Two Michigan teachers received national awards in October. Jennifer Murphy, a fifth-grade teacher from South Lyon, and Stacy Smith, a fourth- and fifth-grade teacher from Detroit, received Milken Family Foundation awards, worth $25,000 a piece. Only 100 teachers across the country receive the annual award for excellence in teaching.

Children attending National Heritage Academies charter schools for at least two years generally score higher on achievement tests than their public school peers, according to a recent study conducted by Hillsdale College. To read the study visit www.heritageacademies.com/nha/assets/hillsdale.pdf.

On Nov. 5 voters defeated Proposal 4, the ballot initiative that would have redirected Michigan's share of tobacco settlement money from scholarships to health-related programs. Currently, much of the settlement funds are being used to provide college scholarships to high school students who perform well on Michigan Educational Assessment Program (MEAP) tests.

The 9th edition of the Report Card on American Education was released by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in October. ALEC's findings show that despite a 22.6 percent increase in federal spending on education over the past 20 years, student test scores are not improving. For more information visit www.alec.org.

Students in unsafe schools will have educational options, under a provision of the new federal education law, the No Child Left Behind Act. The provision states that students attending "persistently dangerous" schools must be allowed to transfer to another school in the district.

Lawsuits seeking to remove state constitutional barriers to school choice programs were filed recently in Washington State, Maine, and two other states by the Institute for Justice. The Institute played a crucial role in the recent U.S. Supreme Court case upholding Ohio's school voucher program. For more information, visit www.ij.org/cases/school.