MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST July 13, 2010

Teacher-led school, minority hiring, tax break


Contents of this issue:


  • Teachers to run DPS elementary school
  • Opinion mixed on minority-teacher emphasis
  • Alpena board implements contract
  • Bill offers tax credit for purchases by teachers
  • Detroit students working on district construction

TEACHERS TO RUN DPS ELEMENTARY SCHOOL


DETROIT — Teachers will take over operations at Barbara Jordan Elementary School in Detroit beginning this fall, a move generally seen as a test of whether more educator involvement can improve student achievement, according to the Detroit Free Press.

The K-4 school will be modeled after teacher-led schools in other major cities, among them Denver and Boston, according to the Free Press. Only students whose parents agree to be involved may attend, the Free Press reported.

Ann Crowley, a teacher and member of a DPS group called Detroit Children First, told the Free Press that the group has asked for a teacher-led school for years. The new program has the support of the Detroit Federation of Teachers and approval of emergency financial manager Robert Bobb, according to the Free Press.

Those involved told the Free Press that the school will benefit from less central bureaucracy and more educator input, while also holding teachers directly responsible for school performance. The school will operate an extended day and extended year program with enrichment classes after hours.

School governance will come from teacher committees, according to the Free Press.

SOURCE:
Detroit Free Press, "Detroit Public Schools tries something new: A school run by teachers," July 8, 2010

FURTHER READING:
Michigan Education Report, "Beyond Basics: Reading, writing and 'expanding horizons' in Detroit," Nov. 11, 2008


OPINION MIXED ON MINORITY-TEACHER EMPHASIS


PLYMOUTH, Mich. — A new emphasis on hiring minority teachers and administrators has drawn mixed opinion in Plymouth-Canton Community Schools, where 25 percent of the student body is made up of minorities compared to less than 3 percent of educational staff, according to The Detroit News.

A recent directive encourages district administrators to look at job applicants' college attendance, fraternity or church membership as "cues" to whether the individual is a member of a minority group, The News reported.

Superintendent Craig Fiegel told The News that the district is making a conscious effort to become more diverse, while also maintaining teacher quality, but opponents argued that such a practice discriminates against white applicants.

"They should hire the most qualified teachers, and race and gender should not be a factor," said Jennifer Gratz, director of the California-based American Civil Rights Institute. Gratz challenged Michigan's affirmative action laws after she was rejected for admission to the University of Michigan.

Ann Marie Hudak, chairwoman of the Plymouth-Canton Citizens for Diversity and Inclusion, told The News that the teaching population should reflect the student population. Most metro Detroit districts have proportionately more minority children than teachers, The News reported.

SOURCE:
The Detroit News, "Plymouth-Canton minority-teacher push stirs controversy," July 6, 2010

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


ALPENA BOARD IMPLEMENTS CONTRACT


ALPENA, Mich. — Teachers in the Alpena Education Association will receive a 0.5 percent wage increase and a one-time, $500 payment under the terms of a two-year contract implemented by the school board, according to The Alpena News. The contract also requires them to pay a health insurance deductible, The News reported.

The teachers union and the school district have not reached agreement on a new employment contract since the previous one expired Aug. 31, 2009, according to The News. A state mediator recommended that the district give teachers a 1 percent raise in 2010-2011 with acceptance of the new health insurance plan, but teachers rejected that offer, The News reported.

The school board then voted 6-0 to implement a contract under which teachers will still receive Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan health insurance, but will be enrolled in a plan that requires them to pay a deductible, The News reported. Also, a $500 payment will be given to each association member in the 2010-2011 school year in place of salary step increases.

"Right now everyone else in the district has PPO II insurance and right now, none of the teachers pay any part of theirs, so in these times I don't think it's too much to ask," said Pat Sampier, assistant superintendent for human resources, according to The News.

AEA President Donice ZiBerna declined comment, according to the News.

SOURCES:
The Alpena News, "Contract imposed," July 7, 2010

FURTHER READING
Michigan Education Digest, "Flint imposes contract," June 3, 2010


BILL OFFERS TAX CREDIT FOR PURCHASES BY TEACHERS


LANSING, Mich. — Public school teachers who purchase classroom supplies using personal funds would be eligible for a $500 income tax credit under legislation introduced in the Michigan Legislature this month, one of several education-related measures proposed by lawmakers in recent weeks.

State Rep. Larry DeShazor, R-Portage, introduced House Bill 6303 on July 1. If adopted, single and joint filers could claim credits of $500 and $1,000, respectively, according to Michigan Votes. The measure was referred to the House Tax Policy Committee.

In other legislative news, Senate Bill 1411 would allow a temporary tax break in cases when two intermediate school districts with different local millage rates consolidate. Taxpayers who would be subject to a higher intermediate millage rate due to the consolidation would receive a temporary break on the six-mill education tax paid directly to the state, according to Michigan Votes.

House Bill 6302 would prohibit public school districts from paying "step" increases to employees during the time period between the expiration of the current collective bargaining agreement and the adoption of a new one, Michigan Votes reported.

Michigan Votes is an online service of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, which also publishes Michigan Education Digest.

SOURCES:
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, Michigan Votes.

www.michiganvotes.org/2010-HB-6303

www.michiganvotes.org/2010-SB-1411

www.michiganvotes.org/2010-HB-6302


DETROIT STUDENTS WORKING ON DISTRICT CONSTRUCTION


DETROIT — A number of Detroit Public Schools students will get work experience through construction apprenticeships in the district, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Some 75 students will receive classroom instruction and onsite experience in construction trades by working at six sites in the district, the Tribune reported.

DPS is renovating or constructing new buildings at 18 sites. The work is part of a capital improvement program paid for by a voter-approved $500 million bond, the Tribune reported.

SOURCE:
Chicago Tribune, "Student construction apprenticeship jobs start" July 7, 2010

FURTHER READING:
Michigan Education Digest, "DPS to ask voters for $500 million bond," Aug. 27, 2009


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 med@educationreport.org

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