MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST
Volume V, No. 7
Feb. 18, 2003
http://www.educationreport.org/pubs/med/

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Contents of this issue:
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* Michigan schools consider four-day weeks
* Kilpatrick replaces Detroit school board
* Fight for private-school scholarships brews in Washington, D.C.
* Portage Public Schools privatizes driver training, saves money
* Canton subdivisions petition to switch school districts
* Commentary: Parental control key to fixing schools

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MICHIGAN SCHOOLS CONSIDER FOUR-DAY WEEKS
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LANSING, Mich. – To save money, some school districts are
considering cutting the school week from five days to four. "I
think it can work in various communities. I think we should
review the issue on a case-by-case basis," state Superintendent
Tom Watkins told the Ann Arbor News.

Currently, state law requires that students attend school at
least 180 days per year, which consists of 36 weeks of the
customary Monday through Friday schedule. However, school
districts may obtain a release from the state superintendent's
office to waive that requirement and decrease the number of
school days per year.

The Republic-Michigamme school district did just that last year,
obtaining the necessary waiver to lower the number of
instructional days to 146. However, state teacher pension plans
require that teachers work a five-day week. A Michigan House bill
introduced last month by Rep. Stephen Adamini (D-Marquette), HB
4114, loosens that provision, requiring only 136 days of work to
qualify for a pension.
_______
SOURCES:
Ann Arbor News, "Short on funds, schools consider 4-day week,"
Feb. 13, 2003
http://www.mlive.com/news/aanews/index.ssf?/xml/story.ssf/html_standard.xsl?/base/news-3/104517787259160.xml

Kalamazoo Gazette, "Schools consider four-day weeks,"
Feb. 11, 2003
http://www.mlive.com/news/kzgazette/index.ssf?/xml/story.ssf/html_standard.xsl?/base/news-0/104498056833710.xml

MichiganVotes.org, House Bill 4114
http://www.michiganvotes.org/14889


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KILPATRICK REPLACES DETROIT SCHOOL BOARD
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DETROIT, Mich. – Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick replaced almost
all the members of the Detroit Public Schools reform board last
week, leaving only one appointee from the previous
administration.

The reform board was established by Detroit's previous mayor,
Dennis Archer, under a 1999 law signed by former Gov. John
Engler. The law allowed Archer to take over the poorly performing
Detroit Public Schools and implement a seven member "reform
board" composed of mayoral appointees and the state
superintendent or his designee; the latter is a permanent member
of the reform board who holds veto power. This board replaces the
elected school board.

Kilpatrick has required that all new board members be residents
of Detroit, except the state superintendent. An EPIC/MRA poll
shows that 49 percent of parents are less likely to send their
children to Detroit schools now than a year ago.
_______
SOURCES:
Detroit Free Press, "Detroit school board is replaced,"
Feb. 13, 2003
http://www.freep.com/news/education/board13_20030213.htm

Michigan Education Report, "Compromise Gives Archer Control of
Detroit Schools," Spring 1999
http://www.mackinac.org/1678


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FIGHT FOR PRIVATE-SCHOOL SCHOLARSHIPS BREWS IN WASHINGTON, D.C.
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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Federal legislation to introduce a scholarship
program in the District of Columbia is creating a rift between
several top District officials and the congressman that sponsored
the legislation.

H.R. 684, sponsored by Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Arizona), creates a
scholarship authority in the District of Columbia that gives
children from low-income families scholarships of $3,750 to
$5,000 to go to the school of their choice, including private
schools.

However, some District officials are opposed to the idea of the
scholarship program, which some refer to as a voucher system.
"Vouchers ... could siphon off your most motivated families,
leaving behind the neediest kids, whose families don't have
enough motivation to go after the money and spend it properly,"
D.C. City Council member Sharon Ambrose told the Washington Post.
The U.S. Department of Education is in favor of the proposed
system; Education Secretary Roderick Paige said that the
scholarships would create a competitive environment, which is a
"necessary condition for authentic school reform."
_______
SOURCES:
Washington Times, "Get ready to rumble," Feb. 14, 2003
http://www.washtimes.com/op-ed/20030214-39595696.htm

Washington Post, "Bush Aide Says Voucher Offer Would Require
D.C.'s Agreement," Feb. 4, 2003
http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn?pagename=article&contentId=A20952-2003Feb3

Thomas.loc.gov, House Resolution 684
http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d108:h.r.684:

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "The Case for School Choice,"
November 2001
http://www.mackinac.org/3850


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PORTAGE PUBLIC SCHOOLS PRIVATIZES DRIVER TRAINING, SAVES MONEY
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PORTAGE, Mich. – Portage Public Schools terminated its driver
education program last Monday and turned to two private firms to
take over the service. The district lost $45,000 last year from
its driver education program.

The two companies, E-Z Way Driver Training, Inc. and Sears
Authorized Driving School, now offer driver training at the
district's high schools year-round. The district previously
offered driver education only during two sessions in the summer.
In addition, the cost per student is $200, which is 75 dollars
less than the cost the district would have spent in a planned
break-even program run by the schools.
_______
SOURCES:
Kalamazoo Gazette, "Portage schools passing off driver training,"
Feb. 11, 2003
http://www.mlive.com/news/kzgazette/index.ssf?/xml/story.ssf/html_standard.xsl?/base/news-4/104498063933710.xml

Portage Public Schools, "Driver Education Turned Over to Private
Firms," February 2003
http://www.portageps.org/Press/drivered.htm

Michigan Privatization Report, "Kelly Gives Green Light to
Driving Schools," November 1998
http://www.mackinac.org/808


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CANTON SUBDIVISIONS PETITION TO SWITCH SCHOOL DISTRICTS
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CANTON TOWNSHIP, Mich. – Residents of two subdivisions currently
in the Van Buren school district filed a petition last Friday
with the intermediate school district to change the borders of
the adjacent Plymouth-Canton district to encompass their
subdivisions. Ninety percent of homeowners in those subdivisions
have signed a petition to switch districts, greater than the 66%
percent required by state law to enable such a change.

Many parents in the subdivisions say they want to switch
districts because the Plymouth-Canton district outperforms Van
Buren. MEAP and ACT scores in Canton are higher, and parents say
the district "outshines" Van Buren.

State law outlines the process for such a transfer of territory;
no less than 2/3 of property owners in the subdivisions must sign
a petition in favor of the action and file it with the local
intermediate school district. The intermediate district then has
60 days to make a final decision on the transfer of land to
another district.

According to residents, 51 of the 69 school-aged children in the
subdivisions don't attend Van Buren schools. Instead they attend
area private and charter schools.
_______
SOURCES:
Detroit News, "2 Canton subdivisions want school switch,"
Feb. 14, 2003
http://www.detnews.com/2003/schools/0302/14/d01-84881.htm

Michigan Education Report, "What Are Intermediate School
Districts?" Winter 2002
http://www.mackinac.org/2709

MichiganLegislature.org, Michigan Compiled Laws section 380.951
http://www.michiganlegislature.org/mileg.asp?page=getObject&objName=mcl-380-951


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COMMENTARY: PARENTAL CONTROL KEY TO FIXING SCHOOLS
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DETROIT, Mich. – More government isn't the key to fixing schools,
writes Nolan Finley, editorial page editor of the Detroit News.
President Bush, Gov. Granholm, and Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick
all highlighted education as a top priority for their
administrations, remarked Finley, but those aren't the people
who can solve the problems in education today.

"Government services like education work best when they are
delivered by government units closest and most accountable to
consumers of those services," wrote Finley. Local problems cannot
be solved by passing authority to higher levels of government and
will only serve to isolate citizens from the process of improving
schools, he concluded.
_______
SOURCES:
Detroit News, "Beware those who would fix schools by taking
control away from parents," Feb. 16, 2003
http://www.detnews.com/2003/editorial/0302/16/a13-85786.htm

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


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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 Neil Block at
[mailto:med@educationreport.org]

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