MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST
Volume IV, No. 46
Nov. 19, 2002
http://www.educationreport.org/pubs/med/


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Contents of this issue:
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* COMMENTARIES: Tax credits vs. vouchers for education
* State to grade safety of schools
* Vouchers for special education
* Ann Arbor school board violates Open Meetings Act
* Detroit special education class crowding eased
* NOTICE: 6 Habits of Fiscally Responsible Public School Districts Forum
* NOTICE: Fall 2002 issue of Michigan Education Report released


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COMMENTARIES: TAX CREDITS VS. VOUCHERS FOR EDUCATION
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OAKLAND, Calif. - In a recent issue of The Independent Review, a
publication of the California-based think tank The Independent
Institute, commentary authors Joseph Bast and Andrew Coulson
discussed the merits of educational tax credits and vouchers.

Coulson argued that tax credits foster educational excellence
without threatening the integrity of private schools via
government encroachment; while, they also transform the status of
education from that of an "entitlement" funded by taxpayers to
that of a service contracted for by parents.

Bast argues that vouchers would introduce more competition into a
stagnant school system, and schools could choose to accept the
vouchers only under acceptable terms.
_______
SOURCES:
The Independent Review, "Giving Credit Where It's Due: Why Tax
Credits Are Better Than Vouchers," Volume VII, Number 2, Fall 2002
http://www.independent.org/tii/media/pdf/tir72coulson.pdf

The Independent Review, "Why Conservatives and Libertarians
Should Support School Vouchers," Volume VII, Number 2, Fall 2002
http://www.independent.org/tii/media/pdf/tir72bast.pdf

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "With Clear Eyes, Sincere
Hearts and Open Minds," July 2002
http://www.mackinac.org/article.aspx?ID=4447


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STATE TO GRADE SAFETY OF SCHOOLS
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LANSING, Mich. - The Michigan Department of Education has created
an advisory committee to help come up with a fair definition for
"safe schools."

Prompted by new federal legislation that requires states to
identify schools that are persistently dangerous, the state
Department of Education gathered approximately 40 people -
including parents and community leaders - to discuss and develop
guidelines for evaluating school safety.

The persistently dangerous schools requirement is a small
provision of the federal No Child Left Behind Act that instituted
broad changes for U.S. schools.

If a school is labeled unsafe, parents will be given the option
of transferring their children to a safer school in their
district or to a charter school. The same transfer option would
apply to any student who is a victim of a violent crime on school
grounds.

Each state will come up with its own definition, but it must be
in place by the 2003-04 school year. The new committee expects
to have a draft of safety guidelines ready for the state Board of
Education in December.
_______
SOURCE:
Detroit Free Press, "State is to grade safety of schools,"
Nov. 18, 2002
http://www.freep.com/news/education/nsafe18_20021118.htm


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VOUCHERS FOR SPECIAL EDUCATION
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BOSTON, Mass. - A bill being considered by the U.S. Congress
would allow the nation's 6.5 million special education students
to attend private schools with taxpayer-funded vouchers.

The bill, introduced by New Hampshire Republican Sen. Judd Gregg,
is similar to a program in Florida where parents are allowed to
send their children with disabilities to the private school of
their choice.

Studies show the Florida program has put pressure on public
schools to improve their services.
________
SOURCES:
Christian Science Monitor, "Voucher for Special Ed,"
Nov. 18, 2002
http://www.csmonitor.com/2002/1118/p08s02-comv.html

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


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ANN ARBOR SCHOOL BOARD VIOLATES OPEN MEETINGS ACT
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ANN ARBOR, Mich. - The Ann Arbor school board concluded Wednesday
that it violated the state Open Meetings law on Nov. 6 by holding
a closed-door session during which trustees, Superintendent Rossi
Ray-Taylor and the district's chief attorney discussed employment
contracts for several top administrators.

The Open Meetings Act requires most meetings of public bodies,
including school boards, to be open to the public.

After lengthy debate on the matter Wednesday, the Ann Arbor board
voted 7-2 to release most of the minutes from the closed session
as well as supporting documents that were discussed. The
documents include a salary study, amendments to two deputy
superintendents' contracts and a history of action and discussion
pertaining to administrators' contracts.

Trustees Karen Cross and Glenn Nelson voted against the motion,
saying the board should seek a legal opinion first on whether
there was a violation.

Trustee Bob Geier, who proposed the motion, told the Ann Arbor
News he researched the issue last week at the request of the
board's Governance and Policy Committee and concluded part of the
closed session "was contrary to the spirit and letter of the
Michigan Open Meetings Act."
_______
SOURCE:
Ann Arbor News, "Ann Arbor school board rules it violated Open
Meetings law," Nov. 14, 2002
http://www.mlive.com/news/aanews/index.ssf?/xml/story.ssf/
html_standard.xsl?/base/news-2/1037288435184770.xml


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DETROIT SPECIAL EDUCATION CLASS CROWDING EASED
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DETROIT, Mich. - Nearly two years after the start of a state
investigation into Detroit Public Schools' overcrowded special
education classes, more than 75 percent have the legally
acceptable number of students.

State law prohibits putting more than 15 learning-disabled or
mentally impaired students in a classroom at one time. A room of
emotionally impaired students cannot exceed 10.

In efforts to lower class sizes and provide better services to
the district's 19,000 special needs students, Detroit school
officials added 130 special education classrooms in September.

The school district didn't completely fix the problem because if
couldn't recruit enough teachers to fill the required 185 new
positions. School officials hope to hire another 40 special
education teachers, and 25 teacher aides, by the end of November
to get all classrooms in line with the law.
_______
SOURCE:
Detroit News, "Crowding eases for Detroit's special ed,"
Nov. 18, 2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/schools/0211/18/c01-13207.htm


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NOTICE: 6 HABITS OF FISCALLY RESPONSIBLE PUBLIC SCHOOL DISTRICTS FORUM
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The Mackinac Center for Public Policy cordially invites you to
attend a forum to discuss a forthcoming study, The 6 Habits of
Fiscally Responsible School Districts by Kirk A. Johnson, Ph.D.,
director of education policy, and Elizabeth H. Moser, education
research associate.

The forum will feature school officials and education experts
discussing ways districts can deal with school budget crunches
and operate more efficiently without cutting needed school
services or laying off teachers.

Make plans now to attend:

The 6 Habits of Fiscally Responsible School Districts Forum

December 11, 2002

Lansing Center - Governor's Room, 333 E. Michigan Ave., Lansing

9:00 AM - 10:30 AM

SEATING IS LIMITED

PLEASE RSVP BY DECEMBER 4, 2002. Call
989-631-0900 for more information.


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NOTICE: FALL 2002 ISSUE OF MICHIGAN EDUCATION REPORT RELEASED
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MIDLAND, Mich. - The Fall 2002 issue of Michigan Education
Report is hot off the presses!

Read Michigan Education Report online or look for your hard copy
in the mail.

Topics covered in the Fall 2002 issue:
* The No Child Left Behind Act
* School financial scandals
* Grand Rapids board opts out of school board associations
* The Engler education legacy
* Proposal A
* And much more!

View the Fall 2002 issue at:
http://www.educationreport.org/pubs/mer/

Subscribe to Michigan Education Report at:
http://www.educationreport.org/pubs/mer/subscribe.aspx


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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]

To subscribe, go to:
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