MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST
Volume IV, No. 3
January 22, 2002

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Contents of this issue:
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* Detroit schools continue privatization plan to save money; layoffs draw
complaints
* Detroit Public Schools chief Burnley doing a good job, report says
* Workers disrupt hearings on Michigan school accreditation
* Grand Rapids Press calls for more public school choice
* Despite layoffs, number of administrators at Detroit schools grows
* Sixty-four Michigan schools near toxic sites
* Schools use pep rallies, practice tests to prepare students for MEAP tests
* CORRECTION: "Proposal A school funding reform Engler's 'greatest policy
achievement'"

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DETROIT SCHOOLS CONTINUE PRIVATIZATION PLAN TO SAVE MONEY; LAYOFFS
DRAW COMPLAINTS
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DETROIT, Mich. - Detroit Public Schools announced last week the
signing of a $78.5-million, 10-year contract with a private company to
manage the district's maintenance department.

The district drew sharp criticism for announcing the deal at the same
time that it laid off over 700 district workers, leaving the
impression that the two actions were related. The district says both
actions were not related, although they both saved money.

By privatizing services, layoffs, and reorganizing programs, the
district is attempting to remedy a potential budget shortfall,
estimated between $88 million and $118 million.

The maintenance contract with Aramark ServiceMaster allows the
company to manage the maintenance and custodial services of the
district's 271 schools and other buildings.
_______
SOURCES:
Detroit News, "Private firm gets schools repair deal," Jan. 17, 2002
http://detnews.com/2002/schools/0201/19/d01-392992.htm

Detroit Free Press, "Detroit schools privatize repair-work
management," Jan. 17, 2002
http://www.freep.com/news/education/cuts17_20020117.htm

Detroit Free Press, "Schools told of needed changes," Jan. 18, 2002
http://www.freep.com/news/education/wskuls18_20020118.htm

Detroit Free Press, "Detroit schools cut 70 top jobs," Jan. 19, 2002
http://www.freep.com/news/education/skuls19_20020119.htm

Detroit News, "Critics blast Burnley, layoffs," Jan. 21, 2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/schools/0201/21/d01-396026.htm

Detroit News, "Hundreds protest 760 Detroit school layoffs,"
Jan. 18, 2002
http://detnews.com/2002/schools/0201/19/schools-394296.htm

Detroit Free Press, "Teacher Talks," Jan. 16, 2002
http://www.freep.com/voices/editorials/eteach16_20020116.htm


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DETROIT PUBLIC SCHOOLS CHIEF BURNLEY DOING A GOOD JOB, REPORT SAYS
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DETROIT, Mich. - Detroit Public Schools chief Kenneth Burnley deserves
high marks for revamping business operations, but now needs to focus
on boosting student achievement, according to a report released last
week by the civic group New Detroit, Inc.

The report praises Burnley for solving payroll problems, opening new
schools, and saving the district millions of dollars by reorganizing
and improving the transportation system.

The report gives general recommendations on improving achievement,
safety, community involvement, professional development, and data
management. It is based on interviews with school board members,
administrators, and 245 principals.

"The overall tenor of the report is that the district has moved in the
right direction and, it seems, is on its way toward where we want to
be," New Detroit, Inc. President Shirley Stancato said in a letter to
the community, included in the report.
______
SOURCES:
Detroit Free Press, "Detroit's schools improving," Jan. 17, 2002
http://www.freep.com/news/education/skuls17_20020117.htm

Detroit Free Press, "Progress puts Detroit schools on path to making
the grade," Jan. 20, 2002
http://www.freep.com/voices/columnists/eheath20_20020120.htm

Detroit Free Press, "Detroit Schools," Jan. 18, 2002
http://www.freep.com/voices/editorials/eskul18_20020118.htm

Detroit Free Press, "Schools chief put to the test," Jan. 22, 2002
http://www.freep.com/news/education/burn22_20020122.htm


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WORKERS DISRUPT HEARINGS ON MICHIGAN SCHOOL ACCREDITATION
---------------------------------------------------------------------
DETROIT, Mich. - A public forum to unveil Michigan's new school
accreditation system was disrupted Thursday by workers protesting
recent layoffs in Detroit Public Schools.

Protesters began picketing the meeting site nearly two hours before
the 7 p.m. meeting began and continued with speeches inside. State
school superintendent Tom Watkins, who led the meeting, repeatedly
asked the catcalling audience to respect other speakers.

More than 200 people, many of whom also attended Wednesday's Detroit
school board meeting, listened as State Department of Education
officials outlined the new school accreditation system, which will
label each school in Michigan with a letter grade based primarily on
Michigan Educational Assessment Program exam scores.

But protestors lined up at public microphones and dominated the
meeting with their protest, repeatedly airing concerns about the
takeover of Detroit schools, budget deficits, and this month's layoff
announcement.
______
SOURCE:
Detroit Free Press, "School accreditation forum sours," Jan. 18, 2002
http://www.freep.com/news/education/dgrade18_20020118.htm


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GRAND RAPIDS PRESS CALLS FOR MORE PUBLIC SCHOOL CHOICE
----------------------------------------------------------------------
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - A recent Grand Rapids Press commentary calls for
more public school choice in the Grand Rapids School District.

The commentary addresses the district's limited public school choice
program, which the paper feels places too many restrictions on
students who would like to attend other schools.

The Press states, "The Grand Rapids public school system isn't giving
parents the choices they deserve. The Board of Education should
broaden its definition of school choice, allowing students from within
the district and beyond to fill openings in city classrooms."

"The policy doesn't offer real choice to families. It's inflexible and
should be changed," the Press asserts.
______
SOURCES:
Grand Rapids Press, "School choice in the city: Grand Rapids should
allow more transfers within district," Jan. 17, 2002
http://gr.mlive.com/columns/index.ssf?/news/stories/20020117gedit1110302.frm

Michigan Education Report, "Thousands of students switch public
schools under choice law," Early Fall 2001
http://www.educationreport.org/article.asp?ID=3747

Grand Rapids Press, "Increase in enrollment gives school budget a
boost," Jan. 17, 2002
http://gr.mlive.com/news/index.ssf?/news/stories/20020117ggvilbudg110804.frm

Grand Rapids Press, "School district grapples with $950,000 deficit,"
Jan. 17, 2002
http://gr.mlive.com/news/index.ssf?/news/stories/20020117gedeficit105809.frm

Detroit News, "Romeo schools face $2-million deficit,"
January 18, 2002
http://detnews.com/2002/macomb/0201/18/d05-393694.htm


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DESPITE LAYOFFS, NUMBER OF ADMINISTRATORS AT DETROIT SCHOOLS GROWS
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DETROIT, Mich. - Even as about 70 administrators are cut from Detroit
Public Schools this week, there will still be a few more employees in
the highest ranks than last spring.

The school system will now have 34 executive directors, who earn
between $98,000 and $132,600 and oversee principals or departments
such as adult education. That's two more than last year, even after
cutting more than half of the executives who oversaw the schools.

And since last May, eight employees have been promoted to executive-
level positions and received raises ranging from 11 percent to 48
percent, according to payroll data. Seven employees above the
executive directors - including Chief Executive Kenneth Burnley - earn
$143,000 to $240,000 a year.

In all, about 72 administrators, or 26 percent of the school
headquarters staff, will be laid off or will return to lower-level
positions. Some will become teachers.
________
SOURCES:
Detroit News, "Schools' top ranks grow," Jan. 22, 2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/schools/0201/22/d01-396633.htm

Michigan Education Report, "Michigan Teachers Get Smallest Slice of
Personnel Pie," Winter 1999
http://www.mackinac.org/article.asp?ID=1574


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SIXTY-FOUR MICHIGAN SCHOOLS NEAR TOXIC SITES
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DETROIT, Mich. - A national report released Monday found that 64
Michigan schools are within a half-mile of federal- or state-
designated toxic waste sites.

The report, "Creating Safe Learning Zones," was part of an
environmental coalition effort called the "Child Proofing Our
Communities Campaign."

The report does not call for the schools to be closed but asks for the
sites to be cleaned up.

Though the report indicates that many schools are near toxic sites,
the investigation did not check individual schools for contamination.
______
SOURCES:
Detroit Free Press, "64 state schools are near toxic sites,"
Jan. 21, 2002
http://www.freep.com/news/mich/ntoxic21_20020121.htm

Detroit News, "64 Mich. schools near toxic dump sites," Jan. 21, 2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/schools/0201/21/a06-395789.htm


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SCHOOLS USE PEP RALLIES, PRACTICE TESTS TO PREPARE STUDENTS FOR MEAP TESTS
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DETROIT, Mich. - Educators across the state are using a variety of
methods to prepare students for the Michigan Educational Assessment
Program (MEAP) tests, which students will take from Jan. 28 to Feb. 7.

Teachers and administrators are using practice exams, "Beat the MEAP"
messages scrolled on blackboards, pep rallies, and games to encourage
students to do well on the annual tests, which evaluate students in
math, science, social studies, reading, and writing.

New guidelines for administering the tests are in place this year
following last year's scandal in which 67 districts were accused of
cheating on the exams.

Individual schools can earn $50,000 grants if their students score
well or demonstrate improvement. Eighth-graders can earn a $500
scholarship for college by passing the test, and 11th-graders - who
will be tested in the spring - can win $2,500 scholarships. And
school systems' reputations rest largely on how well their students
perform.
________
SOURCE:
Detroit News, "Pupils, schools feel pressure to pass MEAP,"
Jan. 21, 2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/schools/0201/21/a01-396062.htm

Detroit News, "Oakland: Curriculum conforms to what students should
know," Jan. 21, 2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/schools/0201/21/a03-395928.htm

Detroit News, "Macomb: Teachers prepare students all year,"
Jan. 21, 2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/schools/0201/21/a03-395934.htm

Detroit News, "Wayne: Teachers say, 'Make this fun for the kids,'"
Jan. 21, 2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/schools/0201/21/a03-395945.htm

Detroit News, "Detroit: Positive messages pump up students for tests,"
Jan. 21, 2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/schools/0201/21/a03-395933.htm

Detroit News, "Livingston: Educators try to ease kids fears over
exams," Jan. 21, 2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/schools/0201/21/a03-395932.htm

Detroit News, "District put to the test," Jan. 18, 2002
http://detnews.com/2002/wayne/0201/18/d03-393684.htm

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "How Does the MEAP Measure Up?,"
December 18, 2001
http://www.mackinac.org/article.asp?ID=3919


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CORRECTION: "PROPOSAL A SCHOOL FUNDING REFORM ENGLER'S 'GREATEST
POLICY ACHIEVEMENT'"
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In the last issue of Michigan Education Digest, our first summary
mistakenly attributed the authorship of the series on Gov. Engler to
The Detroit News. Though the links to the series were correct, the
series was, in fact, published by the Detroit Free Press.

To view these articles again, visit:
http://www.freep.com/news/mich/gov15_20020115.htm



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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
[mailto:med@educationreport.org]
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