MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST
Volume V, No. 14
April 8, 2003
http://www.educationreport.org/pubs/med/

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Contents of this issue:
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* Senate favors August vote on retaining Detroit reform board
* Utica School District to accept nonresident students
* Affirmative action case may affect primary education
* National Education Association reports $47 million in political
  spending
* NYC Mayor Bloomberg's school curriculum reform meets strong
  criticism
* Notice: free seminar for economics teachers

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SENATE FAVORS AUGUST VOTE ON RETAINING DETROIT REFORM BOARD
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LANSING, Mich. – The Senate overwhelmingly approved a bill last
Thursday to allow Detroit voters to decide this August whether
they want to keep the current school reform board or replace it
with an elected board.

A 1999 law replaced Detroit Public School's elected school board
with a board appointed by the mayor plus a representative from
the state Board of Education. Proponents of the 1999 bill said
that the elected board was failing to meet basic educational
standards for the district.

Thursday's bill moves the planned vote up from the November 2004
election to this August. Critics of the bill say the move is a
ploy to keep Detroit voters away from next fall's elections so
Republican candidates will have an advantage at the polls.

The bill's sponsor, Sen. Martha Scott, a Democrat from Highland
Park, told the Detroit News that the board has "had enough time
to prove if this works for the people of Detroit."
_______
SOURCE:
Detroit News, "Senate votes to move up Detroit reform board
retention election," April 3, 2003
http://www.detnews.com/2003/politics/0304/03/politics-127489.htm


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UTICA SCHOOL DISTRICT TO ACCEPT NONRESIDENT STUDENTS
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UTICA, Mich. – The Utica school district, second-largest in
Michigan, will open some of its schools for the first time this
fall to nonresident students in an attempt to generate revenue
and help stem multi-million-dollar cutbacks that it must make
this year.

The district says it will accept students from a number of
surrounding counties to enroll in one of five elementary schools
or one junior high school in Utica; the rest of the district's
schools will remain closed to outside students. In addition to
the per-pupil aid the district will gain from each student it
attracts, nonresident students will have to pay tuition of $100
per year.

"This decision (to accept nonresidents) will keep our district
strong and viable, now and into the future," Utica Superintendent
Joan Sergent said. About 33,000 Michigan students attend schools
in districts other than the ones in which they live, according to
the Michigan Department of Education. But the 1996 law that
allowed cross-district transfers allows school boards to exclude
students from another county.
________
SOURCES:
Detroit News, "Some Utica schools to accept nonresident
students," April 3, 2003
http://www.detnews.com/2003/schools/0304/03/d01-126907.htm

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


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AFFIRMATIVE ACTION CASE MAY AFFECT PRIMARY EDUCATION
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WASHINGTON, D.C. – A Supreme Court ruling on the
constitutionality of affirmative action in college admissions may
affect the nation's 15,000 school districts, many of which have
in place plans that include race as a factor in determining
public school enrollment.

Many districts attempt to diversify classrooms by setting quotas
or caps on the enrollment of certain races, some of which are
akin to the college admissions programs in question in the
Supreme Court.

"Everybody sees the handwriting on the wall," Michael Simpson,
assistant general counsel for the National Education Association,
told ABC News. "If the court says diversity is not a sufficiently
compelling state interest to justify race-based admissions, there
is every reason to expect that principle would apply to student
assignment at the K-12 level."

Several cases in lower courts around the country have already
struck down race-based public school enrollment plans in cities
such as San Francisco, Boston, and Nashville.
_______
SOURCE:
ABC News, "Mich. Case May Affect Primary Education,"
April 5, 2003
http://abcnews.go.com/wire/US/ap20030405_745.html


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NATIONAL EDUCATION ASSOCIATION REPORTS $47 MILLION IN POLITICAL
SPENDING
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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Documents filed with the Internal Revenue
Service show that the National Education Association (NEA) spent
as much as one-third of its $271 million income on politically
related activities.

The union maintains a national advocacy staff called UniServ at a
cost of $47 million per year, the largest such organization of
campaign workers in the nation. Local and state affiliates spend
an additional $43 million annually on the service as well.

However, the Landmark Legal Foundation, a Virginia-based public
interest group, says UniServ is funded by the NEA's tax-exempt
general fund instead of through its political action fund, which
is subject to taxes. Each year for the past 10 years, the NEA has
reported spending zero dollars for political purposes in IRS
documents, a ploy Landmark says avoids taxes on these
expenditures.

The union denies it is illegally avoiding taxes on its political
spending and activities. Landmark Legal Foundation has asked the
IRS to investigate and recoup the allegedly misreported spending.
________
SOURCES:
Washington Times, "NEA challenged on political outlays,"
April 7, 2003
http://www.washingtontimes.com/national/20030407-741829.htm

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Teachers Unions: Helping or
Hurting?"
http://www.mackinac.org/9399


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NYC MAYOR BLOOMBERG'S SCHOOL CURRICULUM REFORM MEETS STRONG
CRITICISM
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NEW YORK, N.Y. – Sweeping reform of the New York City curriculum
planned by new mayor Michael Bloomberg may be a "disaster in the
making," according to an article in the City Journal.

New York Mayor Bloomberg and School Chancellor Joel Klein plan to
introduce "discredited progressive methods for the teaching of
the three Rs such as 'whole language,' 'writing process,' and
'fuzzy math'" into the city's 1,000 public schools this fall,
says the article.

Many schoolteachers and principals who already use proven
teaching techniques in reading and mathematics are objecting to
the changes.

Programs already in place have shown greater improvement over
time than either of the new systems, according to City Journal.
In fact, one Harlem school using a "real" phonics program called
"Success for All" greatly increased its students' ability to read
and took it off the failing schools list. The U.S. Department of
Education has labeled 300 of New York City's schools as
"failing."
________
SOURCES:
City Journal, "Bloomberg and Klein Rush In," April 8, 2003
http://www.city-journal.org/html/eon_4_8_03ss.html

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


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NOTICE: FREE SEMINAR FOR ECONOMICS TEACHERS
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The Foundation for Teaching Economics is sponsoring a free summer
seminar for teaching economics, "Economics for Leaders," July 13-
20, 2003, on the campus of Hillsdale College. The seminar is
open to any teacher who teaches economics; it is especially
suited for teachers of social studies, civics and history.
Instruction in the application of economic principles will be
provided by a mentor teacher and two distinguished university
professors, including Dr. Gary Wolfram, Munson Prof. of Political
Economy at Hillsdale College, and member of the Mackinac Center
for Public Policy's Board of Scholars.

The program is based on the National Voluntary Standards in
Economic Education.

Free room and board is provided on the campus of Hillsdale
College. Two semester credit hours will be awarded by the
University of California-Davis for a fee of $85.00. Three SB-
CEUs are available free of charge to Michigan public school
teachers.

For more information and to register, visit the Web site of the
Foundation for Teaching Economics at www.fte.org, or call (800)383-4335.


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MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST is a service of Michigan Education
Report (http://www.educationreport.org), a quarterly newspaper
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for Public Policy (http://www.mackinac.org), a private,
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Contact Managing Editor Neil Block at
[mailto:med@educationreport.org]

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