State Board Adopts Bullying Prevention Policies, Discusses Chronically Underperforming Schools

Contact: Eileen Hamilton (517) 373-3900
Agency: Education

July 20, 2001

The Michigan State Board of Education unanimously adopted two policies today encouraging school districts to incorporate planning for school bullying prevention into existing school safety plans.

Additional suggestions in the policies for districts include instituting anti-bullying programs to reduce the prevalence of the behavior, promoting positive school atmospheres that foster learning, and creating safe and fear-free school environments. (Editor's Note: The entire policy is attached for your information. If you have comments and/or concerns regarding these policies, please contact Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Watkins by using the Department of Education's electronic suggestion box, located at

"The commitment by this Board is clear," said Kathleen Straus, Board President. "Bullying behaviors in the school environment are unacceptable. We will not allow fear to impact student learning."

In other business, the Board heard from Dr. William Sanders, manager of Value-Added Assessment and Research for SAS inSchool, as part of its continuing discussions regarding academic achievement in chronically underperforming schools. Sanders told the Board that school curricula should be viewed by all as ramps to raise student achievement uniformly.

"Our work is about giving students more opportunities in life. Schools and teachers should be adding value to each student's performance even if all students cannot reach the same level at the same time," Sanders said. "According to our research, teacher effectiveness is the most important determinant of student progress - more important than socio-economic background or ethnicity."

Sanders, a nationally renowned educational research expert, and his colleagues developed the methodology that is the cornerstone of the state of Tennessee's school accountability system.

Additionally, the Board:

• Accepted unanimously a motion that directs the Superintendent of Public Instruction to analyze the impact of several legislative and gubenatorial initiatives, including the across-the-board expenditure reduction proposed by Governor Engler, targeted legislative budget cuts in summer school, reading and related programs, the legislature's proposed "education flex" proposal, and the Senate's priority school legislation, scheduled to be taken up by the House. The Board will use these reports to formulate State Board of Education recommendations.

• Heard from a cadre of Michigan Milken National Educator Award winners regarding the Michigan Milken Educator Network.

• Heard from Joan Garretson, Michigan Teacher of the Year, regarding her accomplishments and observations.

• Adopted a resolution acknowledging the City of Detroit's 300th anniversary, and the efforts that southeast Michigan schools and teachers continue to contribute to Detroit's success.

The next regular State Board of Education meeting will be held on August 23.