MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST
Volume IV, No. 8
February 26, 2002

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Contents of this issue:
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* U.S. Supreme Court hears voucher case
* Protesters shut down Detroit school board meeting
* Education Week investigates education research and advocacy
* Detroit Free Press: Home school students perform well
* Court rules students can grade each other's papers
* NOTICE: Outrageous school regulations contest - Win a Palm Pilot!
* NOTICE: "Student Mentor Partners" seeks Metro Detroit scholarship
applicants


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U.S. SUPREME COURT HEARS VOUCHER CASE
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WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments last
week in a case that could decide the constitutionality of school
voucher programs across the country.

The justices are deliberating over the Cleveland voucher program,
which allows over 4,000 low-income students to use state-funded
vouchers to attend the school of their choice.

Opponents of the plan say it is unconstitutional due to the high
number of voucher students choosing to attend parochial schools.

Arguing against the voucher program, National Education Association
General Counsel Robert H. Chanin told the justices the voucher plan
amounts to public support of religious education. "It is a
mathematical certainty that almost all of the students will go to
religious schools," Chanin said.

But Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who is widely perceived as the swing
vote in the case, stopped Chanin, asking: "Do we not have to look at
all the school choice options?"

"If anything [the program] is skewed against religious schools in
terms of public support," she said.

The high court is expected to rule on the case by July.
________
SOURCES:
Washington Post, "Justices Indicate Choice Crucial in Vouchers Case,"
Feb. 20, 2002
http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn?pagename=article&contentId=A39137-2002Feb20

Detroit News, "Vouchers go before High Court," Feb. 21, 2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/schools/0202/21/a05-422015.htm

Detroit Free Press, "Voucher plan needs options," Feb. 21, 2002
http://www.freep.com/news/education/evouch21_20020221.htm

Washington Post, "High Court Takes Up Two Big Issues," Feb. 21, 2002
http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn?pagename=article&contentId=A42065-2002Feb20

Cleveland Plain Dealer, "Cleveland voucher case poses complex issues
for justices," Feb. 20, 2002
http://www.cleveland.com/news/plaindealer/index.ssf?/xml/story.ssf/html
_stan dard.xsl?/base/news/10142010988040272.xml


Los Angeles Times, "Justices Weigh Vouchers for Parochial School Use,"
Feb. 21, 2002
http://www.latimes.com/news/education/la-000013372feb21.story?coll=la
%2Dnews%2Dlearning


National Review, "Education's Enron," Feb. 20, 2002
http://www.nationalreview.com/comment/comment-alt022002.shtml


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PROTESTORS SHUT DOWN DETROIT SCHOOL BOARD MEETING
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DETROIT, Mich. - Detroit school reform board members cancelled their
meeting Wednesday night after deciding they couldn't do business over
the noise of hundreds of angry protesters, who were intent on shutting
the meeting down.

It was the third time a meeting of the reform board has been cancelled
since it was appointed in 1999, but the first since Kenneth Burnley
took over as chief executive 19 months ago. Audience members have
been arrested or removed from meetings in the past.

The crowd was split between school workers who wanted to discuss the
recent layoff of about 700 employees and a more activist group angry
about the removal of the elected board three years ago.

Detroit's school unions had urged members to join the demonstration
against the job cuts and the privatization of some district services.
________
SOURCES:
Detroit News, "School workers disrupt board," Feb. 21, 2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/schools/0202/21/d01-422802.htm

Detroit Free Press, "School board scrubs meeting," Feb. 21, 2002
http://www.freep.com/news/education/skuls21_20020221.htm

Detroit News, "Kilpatrick needs to control unruly crowds at school
meetings," Feb. 25, 2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/metro/0202/25/c01-425766.htm


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EDUCATION WEEK INVESTIGATES EDUCATION RESEARCH AND ADVOCACY
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BETHESDA, Md. - A recent Education Week feature compares education
research performed by academia to that conducted by policy research
institutes, or think tanks.

Alex Molnar, an Arizona State University professor who performs
contract writing for labor unions, complained that think tank studies
should not be taken as seriously as research published in the
traditional academic journals favored by university faculty.

Molnar said think tanks have coupled their studies "with a very
sophisticated publications and media strategy."

Joseph Lehman, Executive Vice President of the Mackinac Center for
Public Policy, said publishing research that policy makers never see
will not improve education policy.

"Policymakers don't read academic journals," Lehman said. "If they
did, we would publish our work there."

Mackinac Center research gets an average of 1,200 mentions a year in
the state's print media, Lehman said.

"Before the Mackinac Center researched and published about the
benefits of allowing parents to choose the safest and best schools for
their children, [Michigan] charter schools weren't even on the table,"
added Lehman.

The 14-year-old Mackinac Center is funded by voluntary contributions,
mostly from foundations. Molnar has stated publicly that tax-exempt
foundations such as those that support the Mackinac Center should not
exist.
________
SOURCES:
Education Week, "Research: Researching the Researchers," Feb. 20, 2002
http://www.educationweek.org/ew/newstory.cfm?slug=23advocacy.h21

Stay Free!, "An Interview with Alex Molnar," January 1997
www.stayfreemagazine.org/archives/13/molnar.html


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DETROIT FREE PRESS: HOME SCHOOL STUDENTS PERFORM WELL
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DETROIT, Mich. - A recent Detroit Free Press series on home-schooled
students said they perform well on college entrance exams and over
half go on to college.

Overall, home-schooled students average 22.7 on the ACT and 1093 on
the SAT, while the national average on the ACT is 21, and on the SAT,
1020.

The Home School Legal Defense Fund found that 69 percent of home
schoolers go on to college or other post-secondary education.

Today, there are approximately 700,000 to 1.25 million home-schooled
children in the country. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that there
were as many as 400,000 home-schooled students nationwide by 1994 and
that the movement is growing as much as 15 to 20 percent annually.
________
SOURCES:
Detroit Free Press, "A Study in Achievement," Feb. 20, 2002
http://www.freep.com/news/education/huniv20_20020220.htm

Detroit Free Press, "Suppliers: Firms cashing in on teaching parents,"
Feb. 20, 2002
http://www.freep.com/news/education/hbiz20_20020220.htm

Detroit Free Press, "Homeschooling: Kids thrive and learn in others'
houses," Feb. 18, 2002
http://www.freep.com/news/education/hskul18_20020218.htm

Detroit Free Press, "Homeschooling: Michigan asks little of teaching
parents," Feb. 19, 2002
http://www.freep.com/news/education/hlaws19_20020219.htm


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COURT RULES STUDENTS CAN GRADE EACH OTHER'S PAPERS
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WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously last week
that students may grade each other's work in class without violating
federal privacy law.

The 9-0 ruling upheld the common schoolroom practice of having
students swap homework, quizzes or other schoolwork and then correct
one another's work as the teacher goes over it aloud. Sometimes the
teacher has students call out the results, and the teacher records
them.

"Correcting a classmate's work can be as much a part of the assignment
as taking the test itself," Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the
court.

The case stemmed from an Oklahoma mother's challenge to the practice
after her learning disabled son was ridiculed in class over his test
scores. Kristja Falvo claimed the practice is embarrassing and was a
violation of a federal law protecting the privacy of student education
records, such as transcripts.
________
SOURCES:
Detroit Free Press, "Schoolwork: Students grading one anothers' work
is not privacy violation," Feb. 20, 2002
http://www.freep.com/news/education/grade20_20020220.htm

Detroit News, "Students can grade each other's papers," Feb. 20, 2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/schools/0202/21/a05-422018.htm


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NOTICE: OUTRAGEOUS SCHOOL REGULATIONS CONTEST - WIN A PALM PILOT!
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The Mackinac Center for Public Policy 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:
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Mackinac Asks Teachers, School
Administrators to Find Most Outrageous School Regulations, Rules,"
Feb. 18, 2002
http://www.mackinac.org/4089

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


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NOTICE: "STUDENT MENTOR PARTNERS" SEEKS METRO-DETROIT
SCHOLARSHIP APPLICANTS
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Student Mentor Partners (SMP), 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.

SMP offers a mentoring program to ensure that students have access to
and utilize the resources, training, support and adult guidance needed
to succeed in a private high school environment, 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
[mailto:med@educationreport.org]
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