MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST
Volume IV, No. 5
February 5, 2002

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Contents of this issue:
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* Bush budget plan includes funding for Michigan schools, tax credits
* Detroit News: It's time schools consider privatization to save money
* State schools chief outlines planned special education changes
* East Grand Rapids school board member says public schools-of-choice plan
may be too much of a good thing


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BUSH BUDGET PLAN INCLUDES FUNDING FOR MICHIGAN SCHOOLS, TAX CREDITS
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WASHINGTON, D.C. - President Bush's budget, presented to Congress
Monday, includes $1.5 billion in funding for Michigan schools, and a
tax-credit plan to allow parents to choose their child's school.

Included in the new funding for Michigan schools is $449 million to
boost the quality of education for disadvantaged children in the
state, and increased funding for Michigan reading programs to $31.6
million.

The budget also includes a proposed tax credit of up to $2,500 for
families trying to get their children out of failing public schools.
Families could also use the credit to recoup the costs of sending a
child to a different public school, or for home schooling.

Bush also asked Congress for $75 million to help school districts
research and develop voucher and public-school choice programs.
________
SOURCES:
Detroit News, "Bush budget aids Michigan schools, cuts road money,"
Feb. 5, 2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/politics/0202/05/a01-408171.htm

Washington Post, "Bush Budget Proposes Education Tax Credit,"
Feb. 4, 2002
http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn?pagename=article&contentId=A18219-2002Feb3

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


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DETROIT NEWS: IT'S TIME SCHOOLS CONSIDER PRIVATIZATION TO SAVE MONEY
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DETROIT, Mich. - A recent Detroit News editorial calls for schools to
consider privatization of non-instructional services as a viable
option for saving money and reducing budget deficits.

According to Michigan Education Report, Michigan ranks dead last in
the proportion of school funding spent on instructional services
(teacher salaries, classroom expenditures), compared with the
proportion spent on administrative costs. Currently, Michigan schools
spend over 50 percent of their budgets on non-instructional services.

"Each of Michigan's 554 school districts needs to give itself a
reality check. Job One is teaching. Classes are a higher priority than
buses, lunch and vacuuming floors. So it makes sense to find savings
outside the classroom and put the money where it will directly benefit
learning," the Detroit News said.

The News asserts, "The primary job of a school district is to provide
education, not jobs. To the extent that unions and others see it
otherwise, they should be resisted."
________
SOURCES:
Detroit News, "School Boards, Make Tough Budget Calls to Aid Kids,"
Feb. 4, 2002
http://detnews.com/2002/editorial/0202/04/a08-406887.htm

Detroit News, "Schools Can Cut Budgets without Harming Kids,"
Feb. 5, 2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/editorial/0202/05/a06-407673.htm

Lansing State Journal, "Mid-Michigan districts look at ways to trim
budgets," Feb. 3, 2002
http://www.lsj.com/news/schools/020203_sidebar_4a.html

Los Angeles Times, "Federal Funds Should Educate, Not Just Employ,"
Feb. 4, 2002
http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-000008895feb04.column
?coll =la-headlines-nation


Michigan Education Report, "Michigan Teachers Get Smallest Slice of
Personnel Pie," Winter 1999
http://www.mackinac.org/article.asp?ID=1574


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STATE SCHOOLS CHIEF OUTLINES SPECIAL EDUCATION CHANGES
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LANSING, Mich. - Just as he did with new requirements for school
accreditation, Michigan Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom
Watkins is abandoning another reform program proposed by his
predecessor, Arthur Ellis, in favor of less radical reforms. This
time, Watkins is abandoning most of the special education rule changes
proposed by his predecessor last year.

The rejected rules would have given intermediate school districts more
flexibility to set rules, and would have ended mandates such as class
size and teacher caseload for special education classrooms. They also
would have ended requirements to hold classes year-round for students
with severe disabilities and rules that said teacher consultants,
working with teachers to accommodate students with disabilities, must
have master's degrees.

Watkins proposes to back away from these items while moving forward on
less controversial changes. He will present his recommendations to
the State Board of Education at its Feb. 14 meeting.
________
SOURCE:
Detroit Free Press, "Education chief outlines planned special-ed
changes," Feb. 1, 2002
http://www.freep.com/news/education/speced1_20020201.htm

Grand Rapids Press, "Parents relieved as special-ed changes may be put
on hold," Feb. 1, 2002
http://www.mlive.com/news/grpress/index.ssf?/xml/story.ssf/html_stan
dard.xsl ?/base/news/101258040062531.xml



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EAST GRAND RAPIDS SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER SAYS PUBLIC SCHOOLS-OF-CHOICE
PLAN MAY BE TOO MUCH OF A GOOD THING
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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - One East Grand Rapids school board member says
the district should scale back its participation in a county-wide
public schools-of-choice plan.

Ken Goodson, the board's former treasurer and a current member of the
finance committee, is warning that the choice plan may be too much of
a good thing.

"If we become too dependent on this financially, it could hurt us in
ways we can't see," he told the Grand Rapids Press.

The district receives $7,100 per pupil for every schools-of-choice
student it takes in. The district participated in the plan the past
five years and has gained about $1 million in revenue, Goodson pointed
out.

Goodson worries that if the district takes on the additional 65
students the board is considering, income from choice students will
end up representing slightly less than 10 percent of the district's
$20 million budget. The additional students would bring in an
increase of over $400,000 for the district.

If the choice plan should end, or change, that money dries up, Goodson
told the Press. "I don't want to put a future board in a position to
have to make a really tough call."
________
SOURCES:
Grand Rapids Press, "Schools of Choice a potential budget quagmire,"
Jan. 31, 2002
http://www.mlive.com/news/grpress/index.ssf?/xml/story.ssf/html_stan
dard.xsl ?/base/news/1012494017283843.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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MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST is a service of Michigan Education Report
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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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