Contents of this issue:


  • Salters: We don't oppose reform
  • 'Vote No,' some Detroit teachers say
  • More funding vs. less spending
  • Nonprofit education firms growing
  • Detroit test scores worst in nation

SALTERS: WE DON'T OPPOSE REFORM


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - The Michigan Education Association does not oppose reform measures that would help Michigan qualify for federal education dollars, but some restrictions must apply, the union president said in a letter to lawmakers and the public Monday.

As reported by The Grand Rapids Press, MEA President Iris Salters said that the union does not oppose more charter schools as long as the state requires greater transparency and accountability from them.

The letter also said that using student performance as the sole measure of teacher effectiveness is unfair, and that teacher evaluations should include such things as student attendance, parental involvement and socioeconomic factors, The Press reported.

The union also said it agrees with legislation adopted by the House of Representatives that would appoint turnaround experts to "failing schools," according to The Press. However, it said there is no need to revise teacher tenure laws other than to speed up the tenure hearing process.

Finally, the union remains opposed to alternative teacher certification, but would not formally object to such a change as long as teacher quality is assured, the letter said, according to The Press.

The reform issues — all under consideration by the state Legislature — are believed to be critical to Michigan's chances of receiving federal education funding through the Race to the Top competitive grant program.

SOURCE:
The Grand Rapids Press, "Michigan Education Association leader says union isn't standing in the way of Race to the Top money," Dec. 7, 2009

FURTHER READING:
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "How Michigan Could Save $3.5 Billion a Year," Dec. 7, 2009


'VOTE NO,' SOME DETROIT TEACHERS SAY


DETROIT - Detroit teachers would take home $500 less per month under a tentative contract agreement reached between union and district leaders last week, and some teachers aren't buying it, according to The Detroit News.

While union leaders said the deal is the best available, The News reported that rank-and-file members have formed a "Vote No" committee.

The $250-per-paycheck pre-tax deduction would be deposited into a Termination Incentive Plan to help eliminate the district's

$219 million deficit, according to The News. The money would be returned, with no interest, when the teacher leaves the district.

Emergency Financial Manager Robert Bobb called the arrangement an "investment" in the district, while Detroit Federation of Teachers President Keith Johnson warned that the alternative might be bankruptcy, drastic pay cuts, layoffs and loss of seniority, The News reported.

Teachers would not receive any pay increase for the first two years of the contract, followed by a 1 percent base salary hike in 2011, according to The News. Bobb said he also plans to reduce health care costs by $28 million.

SOURCE:
Detroit News, "Union warns: Beware layoffs if DPS pact fails," Dec. 7, 2009

FURTHER READING:
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Cuts to the Classroom: How Will Funding Reductions Affect Michigan Students?" Nov. 9, 2009


MORE FUNDING VS. LESS SPENDING


LANSING, Mich. - Forty-one public school districts ended 2008-2009 in the red, according to preliminary state data reported in The Detroit News, up from 27 deficit districts the previous year. Media reports from around the state suggest that communities have varied ideas about how to keep that list from growing.

While parents in some communities are calling on the state to increase school funding, residents of other communities are calling on unionized school employees to consider contract concessions, according to various media reports.

The News said that parents have rallied at several school districts to support more school funding.

In Saline Public Schools, the board of education has asked unionized employees to consider contract concessions, according to a report at AnnArbor.com. At a meeting in Hemlock Public Schools, a school bus driver suggested that every district employee take a 10 percent pay cut, according to The Saginaw News.

SOURCES:
The Saginaw News, "Hemlock residents suggest school pay cuts, fees for athletes," Dec. 2, 2009

AnnArbor.com, "Saline school board wants to open contracts with teachers, other unions," Nov. 11, 2009

The Detroit News, "Number of Michigan school districts in deficit jumps," Dec. 2, 2009

FURTHER READING:
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Is That Your Final Answer?" Dec. 3, 2009


NONPROFIT EDUCATION FIRMS GROWING        


KALAMAZOO, Mich. - The number of nonprofit education management organizations is growing steadily, while the number of their for-profit counterparts is leveling off, according to a new study.

Education management firms are often hired to run public charter schools, including many in Michigan. Western Michigan University researchers and two partner institutions recently released a study about those companies, titled "Profiles of Nonprofit Education Management Organizations."

According to a WMU press release announcing the study's release, the researchers found that more attention is being given to nonprofit education management companies today than in the past.

"An increasing number of the nonprofit EMOs ... are actually bringing additional financial resources to the charter schools they operate. These are resources which they funnel from private foundations," Dr. Gary Miron, WMU professor and study author, was quoted in the release.

Jessica Urschel, a WMU graduate research assistant who co- authored the study, said that EMOs now operate close to 30 percent of the nation's charter schools, the release said. There are 103 nonprofit education management firms nationally, operating a combined total of 609 public schools.

SOURCES:
Western Michigan University, "Nonprofit EMOs enjoy steady growth," Dec. 1, 2009

Arizona State University, Education Policy Research Unit, "Profiles of Nonprofit Education Management Organizations: 2008- 2009."

FURTHER READING:
Michigan Education Report, "Seeing the potential in deaf education," Aug. 28, 2009


DETROIT TEST SCORES WORST IN NATION        


DETROIT - Detroit Public Schools students posted the worst scores ever seen on a national test of students in large cities, according to a report in Crain's Detroit Business.

The Trial Urban District Assessment was developed by the National Center for Education Statistics and the Council of Great City Schools, and is part of the National Assessment for Educational Progress.

"There is no jurisdiction of any kind, at any level, at any time in the 30-year history of NAEP that has ever registered such low numbers," said Michael Casserly, executive director of the Council, according to Crain's.

"They are barely above what one would expect simply by chance, as if the kids simply guessed at the answers," he said.

DPS fourth-graders scored in the 9th percentile and eighth- graders were in the 12th percentile when compared with students in 17 other large, central U.S. cities, Crain's reported. This is the first year the test has been given to Detroit students.

DPS Emergency Financial Manager Robert Bobb said last week that the test results were proof of failed DPS leadership, Crain's reported. He said that even before he was appointed, the Detroit Board of Education ignored a report from Casserly's Council of Great City Schools which outlined the district's academic shortcomings, according to Crain's.

Bobb told Crain's that his academic team is working on an overhaul plan based on NAEP standards.

SOURCE:
Crain's Detroit Business, "Detroit Public Schools post worst scores on record in national assessment," Dec. 8, 2009

FURTHER READING:
Michigan Education Report, "Detroit's Schools Are Going Bankrupt, Too," Aug. 4, 2009


MICHIGAN EDUATION 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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