Contents of this issue:


  • Michigan celebrates ‘School Choice Week’
  • Michigan public universities have $4.2B in unrestricted assets
  • Michigan school’s ‘flipped classrooms’ featured on CNN
  • Individual districts can now ‘Race to the Top’
  • Schools funding increases tied to improvement

Michigan Celebrates ‘School Choice Week’


LANSING, Mich. — Gov. Rick Snyder joined 25 other governors in recognizing the week of January 22-28 as “School Choice Week,” according to The Holland Sentinel. The week will be marked by 14 events across the state designed to highlight the benefits of and need for increased educational options for Michigan students.

"In Michigan and across the country, parents, children, teachers, and community leaders will gather to celebrate school choice where it exists and is working —but also to demand better educational options for the of children who are trapped in schools that do not work for them," Andrew Campanella, vice president of public affairs for National School Choice Week, told WNEM-TV.

The Sentinel reports there will be over 400 events nationwide this week in all 50 states, making this the largest celebration of education reform in American history. A complete list of events can be found at the website, www.schoolchoiceweek.com.

SOURCES:

The Holland Sentinel, "School Choice Week in Michigan launches today," Jan. 23, 2012

WNEM-TV, “Michigan school choice week underway,” Jan. 23, 2012

FURTHER READING:

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “National School Choice Week,” Jan. 23, 2012


Michigan Public Universities Have $4.2B in Unrestricted Assets


DETROIT — A review of Michigan’s public universities found their unrestricted net assets rose to $4.2 billion this year, according to an Associated Press story on Mlive.com. That figure represents a 24 percent increase over last year.

The University of Michigan had the most unrestricted assets, at $2.6 billion between its three campuses and health system, according to the AP. Wayne State University’s information was not included because it operates on a different fiscal year.

The AP reports that some parents and students say schools should spend down those unrestricted assets to lower tuition costs. But in most cases schools have already designated that money for future projects, such as construction.

SOURCE:

The Associated Press, “Michigan public universities list $4.2B unrestricted,” Jan. 16, 2011

FURTHER READING:

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “University of Michigan: More Staff, Higher Revenue, Higher Pay ... Wants More Money From Taxpayers,” Jan. 6, 2012


Michigan School’s ‘Flipped Classrooms’ Featured on CNN


CLINTON TWP., Mich. — Clintondale High School Principal Greg Green was featured on CNN’s education blog, “Schools of Thought,” for utilizing a “flipped classroom” approach to education.

In a blog post special to CNN, Green explained how teachers at Clintondale record their lectures using software donated by a local company. Students watch these lectures outside of school hours and then work on “homework” during class. According to Green, this gives students access to teachers when they are needed most, when students are actively processing the material instead of when they are receiving it.

In the 18 months Clintondale has been using the program, the student failure rate has fallen by a third, according to Green.

SOURCE:

CNN.com, “My View: Flipped classrooms give every student a chance to succeed” Jan. 18, 2012

FURTHER READING:

Michigan Education Report, “Teacher reverses lecture/homework format,” Oct. 6, 2011


Individual Districts Can Now ‘Race to the Top’


WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Obama administration has restructured the “Race to the Top” program and will now allow individual school districts to compete for federal money, according to The Detroit News. Previously the program evaluated states as a whole for the purposes of making grants.

The News reports Congress has allotted $550 million for the program this year. “Race to the top” awards money to states, and now districts, that make certain educational reforms approved by the Obama administration.

SOURCE:

The Detroit News, “Race to the Top competition revamped,” Jan. 18, 2012

FURTHER READING:

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “‘Race to the Top’ Realities,” Dec. 22, 2009


Schools Funding Increases Tied to Improvement


LANSING, Mich. — Public schools won’t see their funding reduced in the next budget, but Gov. Snyder wants them to show improvement in order to get funding increases, according to The Grand Rapids Press.

“The good part now is that we have some incremental resources,” Gov. Snyder told The Press. “The question is how do we prioritize those. The part I did say last night is that it is about investing and saving wisely. It's not about just spending money. We are looking at ways to invest and that potentially includes K-12. But it needs to be based on best practices and things that are measurable.”

According to The Press, the governor’s plan may receive support from Democratic legislators, depending on who sets the goals and what they are. Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer, D-East Lansing, was critical of the lack of details in the governor’s State of the State address.

“So the idea of putting money back into schools is positive. But we'd want to know what the goals are, and who would be setting them,” Bob McCann, Sen. Whitmer’s communications director, told The Press. “Are they just going to be linked to standardized test scores, or some things that he considers to be a best practice? We don't know.”

Gov. Snyder told The Press he would get into details of a proposed spending plan in his budgetary address in February.

SOURCES:

The Grand Rapids Press, “Gov. Snyder: School districts might have to show improvement, collaboration to get more state money,” Jan. 19, 2012

The Grand Rapids Press, “Democrats say they might back plan to give schools cash for meeting goals, but it depends on the goals,” Jan. 19, 2012

FURTHER READING:

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “The Unstable Funding Myth,” June 24, 2010


MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST is a service of Michigan Education Report, an online newspaper published by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan research and educational institute.

Contact Managing Editor Kyle Jackson at mailto:med@educationreport.org

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