MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST
Volume IV, No. 31
August 6, 2002
http://www.educationreport.org/pubs/med/


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Contents of this issue:
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* Florida court strikes down state voucher program
* School supplies - worth $3.8 million - collect dust in Detroit
* UK plan would cut pay for deficient teachers
* Parents sue teachers for students' failing grades

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FLORIDA COURT STRIKES DOWN STATE VOUCHER PROGRAM
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Just weeks before the start of the school
year, a judge struck down Florida's voucher law Monday, saying
the state constitution forbids the use of tax money to send
youngsters to religious schools.

The decision could force the nearly 400 Florida students who had
planned to use the statewide voucher program to be sent back to
failing public schools this fall. The program, founded in 1999,
allows students at public schools that earn a failing grade two
years out of four to receive a voucher to attend private schools,
including religious schools.

Just over a month ago, the U.S. Supreme Court swept aside a major
hurdle to voucher programs, ruling that such uses of tax dollars
do not violate the separation of church and state required by the
U.S. Constitution.

But Florida Circuit Judge P. Kevin Davey based his ruling on the
Florida Constitution, which he said is "clear and unambiguous" in
prohibiting public money from going to churches or other
"sectarian institutions."

After Monday's ruling, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said the state is
prepared to find private money to help children attend private
schools and he expects the ruling to be appealed.
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SOURCES:
Detroit News, "Florida judge strikes down school voucher
program," August 5, 2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/schools/0208/05/-554247.htm

School Reform News, "Judge Strikes Down Florida Vouchers," August
2000
http://www.heartland.org/Article.cfm?artId=11010


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SCHOOL SUPPLIES - WORTH $3.8 MILLION - COLLECT DUST IN DETROIT
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DETROIT, Mich. - In the Detroit Public Schools, where children
often do without school supplies, the district allowed thousands
of items to collect dust for years in a huge warehouse, according
to records obtained by the Detroit Free Press.

From crayons to Bunsen burners, the supplies have piled up over
the years because administrators ordered too much, or changed
their minds, and the supplies were never returned, school
officials said.

The Central Distribution Center (CDC) inventory of 426,103 items
is worth $3.8 million, according to a 385-page inventory list.
School officials estimate 22 percent to 28 percent of the
inventory is considered "old excess" the district wants to
finally sell, move, or get rid of.
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SOURCES:
Detroit Free Press, "Detroit school items pile up," July 31, 2002
http://www.freep.com/news/education/ware31_20020731.htm

Viewpoint on Public Issues, "School Funding: Lack of Money, or
Lack of Money Management," August 3, 2001
http://www.mackinac.org/article.asp?ID=3683


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UK PLAN WOULD CUT PAY FOR DEFICIENT TEACHERS
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LONDON, England - Teachers could have pay raises withheld if they
fail annual tests under a new plan announced by government
officials.

Estelle Morris, the Secretary of State for Education for Great
Britain, says in her submission to the teachers' union that all
teachers must face "a greater challenge" to move up the pay
scales.

Head teachers will also be given more freedom to set pay rates
for staff. In addition, the government wants the review body to
consider higher pay for math and science teachers, to help to
fill vacancies.

The plan for annual performance checks provoked an outcry from
the country's teacher unions.

Chris Keates, Deputy General Secretary of the National
Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, described
the recommendations to the press as "unnecessary and profoundly
unhelpful."
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SOURCE:
The Independent, "Pay cuts for teachers who fail tests,"
August 2, 2002
http://education.independent.co.uk/news/story.jsp?story=320658


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PARENTS SUE TEACHERS FOR STUDENTS' FAILING GRADES
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WASHINGTON, D.C. - Some parents are slapping lawsuits on teachers
who give poor grades to their children, saying their kids
deserved better marks and should be allowed to graduate from high
school despite their poor grades.

In one case, Arizona English teacher Elizabeth Joice was
threatened with a lawsuit unless she took "whatever action is
necessary" for the student to graduate. Joice said the student
plagiarized work, failed a paper and did not attend makeup
sessions, among other things. School officials backed down and
the student was able to retake a test five hours before
graduation and receive her diploma.

"It used to be said that the squeaky wheel gets the grease.
Unfortunately, now it's the parents with the lawyer" who get the
second chance, Walter Olson, senior fellow at the Manhattan
Institute and author of The Litigation Explosion, told Fox News.

"It's no way to run a schoolhouse and it's a terrible lesson in
itself to teach kids."
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SOURCE:
Fox News, "Flunking Out of School? Get a Lawyer," August 2, 2002
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,59330,00.html



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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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