MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST
Volume V, No. 9
March 4, 2003
http://www.educationreport.org/pubs/med/

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Contents of this issue:
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* State law gives financial incentive for district consolidation
* Detroit Public Schools denies misspending Title I grant money
* Plymouth-Canton Community Schools restricts students' wartime
  television access
* Legislators withdraw alternate school budget-cutting options
* Kilpatrick criticizes proposed cuts in federal after-school
  programs
* Court allows controversial Pledge of Allegiance ruling to stand

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STATE LAW GIVES FINANCIAL INCENTIVE FOR DISTRICT CONSOLIDATION
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LANSING, Mich. – A little-known state law allows districts to
consolidate and collect potentially large sums of money from the
state school aid fund, which may help financially troubled
districts. As school districts brace for state budget cuts, they
are looking for additional sources of funding and ways to reduce
spending, both of which can result from consolidation.

If districts consolidate (combine multiple districts to form a
new district) or annex (add one or more districts to a current
district), state law gives the newly formed district the higher
of the merging districts' per-pupil foundation grants plus $50
per student, up to an $8,000 maximum. "Our goal [with this law]
is to help the schools save money," Sen. Ron Jelinek (R-Three
Oaks), chairman of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on
school aid, told Booth Newspapers.

Some districts are discussing consolidating. Traverse City and
Northport schools may consolidate, bringing the newly formed
district $14 million in new money. Other districts considering
consolidation are Manistee and Onekema districts, and Republic of
Michigamme and N.I.C.E. districts in the Upper Peninsula. The
state superintendent of education and local district residents
must approve both consolidations and annexations.
_______
SOURCES:
Booth Newspapers, "Legislature rewards schools that consolidate,"
Mar. 3, 2003
http://www.mlive.com/news/statewide/index.ssf?/xml/story.ssf/html_standard.xsl?/base/news-1/1046455803192380.xml

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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DETROIT PUBLIC SCHOOLS DENIES MISSPENDING TITLE I GRANT MONEY
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DETROIT, Mich. – Larry Nelson, an independent consultant for
Detroit Public Schools says that the district is misspending
about $100 million in federal Title I grant money. Title I
funding is to be spent on academic programs for low-income
children; districts receive the funding based on the number of
free and reduced-price lunches they serve, which is about 70
percent of Detroit's student body.

Districts are required to hold annual meetings to inform parents
how Title I money will be spent, according to Nelson. The
district recently eliminated the meetings, saying that under the
No Child Left Behind Act of 2002, the federal government will
scrutinize local Title I spending, eliminating the need for local
parents to be involved in determining how that money is spent.

A December 3, 2002, memo from a Detroit Schools administrator
instructed principals to hold their Title I parent meetings or
"risk putting Title I funds in jeopardy," according to the
Detroit Free Press. Nelson hasn't said how the funds allegedly
are being misspent, but confirms that representatives from the
U.S. Department of Education will arrive later this month to
investigate. The district must hold the meetings, he told the
Free Press, because "That money is for the children, and if they
were spending like they were supposed to, the district would be
in 90-percent better shape."
_______
SOURCES:
Detroit Free Press, "Grants under scrutiny in Detroit,"
Feb. 25, 2003
http://www.freep.com/news/education/title25_20030225.htm

Michigan Education Report, "Federal 'Ed-Flex' rules could free
schools from red tape," Winter 2002
http://www.mackinac.org/4079

Michigan Education Report, "Financial scandals exposed in
Michigan school districts," Fall 2002
http://www.educationreport.org/4835


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PLYMOUTH-CANTON COMMUNITY SCHOOLS RESTRICTS STUDENTS' WARTIME
TELEVISION ACCESS
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CANTON, Mich. – Plymouth-Canton schools will not allow students
to watch live news in classrooms in the event of war, reports the
district.

"My concern is that the news coverage is going to be more graphic
than it's ever been," Plymouth-Canton Superintendent James Ryan
told the Detroit News. "I don't want live coverage in case
something happens that we can't control."

Some students, parents and teachers disagree with the decision.
"They're being awfully protective, especially when we expect an
18-year-old to go to war," commented Canton resident and high
school parent Heidi Wong. Salem High School teacher Bill Boyd
agrees. "Part of our jobs as teachers is to give students
information. They need to find out what is fact and what is not."
______
SOURCE:
Detroit News, "Schools won't see war on television,"
Feb. 25, 2003
http://www.detnews.com/2003/schools/0302/25/c01-93543.htm


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LEGISLATORS WITHDRAW ALTERNATE SCHOOL BUDGET-CUTTING OPTIONS
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LANSING, Mich. – A lack of time and votes compelled state
lawmakers to withdraw legislation that would alter Gov. Jennifer
Granholm's planned school aid cuts that some legislators say
reduces funding for poor, rural districts more than their
wealthier counterparts.

The governor's plan will reduce education funding by 1 percent
across the board, which includes an average $56 per-pupil cut and
a 3.8 percent cut in funding not protected by state law. Some
districts will not see cuts while others stand to lose up to $140
per student. The alternative cut offered by Sens. Ron Jelinek (R-
Three Oaks) and Alan Cropsey (R-DeWitt) would have reduced school
funding by $69 per pupil for every district.

Their bill, Senate Bill 192, was received by the Senate
Appropriations Committee last week but lacked support to carry it
to the Senate floor. State law allows the governor to make a pro-
rated budget cut unless the legislature passes a different plan.
_______
SOURCES:
Booth Newspapers, "Legislators back off from tweaking Granholm's
school cuts," Feb. 26, 2003
http://www.mlive.com/news/statewide/index.ssf?/xml/story.ssf/html_standard.xsl?/base/news-1/1046216404284340.xml

MichiganVotes.org, Senate Bill 192
http://www.michiganvotes.org/15975

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Michigan's Budget Challenge"
http://www.mackinac.org/4964


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KILPATRICK CRITICIZES PROPOSED CUTS IN FEDERAL AFTER-SCHOOL
PROGRAMS
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DETROIT, Mich. – Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick criticized the
Bush administration's recommendation that federally-funded after-
school programs be cut by $400 million next year, a 40 percent
reduction in funding.

"It seems that President George W. Bush has left behind his
commitment to 'leave no child behind,'" Kilpatrick wrote in the
Detroit Free Press. "Evidence shows that cities in which 50
percent of school-age children participate in after-school
programs are five times more likely to be healthy cities," he
argued. Kilpatrick began a program last year dubbed "Mayor's
Time," an after-school program created to keep children off the
streets after school hours.

The proposed cuts follow a report released last week by the U.S.
Department of Education which found that students in after-school
programs were more likely to come in contact with drug dealers
and other delinquents and also had a greater tendency to have
behavioral problems.

Judy Samelson, executive director of the Afterschool Alliance, a
D.C. nonprofit dedicated to providing services for after-school
programs, dismissed the report in a Washington Times article. "It
is terribly disappointing that the report highlights only
negative findings and that the Bush administration is using this
study to justify a deep, indefensible cut in the federal after-
school program."

After the 40 percent cut, after-school programs will receive $600
million in federal funding during the 2004 fiscal year, which
begins October 1.
_______
SOURCES:
Detroit Free Press, "Kids will be left behind," Feb. 28, 2003
http://www.freep.com/voices/columnists/ekilp28_20030228.htm

Washington Times, "After-school programs don't teach,"
Feb. 19, 2003
http://www.washingtontimes.com/national/20030219-192903.htm

Department of Education, "When Schools Stay Open Late: The
National Evaluation of the 21st-Century Community Learning
Centers Program," January 2003
http://www.ed.gov/pubs/21cent/firstyear/


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COURT ALLOWS CONTROVERSIAL PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE RULING TO STAND
---------------------------------------------------------------
SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. – The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th
Circuit upheld last year's controversial ruling that daily
recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools is
unconstitutional.

A three-judge panel from the appeals court was divided 2-to-1
over the issue. The panel upheld the original ruling that
disallows schools from conducting daily flag salutes and
recitation of the pledge. However, the panel stuck down the lower
court's ruling that the 1954 law that added the words "Under God"
to the Pledge was unconstitutional.

California Gov. Gray Davis (D) disagreed with the ruling, saying
in a statement, "At the start of every court session, the Supreme
Court invokes God's blessing. So does the Senate and House of
Representatives. Surely the Supreme Court will permit
schoolchildren to invoke God's name while reciting the Pledge of
Allegiance." The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals hears cases
originating in California and eight other western states.
_______
SOURCES:
Washington Post, "Pledge of Allegiance Ruling Is Upheld,"
Mar. 1, 2003
http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn?pagename=article&contentId=A18564-2003Feb28

Los Angeles Times, "Controversial Ruling on Pledge Reaffirmed,"
Mar. 1, 2003
http://www.latimes.com/news/education/la-me-pledge1mar01001440,1,5193435.story?coll=la%2Dnews%2Dlearning


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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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