MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST
Volume IV, No. 35
Sept. 3, 2002
http://www.educationreport.org/pubs/med/


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Contents of this issue:
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* Don't "tweak" Proposal A, Headlee warns
* Idaho study shows teachers well paid
* NBER study shows school competition raises school achievement
* S.A.T. math scores up, verbal down
* Charter schools take "problem" students, achieve lower, study
finds
* California Supreme Court rules students can transfer,
regardless of race balance
* Edison Schools returning school supplies in Philadelphia
* Changes mark beginning of school year in Detroit
* State offers school districts grant money for computers
* NOTICE: Hoogland Center for Teacher Excellence Seminars

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DON'T "TWEAK" PROPOSAL A, HEADLEE WARNS
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In a Detroit News commentary, Richard Headlee, author of the
Headlee tax limitation amendment to Michigan's Constitution,
warns taxpayers not to allow lawmakers to make changes to
Proposal A, the voter-approved property tax reform approved by 69
percent of the voters in 1994.

According to Headlee, Proposal A "...led to a 60 percent increase
in school funding. It has narrowed the spending gap between
school districts. Along with the Headlee Amendment's overall
spending limits, it has been a net $17 billion tax cut for
taxpayers."

But Headlee warns that "this progress is under assault."

"A whole host of politicians and school administrators are
clamoring for a tweak to Proposal A ... The plainspoken truth is,
'tweaking' Proposal A is an attempt to raise taxes. The assault
on Proposal A, if successful, will result in rising property tax
assessments, an increase in millage elections, a greater
disparity in school district funding and an overall increase in
the tax burden borne by Michigan families. Changing Proposal A is
a quick ticket to a school-funding crisis.
________
SOURCE:
Detroit News, "Tweaking Proposal A would hike property tax," Aug.
27, 2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/editorial/0208/27/a07-571698.htm

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IDAHO STUDY SHOWS TEACHERS WELL PAID
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A study prepared by University of Idaho economics professor Jack
Wenders for Idahoans for Tax Reform on teacher compensation in
Idaho shows that, "...teachers, both in Idaho and across the United
States, generally are very well paid relative to their
counterparts in the private sector, and their above-market pay is
confirmed by the perennial surplus in the general teachers'
market and by teachers' relative low attrition rates on the job
market."

Wenders pulls no punches when it comes to the lack of salary
incentives in teacher pay. "Dolts get paid the same as superior
teachers, and P.E. teachers are paid the same a physics teachers.
Unlike in the real marketplace, teachers who perform well, or
have valuable talents, never make more, and those who perform
badly or whose talents are commonplace, never make less."

Consequently, Wenders reports, the better graduates of the
colleges of education become disillusioned when trapped by the
inflexible public school salary grids, are less inclined to enter
teaching, and tend to leave once in the classroom. "One could not
consciously design a policy with worse incentives for attracting
and keeping good talent and performance," writes Wenders.
_______
SOURCES:
Idahoans for Tax Reform, "Study finds Idaho teachers paid well,"
Aug. 22, 2002.
http://www.idtaxreform.com/PressReleases/082202.htm

Idahoans for Tax Reform, "Teachers Compensation in the U.S. and
Idaho," August, 2002
http://www.idtaxreform.com/PDFs/Teacher%20Comp%20Wenders.pdf

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NBER STUDY SHOWS SCHOOL COMPETITION RAISES ACHIEVEMENT
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A wide-ranging study by the National Bureau of Economic Research
(NBER) has found abundant evidence that the competition
engendered by school choice programs raises the level of school
achievement across the board-in all schools, public and private.

Conducted by researcher Caroline Hoxby, the study looks at three
recent reforms that have introduced choice into areas that
previously had little: vouchers in Milwaukee, charter schools in
Michigan, and charter schools in Arizona.

For Michigan and Arizona, Hoxby found that even a very modest
amount of charter school competition (the possibility of losing 6
percent of their students) makes public schools raise their
productivity by a statistically significant amount. Greater
charter school competition raises productivity even more.
_______
SOURCE:
National Bureau of Economic Research, "School choice raises
student achievement," August, 2002
http://www.nber.org/digest/aug02/w8873.html

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S.A.T. MATH SCORES UP, VERBAL DOWN
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Average math scores on the SAT college-entrance exam inched up in
2002, hitting their highest level in more than three decades,
according to a report released Tuesday.

But the average verbal score on the widely used test dropped,
which experts say reflects a shift from reading and writing in
school and society.

The scores "confirm that the efforts that have been made to
improve math education ... are paying off," said Gaston Caperton,
president of the College Board which oversees the SAT. "It is
time to put that same kind of concerted energy behind ensuring
that students reach their potential as skilled readers and
writers."

To help combat the problem, College Board officials Tuesday
announced the creation of an 18-member commission that will issue
recommendations on improving writing.

The push comes as the College Board undertakes the largest
redesign of the SAT in its 76-year history. As part of those
changes, test-takers will be required to write a 20-minute essay,
starting in 2005. The overhaul was triggered in large part by
criticism from the nation's biggest user of SAT scores, the
University of California system.
_______
SOURCE:
Detroit News, "SAT math marks up, verbals dip," Aug. 28, 2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/schools/0209/03/a07-573026.htm

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CHARTER SCHOOLS TAKE "PROBLEM" STUDENTS, ACHIEVE LOWER, STUDY
FINDS
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Students in charter schools, which often take students who are
having problems academically, consequently are scoring
significantly below public school pupils in basic reading and
math skills, a study shows.

Charter school students were anywhere from a half year to a full
year behind their public school peers, researchers at the
Brookings Institution concluded after reviewing 1999-2000 reading
and math achievement test scores of 376 charter schools in 10
states, including Michigan. The study found that 59 percent of
students at traditional public schools scored better than charter
school students during the period studied.

The findings don't necessarily reflect poorly on charter schools,
which often attract students who are looking for a way to improve
their skills, the authors caution. In a few states, such as
Texas, these schools actively seek out such pupils, said Tom
Loveless, a senior fellow at the Brown Center on Education Policy
at Brookings, a liberal-oriented think tank. "They're out looking
for kids who are low-achieving," he said.
_______
SOURCES:
Lansing State Journal, "Nation's charter school scores lagging,"
Sept. 2, 2002
http://www.lsj.com/news/schools/020903_charter_1a-9a.html

Detroit News, "Charter students fare poorly," Sept. 2, 2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/schools/0209/03/a03-577171.htm

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CALIFORNIA SUPREME COURT RULES STUDENTS CAN TRANSFER, REGARDLESS
OF RACE BALANCE
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School districts cannot prevent students from transferring to
other schools within the district because the district wants to
maintain racial balance, the California Supreme Court has ruled.

Without comment, the high court declined Wednesday to review an
Orange County appeals court decision outlawing such practices at
the Huntington Beach Union High School District.

"We do not dispute the evils of segregated schools and we
recognize the potential benefits of attending a racially and
ethnically diverse school, but the people have spoken," Justice
David Sills wrote, referring to California's Proposition 209,
which prohibits gender or race preferences in state government
and public education.

The court added that Proposition 209 "is clear in its prohibition
against discrimination or preferential treatment based on race,
sex, color, ethnicity or national origin."
_______
SOURCE:
San Diego Union-Tribune, "Supreme Court nullifies race-based
school enrollments," Aug. 29, 2002
http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/state/20020829-1706-ca-proposition209
.html

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EDISON SCHOOLS RETURNING SCHOOL SUPPLIES IN PHILADELPHIA
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Edison schools, Inc., the private sector company that runs
hundreds of schools across the nation and 20 in Philadelphia, is
returning truckloads of supplies that it planned to use in those
schools this year.

Adam Tucker, a spokesman for Edison, said the supplies were
picked up because his company's $11.8 million contract is not
enough to pay for them. The supplies, Tucker said, were ordered
when Edison hoped for a bigger district deal and before its
contract was signed on July 31.

Tucker said supplies are being returned at all of Edison's 20
schools in the city. The move surprised school district and city
and state officials. The returned supplies are just the latest
financial embarrassment for Edison, which has never turned a
profit. The company held a conference call with investors on
Thursday - the first day of school - and has been laying off
staff and cutting costs this month in an attempt to become
profitable.
________
SOURCE: Philadelphia Daily News, "Unable to pay, Edison returns
supplies," Aug. 30, 2002
http://www.philly.com/mld/dailynews/news/local/3968716.htm

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CHANGES MARK BEGINNING OF SCHOOL YEAR IN DETROIT
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Four new schools and six new building additions will greet
students when school begins in Detroit today. New schools are
only one element in a wide range of changes and improvements for
the 2002-03 school year.

About 100 schools have redrawn boundaries. New schools opening in
crowded northeast Detroit will mean an estimated 1,500 students
in the area will no longer have to be bused. Construction has
started on three major projects, each budgeted at about $100
million: a new Cass Tech scheduled to open in 2004; a new Fine,
Performing and Communication Arts High scheduled to open in 2005;
and a four-school campus on the former Sinai Hospital site that
will include a new Renaissance High scheduled to open in 2005.

In the classroom, new reading materials will be used in all
kindergarten through sixth-grade classes. The district's
computerized attendance system that calls the homes of absent
high school students will be expanded to include sixth through
eighth grades.
________
SOURCES:
Detroit Free Press, "Detroit schools rebuilding," Sept. 3, 2002.
http://www.freep.com/news/education/skuls3_20020903.htm

Detroit Free Press, "New Renaissance High will relocate to Sinai
site," Sept. 3, 2002
http://www.freep.com/news/education/high30_20020830.htm

Detroit News, "Detroit schools plan to build $110 million
campus," Sept. 3, 2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/schools/0209/03/c01-574959.htm

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STATE OFFERS SCHOOL DISTRICTS GRANT MONEY FOR COMPUTERS
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The state is offering $9.5 million in grants for school districts
that have a plan to offer wireless computers to their students,
state lawmakers and education officials said Friday.

The "Learning Without Limits" pilot project, which will give
wireless computers to thousands of students, is intended to be
the first step toward providing laptops to all K-12 students in
Michigan.

School districts must submit their grant proposals by Oct. 8 to
be eligible for one of 10 grants worth up to $2 million. Those
that already have such technology can apply for five grants worth
up to $100,000 each.

The program is a pet project of House Speaker Rick Johnson, R-
LeRoy, who set aside $3.5 million for it this year's school aid
budget. About $6 million in federal money also was used to pay
for the program.
________
SOURCE:
Detroit News, "Schools can apply for $9.5 million computer
program," Aug. 31, 2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/schools/0209/03/schools-575635.htm

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NOTICE: HOOGLAND CENTER FOR TEACHER EXCELLENCE SEMINARS
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The Hoogland Center for Teacher Excellence at Hillsdale College
is sponsoring two upcoming seminars:

November 1-2, 2002:
A More Perfect Union: Teaching the Constitution of the United
States

January 17-18, 2003:
Founding Father: George Washington and the American Founding

Both seminars will be held on the campus of Hillsdale College, in
Hillsdale, Mich., located 80 miles south of Lansing. Open to
public, private and home-school middle and high school teachers
of civics, social studies and history, the seminars require only
a $25.00 registration fee. This fee pays for accommodations at
the on-campus hotel, all meals, and seminar and curriculum
materials.

Participants will explore the seminar topics in lectures and
small group discussions led by Hillsdale College faculty and
guest lecturers. Hillsdale College academic credit or one
Michigan State Board Continuing Education Unit (SB-CEU) of
professional development credit may be earned for each seminar.

For more information and to register for one or both of the
seminars, visit www.hillsdale.edu/cte, or call (866) 824-6831.


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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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