MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST
Volume V, No. 23
June 10, 2003
http://www.educationreport.org/pubs/med/


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Contents of this issue:
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* Education secretary approves Michigan accountability plan
* Teachers often scapegoats, says survey
* Commentary: Anti-privatization law is bad policy for schools
* Report finds Head Start programs don't give students head start
* Charter school authorizers perform well despite roadblocks
* Professors push for formal grammar lessons

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EDUCATION SECRETARY APPROVES MICHIGAN
ACCOUNTABILITY PLAN
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DETROIT, Mich. - In a joint federal-state news conference,
representatives from the U.S. Department of Education and the
Michigan Department of Education announced Monday that U.S.
Education Secretary Rod Paige has approved Michigan's education
accountability plans for oversight.

Paige did not attend the conference but was represented by Scott
Jenkins, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Intergovernmental and
Interagency Affairs at the Department. "I applaud Superintendent
of Public Instruction Tom Watkins and his team for their efforts
to ensure every child in Michigan has access to a high-quality
education and that no child is left behind," said Paige.

Under the "No Child Left Behind" Act of 2001 signed into law by
President Bush, each state must lay out its plans for oversight,
accountability, and academic proficiency in every public school
student. All students in the nation must be proficient in their
studies by the 2013-2014 school year.
________
SOURCES:
U.S. Department of Education, "Secretary Paige Approves Michigan
State Accountability Plan Under No Child Left Behind,"
June 9, 2003
http://www.ed.gov/news/pressreleases/2003/06/06092003a.html

Michigan Education Report, "State Board of Education adopts
school grading plan," Spring 2002
http://www.educationreport.org/4270


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TEACHERS OFTEN SCAPEGOATS, SAYS SURVEY
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WASHINGTON, D.C. - More than three in four teachers say they see
themselves as "scapegoats for all the problems facing education,"
says a new report.

The report, published by Public Agenda, a nonpartisan policy
research group, says that teachers feel unsupported by parents
and school administration. In addition, many teachers say they
rely on their unions to protect them from overzealous claims by
parents but most concede that policies such as tenure keep their
schools from firing bad teachers.

The survey also suggests that teachers look negatively on having
to prepare for standardized tests. However, some say that the
tests are necessary and appropriate to meet the nation's goals
for education. Many teachers -- especially new teachers --
readily embrace reforms like charter schools, alternative teacher
certification, and merit pay.
________
SOURCES:
Chicago Tribune, "Survey: Teachers See Selves As Scapegoats,"
June 3, 2003
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/sns-ap-
teachers,1,2197463.story?coll=chi-news-hed


Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Must Teachers Be Certified to
Be Qualified?" February 1999
http://www.mackinac.org/1651


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COMMENTARY: ANTI-PRIVATIZATION LAW IS BAD
POLICY FOR SCHOOLS
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SAN JOSE, Calif. - A bill signed into California law just before
the elections last year makes it difficult or impossible for
school districts to contract out non-instructional services. The
legislation hurts districts that could save money through
contracting, according to Debra J. Saunders, a nationally
syndicated columnist.

As an example, Saunders cites a 2000 audit of Los Angeles Unified
schools, which found that the district could have saved $25
million annually by contracting out busing and food service.
State officials say the new law protects against hiring
contractors that do not provide employees with health insurance
and pension coverage.

Some school officials, however, say the bill hinders their
ability to look at needed cost-cutting measures. "It just doesn't
make sense to tell me that I can't look at a cost-saving measure
in a non-instructional setting," said the San Jose Union School
District Superintendent Phil Quon. "It was one of those under-
the-radar bills that just slipped by."
________
SOURCES:
San Francisco Chronicle, "Slip sliding away," June 3, 2003
http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2003/06/03/ED137784.DTL

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "The Six Habits of Fiscally
Responsible Public School Districts," December 2002
http://www.educationreport.org/4891

Michigan Privatization Report, "Survey Says: Privatization Works
in Michigan Schools," September 2001
http://www.educationreport.org/3721


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REPORT FINDS HEAD START PROGRAMS DON'T GIVE
STUDENTS HEAD START
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WASHINGTON, D.C. - A Bush administration report released
yesterday says preschoolers enrolled in the federal Head Start
program don't actually get a head start: They lag behind their
classmates in academic achievement.

Students enrolled in the program made significant gains in social
skills and Spanish-speaking students showed improvement in
English vocabulary. However, the students' academic progress
showed little to no gains. Rep. Mike Castle, R-Del., has
introduced legislation to reform the program. Students in the
Head Start program "are just not getting academically to the
level of other children," he explained.

Sarah Green, president of the National Head Start Association,
says the report is selective and "a stale rehash of convenient
slivers of information thrown together in an attempt to confuse
unwitting lawmakers."
________
SOURCES:
Detroit Free Press, "Report: Head Start falls short,"
June 10, 2003
http://www.detnews.com/2003/schools/0306/10/a08-189355.htm

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Hyping the Head Start
Program," April 1993
http://www.mackinac.org/159


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CHARTER SCHOOL AUTHORIZERS PERFORM WELL
DESPITE ROADBLOCKS
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WASHINGTON, D.C. - A new study gives 15 states good grades for
the work of their charter school authorizers, which oversee the
activities of charter schools and hold them accountable for
results.

The report, issued by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, looked at
charter authorizers in 23 states. Charter authorizers are bodies
that are legally able to open a charter school, usually
universities and school districts. "Overall, we found that
authorizers in many states are doing a decent job carrying out
their oversight responsibilities, despite poor policy
environments for them and their schools," said Dr. Louann
Bierlein Palmer of Western Michigan University, the study's lead
author.

The study found that increasing amounts of red tape are hindering
the ability of charter schools to do as good a job as they
otherwise would. In addition, the study found that local school
boards are among the least effective authorizers. The most
effective authorizers are organizations that assist charters and
are advocates for the charter school movement.
_______
SOURCES:
U.S. Newswire, "Charter School Overseers Perform Well Despite
State & District Roadblocks; School Boards Least Successful
Authorizers, Report Says," June 5, 2003
http://releases.usnewswire.com/GetRelease.asp?id=903-06052003

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Setting a Higher Standard of
Accountability in Public Education," November 2001
http://www.mackinac.org/3848


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PROFESSORS PUSH FOR FORMAL GRAMMER LESSONS
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NEW YORK, N.Y. - University professors are pushing for formal
grammar lessons to be reintroduced into elementary and secondary
curriculum because students lack writing skills when they enter
college.

The College Board, which writes the SAT achievement test, has
responded to pressure for a grammar and writing test and will
include an 800-point section for essay writing and multiple-
choice grammar questions on the test in two years. "We've been
hearing from a lot of our members that kids have been coming
unprepared for writing," Amy Schmidt, director of higher
education research at the College Board, told the Chicago
Tribune.

"About 15 to 20 years ago, it became verboten to teach grammar at
the high school level. At some schools they were absolutely
forbidden to do so," said Judith Richman, a high school English
teacher. Now, "people are talking about it again."
________
SOURCES:
Chicago Tribune, "Proposition with an object: Bring back
grammar," June 4, 2003
http://www.chicagotribune.com/features/chi-0306040025jun04,1,1943935.story

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Declining Standards at
Michigan Universities," November 1996
http://www.mackinac.org/236

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "The Cost of Remedial
Education," August 2000
http://www.mackinac.org/3025


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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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