Are Michigan Lawmakers Being Inspired by Colorado's Innovation School Act?

Last year Colorado passed the Innovation Schools Act, which I applauded as a positive step forward. But our state isn’t the only one to see greater need for public school flexibility to make personnel decisions in the best interests of students.

Look at Michigan. The Detroit Free Press recently reported on a legislative proposal “to allow teachers and parents to convert their local schools into independently run schools with more flexible rules.” Known as Senate Bill 636, the proposal would enable the creation of so-called “neighborhood schools”, especially targeted toward high at-risk student populations.

The problem is the miserable Detroit public school system, an educational wasteland that makes the problems in our own Denver Public Schools seem small. It seems with SB 636 that some Michigan lawmakers are taking a serious look at a reform idea very similar to one implemented here in Colorado to address the regulatory challenges of providing quality education in an urban environment.

Will it succeed? My sources in faraway Michigan are not terribly optimistic. But it is some small piece of progress to see the issue advanced for further discussion in a state with entrenched union power. My only question is just how directly were the legislators behind SB 636 inspired by reform efforts here in the Rocky Mountain region?

(For more on Michigan bills, check out the very useful site: Michigan Votes)