Contents of this issue:


  • Charter school, teacher privatization bill sent to Senate
  • Audit: Lansing has $7.9M more than it thought
  • Grandville requests seat-time waiver
  • Reading Community Schools opts for ‘transformation’
  • MSU to study how to teach science to preschoolers

Charter School, Teacher Privatization Bill Sent to Senate


LANSING, Mich. — Legislation that would lead to more charter public schools and to allow conventional public school districts to contract with private companies to provide teachers are headed to the state Senate following approval by the Senate Education Committee, The Grand Rapids Press reported.

Supporters said that Senate Bill 618 is intended to expand the charter sector in Michigan as a way of improving choices for parents and using competition to spur improvement, The Press reported. Currently there is a cap on the number of charter schools that state universities can authorize.

Regarding teacher privatization, Rep. Phil Pavlov, R-St. Clair Township, said that contracting with private firms for educators would save money because, as private employees, the teachers would not be enrolled in the public school retirement system and the district would not be obligated to contribute to that system on their behalf, according to The Press.

Critics said that charter school expansion will not improve low-performing conventional public schools, according to the Press.

Donald Wotruba, deputy director for the Michigan Association of School Boards, said that ... (W)hen you have a struggling business, you either shut it down or use resources to fix it. They’re doing neither to the low-performing schools.”

Wotruba said that the MASB opposes teacher privatization because of the issue of who has final authority over privately hired educators, The Press reported.

SOURCE:

The Grand Rapids Press, “Lawmakers hope to lure successful charter school companies to Michigan by waiving property taxes, lifting cap,” Sept. 30, 2011

FURTHER READING:

Michigan Capitol Confidential, “Commentary: Research Shows Parental Choice Works,” Sept. 23, 2011

MichiganVotes.org, “2011 Senate Bill 618: Eliminate charter school cap; allow “privatized” teachers


Audit: Lansing has $7.9M More Than It Thought


LANSING, Mich. — A financial audit of the Lansing School District shows $7.9 million in unexpected revenue, according to the Lansing State Journal.

The money is a combination of $3 million in carryover from last year, $2.2 million in funds that were allocated to various departments but never spent, and about $2.7 million in federal recovery funds that was never spent, the Journal reported.

The school board is expected to discuss the matter at a meeting Thursday, according to the Journal; board President Shirley Rodgers noted the figures are preliminary.

Earlier this year the board approved layoffs, closed school buildings and negotiated benefit cuts and wage freezes with employee groups which allowed it to adopt a balanced budget of $173 million for 2011-2012, the Journal reported. A $20 million deficit is predicted in 2012-2013, according to the Journal.

Patti Seidl, president of the teachers union, said members have mixed feelings about the audit findings, the Journal reported. Additional revenue is welcome, she told the Journal,   but “there is some outrage,” given the layoffs and contract negotiations.

SOURCE:

Lansing State Journal, “Lansing School district has $7.9M more to spend, audit finds,” Sept. 30, 2011

FURTHER READING:

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Schools Use Creative Accounting to Exaggerate Fiscal Challenges,” May 9, 2011


Grandville Requests Seat-Time Waiver


GRANDVILLE, Mich. — Grandville Public Schools is applying for a state waiver that would allow as many as 40 students to take more classes online, up to and including 100 percent of their coursework, according to a report at Mlive.com.

Up to 20 high school students and 10 middle school students could participate, taking courses from the online programs Education 2020, Michigan Virtual School and Florida School, Mlive.com reported.

Superintendent Ron Caniff noted that Gov. Rick Snyder has called on the state Legislature to consider ways of measuring school effectiveness other than “seat time,” Mlive.com reported.

The waivers mean that students are not required to spend a specific amount of time attending classes in person in a given school district.

SOURCE:

Mlive.com, “Grandville Board of Education applies for waiver to allow 40 students to learn entirely online,” Sept. 29, 2011

FURTHER READING:

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Virtual Learning in Michigan’s Schools


Michigan to Help Draft Science Standards


WASHINGTON, D.C. — Michigan is one of 20 states that will help craft new national standards for what students should learn and be able to do in science from kindergarten through high school, according to an online report at Education Week.

The states will develop what are called the Next Generation Science Standards, building on a baseline already developed by the National Research Council, according to a report in Education Week. The work is expected to be completed in 2012; the report did not detail what each state will do.

The baseline is built around three core areas: scientific and engineering practices; “cross-cutting concepts” that unify the study of science and engineering; and core ideas in physical, life, earth and space sciences, plus engineering, technology and science applications, Education Week reported.

The process will be overseen by Achieve, a Washington-based nonprofit organization, according to Education Week.

SOURCE:

Education Week, “Twenty States Named to Help Craft New Science Standards,” Sept. 20, 2011

FURTHER READING:

Michigan Education Digest, “Michigan Adopts National Standards,” June 22, 2010


Reading Community Schools Opts for ‘Transformation’


READING, Mich. — Reading Community Schools has opted for the “transformation” approach to improving achievement and getting off the state’s “persistently lowest achieving” schools list, according to The Hillsdale Daily News.

The state requires schools on the list to choose one of four improvement models, among them converting to a charter, closing, or “transforming” the school, The Daily News reported. All of the models require replacing the school principal, but Reading Superintendent Chellie Broesamle said that does not mean the principal will be out of a job, according to The Daily News. She said that personnel can be shifted around instead, The Daily News reported.

“That’s like making a scapegoat of one person,” Trustee Bill Pridgeon said of the replacement requirement, The Daily News reported.

English and math scores at the middle school and high school levels must improve if the district wants to move off the low-achieving list, Principal Rick Bailey told the board, according to The Daily News.

SOURCE:

The Hillsdale Daily News, “Transformation model approved by school board,” Oct. 1, 2011

FURTHER READING:

Michigan Education Digest, “Study: Worst Schools Stay Open,” Dec. 16, 2010


MSU to Study How to Teach Science to Preschoolers


EAST LANSING, Mich. — Michigan State University has received $2.6 million in federal funds to study how to improve preschool science teaching, according to the Detroit Free Press.

The National Science Foundation said the grant is part of an effort to increase young children’s science knowledge, the Free Press reported.

MSU will use it for a five-year program called “Head Start on Science,” in which some of the teachers in 72 Head Start classrooms will receive coaching on science instruction to determine if that improves their performance, according to the Free Press.

“Most preschool teachers do not feel competent teaching science,” lead researcher Laurie Van Egeren said, the Free Press reported.

SOURCE:

Detroit Free Press, “MSU gets $2.6M to boost preschool science teaching,” Sept. 28, 2011

FURTHER READING:

Michigan Education Report, “It’s hard, but it’s fun,” July 15, 2008


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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