October 20, 2015

3rd Grade Reading Bill Heads to Senate

In this latest Capitol Corner, Michigan’s Children President & CEO Matt Gillard discusses HB 4822 aimed to improve 3rd grade reading proficiency, now moving through the state Legislature, the passage of the teacher evaluation bill, the road debate and its potential impact on Michigan's budget, and guns in school.

Read it here

Parents & Caregivers to Testify for Greater Investments in Family Literacy

Parents who have been able to better assist their kids’ education by building their own literacy and other skills will address lawmakers and policymakers at a special Michigan’s Children FamilySpeak forum next week. It’s a timely issue as a 3rd grade literacy bill moves through the state Legislature (see Capitol Corner) and strategies are being put forth to make Michigan a top ten education state.  

Michigan’s Children is working with the Michigan Association of Community and Adult Education to bring parents and caregivers together with state Lawmakers on Wednesday, October 28, 2015. The forum, taking place inside the Speaker’s Library in the State Capitol, will illustrate how greater investments in families can move forward improvements in Michigan’s 3rd grade literacy.  

Learn more about family literacy and two-generation strategies, along with links to 3rd grade reading proficiency, in this Issues brief. Read also Matt Gillard’s recent testimony before the State Board of Education on strategies to improve Michigan’s education system including family literacy.

Michigan’s Children Joins Conference on Bullying This Month

Michigan’s Children will join the School-Community Health Alliance of Michigan (SCHA-MI) and researchers from Wayne State University on Oct. 26, 2015 in Ann Arbor for the release of a new report on bullying and school environments across Michigan.  Despite efforts over the past several years, bullying remains a serious problem in schools statewide with one-quarter of Michigan students reporting they have been bullied on school property during the academic year, according to the Wayne State report.

Michigan’s Children will be highlighting how state and federal policy and investment must move beyond public awareness and reporting to service access and changes in practice, including better understanding of trauma.  Read more about trauma-informed practice in this guest blog, “Students Living with Trauma Struggle in School,” by Hamtramck school administrator Tim Constant.  Constant has been involved with Michigan’s Children for many years to ensure that the young people he serves have a voice in the public policy process.

Federal Leaders Announce Chronic School Absence Initiative  

In Michigan, up to one-third of Michigan students of color and students with disabilities are chronically absent -- more than peers nationwide, according to Mapping the Early Attendance Gap: Charting a Course for Student Success,” a national comparison of states released in September.  Now there is a new national push with support from the White House to address chronic school absence -- defined as missing 10 percent of school days -- in a year for any reason, excused or unexcused.

In support of President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative, the U.S. Department of Education, other state agencies and Attendance Works, are launching “Every Student, Every Day: A Virtual Summit on Addressing and Eliminating Chronic Absence” on Nov. 12. The summit will outline key steps that states, districts and communities can take to improve student achievement by monitoring and reducing chronic absence.

Attendance and truancy have gotten attention from political leaders in Michigan in recent years. Advocates, including Michigan’s Children, have urged that addressing the root causes of absenteeism is necessary for moving forward on improving 3rd grade reading proficiency and Michigan’s education system overall. Some communities in Michigan have developed successful strategies and are seeing progress in attendance, including the Kent School Services Network.  Learn more in this Michigan’s Children blog, “September is Time to Tackle Root Causes of School Absenteeism.”
Advocacy tips to help you stand up and speak out for Michigan children. 
Elected officials make better decisions when their constituents share input on issues impacting their families and communities.  Contact your state Senators about the 3rd Grade Reading Bill and urge support for a comprehensive approach for improving literacy with attention to family literacy and interventions.
Direct Quotes
”To have that family bonding time because Mom was at school all day, we would sit down at night and all study together. They’d tutor me and I would help them.”
 -- April Flores
35, mother of four, returned to school for a high school diploma

Staff Blogs
Tim Constant (guest blogger):  

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