MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST
Volume V, No. 25
June 24, 2003
http://www.educationreport.org/pubs/med/


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Contents of this issue:
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* U.S. Supreme Court upholds race-based law school admissions,
  overturns undergraduate 'point' system
* Computer program tracks teacher development
* "Nation's Report Card" cause for celebration, concern
* Commentary: Shorter school day is counterproductive
* Parents happy with Florida voucher program
* Money keeps Washington, D.C. public schools from competing with
  charters

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U.S. SUPREME COURT UPHOLDS RACE-BASED LAW SCHOOL ADMISSIONS,
OVERTURNS UNDERGRADUATE 'POINTS' SYSTEM
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WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Supreme Court yesterday issued two
rulings on the University of Michigan undergraduate and law
school race-based admissions programs.

In a 5-4 decision, the court upheld the use of racial preferences
in the university's law school admissions. Justice Sandra Day
O'Connor joined in the majority opinion, citing the 14th
Amendment's Equal Protection Clause, which "does not prohibit the
law school's narrowly tailored use of race in admissions
decisions to further a compelling interest in obtaining the
education benefits that flow from a diverse student body."

A separate 6-3 decision overturned the university's "points"
system for undergraduate admissions. Under the current system,
"underrepresented minorities" are automatically given 20 points
out of a possible 150 in the school's selection index. The index
includes a number of factors, including merit and community
service.

The decision is expected to call into question many related
admissions programs at other universities, as well. "I think this
either invalidates or draws into question hundreds of preference
programs across the country," Todd Gaziano, director of legal
studies at the Heritage Foundation, told the Detroit News.
________
SOURCES:
Detroit News, "Use of race upheld in U-M admissions, but
undergrad policy must be changed," June 23, 2003
http://www.freep.com/news/latestnews/pm15054_20030623.htm

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Declining Standards at
Michigan Universities," November 1996
http://www.mackinac.org/236


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COMPUTER PROGRAM TRACKS TEACHER DEVELOPMENT
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TROY, Mich. – Several Oakland County school districts are
fulfilling the requirements of the federal "No Child Left Behind"
law by using a computer program designed to improve
accountability, reduce paperwork, and save time and money for
teachers and administrators.

The program, KALPA Professional Development Manager, developed by
KALPA Learning Systems of Troy, allows teachers to track their
own professional development. Administrators can then view
instant statistics on teachers' strengths and weaknesses,
allowing professional development staff to tailor training
programs to each building's needs.

Troy, Novi, Bloomfield Hills, Rochester and Birmingham are using
KALPA to allow teachers to log professional development
information, get reminders when they fall short of their
requirements and learn their individual district goals to meet
the federal requirements. The Kalamazoo, Battle Creek, Warren and
Grosse Ile school districts also are KALPA clients.

The KALPA program eliminates the need for districts to hire data-
entry personnel and takes much less time to manage than
handwritten paperwork, according to Troy School District
Assistant Superintendent Maureen Kelly.
________
SOURCES:
Detroit News, "Program cuts schools' paperwork," June 22, 2003
http://www.detnews.com/2003/oakland/0306/23/d04-199000.htm

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "The Six Habits of Fiscally
Responsible Public School Districts," December 2002
http://www.mackinac.org/4891


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"NATION'S REPORT CARD" CAUSE FOR CELEBRATION, CONCERN
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WASHINGTON, D.C. – National education officials last week
released their annual report on student performance, called the
Nation's Report Card, which measures math and reading performance
for every student in the nation.

The most compelling findings in the report show that fourth- and
eighth-graders have improved overall reading scores over the last
decade, while 12th graders' scores significantly declined over the
same period. Education Secretary Rod Paige said the results are a
"cause for both celebration and concern."

The findings also show the need for major reform in the nation's
high schools, say experts. "The bulk of the nation's reform
efforts have been focused on elementary schools, and these
results suggest the dire situation that the nation's high schools
are in," said Thomas Toch, author of "High Schools on a Human
Scale: How Small Schools Can Transform American Education."
________
SOURCES:
New York Times, "Reading Scores by Grade Show Widely Mixed
Results," June 20, 2003
http://www.nytimes.com/2003/06/20/education/20READ.html

U.S. Department of Education, "Paige Issues Statement on Results
of Nation's Report Card: Reading 2002," June 19, 2003
http://www.ed.gov/news/pressreleases/2003/06/06192003.html

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "What Is the Best Way to Teach
Reading?" April, 2003
http://www.mackinac.org/5365


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COMMENTARY: SHORTER SCHOOL DAY IS COUNTERPRODUCTIVE
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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – The educational results of shortening the
school day hurt both students and teachers, says a commentary in
the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

The commentary, authored by Jay Greene and Greg Forster of the
New York's Manhattan Institute, suggests that decreasing the
amount of time a teacher instructs students leads to larger class
sizes and lowers teacher's raises. The commentary was published
in response to a Broward County school board vote to decrease
their middle school day by one half hour next school year, to
allow teachers more time to prepare for the school day.

The authors also say that statistically, requiring teachers to
work less time tends to curb the raises teachers might otherwise
receive. "Florida's inflation-adjusted education spending per
student has roughly doubled in the last 30 years -- to $7,473 in
2000-01," wrote Greene and Forster. But that spending hasn't
gone to teacher salaries, "which have dropped on average from
$38,991 to $37,980," during the same period.
________
SOURCES:
South Florida Sun-Sentinel, "Shorter school day hurts teachers,
students," June 23, 2003
http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/opinion/sfl-26forum23jun23,0,719848.story?coll=sfla-news-opinion

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Class Size Reduction is
Expensive," October 1998
http://www.mackinac.org/1282


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PARENTS SATISFIED WITH FLORIDA VOUCHER PROGRAM
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NEW YORK, N.Y. – Parents of students participating in Florida's
McKay voucher program say they are happy with the results,
according to a telephone survey conducted by New York's Manhattan
Institute.

The McKay voucher program provides a tuition voucher for children
with disabilities to attend the school of their choice. The
survey indicates that 92.7 percent of parents are satisfied or
very satisfied with the schools their children now attend because
of the McKay vouchers.

Ninety percent of parents whose children were previously in the
voucher program say the program should continue to be available
to those who wish to use it. In addition, 62.3 percent of former
McKay parents say they were satisfied with their McKay school,
while only 45.2 percent were satisfied with their previous public
school.

The report also found that McKay vouchers provide a better
education for children with special needs at little or no extra
cost than that of a traditional public education.
________
SOURCES:
Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, "Vouchers for Special
Education Students: An Evaluation of Florida's McKay Scholarship
Program," June 2003
http://www.manhattan-institute.org/html/cr_38.htm

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Mackinac Center for Public
Policy Poll Conducted by EPIC/MRA," June 2002
http://www.mackinac.org/4435


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MONEY KEEPS WASHINGTON, D.C. PUBLIC SCHOOLS FROM COMPETING WITH
CHARTERS
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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Even though enrollment in the District of
Columbia's public schools has decreased by almost 12,000 pupils
since 1996, the district's income has increased 32 percent in
inflation-adjusted dollars. According to charter school
advocates, this cash flow that normally followed the students has
removed the incentive traditional public schools otherwise have
to compete with charter schools in their midst. Consequently,
the presence of charters is not improving educational quality in
the District's traditional schools.

"There have got to be real pressures that are attached to losing
students," Frederick M. Hess of the American Enterprise Institute
told the Washington Post. "I have not seen a D.C. public school
improve because there was a charter school getting ready to take
50 of its students," said Linda Moody, president of Washington's
Congress of Parents and Teachers, which supports charters.

Administrators confirm that they are not competing with the
charters. "That has not been a driver or force. It never occurred
to me to look at charter schools in that context," said D.C.
Superintendent Paul L. Vance.
________
SOURCES:
Washington Post, "Staying the Course, Despite Competition," June
20, 2003
http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn?pagename=article&contentId=A14497-2003Jun19

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "The Impact of Limited School
Choice on Public School Districts," July 2000
http://www.mackinac.org/2962


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MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST is a service of Michigan Education
Report (http://www.educationreport.org), a quarterly newspaper
with a circulation of 130,000 published by the Mackinac Center
for Public Policy (http://www.mackinac.org), a private,
nonprofit, nonpartisan research and educational institute.

Contact Managing Editor Neil Block at
[mailto:med@educationreport.org]

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