Contents of this issue:


  • Obama outlines NCLB waiver rules
  • FOIA dispute in East Jordan
  • Bill would retract some MSU, WSU state aid
  • Michigan to help draft science standards
  • Jackson weighs teacher evaluation strategy


Obama Outlines NCLB Waiver Rules


DETROIT — Michigan and other states can get a waiver from the federal No Child Left Behind law if they improve failing schools, strengthen teacher and administrator evaluations and be transparent on college readiness, President Barack Obama said Friday, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Michigan already has applied for a waiver that would excuse it from the NCLB mandate that all students be proficient in math and reading by 2014, the Free Press reported. Obama said he will consider such requests because he believes the law is flawed, according to the Free Press.

Critics say the current law will lead to large numbers of schools being identified as failures and put under sanction because they can’t meet the 2014 requirement, the Free Press reported. In Michigan, about 20 percent of public schools failed to meet the No Child Left Behind interim goals as of 2010-11, according to the Free Press.

That number is expected to increase because the Michigan State Board of Education recently raised the requirements for passing Michigan’s standardized tests, meaning students will have to answer more questions correctly in order to be considered “proficient,” the  Free Press reported.

SOURCE:

Detroit Free Press, “States will have to work hard for No Child Left Behind waivers,” Sept. 24, 2011

FURTHER READING:

Michigan Education Digest, “Michigan wants NCLB waiver, calls goals ‘unreasonable,’” Aug. 2, 2011


FOIA Dispute in East Jordan


EAST JORDAN, Mich. — A former art teacher says that East Jordan Public Schools responded too quickly to a newspaper’s request to view her personnel files, while the district says it acted properly, according to the newspaper involved, the Petoskey News-Review.

The News-Review filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the district for a copy of the tenure agreement between the elementary teacher and the district. The teacher’s job was terminated in a round of layoffs in June, amid investigations into charges that she assaulted a child with a ruler, the News-Review reported.

The district mailed the material eight days later, which the teacher contends was in violation of the contract agreement between the district and the teacher’s union, the News-Review reported. The contract said that the district “shall take the maximum time allowed by law” to respond to a FOIA request for a personnel file, according to the News-Review.

State law says that FOIA requests must be answered within five days, but public bodies have the option of invoking a 10-day extension with due cause, the News-Review reported. The teacher said the district should have waited 15 days to release the files, according to the News-Review. Superintendent Susan Wooden said the district had no cause to request an extension, the News-Review reported.

The contract was expired at the time the FOIA request was made, and there is no replacement yet, according to the News-Review. School board members voted recently to deny the teacher’s grievance in the matter.

SOURCE:

Petoskey News-Review, “Teacher grievance tossed by East Jordan school leaders,” Sept. 22, 2011

FURTHER READING:

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “A Flawed Court Decision Allows Public Officials to Hide Bad Behavior,” June 23, 2011


Bill Would Retract Some MSU, WSU State Aid


LANSING, Mich. — Four state lawmakers want to take back millions in state aid from Michigan State University and Wayne State University, saying they never should have received it, according to the Detroit Free Press.

The four legislators have introduced a bill that effectively would take back $18.3 million from MSU and $12.8 million from WSU, the Free Press reported. The money was handed out as a bonus to those universities for keeping tuition increases below 7.1 percent this year, according to the Free Press.

But some lawmakers are angry over how the increases were calculated, the Free Press reported.

MSU and WSU both increased tuition in the summer of 2011, then counted that as “last year’s” rate in calculating the year-to-year tuition increase, according to the Free Press.  The dissenting lawmakers said it should be a fall-semester-to-fall-semester comparison, under which MSU would have raised tuition by more than 9 percent and WSU by more than 8 percent, the Free Press reported.

State budget director John Nixon said in August that the universities technically met the conditions for the extra money because “academic year” wasn’t defined in the law, according to the Free Press.

SOURCE:

Detroit Free Press, “State House panel introduces bill seeking money from MSU, WMU,” Sept. 22, 2011

FURTHER READING:

Michigan Capitol Confidential, “MSU Tuition Restraint Debate Reaches Committee,” July 22, 2011

Michigan Capitol Confidential, “Bill Would Enforce ‘Intent’ of Tuition Hike Reform Law,” Sept. 22, 2011


Michigan to Help Draft Science Standards


WASHINGTON, D.C. — Michigan is one of 20 states that will help craft new national standards for what students should learn and be able to do in science from kindergarten through high school, according to an online report at Education Week.

The states will develop what are called the Next Generation Science Standards, building on a baseline already developed by the National Research Council, according to a report in Education Week. The work is expected to be completed in 2012; the report did not detail what each state will do.

The baseline is built around three core areas: scientific and engineering practices; “cross-cutting concepts” that unify the study of science and engineering; and core ideas in physical, life, earth and space sciences, plus engineering, technology and science applications, Education Week reported.

The process will be overseen by Achieve, a Washington-based nonprofit organization, according to Education Week.

SOURCE:

Education Week, “Twenty States Named to Help Craft New Science Standards,” Sept. 20, 2011

FURTHER READING:

Michigan Education Digest, “Michigan Adopts National Standards,” June 22, 2010


Jackson Weighs Teacher Evaluation Strategy


JACKSON, Mich. — Measuring student academic growth is a requirement of Michigan’s new teacher tenure law, and Jackson Public Schools is considering hiring an outside firm to administer tests that would provide those measurements, according to The Jackson Citizen Patriot.

One question is whether the district can afford the $75,000 annual cost to contract with the Oregon-based Northwest Evaluation Association to test Jackson students at the beginning and end of each school year, The Citizen Patriot reported.

A district official said the test results would be one of multiple measures of growth; others would include Michigan Educational Assessment Program test scores, according to The Citizen Patriot.

The final decision may rest on this year’s student count, which will largely determine how much per-pupil state funding the district receives this year, the Citizen Patriot reported.

A regional Michigan Education Association employee who represents Jackson teachers told The Citizen Patriot that the district hadn’t discussed the issue with the union in advance. He said tests are a “one-time snapshot” and that multiple measures of growth should be used, The Citizen Patriot reported.

SOURCE:

Jackson Citizen Patriot, “Jackson Public Schools considers hiring nonprofit to test students and use results to evaluate teachers; union leader says its news to him,” Sept. 22, 2011

FURTHER READING:

Michigan Education Report, “Into and beyond the MEAP,” Nov. 25, 2008


MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST is a service of Michigan Education Report (http://www.educationreport.org), an online newspaper published by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy (http://www.mackinac.org), a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan research and educational institute.

Contact Managing Editor Lorie Shane at med@educationreport.org

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