MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST
Volume IV, No. 11
March 19, 2002

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Contents of this issue:
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* Watkins' school accreditation plan approved by State Board of Education
* Teacher sues union over political expenditures
* Detroit may limit access to school board meetings
* U. S. Supreme Court to consider school drug testing policies
* Schools require community service for graduation
* NOTICE: Outrageous school regulations contest - Win a Palm Pilot!
* NOTICE: Education Freedom Fund seeks scholarship applicants
* NOTICE: "Student Mentor Partners" seeks Metro Detroit scholarship
applicants


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WATKINS' SCHOOL ACCREDITATION PLAN APPROVED BY STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION
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LANSING, Mich. - The State Board of Education last week gave
final approval for Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom
Watkins' school accreditation plan.

The plan, proposed by Watkins after it was discovered that more
than 1,000 Michigan schools might flunk a more serious
requirement crafted by former school Superintendent Arthur Ellis,
will assign letter grades for each school based on test scores,
level of attendance, and other factors.

The Board is expected to determine the details of the grading
system by September, and the first accreditation report under the
plan is expected in December.
________
SOURCES:
Detroit News, "State readies plan for grading schools,"
Mar. 14, 2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/schools/0203/14/d01-440425.htm

Michigan Information and Research Service (MIRS) Capitol Capsule,
Mar. 14, 2002
http://www.mirsnews.com/


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TEACHER SUES UNION OVER POLITICAL EXPENDITURES
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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. - A Roman Catholic gym teacher is suing local,
state, and national teachers' unions for requiring him to pay
fees he says support abortion and birth-control policies.

In a lawsuit filed last week in U.S. District Court in
Springfield, Gerard O'Brien says the "family planning" positions
taken by the Springfield Education Association (SEA),
Massachusetts Teachers Association, and National Education
Association go against his religious beliefs.

Although O'Brien is not a union member, he is required to pay an
agency fee to the unions of about $500 a year. Agency fees are
reduced payments for workers who don't want to support political
activity by a union beyond normal labor issues.

O'Brien wants to send all his fees to a charity - something he
claims the SEA has allowed in the past.

"Even if I pay the reduced fees to the union, it still shows an
association - it's still a form of speech," he told the
Associated Press. "I don't want to support the unions in any way.
If I give them money for anything, it looks like I'm supporting
them."
_______
SOURCES:
FoxNews.com, "Catholic Teacher Sues Union Over Family Planning
Fees," Mar. 18, 2002
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,48206,00.html

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Religious Liberty and
Compulsory Unionism: A Worker's Guide to Using Union Dues for
Charity," June 2000
http://www.mackinac.org/article.asp?ID=2904


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DETROIT MAY LIMIT ACCESS TO SCHOOL BOARD MEETINGS
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DETROIT, Mich. - After a number of disruptions by riotous crowds
interfering with meetings, the Detroit school board is
considering holding regular board meetings in smaller rooms, and
showing the meeting on closed-circuit television in a larger
venue.

The Board has recessed meetings early in the past because of
public disruptions, and has conducted business in smaller rooms
to better facilitate crowd control.

Board President Frank Fountain told Education Week the board has
tolerated occasional emotional outbursts by audience members.

"But when your main mission is to shut down a board meeting,
that's something else," he said. The board should be able to
conduct its business without "interruption, threats, or
intimidation," Mr. Fountain added.
_______
SOURCE:
Education Week, "Wary Detroit Board May Limit Meeting Access,"
Mar. 13, 2002
http://www.educationweek.org/ew/newstory.cfm?slug=26detroit.h21


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U.S. SUPREME COURT TO CONSIDER SCHOOL DRUG TESTING POLICIES
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WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to hear
arguments this week in a case that may decide the fate of school
drug tests.

The case stems from a 1999 lawsuit brought by a high-school
student who claims her local school board's policy of requiring
random drug testing of all students who wish to participate in
extracurricular activities is unconstitutional.

In defense of the testing program, the school district argues
that in an age when there are numerous health and safety threats
to students in its care, public schools should have the freedom
to reduce the use of illegal drugs.

The question in the case is not only whether groups other than
athletes can be tested, but also whether school districts must
prove a drug problem exists in their schools before subjecting
any group of youngsters to testing.
________
SOURCES:
Washington Post, "Court to Weigh Drug Testing by Schools,"
Mar. 17, 2002
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A38744-2002Mar16.html

Detroit News, "Drug testing policy challenged," Mar. 19, 2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/schools/0203/19/a04-444253.htm

Education Week, "Testing the Limits of School Drug Tests,"
Mar. 13, 2002
http://www.educationweek.org/ew/newstory.cfm?slug=26drug.h21

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SCHOOLS REQUIRE COMMUNITY SERVICE FOR GRADUATION
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DETROIT, Mich. - Mandatory community service in public schools,
born during the 1980s, has gone beyond checking off hours to meet
graduation requirements.

In Metro Detroit, four districts require students to perform
community service to get their diplomas: Detroit, Bloomfield
Hills, L'Anse Creuse in Macomb County, and Lamphere schools in
Madison Heights. All four programs are at least 10 years old.

In many programs, students perform community service and complete
reports on their experience for credit. In other schools, the
community service is performed as a group or class project.

Many schools call it service learning, and say it uses students'
experiences to teach writing, social studies, geography and math.
Studies have shown that service learning keeps students more
focused on school and can keep them from abusing drugs and
alcohol.
_______
SOURCE:
Detroit News, "Schools work service to community into class,"
Mar. 18, 2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/schools/0203/18/c01-443228.htm


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NOTICE: OUTRAGEOUS SCHOOL REGULATIONS CONTEST - WIN A PALM PILOT!
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The Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a research and educational
institute in Midland, is asking Michigan teachers, school
principals, administrators and parents to help in its research on
confusing, conflicting and overlapping mandates that hamper the
operation of Michigan school districts, by coming up with the
most outrageous school regulation or rule they can find.

The winner of this contest-the results of which will be revealed
in April in conjunction with the release of a forthcoming
Mackinac Center report on school regulations-will receive a "Palm
Pilot" hand-held computer organizer, a prize symbolic of the
order and clarity school administrators want and deserve.

School principals, teachers and other administrators who believe
they have a candidate for the Mackinac Center's Most Outrageous
School Regulation Contest can submit their entry by calling
Christopher Martens at (989) 631-0900, e-mailing Martens at
martens@mackinac.org or by faxing their entry to (989) 631-0964.

The deadline for submissions is April 1.
________
SOURCES:
Detroit News, "Dumbest school rule wins contest," Mar. 1, 2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/schools/0203/01/d01-429531.htm

Detroit Free Press, "Think tank seeks outrageous rules,"
Feb. 25, 2002
http://www.freep.com/news/metro/date25_20020225.htm

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Mackinac Center Asks
Teachers, School Administrators to Find Most Outrageous School
Regulations, Rules," Feb. 18, 2002
http://www.mackinac.org/4089


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NOTICE: EDUCATION FREEDOM FUND SEEKS SCHOLARSHIP APPLICANTS
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The Education Freedom Fund (EFF), a statewide non-profit
organization, is seeking K-8 scholarship applicants for the 2002-
2003 school year.

EFF's scholarships provide hope for low-income children who are
trapped in poorly performing schools and whose parents cannot
afford an alternative.

Scholarships of up to $1,000 per child are renewable for four
years.

To qualify for the scholarships, applying families must meet
established income guidelines.

Families interested in applying for a scholarship may call toll-
free 800-866-8141 or visit the Education Freedom Fund web site at
www.educationfreedomfund.org.

The deadline for applications is March 31, 2002.


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NOTICE: "STUDENT MENTOR PARTNERS" SEEKS METRO-DETROIT
SCHOLARSHIP APPLICANTS
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Student Mentor Partners, a non-profit organization serving
metropolitan Detroit youth, is seeking scholarship applicants for
the 2002-03 school year.

The organization provides scholarships to low-income children in
the 8th grade and above, who desire an alternative to Detroit
neighborhood high schools, but whose parents cannot afford such
an alternative.

Student Mentor Partners offers students a mentoring program to
ensure that they have access to and utilize the resources,
training, support and adult guidance needed to succeed in a
private high school environment. It also helps them develop
self-confidence, accept responsibility, and be prepared for
college.

Sponsorships average $2,800 per child annually and are renewable
for four years or until graduation. To qualify for the program,
applying students must meet established income guidelines and
demonstrate interest in utilizing an adult mentor.

Families interested in applying for the program may call (313)
886-9083 or e-mail Student Mentor Partners at
studentmentorpartners@att.net.

The deadline for applications is March 31, 2002.


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MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST is a service of Michigan Education
Report (http://www.educationreport.org), a quarterly newspaper
with a circulation of 130,000 published by the Mackinac Center
for Public Policy (http://www.mackinac.org), a private,
nonprofit, nonpartisan research and educational institute.

Contact Managing Editor Elizabeth H. Moser at
med@educationreport.org
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