Snyder to weigh cyber school teaching hour changes

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    During an all-night Lame Duck session, the Michigan House sent Gov. Rick Snyder a bill that Democrats worry could allow cyber schools to count kids among their tutelage they’re not actually educating.

    House Bill 5907, sponsored by state Rep. Ben Frederick (R-Owosso), passed the House 58-45 early Friday morning along party lines just before adjournment. Snyder will now determine whether the bill becomes law.

    Ben Frederick

    Frederick said the changes are meant to ensure a “good-faith process” that the Michigan Department of Education wanted.

    But Democrats, including Rep. Adam Zemke (D-Ann Arbor), said they worried it would allow cyber schools to artificially inflate the number of kids it reports as educating while still getting state funding to teach them.

    “That allows for cyber schools to be able to essentially get away with counting kids who they’re educating virtually not at all,” Zemke said. “We’re worried about that.”

    The bill deletes a requirement that cyber school contracts include a provision ensuring each pupil is educated for at least 1,098 hours during the school year.

    Among the other changes it makes, it says that cyber schools can “develop and implement personalized, nontraditional or flexible learning, opportunities that include, but are not limited to, project-based learning or competency-based education.”

    Snyder spokesman Ari Adler said the governor will review the legislation before deciding whether to sign it. He also issued a blanket tweet this week about questions concerning the more than 400 bills lawmakers sent to the governor in Lame Duck.

    Michael Gerstein
    Michael Gerstein covers the governor’s office, criminal justice and the environment. Before that, he wrote about state government and politics for the Detroit News, the Associated Press and MIRS News and won a Society of Professional Journalism award for open government reporting. He studied philosophy at Michigan State University, where he wrote for both The State News and Capital News Service. He began his journalism career freelancing for The Sturgis Journal, his hometown paper.

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