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THE NEXT ISSUE OF MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST WILL BE SENT JAN. 7.
HAPPY HOLIDAYS!
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MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST
Volume IV, No. 51
Dec. 23, 2002
http://www.educationreport.org/pubs/med/

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Contents of this issue:
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* Senate may vote on charter school plan in late December
* Oakland school board to inform public on school finance investigation
* Massive fraud alleged in Washington teacher union funds
* State graduation rate at 80 percent
* Drop out age debated
* Pennsylvania kindergartners suspended for behavior problems

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SENATE MAY VOTE ON CHARTER SCHOOL PLAN IN LATE DECEMBER
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LANSING, Mich. – The state Senate plans to reconvene for an extra
session on Dec. 30 to try to add 15 charter high schools to
Detroit over the next five years.

The bill, passed by the state House of Representatives late
Friday, allows Detroit's mayor to grant charters for three
schools each year for the next 5 years. The bill also includes
$7.5 million for Detroit schools to help offset any losses caused
by declining enrollment.

The Detroit News calls the plan "half-baked," saying it could
lead to political opportunism and should be replaced by a
statewide charter plan – rather than a quick end-of-session deal.
"Parents in Detroit understandably want more options – and they
should have them. So should parents elsewhere in Michigan," a
recent Detroit News editorial said. "But they also need
assurances that these are schools of quality, not political
opportunity."
_______
SOURCES:
Detroit Free Press, "Charter schools," Dec. 22, 2002
http://www.freep.com/voices/editorials/echart22_20021222.htm

Detroit News, "Senate may return for charter school vote," Dec.
20, 2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/schools/0212/20/d01-40968.htm

Detroit News, "Renew Efforts to Create More Charter Schools,"
Dec. 18, 2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/editorial/0212/20/a16-38728.htm


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OAKLAND SCHOOL BOARD TO INFORM PUBLIC ON SCHOOL FINANCE INVESTIGATION
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OAKLAND COUNTY, Mich. – The Oakland Schools Board of Education
plans to reveal findings of a six-month investigation into
complaints about the district's business practices during a
public meeting Jan. 7.

In June, the board hired an accounting firm after top-level
employees complained about district business practices, including
the funding of its new $29.5-million administration building.
Oakland Schools is the county's intermediate school district.
_______
SOURCES:
Detroit Free Press, "Oakland Schools board to get public up to
speed on inquiry," Dec. 23, 2002
http://www.freep.com/news/education/nois23_20021223.htm

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "The Six Habits of Fiscally
Responsible Public School Districts," December 2002
http://www.mackinac.org/4891


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MASSIVE FRAUD ALLEGED IN TEACHER UNION FUNDS
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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Federal investigators are accusing former top
officials of the Washington Teachers' Union of using more than $2
million of members' dues to buy themselves luxury items,
including a $20,000 fur coat and a $57,000 Tiffany silver
service.

The FBI, Internal Revenue Service, Labor Department and District
of Columbia inspector general are conducting the investigation.
It began after the parent American Federation of Teachers began
auditing the local union's books in response to complaints about
members being overcharged dues.

The document alleges that union officials used union dues to buy
luxury items such as custom-made clothing and shoes and conspired
with relatives to spend and launder union funds for their
personal use.

Two union officials involved in the case have resigned their
posts and another was suspended, the union told CNN.
_______
SOURCE:
CNN.com, "Massive fraud alleged in teachers' union funds," Dec.
22, 2002
http://www.cnn.com/2002/US/South/12/22/teachers.union.ap/index.html


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STATE GRADUATION RATE AT 80 PERCENT
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DETROIT, Mich. – Numbers reported recently by the state
Department of Education show the statewide graduation rate for
public school districts at 80.9 percent in 2000-01, up 1.6
percent from the year before.

However, large school districts in Michigan saw graduation rates
drop.

Lansing numbers showed a lower graduation rate than some other
districts of similar size, with the district graduation rate
dropping about 6 percent. The Flint and Saginaw school districts
also saw decreased graduation rates.

Other results released from the Department of Education showed
only thirty-eight of Michigan's 554 school districts had
graduation rates of 100 percent.
_______
SOURCE:
Lansing State Journal, "Lansing schools grad rate falls 6.1%,"
Dec. 18, 2002
http://www.lsj.com/news/schools/021218_graduation_1a.html


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DROP OUT AGE DEBATED
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DETROIT, Mich. – A recent Detroit News editorial calls on state
officials to increase the high school drop out age from 16 to 18.
Both Gov.-elect Jennifer Granholm and Superintendent of Public
Instruction Tom Watkins have encouraged the change.

The News editorial said the change would ensure that young people
graduate, or at least stay in school long enough to gain the
minimum academic skills they'll need to survive.

However, opponents of the change say it will not guarantee that
students who have fallen behind in school will gain the skills
needed to compete in the job market, and alternative education
programs could cost the already-stretched state budget more
money.
_______
SOURCES:
Detroit Free Press, "Dropping Out," Dec. 22, 2002
http://www.freep.com/voices/editorials/edrop22_20021222.htm

Detroit News, "Ohio firm succeeds with new ways of educating
dropouts," Dec. 23, 2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/editorial/0212/23/a15-41718.htm

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


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PENNSYLVANIA KINDERGARTNERS SUSPENDED FOR BEHAVIOR PROBLEMS
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PHILADELPHIA, Penn. – A report this week that 33 kindergartners
had been suspended from Philadelphia schools this year under a
tough new discipline policy has brought strong reactions from
parent groups and advocates for children, who say such
suspensions could traumatize young students.

"It's almost like they've given up on the children," said Wendell
A. Harris, chairman of safety and discipline for the school
district's parents' council.

The discipline policy was imposed this fall by Paul G. Vallas,
the new leader of Philadelphia schools. It calls for principals
to report all "serious incidents" and to apply appropriate
remedies. The policy is intended to bring safety and order to
schools that have been beset for years by chaos and violence.
The district's reports indicate that the suspended kindergartners
included a student who stabbed a classmate with a pencil and a
girl who bit her teacher's hand and kicked her.

The suspensions all involved children who hurt other children or
school employees, school officials said.

District officials said the increase in suspensions resulted from
an increase in reporting of incidents, not any significant change
in children's behavior.
_______
SOURCE:
New York Times, "Critics Attack Suspension of 33 Philadelphia
Kindergartners," Dec. 14, 2002
http://www.nytimes.com/2002/12/16/education/16KIND.html


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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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