MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST
Volume V, No. 19
May 13, 2003
http://www.educationreport.org/pubs/med/

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Contents of this issue:
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* Charter schools cost less, study finds
* State school budget shortfall larger than expected
* National testing may cost more than expected
* Doctors say mood drugs overused by schools
* Bill would allow students to carry cell phones
* D.C. Mayor says District students "trapped in bad schools"

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CHARTER SCHOOLS COST LESS, STUDY FINDS
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LANSING, Mich. – Charter schools cost $1,036 less per student
than their traditional public school counterparts, according to a
new study released Monday.

The study, commissioned by the Michigan Chamber of Commerce and
carried out by the Anderson Economic Group of Lansing, "Shoots a
big hole in the argument made by traditional public school people
that charter schools cost money," said Chamber President Jim
Barrett. The study says charter schools cost less because they
receive no capital funding from local millages, and receive less
money from the state per pupil for operating expenses.

Bob Harris, a consultant for the Michigan Education Association,
said, "Of course we're concerned about costs, but we're also
concerned about quality education, and sometimes quality
education costs a little bit more."
________
SOURCES:
Booth Newspapers, "Charter schools cheaper to run, study finds,"
May 6, 2003
http://www.mlive.com/news/statewide/index.ssf?/xml/story.ssf/html_standard.xsl?/base/news-2/105217440699960.xml

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

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


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STATE SCHOOL BUDGET SHORTFALL LARGER THAN EXPECTED
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LANSING, Mich. – An unexpected drop in state tax income earmarked
for schools has surprised state representatives with a budget
shortfall that is $77 to $110 million more than the expected $127
million the government estimated in January.

Nearly half of state spending on K-12 education comes from sales
tax and lottery revenue, both of which have come in lower than
expected since January, the directors of the House and Senate
fiscal agencies said Friday. Three-fourths of sales tax revenue
goes toward K-12 education.

Gov. Jennifer Granholm said that, in spite of the shortfall,
"There will not be further cuts to schools. It's impossible to
cut at this point in a school year when their fiscal year ends in
June. ... So we have to look at other options." Granholm said she
would offer a solution this week.
_______
SOURCES:
Detroit News, "School funding revenue short," May 12, 2003
http://www.detnews.com/2003/schools/0305/12/c07-161402.htm

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Michigan's Budget Challenge,"
April 2003
http://www.mackinac.org/4964


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NATIONAL TESTING MAY COST MORE THAN EXPECTED
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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Tests mandated by the federal "No Child Left
Behind" Act of 2001 may cost from $1.9 to $5.3 billion over the
next seven years, according to a U.S. government analysis.

The U.S. General Accounting Office, which released the study,
estimated that if states administer solely multiple-choice tests,
the total cost will amount to $1.9 billion, while tests with both
multiple-choice and open-ended questions would cost $5.3 billion.

Some state representatives decried the amount states may have to
spend to administer the tests, because current federal law will
provide only $2.34 billion for testing. However, the U.S.
Department of Education said the report overstated costs and
underestimated additional federal funding sources for testing.
_______
SOURCES:
USA Today, "New tests for nation's students to cost $1.9B to
$5.3B," May 8, 2003
http://www.usatoday.com/news/education/2003-05-08-testing_x.htm

Michigan Education Report, "Standardized tests vital for
improving school and student achievement," Dec. 13, 2001
http://www.mackinac.org/3907

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


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DOCTORS SAY MOOD DRUGS OVERUSED BY SCHOOLS
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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Mood-altering drugs such as Ritalin and
Adderall are over-prescribed for children, a panel of doctors and
psychologists told several Congress members last week.

According to Dr. William B. Carey, director of behavioral
pediatrics at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, most
specialists agree that 2 percent of children are so overactive
that they are uncontrollable, yet 17 percent of school children
are labeled as being hyperactive.

Rep. Michael N. Castle, R-Del., said that many school officials
require children to take drugs such as Ritalin as a condition for
remaining in the classroom. "Parents ... should never be forced
to decide between getting their child into school and keeping
their child off potentially harmful drugs," said Castle. "School
personnel should never presume to know the medication needs of a
child."

The House is reviewing legislation as part of the Individuals
with Disabilities Education Act that would ban school personnel
from requiring that students take such drugs.
_______
SOURCES:
Washington Times, "House told mood drugs overused by schools,"
May 7, 2003
http://www.washtimes.com/national/20030507-543921.htm

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "A Mixed Message to Children:
Say 'No' to Drugs, but 'Yes' to Ritalin?" January 2001
http://www.mackinac.org/3204

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Reining in Ritalin,"
October 2001
http://www.mackinac.org/3830


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BILL WOULD ALLOW STUDENTS TO CARRY CELL PHONES
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LANSING, Mich. – Michigan lawmakers are considering a bill that
would ease restrictions on student cell phone use in schools.
Current state law bans students from using cell phones and pagers
in schools.

The bill would allow districts to create their own policies
regarding student use of cell phones and other communication
devices, removing an outright ban of such equipment. Troy School
District Superintendent Janet Jopke told the Oakland Press that,
"Since the Columbine incident, more and more parents are
insisting that their children have cell phones so that they can
be in contact with them if they need to."

The Michigan Education Association has not taken an official
stance on the issue. The union supported the 1988 ban on cell
phones and pagers in schools, which was passed when communication
devices were used primarily for drug trafficking in urban
centers.
_______
SOURCE:
Oakland Press, "Bill would let schools ease cell phone rules,"
May 12, 2003
http://www.zwire.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=7984647&BRD=982&PAG=461&dept_id=467992&rfi=6


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D.C. MAYOR SAYS DISTRICT STUDENTS "TRAPPED IN BAD SCHOOLS"
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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Anthony A. Williams, mayor of Washington,
D.C., reaffirmed his support for school vouchers this weekend,
saying that he "got up one morning and decided there are a lot of
kids getting a crappy education and we could do better" with a
voucher system in place.

Williams told the Washington Post that a 2000 restructuring of
the D.C. school board was admirable, but not working fast enough
to fix schools. "I don't believe that's working as fast as I
would like, or I wouldn't be supporting [vouchers]," he said. He
has made education his top priority because students are "trapped
in bad schools."

Linda Wharton Boyd, a District schools spokeswoman, said "It is
very discouraging to hear our mayor make that statement ... The
majority of our students are receiving a very good education in
D.C. public schools."

District officials and legislators are deciding whether to allow
students to use vouchers to attend private schools in the
Washington area.
________
SOURCES:
Washington Post, "Mayor Complains of 'Bad Schools'," May 10, 2003
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A37265-2003May9.html

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

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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