MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST
Volume IV, No. 7
February 19, 2002

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Contents of this issue:
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* Engler calls for end to elected State Board of Education
* Michigan school administrative costs skyrocketing
* Accountability plan approved by State Board of Education
* Detroit teachers plan "sick-out"
* Bush touts tuition tax credits
* U.S. Supreme Court to hear voucher case
* NOTICE: Education Freedom Fund seeks scholarship applicants


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ENGLER CALLS FOR END TO ELECTED STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION
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LANSING, Mich. - Gov. John Engler wants his successor to get rid of
Michigan's elected Board of Education and create an appointed board.

Engler, a longtime critic of the state board, said an appointed board
would be more efficient and accountable. Boards are appointed in 36
states, he said.

"The State Board of Education needs to be abolished," he told the
Lansing State Journal for a story Friday.

Even if Engler is replaced by a fellow Republican, however, the plan
is a long shot. Abolishing the state board would require changing
Michigan's constitution, which can only be done by a vote of the
people. The Legislature also would have to approve such a measure
before it got on the ballot. In 1997, a Senate bill that would have
abolished the state board went nowhere.

Engler's comments were the latest in a long-running feud with the
State Board of Education, which has generally been controlled by
Democrats during Engler's three terms.

The matter came to a head this week when the board delayed a final
decision on a school accreditation plan. Engler said it has taken far
too long - 10 years - to get a plan into place.
________
SOURCES:
Lansing State Journal, "Engler: School board should be appointed,"
Feb. 15, 2002
http://www.lsj.com/news/local/020215_board_1a-5a.html

Detroit News, "Engler wants State Board of Education abolished,"
Feb. 16, 2002
http://detnews.com/2002/schools/0202/17/schools-418100.htm

Detroit Free Press, "Engler wants State Board of Education to be
abolished," Feb. 15, 2002
http://www.freep.com/news/statewire/sw50214_20020215.htm


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MICHIGAN SCHOOL ADMINISTRATIVE COSTS SKYROCKETING
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LANSING, Mich. - In the average Michigan school district, spending on
administration rose three-times faster than teachers' salaries between
1997 and 2000, according to updated figures from Standard & Poor's
worldwide financial information specialists.

The new numbers show that the amount spent on teachers' salaries rose
5.2 percent between 1997 and 2000, compared with a 15.7 percent
increase on central-office administration costs during the same
period.

Standard & Poor's, which has been hired by the state of Michigan to
provide annual analyses of school data, found the rise in central-
office costs notable because it happened during a period of stable
school enrollment.

The figures update 1999 data analyzed in a December report. The 2000
numbers show that central-office spending rose from $382 per student
in 1997 to $442 per student in 2000. Teachers' salaries in a typical
Michigan school district rose from $44,522 in 1997 to $46,860 in 2000.
________
SOURCES:
Education Week, "Administrative Spending Outpaces Teacher Salaries,
Mich. Study Says," Feb. 13, 2002
http://www.educationweek.org/ew/newstory.cfm?slug=22admin.h21

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "School Funding: Lack of Money or
Lack of Money Management?," Aug. 30, 2001
http://www.mackinac.org/article.asp?ID=3683


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ACCOUNTABILITY PLAN APPROVED BY STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION
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LANSING, Mich. - A new plan to give schools letter grades based on
state test scores, parental involvement, and other factors was
tentatively approved Thursday by Michigan's State Board of Education.

But board members made clear that they want some questions answered
before they give the plan final approval in March. The board has
scheduled a meeting in two weeks to hammer out those details.

The accreditation plan would grade schools in six different areas
based on factors such as professional development for teachers,
parental involvement, alignment of curriculum with state standards,
and improvement on Michigan Educational Assessment Program tests.

Each school also would get one overall grade of A, B, C, D or F. Right
now, the plan, proposed by Superintendent of Public Instruction Thomas
Watkins, would give D and F grades to approximately 1,100 schools.

Despite concerns over how the plan would be implemented, the board
voted 5-1 Thursday to approve it.
________
SOURCES:
Detroit News, "Plan to grade schools flunks," Feb. 14, 2002
http://detnews.com/2002/schools/0202/17/a01-416246.htm

Detroit News, "School grading system approved," Feb. 15, 2002
http://detnews.com/2002/schools/0202/17/d02-417424.htm

Detroit News, "Accurate school ratings needed," Feb. 17, 2002
http://detnews.com/2002/editorial/0202/17/a16-418565.htm

Michigan Education Report, "State superintendent launches plan to
grade schools," Winter 2002
http://www.educationreport.org/pubs/mer/article.aspx?ID=4083


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DETROIT TEACHERS PLAN "SICK-OUT"
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DETROIT, Mich. - A worker "sick-out" planned for Wednesday has created
tension within the Detroit teachers union, with some members calling
for participation while the leadership warns against it.

The "sick-out" - in which participating workers stay home claiming to
be ill - is in response to teacher layoffs that Detroit Public Schools
has implemented to try to erase a budget shortfall.

State law prohibits public employees from walking out on the job or
striking. Violators may be subject to disciplinary action and docked a
day's pay for each day of missed work.

The district has eliminated about 700 positions since January, facing
budget deficits of about $70 million this school year and $96 million
projected for the next.
________
SOURCES:
Detroit Free Press, "Detroit teachers told to sit out the sick-out,"
Feb. 19, 2002
http://www.freep.com/news/education/rally19_20020219.htm

Detroit News, "Schools catch 'blue flue' scheme," Feb. 18, 2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/schools/0202/19/d07-419650.htm


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BUSH TOUTS TUITION TAX CREDITS
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WASHINGTON, D.C. - As part of his budget plan for 2003, President Bush
is calling for an income-tax credit of up to $2,500 to help families
transfer their children out of a failing public school.

But his plan for education tax credits will face an uphill battle on
Capitol Hill, given the explosive politics of anything that resembles
government-financed school vouchers.

Some opponents argue that because the refundable credits would amount
to cash grants for some families, the proposal raises the same
constitutional questions as vouchers for religious school tuition, a
subject the U.S. Supreme Court will consider this week.

The credit Bush proposes could also be used to offset the costs of
private tutoring, books and computers to enhance a child's education.
The White House estimates the credit would cost the U.S. Treasury
about $3.7 billion over five years.

Participating parents who did not earn enough to owe income taxes
could still claim the credit and would receive an equivalent amount of
cash from the federal government.
________
SOURCES:
Education Week, "Bush Proposal: Give Tax Credit for K-12 Tuition,"
Feb. 13, 2002
http://www.educationweek.org/ew/newstory.cfm?slug=22choice.h21

Washington Times, "GOP renews push on school choice," Feb. 14, 2002
http://www.washingtontimes.com/national/20020214-20059444.htm

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "The Universal Tuition Tax Credit:
A Proposal to Advance Parental Choice in Education," November 1997
http://www.mackinac.org/article.asp?ID=362

Michigan Education Report, "Momentum shifts toward education tax
credits," Early Fall 2001
http://www.mackinac.org/pubs/mer/article.aspx?ID=3748


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U.S. SUPREME COURT TO HEAR VOUCHER CASE
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WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments
Wednesday in three cases arising from Cleveland's 6-year-old school
voucher program.

The program pays up to $2,250 per year for low-income students to
attend the school of their choice, public or private, including
religious schools.

The case presents the question: Is it a violation of the principle of
separation of church and state for public tax money to pay for
religious education?

A court ruling endorsing the program probably would encourage other
states and cities to try similar programs and could strengthen Bush's
hand as he tries to win congressional support for a national voucher
plan.

On the other hand, a ruling that strikes down the Cleveland program as
unconstitutional could stop the flow of public dollars for similar
programs in Milwaukee and Florida, and could all but end the drive for
a national, publicly funded voucher program.

A ruling is expected this summer.
________
SOURCES:
Detroit News, "Cleveland plan tests U.S. voucher debate,"
Feb. 17, 2002
http://detnews.com/2002/schools/0202/17/a06-418388.htm

Detroit News, "Is blocking school choice American?," Feb. 18, 2002
http://detnews.com/2002/editorial/0202/19/a09-419575.htm


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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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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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