MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST
Volume IV, No. 24
June 18, 2002
http://www.educationreport.org/pubs/med/


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Contents of this issue:
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* Looming U.S. Supreme Court ruling may decide future of school choice
* Proposal A debate persists
* Mt. Clemens ends Edison contract
* Court upholds state's takeover of Detroit schools
* Federal report says teacher qualifications lacking
* Local legislator says more school choice needed
* Report charges state Department of Education with poor charter school oversight
* National survey shows many anti-school-choice legislators send their children to private schools


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LOOMING U.S. SUPREME COURT RULING MAY DECIDE FUTURE OF SCHOOL CHOICE
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WASHINGTON, D.C. - Within the next two weeks, the U.S. Supreme
Court will decide on the constitutionality of Cleveland's voucher
program, which provides poor parents with $2,250 scholarships for
their children to attend the participating private school of
their choice.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruling could help or hinder future school
choice initiatives in Michigan. It also could have no effect at
all, leaving Michigan's voucher debate at the mercy of the state
constitution, one of the most restrictive in the nation when it
comes to public funding of private schools.

A 1970 constitutional amendment prohibits any state aid-direct or
indirect-from going to private schools. Even with a ruling in
favor of choice, the Michigan Constitution still would prohibit
public funds from going to private education.

"Before anything can be done in terms of broad school choice, the
constitutional language has to be amended," Betsy DeVos, head of
the school choice group Choices for Children told the Grand
Rapids Press.
________
SOURCES:
Grand Rapids Press, "Voucher backers hopes are rekindled," June
17, 2002
http://www.mlive.com/news/grpress/index.ssf?/xml/story.ssf/html_standard.xsl?/base/news-2/1024325102306610.xml

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "The Case for Choice in
Schooling," January 2001
http://www.mackinac.org/article.asp?ID=3236

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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PROPOSAL A DEBATE PERSISTS
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GROSSE POINTE, Mich. - Many school districts in Michigan are
struggling to meet 2002-03 budgets, and claim Proposal A, a 1994
tax law that transferred the bulk of school funding from local
property taxes to the state, is at fault.

State funding will go up by $200 per pupil next year, but that's
$100 less than districts expected.

Many district officials say the changes from Proposal A, which
prohibit districts from raising voters' taxes to spend more on
schools, are preventing them from raising enough money.

But supporters of the change 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.
________
SOURCES:
Detroit Free Press, "Schools struggle to keep budgets,"
June 14, 2002
http://www.freep.com/news/education/class14_20020614.htm

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Sinking Fund Debt - Another
Proposal A End Run," June 17, 2002
http://www.mackinac.org/pubs/comments/4421


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MT. CLEMENS ENDS EDISON CONTRACT
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MT. CLEMENS, Mich. - Mt. Clemens Community Schools will end its
long-term relationship with for-profit school management company
Edison Inc. a year before the contract expires.

The reasons the district is terminating the contract with Edison,
which has managed three schools in the district, have not been
made public because the details of the termination agreement have
not been finalized.

Mt. Clemens was one of the first four school districts in the
country to sign on with Edison in 1995 and embrace the company's
practice of a longer school day, a longer school year and a
computer for each family. The first contract was initiated by
then-Superintendent Blanche Fraser, who later moved to Edison as
a vice president.

The Mt. Clemens board plans to meet three times during the next
two weeks to work out the final agreement.
________
SOURCE:
Detroit Free Press, "Mt. Clemens, firm to dissolve contract,"
June 18, 2002
http://www.freep.com/news/education/edison18_20020618.htm


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COURT UPHOLDS STATE'S TAKEOVER OF DETROIT SCHOOLS
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CINCINNATI, Ohio - The 1999 state takeover of Detroit Public
Schools didn't violate residents' rights, a federal appeals court
ruled in a decision released Wednesday.

The U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati upheld the
ruling by a district court in 2000 that dismissed the plaintiffs'
claims that the takeover was illegal.

The court also ruled that the state law creating the appointed
school board system was not a state-imposed, local Detroit law,
but a general law that could be applied to any "first-class"
school district of 100,000 students or more. Detroit is the only
first-class school district in Michigan.

By law, the mayor appoints six of the seven members to the school
board. State schools superintendent Tom Watkins is the seventh
board member.

Detroit Councilwoman Sharon McPhail and George B. Washington
represented the activists who brought the suit against the school
district, former Mayor Dennis Archer, and Gov. John Engler.
McPhail told the Detroit News their legal team will consider
taking the suit to the U.S. Supreme Court.
________
SOURCES:
Detroit Free Press, "Court upholds schools takeover,"
June 13, 2002
http://www.freep.com/news/education/wappeal13_20020613.htm

Detroit News, "Detroit schools challenge denied," June 13, 2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/schools/0206/13/d08e-513311.htm


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FEDERAL REPORT SAYS TEACHER QUALIFICATIONS LACKING
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WASHINGTON, D.C. - Education Secretary Rod Paige last Tuesday
called on states to require teachers to pass rigorous tests in
the subjects they teach and open classroom doors to more
nontraditional teaching candidates with strong expertise in key
topics.

Paige's recommendations are part of the nation's first report to
Congress on the quality of America's teachers. It is based on
state reports submitted to the Education Department last fall.
Although some states gave incomplete information, the findings
offer an unflattering portrait of teacher quality.

Among the findings released Tuesday:

* Only 23 states have tied teacher standards to the academic
requirements they established for students.

* Of the 29 states that use the same reading test to license
teachers, only one set its passing score near the national
average. Fifteen other states set their passing scores below the
25th percentile.

The report on quality comes as states are scrambling to hire more
than 2 million new teachers in the next decade and comply with
President Bush's education reform law, which pressures states to
put a "fully qualified" teacher in every classroom by 2006.
________
SOURCES:
Detroit News, "Rigorous teacher exams urged," June 12, 2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/schools/0206/13/a07-512751.htm

Arizona Republic, "Uncertified teachers often in poor schools,"
June 11, 2002
http://www.arizonarepublic.com/news/articles/0611azfiller11.html

Education Week, "Qualifications of Teachers Falling Short,"
June 12, 2002
http://www.educationweek.org/ew/newstory.cfm?slug=40sass.h21

Detroit Free Press, "Certified Isn't Always Best," July 6, 2001
http://www.mackinac.org/article.asp?ID=3659

Viewpoint on Public Issues, "Must Teachers Be Certified to Be
Qualified?," February 1, 1999
http://www.mackinac.org/article.asp?ID=1651


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LOCAL LEGISLATOR SAYS MORE SCHOOL CHOICE NEEDED
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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - Record numbers of students will be on the
move this fall through Kent County's school-choice plan, but a
local lawmaker says restraints preventing more from attending
classes in other districts should be lifted.

Earlier this year, state Rep. Jerry Kooiman, R-Grand Rapids,
sent letters to superintendents asking them to open the plan to
allow more students to transfer.

Countywide, nearly 800 students are moving, up about 100 from
last year. Seven districts - all bordering Grand Rapids - needed
to conduct lotteries because they had more applicants than
openings.

State law prohibits districts from capping the number of students
who can leave, but allows schools to limit the number they will
accept. Kooiman told the Grand Rapids Press that this
constitutes a loophole, and that if districts don't change, he
wants to introduce legislation to close it.
________
SOURCES:
Grand Rapids Press, "Legislator slams final school-choice
numbers," June 13, 2002
http://www.mlive.com/news/grpress/index.ssf?/xml/story.ssf/html_standard.xsl?/base/news-2/102398134445824.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


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REPORT CHARGES STATE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION WITH POOR CHARTER
SCHOOL OVERSIGHT
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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - A report issued by the Michigan Auditor
General claims that the state Education Department failed to
maintain proper oversight of universities and other authorizers
of Michigan's 185 charter schools. Most charter schools are
authorized by a university, which generally supervises their
operations.

Among the charges in the 93-page report, the Auditor General said
more than a quarter of teachers at Michigan's charter schools
were not properly certified, that state and federal criminal
background checks had not been requested for many teachers and
administrators, and that the Education Department had not
submitted annual reports on charter schools to the Legislature as
required by law.

Some argue that additional oversight is unnecessary, as charter
authorizers impose regulations on each of their chartered
schools.

Jim Goenner, director of CMU's charter school office, said the
Education Department has no more practical oversight of charter
schools than it does over traditional public schools. He added
that charters are directly accountable to parents "who vote with
their feet."
________
SOURCE:
Detroit News, "Charter schools lack oversight," June 14, 2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/schools/0206/14/g01-514796.htm


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NATIONAL SURVEY SHOWS MANY ANTI-SCHOOL-CHOICE LEGISLATORS SEND
THEIR CHILDREN TO PRIVATE SCHOOLS
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WASHINGTON, D.C. - A large number of lawmakers who practice
school choice by sending their children to private schools
consistently preach-and vote-against legislation that would
enable poor parents to do the same, a new survey conducted by the
Heritage Foundation has found.

Last year, 69 of 273 House members who voted against school
choice legislation send or have sent their children to private
schools, the survey shows.

Also, 13 of 58 senators who voted against an amendment that would
fund a low-income school choice demonstration program send or
have sent their children to private schools.

"These lawmakers should preach what they practice," Jennifer
Garrett, an education researcher for the Heritage Foundation told
the Washington Times.
________
SOURCES:
Washington Times, "Poor don't get a choice," June 14, 2002
http://www.washtimes.com/national/20020614-43794392.htm

Viewpoint on Public Issues, "Hypocrisy on Choice Sends Wrong
Message to Kids," October 2, 2000
http://www.mackinac.org/article.asp?ID=3095



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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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