MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST
Volume IV, No. 13
April 2, 2002

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Contents of this issue:
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* Protestors arrested at Detroit school meeting
* Reform group, gubernatorial candidates meet over Proposal A
* Major policy group calls for changes in teacher certification
* Religious leader tells California parents to remove students from
public schools
* 20 students suspended for buying, selling drink-mix powder
* Charter school closing seen as success for charter movement

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PROTESTORS ARRESTED AT DETROIT SCHOOL MEETING
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DETROIT, Mich. - Over a dozen people, including at least three
high school students, two teachers and two parents, were arrested
and forcibly removed from a Detroit school board meeting Thursday
after disrupting the proceedings with loud chants.

The incident marked the first physical confrontation in a series
of increasingly larger and more active protests at monthly school
board meetings.

The protestors, including residents and school workers, want to
stop the seven-member Detroit board from conducting business.
They refuse to acknowledge the board's authority because it
supplanted the elected school board in a state-led takeover of
Detroit schools.

Thursday's confrontation had been brewing since demonstrators
chanted loudly enough to stop a Feb. 20 meeting at the Martin
Luther King High School auditorium. In response, the district
tried to bar some demonstrators from attending this month, but
the injunction request was refused.

________
SOURCES:
Detroit Free Press, "13 arrested during melee at meeting,"
Mar. 29, 2002
http://www.freep.com/news/locway/skul29_20020329.htm

Detroit News, "14 protesters arrested at school meeting,"
Mar. 29, 2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/schools/0203/29/d01-452177.htm

Detroit Free Press, " Detroit schools' meeting draws fire,"
Mar. 28, 2002
http://www.freep.com/news/education/meet28_20020328.htm

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REFORM GROUP, GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATES MEET OVER PROPOSAL A
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DETROIT, Mich. - A group calling itself Michigan Citizens for
Fairness in Public School Funding gathered with Michigan
gubernatorial candidates Monday night to discuss possible changes
to Proposal A, a 1994 tax law that changed state education
funding.

Proposal A, which transferred the bulk of school funding
responsibility from local property owners to the state,
drastically reduced property taxes and narrowed the wide funding
disparity among school districts. It also attracted businesses
to the state, lowering unemployment.

But the group says Proposal A distributes state money to schools
in an inequitable way. Under the law, each district gets per-
student funding according to a formula based partially on
property values. Thus, in Bloomfield hills, schools receive
$11,755 per student, and in Redford, $6,515 per student.

Only Democrat and Green Party candidates for governor were
present for the meeting. These candidates suggested allowing
local districts to levy additional property taxes.
_______
SOURCES:
Detroit News, "New funding rules pushed for Prop A,"
Mar. 26, 2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/schools/0203/26/d01-449703.htm

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Fix Michigan Schools with
Proposal A+," December 7, 2001
http://www.mackinac.org/article.asp?ID=3882

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MAJOR POLICY GROUP CALLS FOR CHANGES IN TEACHER CERTIFICATION
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WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Progressive Policy Institute (PPI), a

centrist Democratic group often at odds with traditional party
creed, has published a report advocating major reforms in the
process of teacher certification.

The report's author, University of Virginia Professor of
Education Frederick Hess, says the teacher certification system
is what is creating the current teacher shortage. The PPI study
offers the general guideline that a teacher should be certified
if he or she possesses a college degree, clears a criminal
background check and passes a test measuring "essential teaching
skills and mastery of subject matter."

Because the idea so frontally challenges the thinking of
teachers' unions - that teacher certification equals quality - it
is likely to set off an intense political debate, especially
within the Democratic Party.

Forty-five states already permit limited alternative
certification, according to the National Center for Education
Information.
________
SOURCE:
Chicago Tribune, "Educator seeks easier certification process,"
Mar. 27, 2002
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-0203270357
mar27.story

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RELIGIOUS LEADER TELLS CALIFORNIA PARENTS TO REMOVE STUDENTS
FROM PUBLIC SCHOOLS
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Influential religious leader James
Dobson has urged California parents to leave the state's
government school system.

"In the state of California, if I had a child there, I wouldn't
put the youngster in a public school," said the president of
Focus on the Family, a Colorado Springs-based Christian group. " I
think it's time to get our kids out," Dobson said.

A group calling itself the Alliance for the Separation of School
& State hailed Dobson's comments as "a turning point" in the
education reform debate. The Alliance has garnered more than
15,000 signatures on a petition calling for an end to government
involvement in education.

Dobson's radio show has more than 5 million listeners in the
United States and is heard in 100 countries.
________
SOURCE:
WorldNetDaily.com, "Dobson to Californians: Quit public schools,"
Mar. 30, 2002
http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=27023

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20 STUDENTS SUSPENDED FOR BUYING, SELLING DRINK-MIX POWDER
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HOWELL, Mich. - Twenty elementary school students were suspended
for three days for buying or selling bags of "happy powder," a
stunt administrators say too closely mimicked drug transactions.

The powder was a mix of sugar, Kool Aid and cinnamon. But what
alarmed Howell school administrators in Livingston County is how
the concoction circulated around Northwest Elementary School.

The powder was packaged in plastic bags, Supt. Chuck Breiner told
The Detroit News, with some students selling and others buying.

"The issue is with how they were selling it in school," Breiner
said. "The way it parallels drug trafficking troubles us
greatly."

Nineteen fifth-graders and one third-grader were suspended for
three days after teachers confiscated about 10 bags of the
powder. All are involved in the school's Drug Abuse Resistance
Education Program.

In all, about $6 had changed hands. School administrators said
the crackdown is the largest mass suspension of local elementary
school students that they can recall.
_______
SOURCE:
Detroit News, "Powder gets 20 kids suspended," Apr. 1, 2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/schools/0204/01/c01-454180.htm

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CHARTER SCHOOL CLOSING SEEN AS SUCCESS FOR CHARTER MOVEMENT
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CHICAGO, Ill. - A recent Chicago Tribune editorial says the
closing of a failing Chicago charter school is proof of how well
the charter model works.

The school, Nuestra America Charter School, which opened in 1997
on the West Side of Chicago, was undeniably a failing school. Its
students were reading far below national norms. Achievement test
scores had been in a nosedive, as had attendance, staff turnover
was high, and the school financial picture was dire.

On Wednesday, Chicago Public Schools administrators ordered it
closed by June.

Many cities appoint special committees and spend weeks evaluating
schools in such situations. But Chicago's charter schools czar,
Greg Richmond, says his decision is based quite simply on how
well the school serves kids.

He said that in Chicago, it's simple. You don't perform, you
don't survive.

The Tribune says this is how the charter system is supposed to
work - so that administrators faced with a consistently failing
school could deal with the situation rather than forcing children
to attend schools that do them a disservice.
_______
SOURCE:
Chicago Tribune, "When failure means success," Apr. 1, 2002
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/printedition/chi-0204010015
apr01.story?coll=chi%2Dprinteditorial%2Dhed


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MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST is a service of Michigan Education
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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
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