MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST
Volume V, No. 16
April 22, 2003
http://www.educationreport.org/pubs/med/


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Contents of this issue:
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* Colorado passes voucher law
* Math and science education decline in Britain
* Denver teachers may receive merit pay
* Commentary: Charter school decision ignores the law
* State education departments fear federal funding won't cover
   cost of mandates under "No Child Left Behind" Act
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COLORADO PASSES VOUCHER LAW
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DENVER, Colo. – Last week, Gov. Bill Owens, R-Colo., signed into
law a bill that guarantees state-funded vouchers for low-income
students around the state.

Some 3,200 students will be eligible in the first year of the
program; that number will increase to 20,000 in 2007, making the
Colorado's the largest voucher program in the country.

"This is just the beginning," said Jon Caldara, president of the
conservative Independence Institute, a Golden, Colo. think tank
that began pushing for vouchers in 1985.

"This will give people a taste of freedom," Caldara said. "Once
you give people a taste, there's no turning back."

But threats of lawsuits already are flying. Both the state
teachers union and the Washington, D.C.-based People for the
American Way issued press releases Wednesday threatening legal
action.

The Denver voucher program is the first voucher program enacted
since the U.S. Supreme Court issued its landmark ruling upholding
Cleveland's voucher program in June of last year.
________
SOURCES:
Rocky Mountain News, "Voucher program is law," Apr. 17, 2003
http://www.rockymountainnews.com/drmn/education/article/0,1299,DRMN_957_
1895022,00.html


Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "School Choice in Michigan: A
Primer for Freedom in Education," July 1999
http://www.mackinac.org/2027

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Why Tax Credits Are Better
Than Vouchers," Jan. 7, 2003
http://www.mackinac.org/4950

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "The Impact of Limited School
Choice on Public School Districts," July 2000
http://www.mackinac.org/2962


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MATH AND SCIENCE EDUCATION DECLINE IN BRITAIN
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LONDON, England – Corporations and universities in Britain are
becoming increasingly dismayed by a decline in math and science
achievement among British primary and secondary school students.
They are also dismayed at the response to that decline at British
schools: School officials are making the courses and tests
easier.

Both employers and colleges are now spending large quantities of
time and capital on remedial math and science education.

Meanwhile, the numbers of secondary school students enrolling in
these subjects are falling. Candidates for "A-level" physics are
down by a sixth since the mid-1990s. For "A-level" math, they
fell by a fifth in the past year alone.

The enrollment loss has led to a decline in the number of
teachers in Britain able to teach math and science.
_______
SOURCE:
The Economist, "Hard numbers," Apr. 17, 2003
http://www.economist.com/world/europe/displayStory.cfm?story_id=1718799


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DENVER TEACHERS MAY RECEIVE MERIT PAY
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DENVER, Colo. – Denver Public Schools and district union
officials have drafted a merit pay plan that could allow teachers
to earn upwards of $90,000 per year. The first draft of the plan
was the culmination of four years' work by officials on both
sides of the bargaining table.

The proposed system bases teacher pay on performance, student
scores, education, and choosing challenging assignments.
Currently, teachers can earn a maximum of $65,000 based on
education level and seniority. The rules of seniority would be
thrown out with the new plan.

Part of the new merit pay plan is for each teacher to receive,
regardless of merit, a pay boost of about $5,000, placing the
cost of the new system at nearly $25 million. There are 4,408
teachers in the district.
________
SOURCES:
Rocky Mountain News, "New pay scale possible for Denver's
teachers," Apr. 19, 2003
http://www.rockymountainnews.com/drmn/education/article/0,1299,DRMN_957_
1900275,00.html


Rocky Mountain News, "How the pay plans differ," Apr. 19, 2003
http://www.rockymountainnews.com/drmn/education/article/0,1299,DRMN_957_
1900277,00.html


Michigan Education Report, "Incentives for Teacher Performance in
Government Schools: An Idea Whose Time Has Come," Spring 2002
http://www.educationreport.org/4373


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COMMENTARY: CHARTER SCHOOL DECISION IGNORES THE LAW
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LANSING, Mich. – Michigan Superintendent of Public Instruction
Tom Watkins has caused an unnecessary stir by refusing to
authorize seven charter schools so they can receive state aid,
says Dawson Bell of the Detroit Free Press.

Last week, Bay Mills Community College, operated by an Upper
Peninsula Indian tribe, was notified by the Department of
Education that it wouldn't be authorized to receive state aid
payments for seven new charter schools set to open in the fall.

Watkins says he is concerned that his department is inadequately
staffed to provide oversight of charters, and that Bay Mills has
failed to provide documentation of its oversight plan.

"Others have suggested the superintendent is holding the Bay
Mills schools hostage to leverage his bargaining position in
upcoming budget discussions with the Legislature," Bell charged.
"Or that he's doing the bidding of Gov. Jennifer Granholm, who
needs to undermine Bay Mills, which is authorized to charter an
unlimited number of schools anywhere in the state except Detroit,
before entering into negotiations with Republicans over lifting
the cap on university-chartered schools," he added.

"He looks more like George Wallace blocking the schoolhouse
door," Bell wrote.
_______
SOURCES:
Detroit Free Press, "Weird charter school decision ignores
Michigan law," Apr. 21, 2003
http://www.freep.com/news/politics/polcol21_20030421.htm

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Time to Stop Beating Up on
Charter Schools," November 2002
http://www.mackinac.org/4864

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "The Impact of Limited School
Choice on Public School Districts," July 2000
http://www.mackinac.org/2962


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STATE EDUCATION DEPARTMENTS FEAR FEDERAL FUNDING WON'T COVER
COST OF MANDATES UNDER "NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND" ACT
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WASHINGTON, D.C. – A number of state education departments are
worried that the cost of federal mandates required under
President Bush's "No Child Left Behind" Act of 2002 will be
greater than the amount of money they will receive from
Washington for participating in the program.

Many of these states are attempting to find more funding to pay
for the mandates. Others, like Hawaii and Utah, are forgoing
federal funding altogether so they won't be required to follow
federal guidelines. Still others, such as North Dakota,
Washington, Tennessee and New Jersey, are taking a different
route, passing resolutions urging the president and Congress to
fully fund federal education mandates.

The "No Child Left Behind" Act requires annual tests for grades
three through eight, beginning in 2005, and highly qualified
teachers in every classroom. Schools that fail to improve must
offer students supplemental tutoring and the chance to transfer
to a higher-achieving school nearby. After six years, struggling
schools can be shut down and reopened with new staffs. How much
all of this ultimately will cost is unclear.
________
SOURCES:
CNN, "New federal education law strains state coffers,"
Apr. 18, 2003
http://www.cnn.com/2003/EDUCATION/04/18/nochild.leftbehind.ap/index.html

Michigan Education Report, "No Child Left Behind law demands
'adequate yearly progress' and offers school choice options for
parents," Fall 2002
http://www.educationreport.org/4846

Michigan Education Report, "President signs 'No Child Left Behind
Act,'" Winter 2002
http://www.educationreport.org/4082


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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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