Wednesday, September 7, 2011

ALL On-Line Learning not EQUALLY GIFTED!

E-Learning Opens Doors for Gifted Students

Online learning can open the door to a vast array of expanded course selections, individualized attention for students, and the flexibility for students to move at their own pace—all factors that make virtual learning environments an attractive option for gifted students.
And as budget cuts threaten to drain funding from programs for the gifted, more schools—and students—may be looking to online education as a way to fill the gap in offerings, according to experts in gifted education.
"Parents are going to be searching for these opportunities more and more," said Paula Olszewski-Kubilius, the director of the Center for Talent Development at Northwestern University, in Evanston, Ill.
"Those parents want their kids to be able to take cool stuff that they're not able to take in school, particularly in areas like math where there are opportunities for acceleration," she said.
The Center for Talent Development operates an independent supplementary online program for gifted K-12 students calledGifted LearningLinks. For the 2010-11 school year, the school served about 1,500 students (this number does not include enrollments for August courses), up from 900 students five years ago.
Ms. Olszewski-Kubilius has found that different age groups of students have different goals for their experiences. The younger students tend to enroll in enrichment courses and focus on connecting with other gifted students throughout the country, for example.
"That's not true for the high-school-age kid," Ms. Olszewski-Kubilius said. "They're busy and involved with a lot of things. They want a way to be able to do something independently without being part of a cohort."
Striking a balance between connecting students and encouraging them to work collaboratively, on the one hand, and allowing them to move individually through courses at their own pace, on the other, is particularly important for gifted students, she argues.
But not all online programs, she emphasizes, are created equal.
"What [students] don't like is online programs where they sit and read screen after screen on a computer," she said. "That's just as bad as a slow-paced face-to-face classroom situation."
Instead, students need highly interactive and engaging curricula with consistent feedback from teachers about their performance, she explained.
"It works beautifully when it's done well, but people are still trying to figure out what that means and what success looks like," Ms. Olszewski-Kubilius said.

Competency-Based Model

Steve Kossakoski is the chief executive officer of the Virtual Learning Academy Charter School in Exeter, N.H.—that state's first statewide online public high school that launched in January 2008, and has since grown to 11,500 course enrollments. Many of the students served by the school are high-achieving learners, he said.
About two-thirds of the student population attends VLACS for supplemental courses while also attending a public school.
Students at VLACS work on a competency-based model, as opposed to a time-based one. That means students progress through courses based on mastery of the material and are not bound by seat-time requirements.
That model is especially helpful for gifted students, who may be able to progress through a 16-week course in eight weeks, said Mr. Kossakoski.
"Time can be a real barrier in the traditional schools," he said. "We can do things at any time, and it really helps when you can remove time as a barrier."
The school also uses rolling enrollment, so students can join anytime during the school year, he said.
Having VLACS available to students in New Hampshire serves to "democratize" the curriculum, by helping provide the same opportunities for all students in the state regardless of funding differences between districts, Mr. Kossakoski said.
Teaching gifted students in an online environment can also reduce the social pressure that may come with accelerating elementary or middle school students into high-school-level courses, said Elizabeth R. Pape, the president and chief executive officer of the Virtual High School Global Consortium, a nonprofit organization based in Maynard, Mass., that provides online high school courses to more than 15,000 students around the globe.
The organization's enrollment has more than doubled since the 2005-06 school year.
"You may not want your middle schoolers [in a classroom] with high schoolers for a variety of reasons," she said, such as being in an environment with more socially and physically advanced peers, as well as the logistical challenges of traveling between two schools. "The great benefit of the [Virtual High School] model ... is it allows students to take [the course] within the comfort of their middle school environment."
And whenever a younger student enrolls in a course intended for older age groups, the school and the teacher review the content to make sure it is age-appropriate, said Amy Michalowski, the director of curriculum and instruction for VHS.

Creating Connections

The sense of connection that gifted students feel in an online classroom is one of the greatest benefits of virtual learning for them, said Raymond Ravaglia, the executive director of the Education Program for Gifted Youth at Stanford University.
"One of the canonical experiences for a gifted child is that they're always the smartest kid in the class," he said. The resulting sense of isolation can be assuaged at summer camps and special events designed for high-achieving students, but with virtual learning, those students can feel that sense of connection in their every day classroom, he said.
"What these kids really want is meaningful, substantive communication with each other," said Mr. Ravaglia.
3 million
Number of U.S. students identified as gifted and talented
Number of states that require a program or service for gifted and talented students
Number of states that do not require general education teachers to have any training in working with gifted and talented students
Identified gifted students who are white
13% Hispanic
9% African-American
9% Asian/Pacific Islander
1% American Indian
"There's a real opportunity to take the students to new places. You want to get in there and individualize," he said. "It's not just about ... getting them through the content. It's about getting them to really apply themselves and invest the kind of effort that is going to lead them to develop their talent."
The EPGY Online High School, which has grown from 30 to 360 students in the past six years, employs a synchronous learning model, so all the students have the opportunity to communicate with their peers, as well as their teacher, in real time.
In addition, the curriculum for online gifted students needs to be "highly adaptive, so it's constantly assessing and evaluating the student's understanding," Mr. Ravaglia said. "These kids have a lot of talent, a lot of ability, and they should be successful. When they're not, you need to ask yourself what you are doing."

Independent Learners

Chris Thomas is the coordinator of the 170-student North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics Online program. The tuition-free program builds off NCSSM's residential program for gifted North Carolina juniors and seniors with a high aptitude in science and math. Students in the online program complete several classes through NCSSM Online in addition to their full courseloads at their home schools. The NCSSM classes allow students to explore more advanced math and science topics, such as computational chemistry and genetics.
"A local school only has so many resources available for gifted students," said Mr. Thomas. "This is more like a college course, where [instructors] expect the students to be more independent."
In fact, it is that independence that can be the biggest challenge for students taking online courses from NCSSM Online, he said.
"Some students find out that they really needed a face-to-face environment with someone always reminding them [about assignments,]" he said. "The students [in this program] really have to be able to work on their own."
But that doesn't mean that students don't receive help and guidance from online instructors, said Megan DeLaunay, a recent graduate of the program.
"I actually felt like I was getting more attention in the online classes," she said. "It was like being in a real school."
All students are required to attend a Web-based videoconference each week with their classmates and teacher to help keep them on track and build community among the students. Online students also attend one or two weekends per semester at the NCSSM campus for community-building and face-to-face lab activities.
"The friends I made in the online program are some of my best friends," said Ms. DeLaunay, 17, who was doing research at the University of Richmond, in Virginia, before beginning her college career there this fall. "We're just one big community of students."

Getting Real! (Perhaps read the Comments TWICE!)

Published Online: August 30, 2011
Published in Print: August 31, 2011, as The Path to Student Success Requires Public Accountability

Student Success Depends on Public Accountability

The contract that exists between the American public and America’s public schools has changed. For decades, the terms were reasonable. Parents asked schools to help them teach their children the things they needed to know to become successful, responsible adults. Those days are gone. Over the years, we have heaped a mountain of academic, social, and medical responsibilities upon our schools. With each new session, legislators from both parties add more to the burden, but they’ve not added a minute to the school calendar in decades. As a result, the contract has changed. It no longer reads, “Teach our kids.” It now reads, “Raise our kids.”
Our schools cannot do this alone. Educators must have the understanding, trust, permission, and support of the American public if they are to accomplish this unprecedented goal. But rather than rally public support, shortsighted politicians, business leaders, talk-show hosts, and neo-reformers have chosen the opposite tack. They cite statistics out of context, make false comparisons between public, private, and charter schools, and present test scores in the worst possible light. The failure of some schools is attributed to all schools. Teachers and administrators are often vilified but rarely praised. These critics claim that greater student achievement is their goal. But if this is true, then everything I have learned in 22 years of working toward that end tells me that their negative campaign is misguided and wrong. Rather than expedite reform, their speech and actions retard the process by destroying the intellectual and emotional ties that bind the American people to their schools.
"If they are serious about raising achievement, media mavens, and reformers of every persuasion, must help Americans rethink our core assumptions about what constitutes real school."
We have an enormous task before us. For the first time in our history, changes in society—particularly the challenges posed by the global economy—demand that all students receive a high-quality education. At a minimum, all must be prepared for education beyond high school. The vast majority of America’s teachers and administrators pour themselves into this task each day. They work to engage the most diverse, distracted, demanding generation of students our country has ever seen. Many of these kids are victims of a pop culture that assaults their physiologies, fractures their attention spans, and breeds a dangerously overdeveloped sense of entitlement. A 40-hour workweek for most teachers is nothing. Fifty hours, 60 hours, is routine. But teachers could work 100 hours and they would not produce the graduates we need. Not because they are inept, indifferent, or unionized, as their critics maintain. America’s educators cannot teach all children to high levels because they are working in a system designed to do something else: select and sort young people for an industrial society that no longer exists; a system designed to leave children behind. We have a system problem, not a people problem. Confusing the two not only wastes time and taxpayer dollars, it also allows the sorting system to grind on unfazed, churning out results we no longer want.
We must transform this system. But 20 years of false starts and bloody battles have taught me that any attempt to restructure the system collides with local traditions and beliefs. Ask any superintendent who has been sacked because his or her plans ran contrary to established notions of “real school.” Ask any board member who’s been told, “That ain’t the way we do it around here.” The hard truth is that we cannot touch a school without touching the culture of the surrounding community. If, therefore, we seek to increase student success, we must do more than change our schools, we must change America. And when I say we, I mean everybody—including the 70 percent of adults who have no children in school.
We need leaders within and beyond the school walls who will make this case to the American public.
Instead of blaming the people who work inside our schools, which lets everyone else off the hook, the nation’s governors must push for greater public accountability for student success: a shared sense of ownership for local schools, combined with a communitywide willingness to accept partial responsibility for their results. To achieve this end, our political leaders must help their constituents understand that their prosperity, security, and general well-being are tied to their ability to come together and remove all the obstacles to student learning, both in and out of school.
Instead of bashing schools, which hinders progress and destroys morale, business leaders must help their educators challenge public resistance to change so we can break the grip of the status quo. They must explain the implications of changes in the workplace, and connect the dots between these changes and the rising need for workers who have postsecondary education and training. They must help the public see that the competitive equation has changed, and that the nation’s human-capital needs will never be met if we cling to the schools of the past.
If they are serious about raising achievement, media mavens, and reformers of every persuasion, must help Americans rethink our core assumptions about what constitutes real school. They must describe—in layman’s terms—what we now know about how, when, and where children learn best. They must present this information in a way that makes it easier for everyone to understand why the system needs to change, and why it is vital that everyone support the change process.
For their part, educators must do a better job of sharing their achievements with the public. They must get out in the community and prove that they are eager and able to prepare all children to succeed as adults, and that they are willing to be held accountable for results. They must also make it crystal clear that they cannot do it alone: They cannot meet the vast array of academic, social, and medical responsibilities that society has placed upon our schools without the active support of everyone in the community, whether or not they have children in school.
From the White House to City Hall, in boardrooms, newsrooms, think tanks, and schools across the country, America’s leaders must do everything in their power to create a new, national culture committed to unfolding the full potential of every child. Working together to accomplish this task is not only in everyone’s best interest, it is the most important enterprise of our time.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

21st Century Digital Learning Environments (Just WHAT the Doctor Ordered)

Students, teachers brace for new reality

   When the school buses roll this morning, it will be the beginning of a crucial year for Michigan because stringent, systemic changes are headed to all 800 school districts and charter schools.
   A financial crisis means many students will head back to schools where class sizes are larger, programs have been cut, their favorite teacher may have been laid off and where services are being privatized. Some children may have to walk farther to catch the bus — if bus service is offered at all. Some are paying more to participate in sports and other extracurricular activities.
   Some teachers have taken pay cuts and are paying more for health insurance. All are faced with higher standards 
under a new evaluation system whereby student test scores will soon weigh significantly in their performance evaluations.
   And, this year, it will be harder to earn a passing score on the MEAP test and Michigan Merit Exam.
   “We need to do a better job getting all students prepared for 21st-Century careers,” said state Superintendent of Public Instruction Mike Flanagan. “Recent reforms, combined with those under consideration, will transform the way teachers instruct, students learn and schools perform.”

Budget cuts cloud 1st day for students

New schools are opening in Detroit

   This school year is expected to bring the kind of change that marks the start of a new era — with widespread budget cuts that will be felt in the classroom and parents’ wallets, legislative changes that have teachers feeling demoralized, a more intense focus on the worst-performing schools and several new schools opening in Detroit.
   “There’s a lot going on at every level,” said Judy Pritchett, chief academic officer for the Macomb Intermediate School District. It’s the kind of transformative change happening in one year that Pritchett has never seen before.
   Much of it is bringing anxiety, but Pritchett said despite that, she expects school staff to walk into buildings today for the first day of school with renewed excitement.
   “Those kids are going to come … and all those rituals and traditions we go through — that’s exciting. The staff will be there, and they’ll be waiting.”
   But the journey to the beginning of the 2011-12 school year hasn’t been easy.Teachers in many districts are heading back to the classroom making less money and digging deeper to pay for health insurance. The challenges have attracted the attention of Randi Weingarten, the national president of the American Federation of Teachers, who will be in Detroit today to tour schools and meet with officials. In Detroit Public Schools, unions are fighting a 10% pay cut imposed on employees by the state-appointed emergency manager, 
Roy Roberts.
   The financial pinch also will be felt in Northville Public Schools, where teachers agreed last month to an overall wage cut of 4% and where the average teacher will go from paying $350 annually for health care to paying $3,500.
   The contract will mean sacrifices all around to maintain the quality of the school district, said Nick Nugent, a middle school math teacher and president of the Northville Education Association.
   “People are going to have to rework their family budgets … just like every other family has had to do in the metro area,” he said.
   Cuts and sweeping changes to the state’s teacher tenure laws — which make it easier to get rid of ineffective teachers, strengthened evaluation systems for teachers and principals and restricted unions from bargaining over some things — have left many teachers feeling put upon, said Doug Pratt, spokesman for the Michigan Education Association.
   “They feel so attacked and vilified,” Pratt said. “It’s sad because this is normally the time of the year that educators look forward to every year. It’s a new beginning.”
   Kids are heading back to classes that will be more crowded than ever, Pritchett said.
   “Will it be off the wall — with 30, 40, 50 kids in a classroom? That’s an individual issue with districts. But generally they’re going to see class sizes increase,” Pritchett said.
   The budget crunch won’t end there. Many districts that didn’t have pay-to-play fees for students who participate in athletics and some other extracurriculars have instituted 
those fees. Some districts increased the fees.
   Busing took a hit, too.
   More districts outsourced busing service to private firms. And some cut back on the amount of busing they offer. Plymouth-Canton Community Schools, for instance, cut noon busing for kindergarten students.
   The impact? Parents have to pick their kids up from morning kindergarten classes, or get their kids to school for afternoon kindergarten classes. The move saved the district nearly $500,000, Jim Larson-Shidler, assistant superintendent for business services for the Plymouth-Canton district, said recently.
   In an effort to hold onto students and funding, Detroit Public Schools has allowed parents for the past several years to send their children to any school they wanted.
   Not this year.
   Parents who want to transfer their students from one building to another within DPS will find that they have to stay put through the first week of October. DPS is requiring students to attend their neighborhood school or stay in their current school.
   DPS is losing thousands of students each year — 100,000 in the last decade — and that has left officials scrambling to shift teachers each fall to school buildings where they are more needed. If everyone stays put, it will be easier to assign teachers and track students for the Oct. 5 statewide student count day, said Karen Ridgeway, the DPS interim superintendent. “We need to stabilize the enrollment,” Ridgeway 
   The student enrollments at schools statewide on that day will determine 90% of each district’s state aid per-pupil funding for the year, up from 75% in past years.
   Skeptics predict the change could push parents away from DPS.
   “When you make it difficult for a parent to get a child into a school, they’re going to take their kids elsewhere,” said Annie Carter, vice president of the Detroit school board. “You’re saying to some parents their child has to stay in a failing school. This can end up in court.”
   Three new high schools will open today in Detroit that were launched with the help of grants from Michigan Future a nonprofit organization — Detroit Collegiate Prep and Ben Carson School of Science and Medicine in DPS and the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy, a 
charter school.
   Lou Glazer, president of Michigan Future, said the group will announce this month three more high schools that will open in 2012. “At least at the high school level, Detroit parents are actively looking for alternatives,” he said.
   DPS is unveiling some improvements designed to make the district more attractive. For instance, today is the largest rollout of construction under the $500.5-million DPS bond with 10 new and renovated buildings opening. DPS also will become the first in the nation to use an airport-style concealed weapons detection system in all its high schools.
   And for the first time, parents will be able to access student assignments, attendance records, textbooks and other information via an online database.
   “If anyone believes that the new Detroit Public Schools will operate like the old, you will see otherwise this year,” Roberts said.

Monday, August 22, 2011

"Any Time, Any Place, Any Way, Any Pace!" (Digital Learning Model)

Schools of Choice bill coming

Legislature likely to get proposal this week as foes from Detroit, suburbs gear for fight

   An education reform package that includes mandatory Schools of Choice and cyber schools could be introduced in the state Legislature as early as Wednesday, the chairman of the state Senate Education Committee said.
   “It’s a good possibility on Wednesday, the 24th, we’ll have part of the package ready for introduction,” said state Sen. Phil Pavlov, R-St. Clair Township.
   The education package also addresses charter school caps and school aid. The package is 
part of Gov. Rick Snyder’s proposed “Any Time, Any Place, Any Way, Any Pace” public school learning model.
   Education Committee hearings on the package will begin Sept. 7, Pavlov said.
   Mandatory Schools of Choice is emerging as the most controversial part of the education package.
   Opposition is strong in the heavily Republican Grosse Pointes. In heavily Democratic Detroit, three legislators have said they are opposed to state-mandated Schools of Choice because, they said, it will negatively 
impact Detroit Public Schools.
   “I don’t want the state to help usher children from one community to another at the expense of the community where they are,” said state Sen. Bert Johnson, D-Highland Park, whose district includes the Grosse Pointes and part of Detroit.
   State Sen. Coleman A. Young II, D-Detroit, said every proposal out of Lansing that was supposed to help DPS has hurt it. He cited the 1999 state takeover that was supposed to improve the district academically.
   At the time, the district had 180,000 students, a $93-million fund balance and a $1.5-billion 
bond project. Under state control, DPS wound up with a $200-million deficit, he said.
   “I don’t think the state should be imposing another mandate on the city or any other city,” Young said.
   State Rep. Lisa Howze, D-Detroit, said mandatory Schools of Choice “would further impact DPS’s ability to stabilize.”
   Last week, the Grosse Pointe Woods City Council passed a resolution against mandated Schools of Choice.
   The Grosse Pointe Woods-based Michigan Communities For Local Control has set up a Web site at   and is contacting other school districts to build opposition.
   Peter Spadafore, assistant director of government relations for the Michigan Association of School Boards, said the MASB has been talking with the Snyder administration and legislators about the bill.
   Based on the ongoing discussion, the bill likely will include “universal choice K-12 up to capacity. The problem is how to define capacity,” he said.
   Spadafore said the MASB is opposed to mandatory Schools of Choice. “We feel that decision should be made by the local school district,” he said. “By mandating Schools of Choice, it’s just a solution looking for a problem.”

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Models our Practice (Real-World Learning by Doing!)

Sunday: August 14, 2011 12:00PM to 2:00PM (Channel #4 MSNBC A Stronger America: "Making the Grade")

Monday, June 20, 2011

Film at 11:00

Failing schools won’t be in DPS

New authority to take control under changes Snyder will detail today

   Gov. Rick Snyder will create an authority to run several failing Detroit public schools as part of sweeping changes to be announced today for the city’s struggling school system, sources said Sunday.
   The plan would restructure the failing Detroit Public Schools, which has a $327-million deficit on an operating budget of about $1.5 billion, by moving its underperforming schools under an authority to be run by the district’s emergency manager, Roy Roberts, according to sources. Schools would qualify for the new system if they are deemed below certain academic standards by the Michigan Department of Education
   A law passed this year gives emergency managers new powers to control academics and finances, and to cancel or modify union contracts. The process of instituting new work rules at the schools could take a year, sources familiar with the discussions said.
   A southeast Michigan university, widely believed in higher education circles to be Eastern Michigan University, also would be involved, to do teacher training in the schools.
   There were no details Sunday about exactly how the new authority would work. Details were not being released by anyone in advance of a news conference scheduled for 11 a.m. today at Renaissance High School in Detroit.
   However, sources did say that the Broad Foundation and other philanthropic organizations will pump significant amounts of money into the new authority. According to sources, Snyder has had several meetings with Eli Broad, the founder of the foundation, which is dedicated to education reform and has assets of more than $2 billion.
   Broad grew up in Detroit and graduated from Michigan State University. He made a fortune in construction and insurance and has been a major MSU benefactor.
   It’s unclear exactly how 
many DPS schools would be transferred to a new authority. DPS already has a program under way that would close or convert to charter about half its schools.
   Under the plan to be announced Monday, DPS schools not labeled as underperforming would remain under the authority of Roberts, a former top executive at General Motors, in the same manner as they are today. There are no plans to dissolve the school board, sources said.
   U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is expected to take part via a live feed from Washington, D.C., in today’s announcement. State schools Superintendent Mike Flanagan will attend.
   DPS officials issued a three-line 
advisory Sunday afternoon, noting only that a news conference would be held to discuss “education reform.”
   The governor’s office said Snyder would participate in a news conference at Renaissance, joined by Roberts.
   Members of the DPS board of education, which has no authority because of the governor’s appointment of Roberts, said they were in the dark about the plan.
   School board members reached by phone Sunday said that the board secretary contacted them about 7 p.m. Friday to say that Roberts wanted to meet with them Monday. However, they were not told the subject of the meeting and were not told that there would be a news conference.
   Board member LaMar Lemmons III said, “Wow,” when told that Snyder and Duncan would participate in a news conference about DPS restructuring.
   He said he plans to attend the meeting this morning with 
Roberts and four other board members.
   “I hope we’re going to meet for them to say they’re going to eradicate the deficit created by the reform effort and the emergency financial manager, and that the district will be fully empowered so that we can refresh,” he said.
   “I don’t know. But I wouldn’t hold my breath.”
   Member Carla Scott said some board members were concerned that a meeting with the full board needed to be announced publicly or it would violate the state’s Open Meetings Act.
   As of Sunday afternoon, she said she did not plan to attend.
   “I’m not going to break the law,” Scott said.
   But Scott added: “I just hope they’re going to do something that’s going to make schools better for children.”
   Anthony Adams, the board president, could not be reached.
   • CONTACT DAVID JESSE: 313-222-8851
PATRICIA BECK/Detroit Free Press
Gov. Rick Snyder is to hold a news conference on Detroit Public Schools at 11 a.m. today at Renaissance High School.
ANDRE J. JACKSON/Detroit Free Press
DPS emergency manager Roy Roberts is to be given the authority to make new work rules at failing schools.
U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan is to attend the news conference on DPS today via video.

(Aligns to Our Purpose / Digital Learning)

Jeb Bush shares ideas on education reform
   Describing the 2012 presidential election as ugly, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush was happy to quiet the drumbeat of some who hoped he might still run on the GOP side.
   “I intend to support whoever the party decides should be the nominee,” Bush, 58-yearold younger brother of former President George W. Bush and son of President George H.W. Bush, said during a stop in Lansing.
   Bush , who started his Foundation for Educational Excellence in Florida, ( www  ), was invited by Lansing legislators to talk about reforms in his state and lessons that might translate for Michigan.
   Bush told me between meetings he was flattered by the attention and others 
drawing comparisons to Dwight D. Eisenhower, who was recruited by the GOP to run decades earlier.
   “But I’m not Dwight Eisenhower who was a war hero who saved our country. It was logical for him to be called into duty,” he said.
   He also talked about his brother, who left the White House amid anemic popularity ratings.
   “He has handled the post-presidency well as a former 
president should do but don’t always,” he said.
   “History will treat him favorably,” he said. “When you hear how they took out Osama (Bin Laden) it was through techniques criticized when he was president that were used and helped identify leads that led to his killing.”
   Crossing the nation
   For now, Bush, who served as Florida governor from 1999 to 2007, seems content in his role as educational reform pied piper as he crisscrosses the nation.
   He has been a champion for reform long before he ran for public office, saying “it also translates into economic opportunities that help communities.”
   Bush had a private meeting with Gov. Rick Snyder, who 
said in April he would announce more education reforms on issues like early education.
   “A quality, cutting-edge education system that gives teachers and students the tools to succeed is critical as we enter the new Michigan,” 
Snyder said during a joint appearance with Bush. “Michigan’s future depends on our success.”
   Bush plans to issue a national report card this fall with a breakdown of states on digital learning.
   “Those states that open up 
access to digital learning will be the ones with the biggest gains,” he said.
   Bush also talked of unions and his view of them as impediments to reforms.
   “They are there to protect their members and the status quo,” he said.
   Keith Johnson, president of the Detroit Federation of Teachers, took issue and said much of the reforms are about “breaking the union” and have nothing to do with improving the classroom.
   Betsy DeVos, longtime supporter of vouchers and giving more choice on schools, said Michigan made inroads on charters in the 1990s but is lagging behind other states.

   Gov. Rick Snyder appears with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush during a stop in Lansing to discuss education reforms.