MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST
Volume IV, No. 38
Sept. 24, 2002
http://www.educationreport.org/pubs/med/

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Contents of this issue:
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* MEA letter reveals attempt to burden, eliminate charter schools
* REPORT: 6 million students at risk of failing in school
* Former Michigan Attorney General Says "no" to Proposal 4
* OPINION: Redundant tests irk teachers
* Mt. Clemens ousts Edison

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MEA LETTER REVEALS ATTEMPT TO BURDEN, ELIMINATE CHARTER SCHOOLS
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EAST LANSING, Mich. - A recent letter from the Michigan Education
Association (MEA) to public school officials reveals the MEA's
bias against charter schools, according to the Midland-based
Mackinac Center for Public Policy.

The Mackinac Center, a research and educational institute,
released a copy of the letter to the public yesterday, saying it
"vividly captures what is wrong in public schools today and the
challenges faced by those of us working to improve them."
The letter, from MEA President Luigi Battaglieri, tells public
school officials to support House Bill 4800 in order to limit the
growth of charter schools and to impose further regulation on
their operation.

The bill, which failed in the House by one vote in May, would
increase the number of charters in Michigan, but limit the growth
of charters sponsored by some entities and in some localities.
It would also impose additional regulations on charter schools.

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SOURCES:
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "An Inside Look at the Government
School Mentality," Sept. 23, 2002
http://www.mackinac.org/4674
Michigan Education Digest, "House rejects charter increase," May 7, 2002
http://www.educationreport.org/4268

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REPORT: 6 MILLION STUDENTS AT RISK OF FAILING IN SCHOOL
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WASHINGTON, D.C. - Nearly 6 million middle and high school
students perform so poorly in school that they are likely to drop
out or become trapped in dead-end jobs. The situation is so
serious that it puts the nation's productivity at risk, according
to a report released Monday by the Alliance for Excellent
Education (AEE), an advocacy and research group that focuses on
improving secondary education.

The report states that one in four high school students read at
"below basic" levels, and more than one in four eighth-graders
fail to graduate on time from high school. To address what it
calls "a growing academic crisis," the Alliance wants Congress to
expand literacy programs for teens and give a $4,000 annual
income-tax credit to teachers and principals who work in schools
that serve poor kids.

The AEE findings echo those of a 2000 study by the Mackinac
Center for Public Policy, which found that more than a third of
Michigan students leave high school without possessing basic
skills in reading, writing, and arithmetic. This forces post-secondary
schools and employers to teach these individuals basic
skills.

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SOURCES:
Detroit News, "6 million kids at risk of failing in school,"
Sept. 24, 2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/schools/0209/24/a03-595475.htm
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "The Cost of Remedial Education,"
Aug. 2000 http://www.mackinac.org/article.aspx?ID=3025

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FORMER MICHIGAN ATTORNEY GENERAL SAYS "NO" TO PROPOSAL 4
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DETROIT, Mich. - Former Michigan Atty. Gen. Frank Kelley has come
out against Proposal 4, a measure on the statewide ballot in
November that would divert money from student scholarships and
earmark it for private health-care businesses and anti-smoking
efforts.

Kelley was Michigan's voice in the landmark lawsuit against U.S.
tobacco companies, the legal action that generated the money now
in question. Michigan currently receives $300 million a year
from the tobacco settlement; money which is currently earmarked
for "merit scholarships," which are offered to Michigan students
with high scores on the Michigan Educational Assessment Program
(MEAP) achievement test. Health-care groups want the bulk of
this money to be directed to them.

"Ironically, the very same groups who would not help me or join
forces with me in my tobacco case - and never claimed any damages
in the case - now want to steal from the state treasury," Kelley
told the Detroit News.
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SOURCES:
Detroit News, "Kelley Delivers Blow to Prop 4," Sept. 24, 2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/editorial/0209/24/a10-594877.htm
Detroit Free Press, "MEAP money is caught in another mess," Sept.
18, 2002
http://www.freep.com/news/metro/dicker18_20020918.htm
Detroit Free Press, "Merit Money," Sept. 18, 2002
http://www.freep.com/voices/editorials/emerit18_20020918.htm

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OPINION: REDUNDANT TESTS IRK TEACHERS
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DETROIT, Mich. - A teacher who recently moved to Macomb County
from San Diego, writing to the Detroit Free Press, says
Michigan's teacher tests for certification are redundant and
unnecessary for teachers transferring from different states.
According to Mark McVay, testing companies such as Massachusetts-based
National Evaluation Systems, Inc., are coming up with
state-tailored tests to take advantage of state legislatures'
search for ways to claim their states' teachers are the best.

"Just how are these tests developed?" McVay wonders. "What is
their basis? How are subject matter tests specifically engineered
for each state in such a way that makes it radically different
enough from another state to preclude recognition there? Are the
fundamentals of math, biology or journalism so different in
Oklahoma, for example, that they must be reconsidered or
reconstructed for teachers of those subjects in Illinois or New
Mexico?"

McVay says he has taken basic skills, English and social studies
tests in three different states, even though he has valid
teaching licenses from Oregon, Colorado, and California.
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SOURCES:
Detroit Free Press, "Redundant tests irk teachers who move from state to
state," Sept. 18, 2002
http://www.freep.com/voices/columnists/eteach18_20020918.htm
Detroit Free Press, "Certified Isn't Always Best," July 6, 2001
http://www.mackinac.org/article.aspx?ID=3659

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MT. CLEMENS OUSTS EDISON
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MT. CLEMENS, Mich. - The Mt. Clemens school district recently
severed ties with Edison Schools, the educational management
company that was hired in 1995 to run the district.

In 1995, backed by the Mt. Clemens superintendent, Edison vowed
to remake three schools in the city and prove that public school
classrooms could improve with innovations and tough business
principles.

But seven years later, critics in Mt. Clemens and other cities
complain that Edison, in a rush to expand too quickly, slid into
financial trouble and failed to deliver.

Edison officials say such criticism is unfounded and blame the
district for failing to supply financial information needed for
reporting requirements. Though the district is now managing the
schools, Edison is still fighting to collect money it says the
district owes.
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SOURCE:
Detroit Free Press, "Mt. Clemens has its schools back," Sept. 24, 2002
http://www.freep.com/news/education/skuls24_20020924.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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