MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST
Volume IV, No. 47
Nov. 26, 2002
http://www.educationreport.org/pubs/med/


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Contents of this issue:
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* Engler's education legacy: Proposal A
* Group petitions U.S. Supreme Court over state takeover of
Inkster schools
* Detroit schools lose students, funding
* State Board of Education lowers bar for school failure
* Commentary: Freedom Fund provides choices for parents, children
* NOTICE: 6 Habits of Fiscally Responsible Public School
Districts Forum
* NOTICE: Fall 2002 issue of Michigan Education Report released


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ENGLER'S EDUCATION LEGACY: PROPOSAL A
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DETROIT, Mich. - John Engler says his "most fulfilling" moment as
governor was snookering the Democrats and leading the drive
toward voter approval of Proposal A, which reduced property taxes
and reformed school finance.

This comment is among revelations in an authorized Engler
biography, "John Engler: The Man, the Leader & the Legacy," by
his speechwriter, Gleaves Whitney, that rolls off the press
Wednesday and goes on sale Friday.

In the book, Michigan's departing governor says the Democrats
fell into their own trap in 1994, when U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow,
D-Mich., who at the time was a state senator and candidate for
governor, sponsored an amendment to eliminate school property
taxes but offered no alternative funding source. The Democrats
never thought Engler would go for it.

But, in a series of calculated maneuvers, Republicans did support
the plan, and devised a system to provide a per-pupil funding
directly from the state to schools, a change from the system at
the time, which provided most school funding from local property
taxes.
_______
SOURCES:
Detroit News, "How Engler snookered Dems," Nov. 26, 2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/politics/0211/26/a01-20817.htm

Michigan Education Report, "The Engler Education Legacy,"
Fall 2002
http://www.educationreport.org/pubs/mer/article.aspx?ID=4847


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GROUP PETITIONS U.S. SUPREME COURT OVER STATE TAKEOVER OF INKSTER
SCHOOLS
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LANSING, Mich. - A group that has constantly protested the 1999
state takeover of the Detroit Public Schools is now pushing for
the U.S. Supreme Court to hear its case.

Five residents and 10 community organizations have sued the
school district, former Mayor Dennis Archer and Gov. John Engler.
They lost at the federal appeals court level and want the high
court to take the case. Representatives of the group announced
details Monday of a petition filed Nov. 8 with the high court.
The group also threatened to demonstrate in Lansing in coming
weeks amid speculation that Michigan Senate Majority Leader Dan
DeGrow, R-Port Huron, a key figure behind the takeover, will try
to get the lame-duck Legislature to extend the takeover beyond
2004.

The group says the takeover is unfair, since board members are
appointed instead of elected by the general public.
So far, the group has lost two court cases in which it alleged
that the takeover was illegal. It charged that legislators
created a law that only applies to Detroit while denying a
majority of the state's black population the right to vote for
school board members.
_______
SOURCE:
Detroit Free Press, "School takeover case taken higher,"
Nov. 26, 2002
http://www.freep.com/news/education/dps26_20021126.htm


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DETROIT SCHOOLS LOSE STUDENTS, FUNDING
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DETROIT, Mich. - Detroit Public Schools stands to lose at least
$16.3 million in state funding this year due to declining
enrollment, state and local school officials confirmed Wednesday.
Detroit schools now enroll 157,631 students, or 2,951 fewer than
the district reported last fall, according to the state-run
Center for Educational Performance and Information.
The district will lose about $7,100 in state funding per student,
or $20.9 million based on the decrease of 2,951 students.
However, district officials estimate that the actual difference
between this year's enrollment and last year's is about 2,300
students, for a loss of about $16.3 million in state funding.
Schools Chief Executive Officer Kenneth Burnley, said the decline
was less than anticipated, likely due to efforts to draw new
students to the district and compete with charter schools. In the
spring, the district projected it would lose 3,300 students in
2002.

"When I arrived (in 2000), we were losing 4,500 to 4,800
students. Last year we projected to lose 5,800 and we cut that,"
He told the Detroit Free Press. "We're moving in the right
direction."
________
SOURCE:
Detroit Free Press, "City loses students; funding at stake,"
Nov. 21, 2002
http://www.freep.com/news/education/skuls21_20021121.htm


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STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION LOWERS BAR FOR SCHOOL FAILURE
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LANSING, Mich. - The state Board of Education lowered school
grading standards this month, changing the definition of a
failing school.

The decision comes on the heels of a federal report which showed
over 1,000 Michigan schools "failing" by state standards. The
board justifies its decision as an attempt to align state
accreditation standards with new federal education laws.
Under the new standards, up to 15 percent of the state's
elementary and middle schools could still be labeled as failing
this school year.

A school will be considered failing if it's MEAP achievement test
scores fall below the 20th percentile in Michigan. But the
standards can change yearly based on student performance. Schools
could know as early as January or February whether they failed to
meet the standard and are on a state "watch list."
_______
SOURCES:
Detroit Free Press, "Measure of failing schools altered,"
Nov. 15, 2002
http://www.freep.com/news/education/meap15_20021115.htm

Detroit News, "Schools get new grading system," Nov. 15, 2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/schools/0211/15/d01-11409.htm


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COMMENTARY: FREEDOM FUND PROVIDES CHOICES FOR PARENTS, CHILDREN
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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - The Education Freedom Fund (EFF), a Grand
Rapids-based non-profit organization, is responding to parent
demand for educational options and providing scholarships for
low-income Michigan students to attend their school of choice.
A recent Detroit News commentary by editorial writer Bill Johnson
profiles the group, saying EFF chairman Dick DeVos is committed
to providing educational options to children in failing schools.
"I think it's tragic that kids whose parents, by virtue of
economics, don't have options and are being told where to send
their children," DeVos, who helps finance the group with more
than $1.4 million a year out of his own pocket, told Johnson.
"I'm indignant. This is an injustice that I can't stand by and
accept."

The group awards $1,000 scholarships to about 1,400 families
annually and has a waiting list of close to 5,000 parents seeking
scholarships for their children. Recipient parents are required
to pay at least $500-worth of their child's tuition and must
provide transportation to the new school.
_______
SOURCE:
Detroit News, "Freedom Fund fights for school choice,"
Nov. 22, 2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/editorial/0211/22/a11-17072.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 Six 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 Six Habits of Fiscally Responsible School Districts Forum

Dec. 11, 2002

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

9:00 AM - 10:30 AM

SEATING IS LIMITED

PLEASE RSVP BY DEC. 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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