MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST
Volume IV, No. 9
March 5, 2002
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Contents of this issue:
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* Schools-of-choice program draws 33,000 Michigan students
* Department of Education Supports Outrageous School Regulation Contest
* State Senate OKs increase in school funding
* City/State takeovers of troubled school districts becoming more prevalent
* Primer for MEAP state achievement test goes online
* Privately funded science program seeks improved student test scores
* NOTICE: Outrageous school regulations contest - Win a Palm Pilot!
* NOTICE: "Student Mentor Partners" seeks Metro Detroit scholarship
applicants

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SCHOOLS-OF-CHOICE PROGRAM DRAWS 33,000 MICHIGAN STUDENTS
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LANSING, Mich. - Despite complaints from many school districts about
the competitive atmosphere it engenders, about 33,000 Michigan
students are now taking advantage of the state's schools-of-choice
program, according to the state Department of Education.

Through the program, students are able to transfer from their local
schools to schools in neighboring districts. Per-pupil state funding
follows them to the new district.

"For years we resisted it, the whole thing of schools competing,"
Southfield Public Schools spokesman Ken Siver told The Detroit News.
But Southfield began losing students and $2.4 million in state aid
that went with them, so officials in the suburban Detroit district
decided to open district schools to choice students.

"We were sitting on our principles of why we wouldn't be involved in
Schools of Choice," Siver said. "But the reality of the world is you
can sit on your principles or you can get into the game. Why should we
allow ourselves to be picked off?"

Many districts continue to resist the program, limiting the number of
students that can participate or opting to forego the program
altogether. The state's law regarding schools of choice allows
districts to choose whether or not to participate in the program.

Yet, almost two-thirds of Michigan school districts participate in
schools of choice to some degree. The number of students
participating this year is more than four times the number of students
attending schools of choice in 1996, when Michigan passed the law.
________
SOURCES:
Detroit News, "School choice law leads 33,000 students to switch
districts," Mar. 2, 2002
http://detnews.com/2002/schools/0203/03/-430307.htm

Detroit Free Press, "School choice gets competitive," Mar. 1, 2002
http://www.freep.com/news/education/choice1_20020301.htm

Grand Rapids Press, "District cuts back on choice spots,"
Feb. 26, 2002
http://www.mlive.com/news/grpress/index.ssf?/xml/story.ssf/html_stan
dard.xsl ?/base/news/1014738303128811.xml


Grand Rapids Press, "Despite protests, 41 Schools of Choice students
accepted," Feb. 27, 2002
http://www.mlive.com/news/grpress/index.ssf?/xml/story.ssf/html_stan
dard.xsl ?/base/news/1014824703271040.xml


Grand Rapids Press, "District to accept Schools of Choice students,"
Feb. 28, 2002
http://www.mlive.com/news/grpress/index.ssf?/xml/story.ssf/html_stan
dard.xsl ?/base/news/1014912903171957.xml


Grand Rapids Press, "District takes choice students for first time,"
Feb. 26, 2002
http://www.mlive.com/news/grpress/index.ssf?/xml/story.ssf/html_stan
dard.xsl ?/base/news/1014738301128816.xml


Grand Rapids Press, "District to participate in Schools-of-Choice
program," Feb. 21, 2002
http://www.mlive.com/news/grpress/index.ssf?/xml/story.ssf/html_stan
dard.xsl ?/base/news/1014308111254791.xml

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "The Impact of Limited School
Choice on Public School Districts," July 2000
http://www.mackinac.org/article.asp?ID=2962

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

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DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION SUPPORTS OUTRAGEOUS
SCHOOL REGULATIONS CONTEST
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LANSING, Mich. - Tom Watkins, state superintendent of public
instruction, will consider waiving onerous school regulations
uncovered by a current Mackinac Center for Public Policy contest.

The Mackinac Center, a research and educational institute
in Midland, Michigan, is asking educators and parents from across the
state to send in the most outrageous school regulation they can find.
The Michigan Department of Education supports the contest, spokesman
T.J. Bucholz told The Detroit News.

State School Supt. Tom Watkins said he will consider waiving a rule if
a district can prove its learning environment will benefit from the
waiver, Bucholz said.

The contest is part of the Mackinac Center's research on confusing and
conflicting mandates that hamper school districts. The winner will
receive a hand-held computer organizer.

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 e-mailing Christopher
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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STATE SENATE OKS INCREASE IN SCHOOL FUNDING
----------------------------------------------------------------------
LANSING, Mich. - A budget bill that increases state education funding
to $6,700 for each Michigan pupil next year won easy approval Thursday
in the state Senate.

The bill would increase funding from the current $6,500 per student,
and allocate $12.7 billion for schools for the 2002-03 fiscal year
that begins Oct. 1.

The bill was passed 35-0 with little debate and now goes to the House.
Also passed, by the same vote, was a bill to provide $210 million for
the Department of Education for the new fiscal year.
________
SOURCES:
Detroit News, "State Senate OK's increase in per-student funding,"
Mar. 1, 2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/schools/0203/01/d08e-429429.htm

Viewpoint on Public Issues, "School Funding: Lack of Money or Lack of
Money Management?", Aug. 30, 2001
http://www.mackinac.org/article.asp?ID=3683


----------------------------------------------------------------------
CITY/STATE-TAKEOVERS OF TROUBLED SCHOOL DISTRICTS
BECOMING MORE PREVALENT
----------------------------------------------------------------------
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Driven by sagging student achievement and
education's growing role in state budgets, many states are allowing
mayors and state-appointed boards to take control of school districts
away from elected boards.

Some 23 states have passed laws authorizing state or city takeovers of
school districts in crisis.

Early takeovers in cities like Boston (1991), Chicago (1995),
Cleveland (1998), and Detroit (1999) were prompted by a meltdown of
school finances or governance. In Baltimore (1993) and Philadelphia
(2001), the state engineered the takeovers.

In addition to state-level momentum, the education act signed by
President Bush last month requires states to identify low-performing
schools and hold them accountable for improvement, which could prompt
more state takeovers of low-performing districts.
________
SOURCES:
Christian Science Monitor, "Mayors, states push school boards aside,"
Feb. 26, 2002
http://www.csmonitor.com/2002/0226/p01s01-ussc.html

Washington Post, "Appointed School Boards Work, or Not," Mar. 4, 2002
http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn?pagename=article&contentId=A33141-2002Mar3

Grand Rapids Press, "Lansing's loose board," Mar. 3, 2002
http://www.mlive.com/news/grpress/index.ssf?/xml/story.ssf/html_stand
ard.xsl ?/base/news/101513970325028.xml



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PRIMER FOR MEAP STATE ACHIEVEMENT TEST GOES ONLINE
----------------------------------------------------------------------
LANSING, Mich. - A new service offered by Michigan Virtual High School
(MIVHS) allows any high school student - or anyone with a computer -
to go online and take a practice Michigan Educational Assessment
Program (MEAP) test at no cost.

The service is offered by Michigan Virtual High School, a unit of
Michigan Virtual University, a nonprofit corporation formed by the
Legislature nearly two years ago.

The program is free only until July 1, when MIVHS will begin charging
users for MEAP training courses and access to sample tests.

MEAP tests in reading, writing, math and science are given each year
to 11th graders in Michigan's public high schools. Students who pass
all four tests are offered $2,500 scholarships by the state.
________
SOURCES:
Detroit News, "MEAP primer goes online," Mar. 3, 2002
http://detnews.com/2002/schools/0203/03/d01-430755.htm

Michigan Virtual High School
www.mivhs.org

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PRIVATELY FUNDED SCIENCE PROGRAM SEEKS IMPROVED
STUDENT TEST SCORES
----------------------------------------------------------------------
DETROIT, Mich. - A new computer network, sponsored by the National
Science Teachers Association and paid for with $207,000 in start-up
money from the ExxonMobil Foundation, may help Michigan students fare
better on state science tests.

Last year, less than half of Michigan's 5th and 7th grade students
taking the MEAP science tests scored in the test's "proficient"
category.

The new program, called "Building a Presence for Science," will aim to
connect every public and private school in Michigan through a network
of contacts and science specialists. Through e-mail and other means,
teachers will be able to stay current with state and national science
standards, from which tests such as the MEAP are made. E-mail lists
will let them discuss how best to translate standards into classroom
exercises that help students learn.

The network also will let teachers know about professional-development
opportunities such as classes, seminars, speakers and other resources
so they can keep up with the latest developments in science and
science teaching.
________
SOURCE:
Detroit News, "New network aims to aid teaching science in schools,"
Mar. 5, 2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/schools/0203/05/d01-432668.htm

----------------------------------------------------------------------
NOTICE: "STUDENT MENTOR PARTNERS" SEEKS METRO-DETROIT
SCHOLARSHIP APPLICANTS
----------------------------------------------------------------------
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
[mailto:med@educationreport.org]
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