Contents of this issue:


  • Most jobs 'saved' were in education
  • Online high school growing
  • Colleges say evaluation unfair
  • Romeo won't change elections
  • Private school numbers down


MOST JOBS 'SAVED' WERE IN EDUCATION


LANSING, Mich. - Nearly 75 percent of the 19,500 Michigan jobs "saved or created" by federal stimulus dollars to date were in education, according to the state's first accountability report, various media reported.

The state report says that about $3.7 billion in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding has been received by 13 state agencies, and that $620 million of that funding has been spent to date. Those figures do not include money sent directly from the federal government to non-state agencies, such as local governments or universities, the state report said.

Spending figures also do not include money funneled directly to recipients, such as for food assistance.

Of the agencies required to report spending to date, the summary shows that the number of education jobs saved or created was about 14,500. The next highest number was "workforce" jobs, at 3,386, the state report said.

The report does not distinguish between jobs saved and jobs created by the stimulus package, AP reported.

SOURCES:
Detroit Free Press, "Michigan: Stimulus saves or creates 19,500 jobs," Oct. 12, 2009

State of Michigan, "The Recovery Act in Michigan," October 2009

FURTHER READING:
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "10,000 Teacher Layoffs? Let's Try Zero Instead." Oct. 5, 2009


ONLINE HIGH SCHOOL GROWING


WYOMING, Mich. - An online high school program operated by Wyoming Public Schools is gaining popularity among students, officials there told The Grand Rapids Press.

Enrollment has grown from 10 to 75 in the past year, The Press reported, including 26 students who are assigned to other public school districts but chose to enroll in Wyoming's Frontiers program.

Students meet in the computer labs at Rogers High School, but each works independently using online software, according to The Press. Four mentor teachers, the equivalent of two full-time positions, work as supervisors. Officials told The Press that the program appeals to students who need to make up credits, who cannot attend school regularly for medical reasons, who want to mesh their school and work schedules, and who want to move through high school faster.

Michigan public school students are limited to two online courses per day under current state rules, but districts like Wyoming were given "seat-time waivers" to try out full-time programs, The Press reported.

The program is authorized by the state for as many as 500 students, and Wyoming is considering opening a second campus in 2010, according to The Press.

SOURCE:
The Grand Rapids Press, "Wyoming alternative online high school, Frontiers, saves money and draws students," Oct. 12, 2009

FURTHER READING:
Michigan Education Report, "State to schools: Think outside the classroom," Oct. 2, 2009


COLLEGES SAY EVALUATION UNFAIR


DETROIT - Marygrove College and the University of Detroit Mercy say their teacher preparation programs are being unfairly judged by a state evaluation process that could put them out of the teacher training business, according to the Detroit Free Press.

The Michigan Department of Education has downgraded each college on annual evaluations because too few of their students pass the Michigan Test for Teacher Certification, the Free Press reported.

College officials told the Free Press that their pass rates are artificially low because some students take the exam too early in their college careers. In effect, the students are taking the exam as a way of determining their own strengths and weaknesses and where to focus their studies, not as a final evaluation of teaching readiness, the officials said. Students are allowed to take the exam more than one time.

State officials told the Free Press that the colleges are given the names of test takers in advance and could prevent those they consider unprepared from taking the test.

The Michigan State Board of Education was expected to discuss the evaluation policy at its monthly meeting today.

SOURCE:
Detroit Free Press, "2 teacher prep programs at risk of flunking," Oct. 11, 2009

FURTHER READING:

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "A Teacher Quality Primer," June 30, 2008


ROMEO WON'T CHANGE ELECTIONS


ROMEO, Mich. - Romeo Community Schools will not change its school board election schedule due to concern that the switch would extend the term of some current board members, according to The Romeo Observer.

In what the Observer described as a heated discussion, the board voted 3-3 against a proposal to conduct board elections every other year, in even years only, as of January 2010. Putting the school election on the same ballot as other governmental units could save the district up to $30,000 per election, The Observer reported.

It also would have the effect of extending the current term of some board members, which is why other members voted it down, according to the report.

Treasurer Greg Jacobson, who also is a member of the Village of Romeo Board of Trustees, said that the village board made a similar change and saved money, according to The Observer.

"You're saving quite a bit of money in a time when we don't have money, so to me it's a common-sense approach that the state put in place for us to do this," he said, according to The Observer.

SOURCE:
The Romeo Observer, "RCS board disagrees on changing election cycle," Sept. 30, 2009

FURTHER READING:

Michigan Education Digest, "Schools move to November elections," Aug. 7, 2009


PRIVATE SCHOOL NUMBERS DOWN


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - Private school administrators in West Michigan blamed demographics and the state economy for declining enrollment this year, according to The Grand Rapids Press.

The area's largest private schools reported a collective 4.7 percent decline, totaling 852 students, The Press reported. The 22 Catholic schools in Kent and Ottawa counties lost 375 students, or 7 percent.

"People simply cannot afford private school tuition," the Rev. R. Louis Stasker, pastor and president of the Grand Rapids Catholic Secondary Schools, told the Press.

Officials at St. John Vianney School in Wyoming said the closing of an area General Motors plant hurt their enrollment, The Press reported, while other schools said their declines were due to larger numbers of seniors graduating than kindergarteners enrolling.

Grand Rapids Christian Schools increased its scholarship fund from $900,000 to $1.3 million, allowing it to attract or retain 200 students, officials told the Press.

SOURCE:
The Grand Rapids Press, "Private schools blame economy for drop in enrollment," Oct. 1, 2009

FURTHER READING:
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "The Universal Tuition Tax Credit," Nov. 13, 1997


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

Contact Managing Editor Lorie Shane at
mailto:med@educationreport.org

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