Contents of this issue:


  • Revised 'No Child' would be carrot-and-stick
  • MEAP reading scores up
  • Parents ask for teacher concessions
  • Alternative education under pressure
  • Legislator: Let voters decide school funding

REVISED 'NO CHILD' WOULD BE CARROT-AND-STICK


WASHINGTON, D.C. - Most of the country's public schools would have more freedom under a proposed rewrite of the No Child Left Behind law, according to The Washington Post.

Recently unveiled by the Obama administration, the new version would divide public schools into three categories. High performers would be rewarded, failing schools would face radical intervention, and those in between would be pushed to improve, but allowed to choose their own methods, The Post reported.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan termed the plan a "carrots-and- sticks across the board" approach, The Post reported.

Under current law, any school that fails to make "adequate yearly progress" faces sanctions ranging from offering tutoring to allowing children to transfer to better schools, according to The Post. Those requirements would become voluntary under the Obama administration's plan, the report said.

However, schools that rank in the lowest 15 percent on academic performance or that show large "achievement gaps" might have to replace their principals or make other mandated changes, The Post reported. The best schools would receive more funding, flexibility and autonomy, according to Duncan, The Post reported.

SOURCE:
The Washington Post, "Updated 'No Child' law would focus on failing schools," March 16, 2010

FURTHER READING:
Michigan Education Report, "The shell game of making AYP," March 18, 2009


MEAP READING SCORES UP


LANSING, Mich. - Reading scores improved in all grades, and math scores in most grades, while science and social studies scores dipped slightly on the Michigan Educational Assessment Program tests taken in fall of 2009, according to media and state reports.

The results also showed improvement among African-American and Hispanic students as well as students with disabilities, the Detroit Free Press reported.

State education officials said one reason for the improvement is that Michigan introduced clearly defined grade-level content expectations in 2005, the Free Press reported.

Sharif Shakrani, director of the Educational Policy Center at Michigan State University, told the Free Press that another reason is the emphasis on reading and math brought about by the No Child Left Behind law.

The 2009 scores show that the number of students who are considered proficient in reading at various grade levels now ranges from 82 percent (seventh grade) to 90 percent (third grade), while math proficiency ranges from 70 percent (seventh grade) to 95 percent (third grade. Science and social studies proficiency levels dropped by 1 to 2 percentage points across all grades tested, the state report shows.

SOURCES:
Detroit Free Press, "Statewide MEAP gains made by minorities, those with disabilities," March 12, 2010

Michigan Department of Education, "Fall 2009 Statewide MEAP Results."

FURTHER READING:
Michigan Education Report, "Into and beyond the MEAP," Nov. 25, 2008


PARENTS ASK FOR TEACHER CONCESSIONS


REDFORD, Mich. - Some parents who attended a South Redford School District community forum said that teachers should make wage or benefit concessions as a way to protect school programs, according to the Redford Observer.

"We can't cut all these programs," Tammy Peterson said at the meeting, the Observer reported. Other parents also said that salaries or teaching jobs should be cut rather than eliminating busing, band, sports or other enrichment activities, according to the Observer.

The district's projected spending plan for 2010-2011 is $2 million to $2.8 million over anticipated revenue, according to the Observer. Superintendent Linda Hicks said the district plans to ask teachers to reopen their contract, the report said.

South Redford Education Association President William Triolet said that over the past 10 years the union has agreed to increased co-pays for medical insurance and larger class sizes and has seen few raises, the Observer reported. The district should consider spending its fund equity, currently at nearly $4 million, Triolet said, according to the Observer.

SOURCE:
Redford Observer, "Parents ask teachers to sacrifice for kids," March 11, 2010

FURTHER READING:
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Superintendent, teacher pay," March 14, 2010

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, Michigan School District Health Insurance, South Redford School District.


ALTERNATIVE EDUCATION UNDER PRESSURE


MUSKEGON, Mich. - At least 14 public school districts in the Muskegon area offer some type of alternative education, but the programs are under budgetary and academic pressure, according to a report in The Muskegon Chronicle.

A number of alternative education students will find it hard to complete the advanced math and science coursework that Michigan now requires, educators told The Chronicle. Additionally, alternative programs tend to have smaller class sizes and to offer support services, which increases their cost, the report said.

"I don't think John and Jane Doe fully comprehend the train wreck that's coming" when many students fail to graduate, Kathleen Wardell, program director for the Orchard View Schools adult and alternative education program, told The Chronicle.

Muskegon Heights Public Schools closed its alternative program in November, when enrollment stood at 59 but average attendance was only 10 to 15 students, The Chronicle said.

Those students returned to the district high school, but due to "assimilation issues" were then moved to a separate site, the report said. Now the program has 35 students and two teachers, Superintendent Dana Bryant told The Chronicle, and its future is uncertain.

SOURCE:
The Muskegon Chronicle, "State shortfalls put alternative education at risk," March 11, 2010

FURTHER READING:
Michigan Education Report, "Hope in state graduation standards misplaced," March 7, 2006


LEGISLATOR: LET VOTERS DECIDE SCHOOL FUNDING


LANSING, Mich. -  Michigan voters may see a ballot initiative in August asking them to approve a new sales tax on services, with the understanding that their approval would also mean education spending reform, the chairman of the House Education Committee said recently, according to The Detroit News.

Tim Melton, D-Auburn Hills, said at an education town hall meeting that discussion is under way to link changes in school employee retirement benefits to voter approval of a new sales tax, according to The News.

"Let the voters decide," Melton said, according to The News. If voters turned down the tax plan, then public school budgets would be cut, he said, according to The News.

Republican legislative leaders favor budget cuts and reforms rather than tax hikes, The News reported.

State Superintendent of Schools Mike Flanagan said, "I'm for whatever moves the ball forward. If the Legislature can't get this done and we need to go to the ballot, that's one option," according to The News.

State Board of Education President Kathleen Straus said the Legislature should resolve the matter rather than leaving it to voters, according to The News.

SOURCE:
The Detroit News, "Voters may decide school aid," March 11, 2010

FURTHER READING:
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Most School Health Care Plans Are Too Expensive For Michigan," Feb. 9, 2010


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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