Cleveland’s school voucher program is constitutional, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision in June. The decision overturned an earlier appeals court ruling that the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause prohibited the program, which gives low-income parents publicly funded vouchers of $2,250 to help them send their children to a school of their choice. Since the vouchers were issued to the parents instead of directly to the schools, the Supreme Court held that the choice resided with the parent and not the government. The decision clears the way for other cities and states to try similar school choice programs.
Over 1,500 Michigan schools failed to meet the state’s academic standards, more than in any other state, according to a recent federal report. Michigan school officials say the large number is due to Michigan’s tougher standards. Current guidelines state that annual, school-wide student scores should improve by at least 10 percent each on math, reading, science, and writing MEAP tests. Failure to improve in any of the four areas results in a substandard rating. The 1,500 schools are those that have failed to meet this standard for at least two years in a row.
Detroit public school officials are investigating whether principals are inappropriately supplementing their salaries with outside grant money. The Detroit News revealed that principals were paid $2.9 million more than their contract salaries in 2001, even though officials say the principals should not have received some of that extra money. The overpayments include funds for after-school workshops, summer school, and teacher training, but do not include grant money paid directly to schools. The principals’ new 12-month contracts, which took effect July 1, eliminate all additional pay for principals but include a total wage increase of 5 percent.
England’s teachers could have pay raises withheld if they fail annual tests under a new plan announced by government officials. Estelle Morris, the Secretary of State for Education for Great Britain, told the press recently that all teachers must face “a greater challenge” to move up the pay scales. In addition, the government plans to consider higher pay for math and science teachers to help to fill vacancies.