The state Department of Education sponsored public forums throughout the state in April and May to discuss possible changes to Proposal A, the 1994 tax law that changed school funding in Michigan. School officials, parents and teachers discussed everything from increasing taxes through additional school millages to providing tax credits for individuals and companies who donate to public schools.
Police arrested over a dozen people, including parents and students, and forcibly removed them from a Detroit school board meeting in March after they disrupted the proceedings with loud chanting. The protesters, including residents and school workers, believe the state-appointed Detroit school board is not legitimate, and want to stop the seven-member board from conducting business. But the protests have continued at subsequent meetings, forcing some to adjourn and the Board to seek a different meeting venue.
There are far too many barriers to teacher certification, according to Frederick Hess, author of a recent study published by the Progressive Policy Institute in Washington, D.C. Hess proposes that a teacher should be certified if he or she passes a criminal background check and satisfactorily completes a test measuring "essential teaching skills" and knowledge of subject matter. Hess' ideas have already taken hold in many states. Forty-five currently permit some form of alternative teacher certification. For more information on the report, visit www.ppionline.org/.
A new study by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy offers the Michigan Legislature a policy blueprint for the upcoming term, including an extensive section on education reform. The study recommends removing the "cap" on charter schools, reform of teacher certification laws, and the expansion of public schools-of-choice programs. The study calls for the elimination of language in the Michigan Constitution that prohibits tax credits for private education, and recommends that tax credits be allowed for public school donations as well as private. View the study at www.mackinac.org/4198.