MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST
Volume IV, No. 43
Oct. 29, 2002
http://www.educationreport.org/pubs/med/


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Contents of this issue:
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* NEA allows religious members to redirect dues to charity
* "Unsafe school" label will trigger school choice options
* Watkins battles Engler over Dept. of Ed. positions
* Detroit schools' overtime costs balloon
* Gubernatorial election debate: Prop A, education plans
* State board of education candidates profiled
* More Proposal 4 debate


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NEA ALLOWS RELIGIOUS MEMBERS TO REDIRECT DUES TO CHARITY
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WASHINGTON, D.C. - The National Education Association and three
of its Ohio affiliates have agreed to "make reasonable
accommodation" for members with religious objections to funding
the group's political causes.

In a "conciliation agreement" issued this week by the Cleveland
District Office of the federal Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission (EEOC), lawyers for the NEA, the Ohio Education
Association, the Huber Heights Education Association and the
Montpelier Education Association agreed they will handle requests
from members who have differences on religious grounds in a
"timely manner."

The agreement comes following pressure by the EEOC. In May, the
EEOC found that the 2.4-million-member NEA - the nation's largest
teachers union - violated the religious rights of members by
subjecting them to invasive questionnaires when they sought to
direct their dues toward a charity rather than the union's
political causes.
_______
SOURCES:
Washington Times, "NEA lets religious members in Ohio redirect
union dues," Oct. 24, 2002
http://www.washtimes.com/national/20021024-83181800.htm

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Teacher's Case Shows How
Union Workers Can Redirect Dues to Charity," Dec. 8, 2002
http://www.mackinac.org/article.aspx?ID=3181

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Religious Liberty and
Compulsory Unionism," June 2000
http://www.mackinac.org/article.aspx?ID=2904


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"UNSAFE SCHOOL" LABEL WILL TRIGGER SCHOOL CHOICE OPTIONS
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WASHINGTON, D.C. - A provision of the new federal education law
will allow school choice options to students attending
"persistently dangerous" schools.

The new label, coined in the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001,
allows any student attending a "persistently dangerous" public
school to transfer to a "safe" school in that district. In
addition, any student who falls prey to a "violent criminal
offense" at school may transfer.

However, the law does not clearly define "persistently
dangerous," leaving some school officials uneasy with the
provision.

"I have some real misgivings about this," John H. Weicker, the
security director for the 32,000-student Fort Wayne, Ind., school
district, told Education Week. "If you think this is going to
cause [school] people to want to report their [crime] incidences,
then you're nuts, because this is going to have the opposite
effect."
________
SOURCES:
Education Week, "Unsafe Label Will Trigger School Choice,"
Oct. 23, 2002
http://www.edweek.org/ew/ewstory.cfm?slug=08unsafe.h22

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "The Case for Choice in
Schooling," Jan. 2001
http://www.mackinac.org/article.aspx?ID=3236


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WATKINS BATTLES ENGLER OVER DEPT. OF ED. POSITIONS
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LANSING, Mich. - State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom
Watkins is taking on Gov. John Engler over the governor's refusal
to fill 45 federally funded positions in the Michigan Department
of Education.

Watkins wants to use the money - about $2.5 million - to hire
staff to help the state administer federal grants and oversee the
new federal No Child Left Behind Act, T.J. Bucholz, Watkins'
spokesman, told the Detroit Free Press. The No Child Left Behind
Act calls for sanctions on schools if they fail to meet testing
and other standards.

A spokeswoman for Engler said the money doesn't have to be used
for jobs, and the governor is considering putting the revenue
into classrooms instead.

"Do we use this federal funding to put more money in the
classroom, or do we use the federal funding to put more jobs into
the Department of Education?" Susan Shafer asked the Free Press.
_______
SOURCES:
Detroit Free Press, "School chief battles Engler," Oct. 24, 2002
http://www.freep.com/news/education/dboard24_20021024.htm


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DETROIT SCHOOLS' OVERTIME COSTS BALLOON
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DETROIT, Mich. - Detroit Public Schools spent $14.8 million last
fiscal year on employee overtime pay - $2.5 million more than the
previous year despite goals to improve district efficiency and
reduce overtime.

Staff layoffs in custodial and similar departments, a hiring
freeze, and the start of all-day kindergarten programs
contributed to the bulk of the overtime pay. The district had
budgeted $12 million for that expense in its 2001-02 budget.

According to district records, 98 employees earned more than
$20,000 each in overtime, and 348 earned more than $10,000.
Almost all of those were building maintenance engineers,
custodians, and trades workers such as plumbers and painters.

Robert Moore, Detroit schools' deputy chief executive, said the
layoffs were a cost-effective way to avoid a projected $70
million deficit in the budget year that ended June 30.
_______
SOURCE:
Detroit News, "Detroit schools' overtime balloons," Oct. 24, 2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/schools/0210/24/a01-621120.htm


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GUBERNATORIAL ELECTION DEBATE: PROP A, EDUCATION PLANS
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LANSING, Mich. - Michigan's gubernatorial candidates tout
education as a top issue, but many education officials say their
education platforms lack detail and substance.

"Both have said education is their top priority, but neither one
has said where the money's going to come from to pay for their
good ideas," Justin King, executive director of the Michigan
Association of School Boards, told The Detroit News.

"There's nothing you could violently disagree with. But I also
didn't find them very exciting. I suspect they recognize the
state is facing a tough revenue situation, so they didn't come up
with major initiatives," C. Philip Kearney, retired education
professor and school finance expert from the University of
Michigan, told The News.

Proposal A, Michigan's landmark 1994 school finance reform, is a
primary education issue in the campaign.

Posthumus' "keep the promise of Proposal A" mantra assures voters
that he will not allow local property tax hikes for school
funding.

Granholm initially said she would tweak Proposal A, but later
said that doesn't mean increasing property taxes. Granholm says
she wants to find a way to help districts by changing the current
funding formula.
_______
SOURCES:
Detroit News, "Critics: Education plans lack initiative,"
Oct. 23, 2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/politics/0210/23/c01-619888.htm

Detroit News, "Does Granholm's nonvote on Prop A matter?"
Oct. 26, 2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/editorial/0210/29/d07-622628.htm

Detroit Free Press, "Local Comment: Election 2002," Oct. 28, 2002
http://www.freep.com/voices/columnists/eteach28_20021028.htm


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STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION CANDIDATES PROFILED
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LANSING, Mich. - Voters will see a total of 11 names on the
ballot for two, eight-year State Board of Education seats.

The Board will remain in Democratic control, since none of the
terms of the five Democrats on the eight-member board are
expiring.

Candidates include:

Current State Board Member Michael Warren, R-Beverly Hills, is an
attorney who has used his board influence to advance computer
literacy and improve chronically under-achieving schools.

Carolyn L. Curtin, a homemaker from Evart who has served on
school boards for more than two decades, is the second GOP
candidate.

The Democrats are Elizabeth W. Bauer, a long-time special
education advocate, and Nancy L. Quarles, a three-term state
representative from Southfield.

Also on the ballot are Libertarians Diane Barnes of Eastpointe
and Scotty Boman of St. Clair Shores; Green Party candidates Kyle
Moxley of Rochester and Karen Anne Shelley of Southfield; U.S.
Taxpayers Party candidates Judith Czak of Woodhaven and Ron
Monroe of Clarkston and Natural Law Party candidate Michael A.
Kitchen of St. Clair Shores.

Board members set policy that can affect all public schools in
Michigan. The board is also responsible for hiring the state's
school chief, a job now filled by Superintendent of Public
Instruction Tom Watkins.
_______
SOURCES:
Booth Newspapers, "State Board of Ed race draws a big field,"
Oct. 26, 2002
http://www.mlive.com/news/statewide/index.ssf?/xml/story.ssf/html_standa
rd.xsl?/base/news-0/1035218402213290.xml

Detroit Free Press, "Candidates for state office," Aug. 27, 2002
http://www.freep.com/news/politics/blist27_20020827.htm

Detroit Free Press, "School Board," Oct. 16, 2002
http://www.freep.com/voices/editorials/eed16_20021016.htm

Detroit News, "For State Board of Ed," Oct. 18, 2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/editorial/0210/18/a10-615408.htm


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MORE PROPOSAL 4 DEBATE
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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 to fill
newspapers as Election Day draws near.

Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson and Detroit Mayor
Kwame Kilpatrick are among the critics of the plan. Opponents say
the proposal tampers with the fundamental law of the state - the
Constitution - and threatens state Merit Scholarships, which are
currently funded by the tobacco settlement funds.

Hospitals and other healthcare organizations are among the
supporters of the plan; they say the tobacco settlement money
should go toward health-related causes.
_______
SOURCES:
Detroit News, "Proposal 4 Language is deceptive," Oct. 27, 2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/editorial/0210/29/a18-623053.htm

Detroit Free Press, "Proposal 4: Indebted hospitals pump cash
into race," Oct. 29, 2002
http://www.freep.com/news/politics/smoke29_20021029.htm

Detroit Free Press, "Proposal 4: Teens hit political hot spot,"
Oct. 26, 2002
http://www.freep.com/news/education/school26_20021026.htm

Detroit Free Press, "Merit scholars at record number,"
Oct. 24, 2002
http://www.freep.com/news/education/meap24_20021024.htm

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



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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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