MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST
Volume IV, No. 25
June 25, 2002
http://www.educationreport.org/pubs/med/


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Contents of this issue:
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* Supreme Court expected to issue voucher decision this week
* School district superintendent alleges physical threats from union; Union rep says she will sue him
* East Detroit school officials face prison for misuse of school funds
* Edison Schools company unstable, state warns
* Washington Post column says MEA lawsuit threatens free speech
* D.C. eyes Arizona tax credit program
* U.S. Supreme Court rejects student privacy violation lawsuit

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SUPREME COURT EXPECTED TO ISSUE VOUCHER DECISION THIS WEEK
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WASHINGTON, D.C. - This week, the U.S. Supreme Court is expected
to 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.

School choice proponents are hopeful that a majority of justices
consisting of Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, Antonin Scalia,
Clarence Thomas, Anthony M. Kennedy joined by Sandra Day O'Connor
or even Stephen Breyer will find acceptable a voucher program
allowing students to take tax dollars to parochial schools.

"A decision upholding Cleveland's voucher program is a green
light for voucher programs across the country," Clark Neily, a
senior attorney with the Institute for Justice, which represented
a number of parents as interveners in support of the program,
told Cybercast News Service.

The nation's two largest teachers' unions, the NEA and the
American Federation of Teachers, argued the anti-voucher case
before the Supreme Court, rather than the usual First Amendment
litigants like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and
People for the American Way, even though both were plaintiffs in
the case.

For more information on school choice programs, including
vouchers and tax credits, see "The Case for Choice in Schooling,"
a publication of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, and other
documents listed below.
________
SOURCES:
CNSnews.com, "High Court Poised To Decide Voucher Case,"
June 20, 2002
http://www.cnsnews.com/ViewCulture.asp?Page=\Culture\archive\200206\CUL20020620b.html

Institute for Justice, "Ohio School Choice Case," June 2002
http://www.ij.org/cases/index.html

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "The Case for Choice in
Schooling," January 2001
http://www.mackinac.org/article.aspx?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.aspx?ID=362


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SCHOOL DISTRICT SUPERINTENDENT ALLEGES PHYSICAL THREATS FROM
UNION; UNION REP SAYS SHE WILL SUE HIM
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JACKSON, Mich. - Jackson Public Schools Superintendent Dan
Evans has alleged he received personal threats from Michigan
Education Association (MEA) representatives during district
budget talks, according to the Jackson Citizen Patriot.

In a recent letter to police, Evans claims Pat Robins, a Jackson
MEA representative, passed along personal threats from union
members during discussions on budget issues. Some of the talks
regarded privatizing school services to save money, a practice
the union opposes.

Evans said Robins used the words "drive by," which Evans told the
Jackson Citizen Patriot he took to mean "drive-by shooting."

"It's hard to explain that word no matter what context it's in,"
Evans said Friday. "I took it to mean they were going to do me
harm." Robins denied using the words Friday, and told the Patriot
Evans is trying to draw attention away from the privatization
issue.

Deputy Chief Matt Heins of the Jackson Police Department said the
letter has been forwarded to the department's detective bureau
and the issue is under investigation.

Union representative Robins says she will sue Evans unless
he withdraws his statement. Evans says he will not withdraw it.
________
SOURCES:
Jackson Citizen Patriot, "Superintendent reports threats to
police," June 22, 2002
http://www.mlive.com/news/jacitpat/index.ssf?/xml/story.ssf/html_standard.xsl ?/base/news-1/102471691781880.xml

WILX.com, "Jackson Schools Pass Budget," June 25, 2002
http://www.wilx.com/news/headlines/33921.html

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "MEA Hypocritical on
Privatization," June 2002
http://www.mackinac.org/9401


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EAST DETROIT SCHOOL OFFICIALS FACE PRISON FOR MISUSE OF SCHOOL
FUNDS
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EASTPOINTE, Mich. - A member of the East Detroit school board and
a former member have pleaded guilty to accepting kickbacks
revealed by a federal investigation of corruption in the
district.

The pair admitted taking $69,244 in money and goods in return for
steering business to a contractor overseeing a $28-million bond
project in the 6,500-student suburban Detroit district.

Board member Karen DeGrande, 44, and former member Bettie
Huebner, 73, pleaded guilty Wednesday in U.S. District Court in
Detroit.

DeGrande and Huebner said they approved contracts to vendors
recommended by William Hudson Jr. in exchange for payments,
including cash and a car. The pair may face over a year in
prison.
________
SOURCES:
Washington Post, "Mich. School Officials Plead Guilty,"
June 21, 2002
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A22199-2002Jun21.html

Detroit News, "East Detroit school officials face prison,"
June 20, 2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/schools/0206/21/a01-519740.htm

Detroit News, "Official: School scandal isn't over,"
June 20, 2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/schools/0206/21/e01-519601.htm


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EDISON SCHOOLS COMPANY UNSTABLE, STATE WARNS
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LANSING, Mich. - The Michigan Department of Education is telling
schools that the financially troubled Edison Schools Inc., a for-
profit school management company, may go out of business.

Yet, Adam Tucker, an Edison spokesman, told The Detroit News
Monday that the company "is alive and well and remains incredibly
viable."

In a letter to all charter school sponsors in Michigan, state
Schools Superintendent Tom Watkins wrote that local school boards
or colleges that hire the New York-based Edison may have to
consider dissolving their Edison-run schools.

Watkins' letter came within days of the Mt. Clemens school board
announcing it was negotiating with Edison to end the company's 7-
year-old contract to run some Mt. Clemens schools.

In addition, Edison operates public schools under contract with
Detroit, Ferndale, Pontiac and Inkster school districts.
Nationally, the company operates 133 schools with about 74,000
students.

Formed in 1992, Edison has yet to report a profit.
________
SOURCES:
Detroit News, "Edison Schools shaky, state says," June 25, 2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/schools/0206/25/d01-522896.htm

Time.com, "Trouble for School Inc.," May 19, 2002
http://www.time.com/time/education/article/0,8599,238633,00.html

CorpWatch.org, "Edison's failing grade," June 20, 2002
http://www.corpwatch.org/issues/PID.jsp?articleid=2688

Philadelphia Inquirer, "Teachers to learn Edison's methods,"
June 19, 2002
http://www.philly.com/mld/inquirer/3500491.htm


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WASHINGTON POST COLUMN SAYS MEA LAWSUIT THREATENS FREE SPEECH
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WASHINGTON, D.C. - Nationally syndicated Washington Post
columnist George F. Will calls a lawsuit by the Michigan
Education Association (MEA) against the Midland-based Mackinac
Center for Public Policy one of many recent "liberal attempts to
shrink First Amendment protections."

The MEA, Michigan's largest school employees' union, is suing the
Mackinac Center, a research and educational institute, charging
that the center "misappropriated" the "likeness" of the MEA's
president when it quoted him in a letter to supporters.

MEA President Luigi Battaglieri, conducting a news conference to
announce the establishment of an organization whose mission would
be partly to counter the Mackinac Center's research, said: "Quite
frankly, I admire what they [the Mackinac Center] have done."
Battaglieri does not deny making the remarks.

Will says liberal attempts to stifle free speech, such as this
lawsuit, create a "brave new world of speech regulation" in the
country.

Will states that U.S. Supreme Court case precedent is on the side
of the Mackinac Center, in upholding many cases of non-profit
organizations' right to free speech.

Editorial writers and columnists have urged the MEA to drop its
suit against the Mackinac Center.
________
SOURCES:
Washington Post, "Liberal assaults on free speech," June 23, 2002
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A26394-2002Jun21.html

Detroit Free Press, "Michigan Education Association sues Mackinac
Center over letter," May 21, 2002
http://www.freep.com/news/statewire/sw56221_20020521.htm

Detroit News, "Don't kill speech with frivolous suit,"
May 25, 2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/editorial/0205/25/d07-498872.htm

Detroit News, "Don't use courts to suppress dissent,"
June 2, 2002.
http://www.detnews.com/2002/editorial/0206/02/a17-504080.htm

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Michigan Education
Association Sues Mackinac Center for Public Policy for Quoting
the Union's President," May 2002
http://www.mackinac.org/4356


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D.C. EYES ARIZONA TAX CREDIT PROGRAM
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WASHINGTON, D.C. - Capital politicians are considering an
educational tax credit program similar to one enacted in Arizona
in 1998.

The Arizona program allows taxpayers to donate money to religious
and private schools and get a dollar-for-dollar break on income
taxes, and say it may be time try out a similar federal tax
break.

Since 1998, School Tuition Organizations reportedly have
collected $56.6 million to distribute to private and religious
school scholarship funds. In the first year the credits were
offered, about 4,000 taxpayers took advantage of the break; and
last year 44,000 taxpayers claimed the deduction.

Like Arizona's program, a federal proposal would give tax breaks
to individuals donating to private and religious schools. The
proposal, by a group of House Republicans, would apply to
donations up to $500 for married couples. Unlike the Arizona
program, donors would get only half the amount back in a federal
tax credit. The tax credit also would apply to donations made to
public schools.

Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl, a Republican, is pushing a similar proposal
in the Senate, but it would apply mostly to private and religious
schools, providing a dollar-for-dollar credit.
________
SOURCES:
Arizona Republic, "D.C. has eyes on Ariz. tax credit,"
June 22, 2002
http://www.arizonarepublic.com/arizona/articles/0622taxcredit22.html

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "The Universal Tuition Tax
Credit: A Proposal to Advance Parental Choice in Education,"
Nov. 1997
http://www.mackinac.org/article.aspx?ID=362

Michigan Education Report, "Momentum shifts toward education tax
credits," Early Fall 2001
http://www.educationreport.org/pubs/mer/article.aspx?ID=3748


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U.S. SUPREME COURT REJECTS STUDENT PRIVACY VIOLATION LAWSUIT
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WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Supreme Court barred students from using
federal privacy law to sue schools that divulge their personal
information.

The 7-2 decision on Thursday sets up a firewall that protects
public and private schools and universities from costly court
judgments for breaking the law that requires them to keep
educational records secret.

The case pitted administrators of Gonzaga University, a private
Jesuit college in Washington state, against a student who claimed
his hopes of becoming a teacher were ruined by allegations that
he sexually assaulted a fellow student.

The privacy law gives parents or adult students veto power over
release of school records, and denies federal funding to schools
that have a "policy or practice" of releasing information to
unauthorized outsiders. It applies to any school, from
kindergarten through graduate school, which receives federal
money.

The main punishment is the threat of loss of federal money, not
personal lawsuits, the justices said, in siding with the college.
________
SOURCES:
Education Week, "High Court Rejects Students' Right to Sue Under
Privacy Law," June 20, 2002
http://www.edweek.org/ew/newstory.cfm?slug=42ferpa_web.h21

Washington Post, "Supreme Court Rejects Lawsuit Rights in Student
Privacy Violations," June 20, 2002
http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A16858-2002Jun20?language=printer


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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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