Rep. Tim Melton, a Democrat in the Michigan House, said today he will resign to take a job with an education group.
The lawmaker from Auburn Hills in Oakland County is leaving the House on Sept. 9 to join StudentsFirst, an organization founded by former Washington, D.C., public schools leader Michelle Rhee. The group supports ending or altering teacher tenure systems, implementing merit pay for teachers and other changes.
Melton is in his third term in the House and would not be able to run again in 2012 because of term limits.
His departure will leave Republicans with a 63-46 advantage in the House. It was not clear early today when a special election might be scheduled to fill the remainder of Melton's term.
Melton played a key role in forming education policy in the Legislature, particularly when Democrats held the majority in the House during his first two terms. Melton said his new job will provide an opportunity to influence education legislation nationally.
"It's been a hard decision, but one I took with the confidence that I will be able to carry on the work we undertook in Michigan across the country," Melton said in a statement. "Education reform should know no partisan boundaries, and in my new position I will help form coalitions for change around the country that cut across the old divides."
Melton was one of the few Democrats to support changes to Michigan's teacher tenure system earlier this year. Supporters of the changes say it will help keep effective teachers in the classroom regardless of their tenure status while making it easier to dismiss ineffective teachers.