MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST
Volume IV, No. 15
April 16, 2002

-----------------------------------------------------------------
Contents of this issue:
-----------------------------------------------------------------
* State-appointed panel recommends lifting charter cap
* Detroit schools to toughen classroom standards
* Detroit schools allocate $1.5 billion approved eight years ago
* Proposal A debate continues, becomes gubernatorial race issue
* Inkster schools face state takeover
* Students ask to grade teachers
* Study shows teens think cheating is acceptable
* Watchdog says NEA broke rules
* Study: Teens want small schools

-----------------------------------------------------------------
STATE-APPOINTED PANEL RECOMMENDS LIFTING CHARTER CAP
----------------------------------------------------------------
LANSING, Mich. - New legislation prompted by a report released
Wednesday by the state-appointed Commission on Charter Schools is
expected to allow for new charter schools, while imposing more
restrictions.

The commission proposed allowing 130 new charter schools by 2007,
plus another 100 schools by 2017. This includes special charter
schools, where at least half the students live in poverty or have
other special needs.

Neither charter school advocates nor foes are completely happy
with the report's recommendations - which could help the
commission's recommendations move forward intact.

The existing law limits four-year colleges to 150 charter
schools. Community colleges weren't limited in number, but were
only allowed to charter schools within their boundaries.
Lawmakers overlooked the fact that one community college, Bay
Mills in the Upper Peninsula, was run by Native Americans and its
boundaries included the entire state. The new legislation may
limit Bay Mills' ability to charter an unlimited number of
schools.
________
SOURCES:
Detroit Free Press, "Cap may be lifted on charter schools,"
Apr. 12, 2002
http://www.freep.com/news/education/chart12_20020412.htm

Detroit Free Press, "Charter Progress," Apr. 14, 2002
http://www.freep.com/voices/editorials/echart14_20020414.htm

Detroit Free Press, "Charter schools panel sets higher
standards," Apr. 11, 2002
http://www.freep.com/news/education/dchart11_20020411.htm

Lansing State Journal, "Charters: School 'experiment' awaits
reforms by Legislature," Apr. 14, 2002
http://www.lsj.com/opinions/editorials/020414eds1_(charters).html

Grand Rapids Press, "'Compromise' deal would lift cap on charter
schools," Apr. 11, 2002
http://www.mlive.com/news/grpress/index.ssf?/xml/story.ssf/html_standard.xsl
?/base/news/10185363039923.xml


Detroit News, "Push on to lift charter school cap," Apr. 11, 2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/schools/0204/11/a01-462656.htm

Detroit News, "Charter school plan made mostly behind closed
doors," April 14, 2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/editorial/0204/16/a18-464561.htm

Commission on Charter Schools to the Michigan Legislature Final
Report, April 2002
http://www.charterschools.msu.edu/cschools_rpt.html


-----------------------------------------------------------------
DETROIT SCHOOLS TO TOUGHEN CLASSROOM STANDARDS
----------------------------------------------------------------
DETROIT, Mich. - Students would face tougher standards for
passing to the next grade, voluntary dress codes and an emphasis
on reading in every classroom as a part of a new, wide-ranging
blueprint for improving the academic performance of Detroit
public school students.

School chief Kenneth Burnley's aggressive reforms are detailed in
a 53-page draft report, obtained by The Detroit News. Called
"Every Child Will Learn: 2002 and Beyond," it is both a vision
statement and a guide for improving all areas of the district
that affect student performance.

The plan also would increase parental involvement, reorganize the
notoriously flawed human resources department and install
computer software to manage items such as school inventory and
allocation of available substitute teachers.

The district has long been among the worst in the state by most
measures, with administrative mix-ups, financial scandals, low
state test scores and high dropout rates.
________
SOURCE:
Detroit News, "Detroit to toughen classroom standards,"
Apr. 16, 2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/schools/0204/16/a01-466613.htm


-----------------------------------------------------------------
DETROIT SCHOOLS ALLOCATE $1.5 BILLION APPROVED EIGHT YEARS AGO
-----------------------------------------------------------------
DETROIT, Mich. - Eight years after Detroit voters approved the
largest school construction project in Michigan history, public
school officials revealed Wednesday a school-by-school list of
how all $1.5 billion will be spent.

A few of the highlights of the school construction program
include 14 new schools, with media centers, gymnasiums, security
cameras, and health clinics; a new $26 million district
headquarters; and three regional athletic complexes that will
cost $15.7 million.

Although the major projects had been previously reported, it's
about time that the complete plan was outlined, said parents,
teachers and city residents. Detroit Schools Chief Executive
Kenneth Burnley emphasized that during the first five years of
the bond program, just $187 million was spent. More than twice
that amount will be doled out in the next year alone to repair
the city's decaying, outdated schools.

The school district will sell its next series of bonds, about
$400 million, in the fall and the final amount, $362 million, in
summer 2003. By that time, a taxpayer with a home worth $50,000
will pay $325 a year for the school construction projects. That
will continue for about 30 years.
________
SOURCES:
Detroit Free Press, "Bond funds to revamp Detroit school
buildings," Apr. 11, 2002
http://www.freep.com/news/education/skul11_20020411.htm

Detroit News, "Bond aids 23 Detroit schools," Apr. 10, 2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/schools/0204/11/c02-461476.htm

Detroit News, "Detroit schools share $1.5 billion," Apr. 11, 2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/schools/0204/11/d01-462473.htm

Detroit Free Press, "The School District's Plans," Apr. 11, 2002
http://www.freep.com/news/education/slist11_20020411.htm


-----------------------------------------------------------------
PROPOSAL A DEBATE CONTINUES, BECOMES GUBERNATORIAL RACE ISSUE
-----------------------------------------------------------------
LANSING, Mich. - Proposal A, a 1994 tax law that transferred the
bulk of school funding from local property taxes to the state, is
emerging as a key issue in the 2002 governor's race.

Candidates are considering ideas to adjust the system - including
ways to let certain districts raise more money and make the
formula more recession-proof.

But supporters, including Gov. Engler, say it shouldn't be
tampered with, and that school districts should quit complaining
and manage their money better. Proposal A supporters point out
that Proposal A provided property tax relief and boosted K-12
education funding to record levels, while leveling funding
between rich and poor districts. Today, schools have more money
than ever and, in some districts, fewer students.

Nearly 70 percent of Michigan voters favored the plan in 1994.
And well over half would vote for it again if it were on the
ballot today, according to a recent statewide poll.
_______
SOURCES:
Lansing State Journal, "Proposal A: Funding reforms felt across
state," Apr. 14, 2002
http://www.lsj.com/news/schools/020414_schools_1a-8a.html

Lansing State Journal, "School funding a hot topic for
candidates," Apr. 15, 2002
http://www.lsj.com/news/local/020415_reform_1a-5a.html

Grand Rapids Press, "Schools mull how to live with Proposal A,"
Apr. 11, 2002
http://www.mlive.com/news/grpress/index.ssf?/xml/story.ssf/html_standard.xsl
?/base/news/10185363029922.xml


Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Fix Michigan Schools with
Proposal A+," December 7, 2001
http://www.mackinac.org/article.asp?ID=3882


-----------------------------------------------------------------
INKSTER SCHOOLS FACE STATE TAKEOVER
----------------------------------------------------------------
INKSTER, Mich. - A dispute between Inkster Public Schools and the
private company hired to run the district could prompt the state
to take control of the district's finances.

It would be only the second time the state took financial control
over a school district. The first was the massive state takeover
of Detroit Public Schools in 1999.

Edison Schools Inc., a school management company, last month
asked state officials to appoint a financial manager to control
Inkster schools' money, because district officials were refusing
to pay Edison's management fees.

Inkster school officials countered that Edison was not holding up
its end of the bargain because it was withholding financial
information. District officials also blamed Edison for a student
enrollment decline, claiming some parents don't like Edison's
curriculum.

This week, the state Department of Education took its first step
in trying to resolve the dispute. It told Inkster schools to pay
$1.2 million to Edison.

If school officials and Edison can't work out their differences,
Edison could pull out of the district, leaving Inkster schools
owing Edison about $5 million in infrastructure and technology
improvements the company made so far, Jeffrey R. Neidle, the
attorney representing Edison, told the Detroit News.
________
SOURCES:
Detroit News, "Inkster schools face state takeover,"
Apr. 10, 2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/schools/0204/11/a01-461619.htm

Detroit News, "Edison report card mixed for troubled metro
schools," Apr. 10, 2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/schools/0204/11/a09-461402.htm


-----------------------------------------------------------------
STUDENTS ASK TO GRADE TEACHERS
-----------------------------------------------------------------
KENTWOOD, Mich. - East Kentwood High School students have asked
the Board of Education to consider making their comments a key
part of teacher reviews.

Senior Mike Gaffin told The Grand Rapids Press student
evaluations of teachers arose as a priority among students at a
forum with administrators in February, an event he headed as a
student council member.

Board President Bill Joseph told the Press the proposal will be a
collective bargaining issue with the teachers union.

"(The union) would have to be involved," he said after last
week's meeting. "It would be kind of difficult for the
administration or board to arbitrarily make a decision based on,
let's say, the concern of a student or other students for the
evaluation. ... So it's kind of hard to see where this will end
up."

Gaffin said the idea is not intended as a way to get teachers
fired or reprimanded but to improve the quality of education. The
evaluations would be anonymous and be given at the end of each
school year during final exams, he said.

He pointed out that other states include student evaluations in
teacher reviews. Colleges also employ the method.
_______
SOURCE:
Grand Rapids Press, "Students want to grade their teachers," Apr.
4, 2002
http://www.mlive.com/news/grpress/index.ssf?/xml/story.ssf/html_standard.xsl
?/base/news/1017936913251535.xml



-----------------------------------------------------------------
STUDY SHOWS TEENS THINK CHEATING IS ACCEPTABLE
-----------------------------------------------------------------
NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. - A national survey by Rutgers' Management
Education Center of 4,500 high school students found that 75
percent of them engage in serious cheating.

More than half have plagiarized work they found on the Internet.
Perhaps most disturbing, many of them don't see anything wrong
with cheating: Some 50 percent of those responding to the survey
said they don't think copying questions and answers from a test
constitutes cheating.

Thousands of schools have contracted with a company called
turnitin.com, which allows teachers to submit student papers
online. The company then searches the Web for matching prose.
Within 48 hours, the teacher gets the paper back, color-coded for
plagiarism.

Turnitin.com representatives say about a third of the papers they
receive have some amount of plagiarism.
_______
SOURCE:
CNN.com, "Survey: Many students say cheating's OK," Apr. 5, 2002
http://www.cnn.com/2002/fyi/teachers.ednews/04/05/highschool.cheating/index.html



-----------------------------------------------------------------
WATCHDOG SAYS NEA BROKE RULES
-----------------------------------------------------------------
OLYMPIA, Wash. - The National Education Association violated
state law when it poured more than $500,000 into Washington state
initiative campaigns, according to an investigation by the
Evergreen Freedom Foundation, a Washington campaign finance
watchdog.

In a complaint filed with the Washington state Public Disclosure
Commission in January, the Foundation accused the NEA of
violating state law prohibiting the use of fees paid to the union
by nonmember teachers to pay for political activity without
specific permission from each teacher.

The NEA ran afoul of the law several times, the commission's
investigators say, when it made contributions from its general
fund for several initiatives. That fund, investigators said,
apparently mingles nonmember fees with union member dues.

Investigators recommended the five-member commission refer the
case to Attorney General Christine Gregoire, who can slap tougher
penalties on the union than can the Commission.
_______
SOURCE:
The Olympian, "Watchdog says NEA broke rules," April, 2002
http://www.theolympian.com/home/news/20020409/northwest/3061.shtml


-----------------------------------------------------------------
STUDY: TEENS WANT SMALL SCHOOLS
-----------------------------------------------------------------
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Making schools smaller and improving the way
classrooms are run could help reduce teen fighting, substance
abuse and other dangerous behavior, according to the nation's
largest survey of teens.

But putting students in schools with smaller classes or more
experienced teachers does not seem to make them feel safer,
according to the University of North Carolina's National
Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, which was released
Thursday.

While smaller classes may improve academic achievement, the
climate in the classroom influences whether students feel
connected, said Robert Blum, a teen health expert at the
University of Minnesota and co-author of the study that appears
in this month's issue of the Journal of School Health.

The study's results -- based on surveys of more than 71,500
students in 127 schools during the 1994-1995 school year -- offer
the first detailed examination of "school connectedness" --
whether teens feel cared for at school, researchers said.
_______
SOURCES:
CNN.com, "Study: Teens want small, solid schools," Apr. 11, 2002
http://www.cnn.com/2002/fyi/teachers.ednews/04/11/school.climate.ap/index.html


Detroit News, "Smaller schools may cut tension," Apr. 12, 2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/schools/0204/13/a03-463546.htm



################################################
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]
To subscribe or unsubscribe, go to
http://www.educationreport.org/pubs/mer/listserver.aspx.
################################################

Share More …