MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST
Volume IV, No. 30
July 30, 2002
http://www.educationreport.org/pubs/med/


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Contents of this issue:
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* School tax hike proposals debated
* Choice students bring funds to Lansing schools
* Michigan voters skeptical of vouchers, may consider tax credits
* Congress: Special ed revamp likely

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SCHOOL TAX HIKE PROPOSALS DEBATED
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DETROIT, Mich. - As many metro Detroiters consider tax hike
proposals looming on Aug. 6 primary ballots, Detroit papers and
commentators are weighing in on the issue.

The Detroit News encouraged voters to "beware of the property tax
creep," ever-increasing property taxes from school millages, and
told voters to vote "no" on a large tax hike proposal in Wayne
County, Proposal K.

Proposal K would allocate an additional 1.5 mills in property tax
to the schools for special education services. The tax plan has
no expiration date and could amount to $59 million in increased
taxes. Opponents of the plan say it is being offered under a
"stealth" election - during a primary when few voters go to the
polls - increasing the likelihood that it will pass and impose
the tax hike on all residents.

But supporters of the plan, including the Detroit Free Press, say
the tax hike is needed to fund required special ed programs. The
Free Press told voters to vote "yes" on the plan.
________
SOURCES:
Detroit News, "Wayne County Ballot Proposals," July 30, 2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/editorial/0207/30/a08-548147.htm

Detroit News, "Beware of Property Tax Creep," July 28, 2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/editorial/0207/29/a14-547506.htm

Detroit Free Press, "Don't take out your anger about taxes on the
community," July 29, 2002
http://www.freep.com/voices/columnists/ebarb29_20020729.htm

Detroit Free Press, "State owes public schools," July 25, 2002
http://www.freep.com/voices/columnists/eross25_20020725.htm

Detroit Free Press, "Wayne County schools need funds; vote yes on
K." July 17, 2002
http://www.freep.com/voices/editorials/esped17_20020717.htm


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CHOICE STUDENTS BRING FUNDS TO LANSING SCHOOLS
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LANSING, Mich. - School districts are bolstering enrollment
numbers, and therefore the funding they receive per-student,
through attracting more students to their schools.

Created in 1996 by the state Legislature, the state's schools-of- choice
program allows students to attend classes in schools
outside their home districts if the host district participates in
the plan. Schools, which receive funding based on a per-student
basis, can increase funding with the program.

Many districts around Lansing have chosen to participate in the
program, opening up hundreds of spots for potential transfer
students. With just an increase of 15 students, a district can
bring in over $100,000 in additional per-student funds.

"This helps," Michael Hubert, assistant superintendent in the
Waverly district, told the Lansing State Journal. "There's no
other way about it. It contributes dollars that wouldn't
otherwise be there."
________
SOURCES:
Lansing State Journal, "Schools-of-choice pupils help budgets,"
July 28, 2002
http://www.lsj.com/news/schools/020728_school_4b.html

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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MICHIGAN VOTERS SKEPTICAL OF VOUCHERS, MAY CONSIDER TAX CREDITS
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DETROIT, Mich. - Despite the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision
upholding school vouchers as constitutional, and the recent
federal report showing Michigan has the highest number in the
country of "failing schools," few people are expecting a push for
school vouchers in Michigan anytime soon.

Since 1970, the Michigan Constitution has banned spending public
money in private schools, and two years ago voters rejected a
referendum to institute vouchers by a convincing 69-31 percent.

Experts say though the opposition to vouchers is strong, there
may be other options.

"The V word is anathema here in our state," Joseph P. Overton of
the Midland, Michigan-based Mackinac Center for Public Policy
told the Washington Post. "I believe the better route is tax
credits for both policy and politics."

In a poll conducted by the center, 43 percent of voters favored
vouchers, while 50 percent opposed them. But 67 percent of those
surveyed supported tax credits. The Mackinac Center is proposing
a dollar-for-dollar match for individuals or corporations that
pay for a child - theirs or someone else's - to attend a
nonpublic school.

But any change in Michigan law would have to go before the
voters. Among the options being considered by those who supported
the most recent voucher referendum are another referendum, some
form of tax credit, and a change to the constitutional ban on aid
to private schools, a move that would toss the issue back to the
Legislature.
________
SOURCES:
Washington Post, "Detroit Still Skeptical About School Vouchers
And Who Really Profits," July 28, 2002
http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn?pagename=article&contentId=A10497-2002Jul27

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


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CONGRESS: SPECIAL ED REVAMP LIKELY
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WASHINGTON, D.C. - The federal law for special education could
undergo sweeping changes based on a recent presidential
commission report that found the system is too mired in
bureaucracy and not focused on achieving academic success.

The commission's document is one of two major reports that have
gone to Congress this month. They will be important this year,
when lawmakers will deal with the reauthorization of the
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

In one of many sweeping changes recommended, the commission
suggests that future federal funding increases for special
education be tied to state improvement plans and student
achievement.

The commission also suggests the U.S. Department of Education
more carefully review state regulations for unnecessary paperwork
requirements or regulations.
________
SOURCE:
Detroit Free Press, "REPORTS TO CONGRESS: Special-ed revamp
likely," July 24, 2002
http://www.freep.com/news/education/nidea24_20020724.htm



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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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