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Posted on Fri, Nov 30, 2012 : 11:52 a.m.

Education reform live chat with school policymakers Richard McLellan, John Austin

By MLive Media Group

Should parents have broader choices when it comes to enrolling their kids in public schools? How should the quality of those new choices be evaluated? And how should state money flow through the public education system?

Michigan lawmakers will be asked to consider those questions next year with a series of Republican-supported proposals. In fact, the debate has already started - and MLive.com readers can get a glimpse into the developing debate at noon today.

Republican Gov. Rick Snyder asked a group led by Richard McLellan, a Lansing lawyer, to head up an effort to make school finance and choice recommendations to be considered next year. The developing plan from the Oxford Foundation has elements that concern John Austin, a Democrat and president of the State Board of Education

McLellan and Austin are scheduled to participate in a “live chat” with MLive.com readers, moderated by MLive.com statewide news editor Meegan Holland and statewide community engagement director Jen Eyer.

The new proposals would offer students significantly more public school attendance options than now available through Michigan’s existing “schools of choice” program. Online learning options would be expanded. More school funding would be tied to performance. And an early graduation scholarship system would be designed to offer students who are ready an incentive to graduate early and move on to college.

State funding would be more tightly tied to students, even if they’re taking classes from multiple school districts.

Public comment is being accepted on the developing Michigan Public Education Finance Act of 2013, and Snyder could propose some specifics during his next budget proposal due in February.

The recommendations would come in addition to other proposed changes already pending in the state Legislature related to school choice and reforms for academically struggling schools. Austin is among those who say the proposed changes could be devastating to existing, traditional K-12 districts - many of which already are struggling.

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