MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST
Volume IV, No. 42
Oct. 22, 2002
http://www.educationreport.org/pubs/med/


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Contents of this issue:
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* Firm files school choice lawsuits
* Students give schools mediocre grades
* Proposal 4 debate continues
* Middle school model losing ground
* Sen. Schwarz: Proposal A "worked well"
* NOTICE: Hoogland Center for Teacher Excellence Seminars


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FIRM FILES SCHOOL CHOICE LAWSUITS
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WASHINGTON, D.C. - A legal group that played a key role in the
U.S. Supreme Court case upholding private school vouchers is
taking the stage for its second act.

The Institute for Justice, a libertarian public interest law firm
based in the nation's capital, has already filed lawsuits in
Maine and Washington State seeking to remove state constitutional
roadblocks to school choice programs.

Last week, the institute's lawyers held a press briefing to
outline a strategy for filing other school choice cases around
the country. The ultimate goal: a return to the Supreme Court.

"The rule of law we are seeking to establish in these cases is
that a state cannot discriminate against religious school
options," Clint Bolick, a vice president of the institute who was
the architect of a decade-long legal strategy that led to the
high court's ruling upholding vouchers under the U.S.
Constitution, told Education Week.

In its June decision in Zelman v. Simmons-Harris, the U.S.
Supreme Court held that the inclusion of religious schools in the
Cleveland voucher program was not an unconstitutional
establishment of religion under the First Amendment.
_______
SOURCES:
Education Week, "Voucher Advocates Plan Multistate Legal Battle,"
Oct. 16, 2002
http://www.educationweek.org/ew/ewstory.cfm?slug=07institute.h22

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Michigan Wants School
Choice," June 27, 2002
http://www.mackinac.org/4434

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Two-Thirds of Michigan Voters
Want School Choice," June 27, 2002
http://www.mackinac.org/4435

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "The Universal Tuition Tax
Credit: A Proposal to Advance Parental Choice in Education," Nov. 1997
http://www.mackinac.org/article.asp?ID=362


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STUDENTS GIVE SCHOOLS MEDIOCRE GRADES
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NEW YORK, N.Y. - Most high school students do not believe their
public schools are preparing them "extremely well" to know how to
learn, get a good job, or go to college, according to an annual
survey of teachers and students released this month.

The findings are part of the 19th annual survey of teachers and
students conducted by Harris Interactive for the Metropolitan
Life Insurance Co., a New York City-based insurance company. They
were based on interviews earlier this year with a nationally
representative sample of 2,049 public school 7th to 12th graders,
1,273 public school teachers of kindergarten through 12th grade,
and 1,004 K-12 principals.

The results show teacher confidence in schools was not much
higher than student confidence. Less than one-fifth of the
teachers surveyed gave the top rating to their schools in
preparing students to learn.

The survey found students giving their schools a C-plus - between
"somewhat well" and "very well" - for preparing them. Teachers,
meanwhile, gave their schools a B, or "very well" on preparation.
________
SOURCES:
Education Week, "Survey: Students Give Schools Middling Marks,"
Oct. 16, 2002
http://www.educationweek.org/ew/ewstory.cfm?slug=07survey.h22

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "The Cost of Remedial
Education," Aug. 2000
http://www.mackinac.org/article.asp?ID=3025


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PROPOSAL 4 DEBATE CONTINUES
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DETROIT, Mich. - Debate over Proposal 4, the ballot initiative
that would redirect Michigan's share of tobacco settlement money
from scholarships to health-related programs, continues.

The presidents of Michigan State University and the University of
Michigan, opponents of Prop 4, recently commented in the Detroit
News, saying the plan will "remove huge sums of public money from
the public's annual review and ultimate control."

Supporters of the plan, including health care organizations, say
the tobacco settlement money should go toward health-related
causes.

Currently, much of the settlement funds are being used to provide
scholarships to students who perform well on Michigan Educational
Assessment Program (MEAP) tests.
_______
SOURCES:
Detroit Free Press, "Allow annual decisions on spending,"
Oct. 18, 2002
http://www.freep.com/voices/columnists/etobac18_20021018.htm

Detroit Free Press, "How to spend tobacco money?," Oct. 17, 2002
http://www.freep.com/voices/letters/eprop17_20021017.htm

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Hot Topics: Proposal 02-04,"
Fall 2002
http://www.mackinac.org/article.asp?ID=4643


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MIDDLE SCHOOL MODEL LOSING GROUND
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CINCINNATI, Ohio - Driven by parent dissatisfaction and dismal
test scores, school districts in states including Ohio and
Oklahoma are abandoning the middle school model, which has
dominated American education for decades, in favor of K-8
schools.

Middle schools - usually grades six through eight - replaced the
junior high formula of seven or eight short classes focused on
academic subjects. School officials made the change to address
growing concerns that junior high schools ignored students'
developmental needs at a time of tremendous emotional change.

But many education experts complain that middle schools emphasize
teens' emotional development at the expense of academics.

In international studies, for instance, U.S. fourth-graders
ranked among the best in the world in science and math, but by
the eighth grade they ranked near the bottom of industrialized
nations. Those studies also point to a gap in teacher expertise.
Just 41 percent of U.S. eighth-graders were taught by teachers
with math degrees, compared with 71 percent of their
international counterparts.
_______
SOURCE:
Detroit News, "U.S. middle schools get bad marks," Oct. 21, 2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/schools/0210/22/a02-617719.htm


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SEN. SCHWARZ: PROPOSAL A "WORKED WELL"
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BATTLE CREEK, Mich. - A recent commentary by State Sen. Joe
Schwarz (R-Battle Creek) says Proposal A, the 1994 school finance
reform, "worked well" in reducing taxes and producing more
equitable funding for schools.

"Proposal A replaced the overdependence on property taxes to fund
education," Sen. Schwarz wrote in the Battle Creek Enquirer. "A
per pupil foundation allowance was guaranteed, and is now set at
$6,700 per year. [Proposal A] made taxation for public education
more equitable than before."

Schwarz also discussed charter schools, school vouchers, and
Proposal 4 in his commentary, saying they are critical issues
that face the public and Michigan's future governor.
_______
SOURCES:
Battle Creek Enquirer, "Public education at forefront of state
issues," Oct. 20, 2002
http://www.battlecreekenquirer.com/news/stories/20021020/opinion/328328.
html

Michigan Education Report, "Fix Michigan Schools with Proposal
A+," Winter 2002
http://www.mackinac.org/pubs/mer/article.aspx?ID=4071


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NOTICE: HOOGLAND CENTER FOR TEACHER EXCELLENCE SEMINARS
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The Hoogland Center for Teacher Excellence at Hillsdale College
will sponsor 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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