MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST
Volume IV, No. 26
July 2, 2002
http://www.educationreport.org/pubs/med/


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Contents of this issue:
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* Michigan has more failing schools than any other state, report says;
State officials reply they are "not ashamed"
* Supreme Court upholds school voucher program
* Detroit principals protest 12-month work year
* Lansing school district fails to get background check on teacher
* Detroit special education classes crowded
* Commission recommends state takeover of Inkster schools
* NEA fined $800,000 for "intentional" law violations


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MICHIGAN HAS MORE FAILING SCHOOLS THAN ANY OTHER STATE, REPORT SAYS;
STATE OFFICIALS REPLY THEY ARE "NOT ASHAMED"
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WASHINGTON, D.C. - As many as 3.5 million students in roughly
8,600 failing public schools nationwide will have the right to
transfer to better public schools in the fall, according to
figures released Monday by the Bush administration.

The numbers, based on reports submitted by states to the U.S.
Education Department, reflect the schools that have failed to
meet state academic standards for at least two years in a row.

Michigan identified more than 1,500 schools as chronically
failing, more than any other state. That accounts for about one-
third of the state's public schools.

"I don't think we're ashamed of the number," T.J. Bucholz,
spokesman for the state Department of Education told the Lansing
State Journal. Bucholz says the numbers are due to the state's
tough academic standards.

The education reform law President Bush signed in January forces
schools that have failed to meet standards for two years in a row
to allow students to transfer to better public schools within the
district. Those that fail for three consecutive years must pay
for extra academic help, such as tutoring.

In addition, Bush proposed a program in his budget that
recommends that parents whose children attend failing public
schools for two years in a row should be given up to a $2,500 tax
credit for private school tuition.
________
SOURCES:
Lansing State Journal, "Michigan has most failing schools,"
July 2, 2002
http://www.lsj.com/news/schools/020702badschools5a.html

Lansing State Journal, "Number of schools per state failing to
meet academic standards," July 2, 2002
http://www.lsj.com/news/schools/020702web_bad_schools.html

Detroit Free Press, "Many students may leave poor schools,"
July 2, 2002
http://www.freep.com/news/education/npaige2_20020702.htm

Detroit News, "Kids can leave schools that fail," July 2, 2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/schools/0207/02/a01-528330.htm


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SUPREME COURT UPHOLDS SCHOOL VOUCHER PROGRAM
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WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court issued a monumental
decision last week, upholding the Cleveland school voucher
program as constitutional.

On the last day of their term, the justices overturned by a 5-4
vote a U.S. appeals court ruling that struck down the
experimental private school voucher program in Cleveland for
violating constitutional church-state separation. The Cleveland
program provides poor parents with publicly funded $2,250
scholarships for their children to attend the participating
private school of their choice.

The voucher ruling, with sweeping national consequences for
education policy, cleared the way for other cities and states to
try similar school choice programs, such as vouchers and tax
credits.

In a recent Mackinac Center for Public Policy poll conducted by
EPIC/MRA, results showed that while just 43 percent of
respondents said they would support a voucher program today,
support for school choice jumped to 67 percent when respondents
were asked if they would support an education tax credit similar
to the one crafted by the Mackinac Center.

Opponents of the program, including school employee unions, say
vouchers, which make it easier for parents to take their children
out of public schools, drain much-needed resources from the
nation's struggling public schools and benefit relatively few
students.
________
SOURCES:
Associated Press, "Michigan reacts to Supreme Court decision,"
June 27, 2002
http://www.mackinac.org/4440

Washington Post, "Voucher Ruling May Boost Choice Movement,"
June 30, 2002
http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn?pagename=article&contentId=A2302-2002Jun29

Detroit Free Press, "Court allows school vouchers," June 28, 2002
http://www.freep.com/news/education/vouch28_20020628.htm

Detroit Free Press, "Michigan reaction to Supreme Court voucher
decision," June 27, 2002
http://www.freep.com/news/statewire/sw58424_20020627.htm

Detroit Free Press, "Court seekers liberated to discuss views,"
July 1, 2002
http://www.freep.com/news/metro/dicker1_20020701.htm

Detroit Free Press, "School vouchers," June 28, 2002
http://www.freep.com/voices/editorials/evouch28_20020628.htm

Detroit News, "Ruling dredges up old bitterness," June 28, 2002
http://detnews.com/2002/politics/0206/28/a05-525746.htm

Detroit News, "Was court correct to uphold school vouchers? Yes:
Justices rightly argue Ohio doesn't skew parents' choices among
schools," July 1, 2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/editorial/0207/01/a07-527279.htm

Detroit News, "Was court correct to uphold school vouchers? No:
Justices protect bias for religion with ruling that may divide
nation," July 1, 2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/editorial/0207/01/a07-527274.htm

Detroit News, "Will school vouchers aid the poor? Yes: Court
ruling creates best opportunity in 48 years to improve equality,"
July 2, 2002
http://detnews.com/2002/editorial/0207/02/a07-527985.htm

Detroit News, "Will school vouchers aid the poor? No: Vouchers
won't do much unless all public schools get huge funding hike,"
July 2, 2002
http://detnews.com/2002/editorial/0207/02/a07-527990.htm

Detroit News, "Black activists back vouchers," July 2, 2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/schools/0207/02/a03-528217.htm

Grand Rapids Press, "Ruling rouses voucher backers,"
June 28, 2002
http://www.mlive.com/news/grpress/index.ssf?/xml/story.ssf/html_
standard.xsl?/base/news-2/102527551946560.xml


Booth Newspapers, "Voucher advocates have mixed optimism about
court ruling," June 28, 2002
http://www.mlive.com/news/statewide/index.ssf?/xml/story.ssf/html_
standard.xsl?/base/news/1025259003108260.xml


Washington Post, "Supreme Court Upholds School Voucher Program,"
June 27, 2002
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A54620-2002Jun27.html

Supreme Court of the United States, "Zelman vs. Simmons-Harris,"
June 27, 2002
http://www.supremecourtus.gov/opinions/01pdf/00-1751.pdf

National Review Online, "Good News for Education," June 27, 2002
http://www.nationalreview.com/comment/comment-walker062702.asp

Wall Street Journal, "One Small Step," July 2, 2002
http://www.opinionjournal.com/columnists/tbray/?id=110001929

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Supreme Court Upholds School
Choice Program," June 27, 2002
http://www.mackinac.org/4438

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Michigan Wants School
Choice," June 27, 2002
http://www.mackinac.org/4434

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Two-Thirds of Michigan Voters
Want School Choice," June 27, 2002
http://www.mackinac.org/4435

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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DETROIT PRINCIPALS PROTEST 12-MONTH WORK YEAR
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DETROIT, Mich. - Some Detroit school principals are outraged
about their new contracts, issued by the district Monday, which
require them to work 12 months instead of 11 and eliminate extra
pay for after-school workshops and other activities, according to
The Detroit News.

It amounts to a pay cut, they say, and could mean some principals
leave the district rather than sign by Friday's deadline.

Principals received a 2 percent raise and extra pay for 9.5 days
as part of the new annual contract, a total wage increase of 5
percent, district Chief of Staff Lavonne Sheffield told The News.

Sheffield said principals, whose union was disbanded in 2000,
shouldn't have been receiving the extra money for after-school
activities. Their base salaries from last year ranged from
$86,701 to $107,434.
________
SOURCES:
Detroit News, "Detroit principals protest new contract,"
July 2, 2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/schools/0207/02/c01-528282.htm

Detroit News, "Detroit schools chief delays accepting 2 percent
raise," July 2, 2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/schools/0207/02/c02-528101.htm


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LANSING SCHOOL DISTRICT FAILS TO GET BACKGROUND CHECK ON TEACHER
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LANSING, Mich. - The Lansing School District failed to obtain a
background check on a teacher with a spotty past, and is now
facing difficulty explaining to parents why their students are
ill-prepared in math.

Administrators at Pattengill Middle School authorized an "instant
hire" of a math teacher last August without getting a state-
mandated background check. The teacher, they discovered
recently, had resigned from Grand Rapids Public Schools in 1996
following several reprimands and suspensions for objectionable
behavior toward female students.

Last month the school district sent letters to 150 families,
explaining that a Pattengill teacher had failed to prepare
eighth-grade students in math.

The teacher, believed to be Fred Garcia (but not confirmed by the
district at press time), has been on paid, nondisciplinary leave
since April. Superintendent E. Sharon Banks was informed
recently - by a Lansing State Journal reporter - of Garcia's
record in Grand Rapids schools.
________
SOURCE:
Lansing State Journal, "Failed Duty: Discipline those who failed
to get teacher's background," July 2, 2002
http://www.lsj.com/opinions/editorials/020702eds1_(math_teacher).html


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DETROIT SPECIAL EDUCATION CLASSES CROWDED
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DETROIT, Mich. - Special education classes in Detroit grew more
crowded during the past school year, which violates Michigan law.

According to a report by The Detroit News, 85 percent of
classrooms for emotionally impaired students and 64 percent of
classrooms for the learning disabled in elementary and middle
schools exceeded the maximum number of students allowed by law
this past spring.

State law prohibits Detroit schools from putting more than 15
learning-disabled or mentally impaired students in a classroom at
one time. A room of emotionally impaired students cannot exceed
10.

Although Detroit administrators are working on solutions,
including teacher-recruiting drives and summer training of
substitutes, the News reports it's doubtful that the district can
get the 185 special education instructors needed before school
starts in less than two months.
________
SOURCES:
Detroit News, "Detroit special education classes too crowded,"
July 1, 2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/schools/0207/02/a01-527779.htm


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COMMISSION RECOMMENDS STATE TAKEOVER OF INKSTER SCHOOLS
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LANSING, Mich. - A financial manager should be appointed to take
over the cash-strapped Inkster Public Schools, a commission
recommended Monday to Gov. John Engler.

If Engler approves the takeover, Inkster would become Michigan's
second district, after Detroit, to be run by the state.

The state-appointed commission found serious problems in the
district, including: A projected deficit of more than $1 million
this year; nearly $1.7 million owed to the school management
company Edison Inc. for Edison's expenses; and failure to balance
bank statements in the last six months.

Inkster would become the first district penalized under the
state's Fiscal Responsibility Act, which is usually applied to
local governments. The act allows the state to take over in a
crisis. The Detroit school takeover in 2000 was carried out
under a different law.

State law gives the financial manager a wide range of options,
ranging from handing the district back to the school board after
reforms are implemented to dissolving the district and sending
students to adjacent districts.
________
SOURCE:
Detroit Free Press, "Inkster schools takeover asked,"
July 2, 2002
http://www.freep.com/news/education/ink2_20020702.htm


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NEA FINED $800,000 FOR "INTENTIONAL" LAW VIOLATIONS
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OLYMPIA, Wash. - A Thurston County Superior Court judge Monday
fined the National Education Association (NEA) $800,000 plus
legal fees for "intentional" violations of a Washington state law
that prohibits the unauthorized use of agency fees - union dues
paid by employees opting out of the union - for political
activity. The court also issued a permanent injunction barring
the union from collecting agency fees from thousands of
Washington state teachers.

The default judgment comes after the NEA missed a court deadline
last week to respond to a lawsuit brought by the Evergreen
Freedom Foundation (EFF), an Olympia-based policy research
organization. The lawsuit sought to defend agency fee payers
from having their union dues misused by the NEA.

The NEA's state affiliate, the Washington Education Association,
was penalized more than $770,000 last year for breaking the same
state law. The NEA's fine bumps two earlier WEA fines to become
the largest in Washington state history.
________
SOURCES:
Evergreen Freedom Foundation, "NEA doesn't show up in court;
union fined $800,000 for "intentional violations of state law,"
July 1, 2002
http://www.effwa.org/press_releases/2002_07_01.php

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Union Workers: Know What Your
Rights and Options Are," March 2, 1998
http://www.mackinac.org/article.asp?ID=347

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Religious Liberty and
Compulsory Unionism: A Worker's Guide to Using Union Dues for
Charity," June 2000
http://www.mackinac.org/article.asp?ID=2904



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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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