MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST
Volume IV, No. 6
February 12, 2002

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Contents of this issue:
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* Engler proposes new tax scheme to preserve school funding
* Planned ballot initiative may end Merit Award scholarship program
* Administrators demoted for financial mismanagement now overseeing Detroit
school bond program
* Schools transform curriculum in light of Sept. 11 terrorist attacks
* NOTICE: Education Freedom Fund seeks scholarship applicants


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ENGLER PROPOSES NEW TAX SCHEME TO PRESERVE SCHOOL FUNDING
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LANSING, Mich. - Gov. John Engler proposed a surprise tax shuffle plan
Wednesday that will add a half-billion dollars to the school aid fund
next year and enable him and lawmakers to fulfill a promise to boost
per-student funding across the state.

The complicated plan would require homeowners to pay all of their
school-related property taxes in July of 2003. About half of Michigan
residents now pay part of their school taxes in the summer and part in
the winter.

Critics of the plan say it is an election-year gimmick that pushes the
school funding problem into the future. The proposal does not
actually increase the amount of money available for schools over the
long haul, but simply speeds the collection timetable.

David Littmann, chief economist for Comerica Bank, told The Detroit
News the tax collection shift amounts to a "permanent tax increase for
homeowners."
________
SOURCES:
Detroit News, "School money restored," Feb. 7, 2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/schools/0202/07/a01-410119.htm

Detroit News, "Homeowners may pay early," Feb. 7, 2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/schools/0202/07/f01-410059.htm

Detroit Free Press, "Early tax collection proposed to avert school
budget crisis," Feb. 6, 2002
http://www.freep.com/news/latestnews/pm7347_20020206.htm

Detroit Free Press, "Engler wants increased per-pupil funding,
property tax change," Feb. 7, 2002
http://www.freep.com/news/statewire/sw49704_20020207.htm

Detroit Free Press, "A look at how taxes would change under proposal,"
Feb. 6, 2002
http://www.freep.com/news/statewire/sw49670_20020206.htm

Detroit News, "Engler wants increased per-pupil funding, property tax
change," Feb. 6, 2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/schools/0202/07/-409292.htm

Detroit News, "Engler Budget Gives Schools a Big Break," Feb. 8, 2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/editorial/0202/11/a12-410679.htm

Detroit News, "Engler dodges the tax bullet again," Feb. 10, 2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/editorial/0202/10/a15-412220.htm

Detroit News, "Cyber Survey: Are local school districts doing enough
to manage taxpayer's money and cut costs?", February 2002
http://data.detnews.com/feedback/surveyletters.hbs?subject=local_school
_districts


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


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PLANNED BALLOT INITIATIVE MAY END MERIT AWARD SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM
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LANSING, Mich. - Michigan's Merit Award program, which provides
college scholarships to high school students who perform well on
Michigan Educational Assessment Program (MEAP) tests, is threatened by
a health-care initiative that may be placed on the Nov. 5 ballot.

The Merit scholarships - awarded to 91,760 Michigan students since the
program started two years ago - are funded with money from a 44-state
lawsuit settlement with tobacco companies.

A group of health-care workers wants Michigan to use its share of the
settlement - $8.5 billion to be paid over 20 years - to treat smoking-
related diseases, such as lung cancer, and hopes to get the measure on
the Nov. 5 ballot.

Currently, the state averages $300 million annually from the
settlement and spends more than $100 million of it on the Merit Award
scholarships, worth $2,500 each.

The proposal, if adopted, would gut the Merit Award program, Terry
Stanton, spokesperson for the state Treasury Department, which runs
the program, told The Detroit News.
________
SOURCES:
Detroit News, "Merit awards threatened," Feb. 11, 2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/schools/0202/11/c01-413419.htm

Michigan Education Report, "College bound students receive new state
scholarships," Early Fall 2000
http://www.mackinac.org/pubs/mer/article.aspx?ID=3058


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ADMINISTRATORS DEMOTED FOR FINANCIAL MISMANAGEMENT NOW OVERSEE
DETROIT SCHOOL BOND PROGRAM
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DETROIT, Mich. - Two former Detroit public school executive directors,
who were demoted after audits uncovered thousands of dollars in
misspent money at schools where they had been principals, are back in
top executive-level positions managing school bond money.

Mackie Bradford and Ellword Miller, former principals at Cody and
Denby high schools, are working for the Program Manager Team, the
group of private companies overseeing the district's $1.5-billion bond
construction program. A third former executive director and principal
of Redford High School, Walter McLean, works as a subcontractor with a
team responsible for picking furniture and equipment for new and
remodeled schools.

All three had worked in Detroit schools for many years, advancing to
executive director positions by fall of 2000. Their rise in the
school system ended in December of that year when audits of the three
high schools found about $128,000 missing or misspent from 1996 to
2000.
________
SOURCE:
Detroit News, "Contractors hire ousted principals," February 12, 2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/schools/0202/12/a01-414177.htm


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SCHOOLS TRANSFORM CURRICULUM IN LIGHT OF SEPT. 11 TERRORIST ATTACKS
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WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Sept. 11 terror attacks and their aftermath are
sparking student interest in topics such as the Arabic language and
crisis management, and prompting educators to retool their courses.

This scramble to stay relevant to current events recalls other
upheavals in U.S. education, such as the flurry of studies inspired by
the Cold War and the Vietnam War.

Some elementary and high school teachers are retooling their typically
rigid curricula to address the issues raised by the Sept. 11 attacks,
for instance, discussing anthrax and biological warfare in science
classes. Some schools are offering courses or creating lesson plans
on terrorism.

But whether Sept. 11 will leave a permanent mark on instruction beyond
history textbooks remains uncertain. David W. Breneman, dean of the
education school at the University of Virginia, told the Washington
Post current events rarely have a lasting effect on courses.

"It's the subject of discussion in class for a brief time" before
schools return to old priorities and established scholarship, he said.
________
SOURCE:
Washington Post, "Schools Translate Terror Into Curriculum Changes,"
Feb. 8, 2002
http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn?pagename=article&contentId=A42355-2002Feb7


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NOTICE: EDUCATION FREEDOM FUND SEEKS SCHOLARSHIP APPLICANTS
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The Education Freedom Fund, 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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