MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST
Volume IV, No. 32
August 13, 2002
http://www.educationreport.org/pubs/med/

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Contents of this issue:
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* School infrastructure spending soars
* "Blaine Amendments": The next school choice battleground?
* Florida judge allows vouchers until state Supreme Court hears case
* State appoints manager for Inkster
* CORRECTION: Florida court strikes down vouchers

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SCHOOL INFRASTRUCTURE SPENDING SOARS
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DETROIT, Mich. - According to a study published this summer by
Lansing's Anderson Economic Group, funding collected from local
property taxes to fund school infrastructure improvements has
more than doubled since 1994, while school enrollment has
increased only 8 percent.

The finding calls into question the finding of a National
Education Association survey conducted in 2000, which said
Michigan schools need at least $9.9 billion in building
improvements.

But according to Patrick Anderson, principal of Anderson Economic
Group, the problem is not a need for more funds, but a lack of
proper financial management of funds already in district coffers.

"The picture for the state as a whole is one of significant
increases in taxpayer funding," Anderson, who is also former
deputy budget director under Gov. John Engler, told The Detroit
News. "Some districts have managerial problems or demands that
have not been met for other reasons. That's primarily a failure
on the part of the school board and the school management."
________
SOURCE:
Detroit News, "Repair spending soars, but schools still crumble,"
August 11, 2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/editorial/0208/12/a11-558925.htm


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"BLAINE AMENDEMENTS": THE NEXT SCHOOL CHOICE BATTLEGROUND?
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WASHINGTON, D.C. - A recent Wall Street Journal editorial says
that in light of the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding
Ohio's school voucher program, the remaining "battles" for school
choice will lie in state Blaine Amendments.

James Blaine was a 19th-century Republican senator and
presidential candidate from Maine. In 1875, hoping to capitalize
on widespread anti-Catholic bigotry, Blaine introduced a
constitutional amendment that prohibited states from using tax
dollars to benefit any religious sect or denomination, including
religious schools.

His efforts failed at the federal level, but state legislatures
cottoned to the idea, and by 1890 29 states-including Michigan-
had Blaine provisions incorporated in their constitutions.

When challenged, some courts, like Florida's, have chosen to
interpret their Blaine provisions literally, striking down school
choice programs as funding for religious purposes. But others
have not.

Last month, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals said a Washington
state scholarship program that blocked students from using the
money to study at sectarian colleges "facially discriminates on
the basis of religion." This ruling could set a precedent for
other state's to follow in relinquishing their Blaine amendments.
________
SOURCES:
Wall Street Journal, "The Next Voucher Battleground,"
August 7, 2002
http://www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=110002095

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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FLORIDA JUDGE ALLOWS VOUCHERS UNTIL STATE SUPREME COURT HEARS CASE
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LEON COUNTY, Fla. - Florida Circuit Court Judge P. Kevin Davey
agreed Friday to let the state voucher program remain in effect
while higher courts determine its fate.

The decision follows a state appeal of Davey's ruling last week
that struck down Florida's 1999 school voucher law as
unconstitutional.

Around 700 students from four counties have applied to the state
to use the vouchers this year so they can leave public schools
that have been given "failing" grades.

Each voucher is worth about $3,400 a year.
The case is being appealed to the state Supreme Court.
________
SOURCE:
Orlando Sentinel, "Parents may use voucher dollars,"
August 10, 2002
http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/education/orl-locjudge10081002
aug10.story?coll=orl%2Dnews%2Deducation%2Dheadlines



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STATE APPOINTS MANAGER FOR INKSTER
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INKSTER, Mich. - The debt-ridden Inkster Public Schools on
Thursday became the second Michigan school district to have its
leadership ousted by state officials.

Gov. John Engler invoked the state's Local Government Fiscal
Responsibility Act and appointed a financial manager to run the
district, effectively eliminating the Inkster school board and
superintendent.

As the new manager, W. Howard Morris, the chief financial officer
for Detroit schools during the first two years of its state
takeover, will have to determine how the district will deal with
Edison Inc., the private-sector educational management company
that operates the four Inkster public schools.

Morris is the managing partner of Prairie & Tireman, a Detroit-
based investment firm.
________
SOURCE:
Detroit Free Press, "Insolvent system in hands of Engler
appointee," August 9, 2002.
http://www.freep.com/news/locway/ink9_20020809.htm


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CORRECTION: FLORIDA COURT STRIKES DOWN VOUCHERS
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In the last issue of Michigan Education Digest, the story
"Florida Supreme Court strikes down state voucher program," was
incorrectly titled. A state Circuit Court judge made the ruling.

Visit the following link for the corrected story:
http://www.educationreport.org/4533



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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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