Thursday unanimously agreed that Mr.
Watkins' performance over the past year had been satisfactory,
entitling him to the average pay raise awarded to the other 19
department directors effective October 1.
Department of Education officials had not yet determined what Mr.
Watkins' new salary would be (he now makes $165,000, among the top
pay for department directors), but spokesperson T.J. Bucholz said,
"Whatever that salary increase is, he is not going to accept it. ...
It's his intention to set an example: It's not about the money;
it's about the job."
Shafer, spokesperson for Governor John Engler, said reviews for the
other department directors would be conducted in November or
December with pay raises, if any, announced in January.
Bucholz said Mr. Watkins had not yet decided which charity would
receive the funds.
five-point scale, the board gave Mr. Watkins an overall 4.3 for his
work since June 2001. "Mr. Watkins has met the criteria and
challenges head on," the board said in a published review read by
Board President Kathleen Straus (D-Detroit) at the meeting. "As we
begin our second year together, we expect that Mr. Watkins will
build on his accomplishments of his first year and be able to
concentrate even more of his efforts on the necessary Department
restructuring and implementation of Board policies and goals."
Watkins' highest score, 4.8, was for spokesperson and advocate.
"He has generated great excitement in much of the education
community and in many citizens concerned about our public education
system," the review said.
lowest score, 3.75, was for "implementation of state board
policies". "Several members of the board feel that the
superintendent should focus even more on implementing the board's
goals and policies, although much progress is being made," the
ACCREDITATION: One policy of the board that is still in process
is "Education: YES", the state's coming new accreditation system.
Paul Bielawski, one of the key architects of the new system, said
the proposal was behind schedule, "we are absolutely still on track
to meet the December timeline." The board had demanded as part of
the new system that schools receive their first grades by December.
original timeline for the system had the board setting cut scores
for the various grades (A, B, C, D Alert, Unaccredited) at its June
meeting. But Mr. Bielawski said the advisory committee the board
appointed in May asked to delay presenting proposed cut scores until
September to allow it to work through work groups to test the cut
scores it is proposing.
than being arbitrary, it will be grounded in something defensible,"
Mr. Bielawksi said.
Secretary Michael Warren Jr. (R-Beverly Hills) said the delays left
him concerned that the December deadline would also have to be
delayed. "We were assured that each and every timeline could be
met," he said. "We spent the last year doing cutting edge, great
policy work. The surest way to undo all that good work is to miss
that December deadline."
member John Austin (D-Ann Arbor) also wanted assurances that the
work groups were not intended to test public reaction to the final
grades. "Are we testing the palatability of the end product?" he
said. "I don't want to do that."
Watkins said he would not withdraw the system simply on the basis
that too many schools fall into the low grade categories. "It's my
goal that we not back away from high, rigorous academic standards.
...We will not bring wimpy standards to this board," he said. "We
want to make sure when we put out Education: YES we can defend it."
Watkins expected that most of the protest would be not from the
schools with D and unaccredited scores, but from those with B and C
score that thought they would be As.
said he would hold it back in December if there are structural
problems. "If it's not the right thing for children, if it's not
the right thing for schools, if it's not right, I won't bring it
forward," he said.
MI-ACCESS: The board did make one more move toward implementing
Education: YES on Thursday by approving cut scores for the MI-Access
test for special education students. The test, also required under
new federal law, provides students not able to take the Michigan
Educational Assessment Program tests even with assistance an
test as currently structured is for the most severely disabled
students, but officials said additional tests are being developed
for the less severely disabled.
Board Hears Calls for Early
Gongwer News Service, 8-9-02
state needs to put more money into early childhood reading programs
and into training programs for principals, the State Board of
Education heard from its final two task forces Thursday.
state needs to put more money and effort into reading programs for
children before they reach kindergarten if it is going to improve
reading performance in the long run, the Ensuring Early Childhood
Literacy Task Force told the board Thursday. And the Elevating
Educational Leadership Task Force said improving schools requires
better-prepared principals and other administrators.
are some reading preparedness programs being operated in the state,
but many are part time and so unavailable to parents who are not
able to leave work to transfer their children to another care
situation, literacy task force members said.
also urged more training requirements for those who work in
childcare centers to ensure children at those facilities have proper
have children who need these services across the continuum," said
board member Sharon Wise (R-Owosso), chair of the task force.
"We're trying to get the service to any child that needs it."
percent of brain development is between 0 and 4, why do we have
education policy that begins at age 5?" said board President
Kathleen Straus (D-Detroit).
Principals also need some additional preparation, and should be
required to have an endorsement that assures that they are prepared
for the job, members of the leadership task force said.
upon tier has been added to the position until it's become an
impossible position that very few want," board member Marianne
McGuire (D-Detroit), chair of the task force, said. One principal
on the task force said he had waited to move up from teaching to
administration because of the inordinate additional time the
task force also asked the board to create an advisory panel that
reviews the job requirements for principals and suggests how schools
might staff differently to allow principals to concentrate more on
also sought more authority for principals to be able to hire and
oversee the people in their buildings.
FORCES: The board is expected to adopt some or all of the
policy recommendations of the two task forces at its September
meeting, after which it has directed Superintendent of Public
Instruction Tom Watkins to combine the various reports into a single
document. The new publication would eliminate some of the
duplication of recommendations and is to be sent to legislators and
the various candidates for office.