A severe lack of financial accountability was revealed in a recent audit of 45 Detroit public schools. Three school employees have been charged with embezzlement, and five schools are under scrutiny after auditors found more than $600,000 misspent or missing. It had been 12 years since the district conducted its last school-by-school audit. The district is now requiring school administrators to attend a basic accounting course. Audits of the rest of the district schools will continue later in the year.

Education spending received an 8-percent boost in the state budget passed by the Michigan Legislature in December 2000. Appropriations for K-12 public education increased to over $10.8 billion in fiscal year 2001 and include a new $9.6 million fund to provide rewards to elementary schools with the best or most improved test scores.

Students from 12 countries outperformed American eighth-graders in math and science, according to recently released findings of the Third International Mathematics and Science Study­Repeat. The full results of the study, which assessed students in 38 countries, can be accessed at http://nces.ed.gov/timss/timss-r/index.asp.

Improving K-12 schools through greater choice and competition may be best accomplished by a "universal education credit," says a study released in December 2000 by the Washington, D.C.-based Cato Institute. The credit would provide any taxpayer with the opportunity to contribute to a child's education--public or private--and receive a dollar-for-dollar reduction in tax liability. The study can be accessed at www.cato.org/pubs/pas/pa-388es.html.

The constitutionality of vouchers is likely to be decided this year by the U.S. Supreme Court, following a ruling by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that Cleveland's voucher program violates the First Amendment's "establishment clause." Currently, 9,638 students attend 103 schools with the help of the city's voucher program.