Brian Calley calls on Sec. Betsy DeVos to improve ESSA for special needs kids


LANSING, Mich. (SINCLAIR BROADCAST GROUP) -- Michigan Lt. Gov. Brian Calley wants U.S. Secretary Betsy DeVos to make changes to the federal Every Students Succeeds Act (ESSA).

The ESSA's purpose is to give greater flexibility to local schools.

But Calley, whose expected to make a major announcement later this month, says some new guidelines are concerning for children with disabilities.

Calley has been very supportive of Sec. DeVos in the past.

But he's drawing a line in the sand when it comes to the new federal education plan DeVos's department is overseeing.

In our exclusive White House interview with Sec. DeVos, she highlighted the ESSA.

"Power has been returned to state and local entities to be able to decide what standards and what expectations they are gong to have of their students," she told Political Reporter Nick Minock.

But after the MDE released it's implementation plan of the ESSA, Lt. Governor Brian Calley was alarmed, so he sent this letter to Secretary DeVos to reject the plan.

"What motivated that letter?" Minock asked Calley.

"I was very concerned with the implementation plan of the Every Student Succeeds Act," answered Calley.

The ESSA says 30 students defines subgroup in public schools, like kids with special needs.

Calley, who has a daughter with autism, says there is a problem with that approach.

He says 30 is too large of a number.

"Unfortunately the number they chose means that almost two thirds of school buildings in Michigan will not have that as a category that is rated and parents could take a look at," said Calley. "So I was very concerned about it because if you say that we are going to count everything in a school in terms of their performance except for how students disabilities do, what you are saying is students with disabilities don't matter."

He says the subgroup threshold in public schools should be 10 kids, not 30.

"So what I'm looking for is for that sample size to be lowered," said Calley

Right now, it's already tough enough for some kids with special needs to access curriculum in Michigan schools.

In order for every student to succeed, Calley say the ESSA needs improvement.

You can read Calley's full letter to Betsy DeVos, here:

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