MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST
Volume IV, No. 16
April 23, 2002

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Contents of this issue:
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* Statewide forums will consider Proposal A school funding changes
* Parents confront Inkster school board
* Competition leads to customer-service focus for schools
* Charter school commission's recommendations stir controversy
* Mackinac Center president testifies before U.S. House Education
Committee
* MEA endorses Granholm for governor
* School employees fight outsourcing attempts
* Philadelphia privatizes 42 schools
* Notice: National Charter Schools Week ~ April 29 - May 3
* Notice: Mock legislature summer program offered for teens
* Notice: Hoogland Center for Teacher Excellence Seminar


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STATEWIDE FORUMS WILL CONSIDER PROPOSAL A SCHOOL FUNDING CHANGES
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LANSING, Mich. - Michigan's Department of Education will conduct
forums to gather input on possible changes to Proposal A, the
1994 tax law that revolutionized school funding in Michigan.

In April and May, State Supt. Tom Watkins will host seven forums
where he will present options for amending Proposal A and gather
comments from citizens on the possible changes.

The forums represent a victory for elements unhappy with the way
Proposal A allocates funding to schools. Supporters of Proposal A
point out that the plan drastically reduced property taxes and
per-pupil funding inequities between districts, while boosting K-
12 education funding to record levels. They believe the forums
are a public relations ploy concealing plans to weaken or
overturn Proposal A.

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 conducted by
The Detroit News.
________
SOURCES:
Detroit News, "Proposal A changes up for review," Apr. 22, 2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/schools/0204/22/d01-471186.htm

Detroit News, "Dems pursue wedge politics on schools," Apr. 10,
2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/editorial/0204/10/a11-461126.htm

Detroit News, "Residents want right to raise school taxes,"
Mar. 25, 2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/metro/0203/25/a01-448816.htm

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

Detroit News, "Financial turmoil heightens impact of school
elections," Apr. 23, 2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/schools/0204/23/c03-472125.htm

Detroit News, "New school leaders face mounting money woes," Apr.
23, 2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/schools/0204/23/c01-472237.htm

Detroit News, "Growth dominates 5 school races," Apr. 23, 2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/schools/0204/23/c05l-472092.htm

Detroit News, "Schools to crunch budgets," Apr. 23, 2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/schools/0204/23/c05-472138.htm

Detroit News, "Bonds a hot election issue," Apr. 23, 2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/schools/0204/23/c04-472131.htm


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PARENTS CONFRONT INKSTER SCHOOL BOARD
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INKSTER, Mich. - Parents and students vented a host of concerns -
including a shortage of books and poor athletic facilities - at a
forum Monday night designed to iron out problems between Inkster
Public Schools and the private company that manages the district.

State Supt. Tom Watkins called the meeting after the Inkster
School Board refused to pay the company, Edison Schools, $1.2
million in management fees. Edison operates Inkster's schools
under a contract local school officials approved two years ago.

Watkins plans to use input from the meeting to decide whether to
send a state official to help manage the district's finances.

Some Inkster residents say the company is withholding financial
information and trying to run their district without community
input. But some students at the meeting also praised improvements
in the district since Edison took over, such as less violence in
school buildings.

"We've gone from kicks and punches to hugs and kisses," Anthony
Cheatem, senior class president of Inkster High School, told The
Detroit News.

________
SOURCE:
Detroit News, "Inkster board gets an earful," Apr. 23, 2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/schools/0204/23/c01-472297.htm


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COMPETITION LEADS TO CUSTOMER-SERVICE FOCUS FOR SCHOOLS
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DETROIT, Mich. - With 53 out of 83 metro Detroit school districts
recruiting children from other communities through the state's
schools-of-choice program, a fierce competition for bodies - and
the state dollars they bring - has spawned an environment where
schools are becoming more responsive to customer demands.
Many districts are drawing new students with advertising,
customer satisfaction surveys, and school improvement plans that
reflect parental desires.

In 2000, when 240 Southfield students left for other districts
and took $2.4 million in state funding with them, the district
opened its doors to children from other Oakland County
communities.

Many parents understand that when students change districts, they
take state funding with them. "The districts who do market
themselves, those are the schools that are going to succeed,"
said Mary Heilig, a Ferndale parent.
________
SOURCES:
Detroit Free Press, "Districts roll out ads to make TV pitch for
education switch," Apr. 18, 2002
http://www.freep.com/news/education/choice18_20020418.htm


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CHARTER SCHOOL COMMISSION'S RECOMMENDATIONS STIR CONTROVERSY
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DETROIT, Mich. - The recently released report of the Commission
on Charter Schools, which recommended increased government
oversight of Michigan's charter schools as the condition of
raising the "cap" on university-sponsored charters, is stirring
debate on the state's opinion pages.

A Detroit News commentary by Peter McPherson, president of
Michigan State University and chair of the commission, defends
the recommendation, and calls for the Legislature to approve the
increase, along with increased state oversight of charters.
David Hecker, president of the Michigan Federation of Teachers &
School Related Personnel, challenged the report, saying charter
performance is questionable, and the Legislature should "think
twice" before lifting the cap.

While the cap on charters is currently set at 150, the
commission's recommendations would allow for 230 more charters
over the next 15 years.
________
SOURCES:
Detroit News, "Education benefits by raising charter limit,
passings reforms," Apr. 21, 2002
http://detnews.com/2002/editorial/0204/21/a15-470328.htm

Detroit News, "Lower test scores of charters show need for new
restrictions," Apr. 21, 2002
http://detnews.com/2002/editorial/0204/21/a15-470271.htm


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MACKINAC CENTER PRESIDENT TESTIFIES BEFORE U.S. HOUSE EDUCATION
COMMITTEE
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WASHINGTON, D.C. - Lawrence Reed, president of the Midland-based
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, recently testified before the
U.S. House Education Committee, calling for education tax
credits.

Reed informed the committee that K-12 tax credits have recently
passed state legislatures in Arizona, Minnesota, Iowa, Florida,
Pennsylvania, and Illinois.

He also cited a tax credit plan being proposed by Michigan
Congressman Peter Hoekstra, R-Holland, that would permit an
education credit against federal income taxes of up to $500
($1,000 for joint filers) for contributions to qualified
scholarship funds or to local public schools for construction or
technology. The plan would also give corporations 75 percent
credit, up to $100,000, for similar contributions.
"The Hoekstra proposal is a great way for the federal government
to improve education without spending more, taxing more, or
creating any more bureaucracies," Reed said.
_______
SOURCE:
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Education Reform, School
Choice, and Tax Credits," Apr. 18, 2002
http://www.mackinac.org/pubs/comments/4191


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MEA ENDORSES GRANHOLM FOR GOVERNOR
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EAST LANSING, Mich. - After spirited debate, Michigan Education
Association (MEA) leaders decided Saturday to endorse Atty. Gen.
Jennifer Granholm for governor.

The MEA's endorsement is considered a major boost for the
Democrat's 2002 campaign.

Officials of the state's largest school employee union - with
160,000 members - told candidates of the decision and scheduled a
Monday morning press conference with Granholm in East Lansing.
Both Granholm and MEA officials declined comment.

MEA President Lu Battaglieri overcame internal pressure to remain
neutral in the Aug. 6 Democratic primary. A spokesman for ex-Gov.
James Blanchard, who is running again, issued a statement saying
a "tainted [endorsement] process ... lessens their credibility."

Granholm, who is also backed by the Teamsters and United
Commercial Food Workers, has announced her plans, if elected, to
deny driver's licenses to students who are chronically truant,
offer low-cost loans to school districts for upgrading technology
and other school improvements, and vigorously oppose school
choice measures.
_______
SOURCE:
Detroit News, "Granholm receives MEA endorsement," Apr. 21, 2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/schools/0204/21/b01-470536.htm

Detroit News, "Granholm calls for building loans, scholarships
under education plan," Apr. 17, 2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/schools/0204/21/-467795.htm

Detroit News, "Granholm's education plan gets attacked," Apr. 21,
2002
http://detnews.com/2002/editorial/0204/21/a18-470283.htm


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SCHOOL EMPLOYEES FIGHT OUTSOURCING ATTEMPTS
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DETROIT, Mich. - A proposal to privatize social work and
psychology services in Detroit schools is drawing fire from union
officials and district employees, who claim the move will hurt
students who need the services.

The district's proposal is included in a wide-ranging school
improvement plan draft that outlines how the 10th-largest U.S.
school system plans to improve academics and streamline business
operations.

School officials are looking at ways to reorganize staffing to
get more certified teachers in the classroom and reduce costs. To
that end, the plan states that the district will evaluate and, if
feasible, implement contracts for psychological and social work
and other areas to improve effectiveness and efficiency.

So far, the district has outsourced business-related functions
such as food service, maintenance, and lawn care.
_______
SOURCE:
Detroit News, "Social service aides rip outsourcing idea," Apr.
21, 2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/schools/0204/21/b01-470544.htm


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PHILADELPHIA PRIVATIZES 42 SCHOOLS
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PHILADELPHIA, Pa. - Forty-two of Philadelphia's low-performing
middle and elementary schools are to be turned over to for-profit
companies and universities as part of the nation's largest school
privatization plan.

The School Reform Commission, created by the state after it
seized control of the city's public school system in December,
voted 3-2 Wednesday in favor of the plan, which affects more than
one-quarter of the city's schools and thousands of children.

The decision turns over 20 schools to a for-profit company,
Edison Schools Inc. Twenty-two others will be turned over to
other private companies and nonprofits, and 28 more will be run
by parent groups. The commission already had voted to make Edison
the lead consultant in district-wide reforms.

The decision came over the objections of unions and some students
and parents, who say companies like Edison have an unproven track
record.

Edison Schools feature a longer day and school year, a heavy
investment in technology, and intensive staff development. The
company runs 136 schools in 23 states.
_______
SOURCES:
Associated Press, "42 Philadelphia Schools Privatized," Apr. 18,
2002
http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=514&ncid=716&e=5&
u=/ap/20020418/ap_on_re_us/philadelphia_schools



CNN.com, "Union predicts teacher exodus in Philly," Apr. 20, 2002
http://fyi.cnn.com/2002/fyi/teachers.ednews/04/20/philadelphia.sc
hools.ap/index.html



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NOTICE: NATIONAL CHARTER SCHOOLS WEEK ~ APRIL 29 - MAY 3
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April 29 to May 3 is National Charter Schools Week, 2002.

The families of 60,000 students attending Michigan's 189 charter
schools are inviting all parents, business leaders, and community
officials to visit their schools during this annual celebration,
which started in Michigan five years ago.

According to the Michigan Association of Public School Academies,
Michigan's charter schools are steadily closing the gap between
their state achievement test scores and the statewide average.
With annual gains often exceeding statewide performance, charters
have brought the gap to within 10-16 points in six of 10 testing
subjects.

And they have done so while serving nearly 40 percent more low-
income students and more than 2.5 times as many minorities than
their counterparts statewide.

National Charter Schools Week activities include special
community service projects, multicultural nights, open houses,
science fairs, board member and family recognition events, career
days, and spelling bees.

For a complete listing of Michigan events, visit
www.charterschools.org and click on "National Charter Schools
Week."


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NOTICE: MOCK LEGISLATURE SUMMER PROGRAM OFFERED FOR TEENS
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The 2002 Student Statesmanship Institute (SSI) is a dynamic,
faith-based summer program for high school teens. The SSI
curriculum includes Biblical worldview teaching, testimonies from
outstanding Christian leaders, and a true-to-life Mock
Legislature where students immediately apply what they learn to
current issues while role-playing as members of the Legislature
at the Capitol building in Lansing.

Students interested in the program can attend during the weeks of
June 23-28 or July 7-12.

For more information or to register students for SSI's Summer
Program, contact Student Statesmanship Institute toll free at
(877) 464-6388, by email at ssi@ssi-online.org, or visit the
website at www.ssi-online.org.


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NOTICE: HOOGLAND CENTER FOR TEACHER EXCELLENCE SEMINAR
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The Hoogland Center for Teacher Excellence at Hillsdale College
is sponsoring a seminar on "Teaching the Declaration of
Independence: Are These Truths Self-Evident Today?" on May 17-18,
2002, on the campus of Hillsdale College.

Open to public, private, and homeschool middle and high school
teachers of civics, social studies, and history, the seminar is
free of charge to all who mention the Mackinac Center. This
scholarship includes accommodations at the on-campus hotel, all
meals, and seminar and curriculum materials.

Participants at the seminar will explore the principles of the
Declaration in lectures and small group discussions led by
Hillsdale College faculty. Hillsdale College academic credit or
one Michigan State Board - Continuing Education Unit can be
earned by taking the seminar.

For more information and to register, visit
www.hillsdale.edu/cte, or call (866) 824-6831.



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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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