MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST
Volume V, No. 29
July 22, 2003
http://www.educationreport.org/pubs/med/

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Contents of this issue:
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* School districts will pay part of laptop program cost
* Charters outperform traditional schools on tests
* Report: Nation lacks qualified teachers
* Fraud allegedly plagues federal school Internet fund
* "Head Start" pilot program generates opposition
* University of Michigan raises tuition

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SCHOOL DISTRICTS WILL PAY PART OF LAPTOP PROGRAM COST
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LANSING, Mich. – The plan devised by House Majority Leader Rick
Johnson, R-LeRoy, to provide laptop computers to Michigan sixth
graders will cost the state $22 million, the federal government
$16-17 million, and will require districts to pay, as well.

In order for districts to take advantage of the laptop offer,
they would lease the computers at $275 per pupil per year, with
the state subsidizing $250 of the cost. Districts must pay the
remainder, but some officials say they don't expect the cost to
be a problem. "Most districts, even being as strapped as they
are, will find a way to do that," Brian Whiston, director of
legislative affairs for Oakland Schools, told the Detroit Free
Press.

A July 21 Detroit News editorial questioned whether the program
will do students any academic good. "For all lawmakers know,
students will primarily use the devices to play games or
exchange email."
_______
SOURCES:
Detroit Free Press, "Laptops will cost schools to participate,"
Jul. 18, 2003
http://www.freep.com/news/education/laps18_20030718.htm

Detroit News, "Michigan's Computer Giveaway Is Questionable Use
of Tax Dollars," July 21, 2003
http://www.detnews.com/2003/editorial/0307/21/a08-222128.htm

Michigan Education Report, "Schools prepare for the 'Digital
Age,'" Winter 2001
http://www.educationreport.org/3223


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CHARTERS OUTPERFORM TRADITIONAL SCHOOLS ON TESTS
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NEW YORK, N.Y. – A recent study found that charter schools
outperform traditional public schools when similar student
populations are compared.

The study, released last week by the Manhattan Institute, found
that charter school student scores on reading and mathematics
tests are higher by two and three percentile points,
respectively. Jay P. Greene, Ph.D., the study's author, said his
was the first study of its kind to compare similar student
populations in charter and public schools. It covered charter and
traditional public schools in 11 states and took six months to
complete.

While critics say such a comparison is unfair because parental
involvement at charters is typically high, researchers such as
Greene counter that whatever the reasons, giving students and
their parents a choice is resulting in greater achievement
overall.
_______
SOURCES:
Manhattan Institute, "Apples to Apples: An Evaluation of Charter
Schools Serving General Student Populations," June, 2003
http://www.manhattan-institute.org/html/ewp_01.htm

Boston Globe, "Report: Charter schools perform better on tests,"
Jul. 20, 2003
http://www.boston.com/dailyglobe2/201/learning/Report_Charter_schools_perform_better_on_tests+.shtml

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Michigan's Public Charter
Schools See MEAP Scores Rise Faster than Regular Public Schools,"
September 2002
http://www.mackinac.org/4581

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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REPORT: NATION LACKS QUALIFIED TEACHERS
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WASHINGTON, D.C. – A report issued last week by the U.S.
Department of Education says a shortage of qualified teachers has
resulted in about half of all courses in English, science,
mathematics, history and foreign-language classes being taught by
teachers who majored in other subjects.

Yet, the federal "No Child Left Behind" Act of 2002 mandates that
all students nationwide be taught by a highly qualified teacher
by 2006. For this to occur, teacher colleges must align their
courses with federal expectations, and states should take
advantage of alternate teacher certification programs, said
Education Secretary Rod Paige.

The report found that only 54 percent of the nation's teachers in
1999-2000 were highly qualified and that traditional teacher
training and licensing systems have not produced enough highly
qualified teachers in the past. "Highly qualified" is defined in
the law as having at minimum a bachelor's degree, state teacher
license, and a major in each field taught.
_______
SOURCES:
U.S. Dept. of Education, "Meeting the Highly Qualified Teachers
Challenge," June 2003
http://www.ed.gov/news/speeches/2003/04/04082003.html

Washington Times, "Federal education report finds shortage of
qualified teachers," July 16, 2003
http://www.washtimes.com/national/20030715-114915-3853r.htm

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

Michigan Education Report, "What teacher shortage?" Winter 2002
http://www.educationreport.org/4070


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FRAUD ALLEGEDLY PLAGUES FEDERAL SCHOOL INTERNET FUND
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WASHINGTON, D.C. – A federal fund that subsidizes school Internet
connections is being investigated by Congress due to allegations
of fraud.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee last week sent letters to
15 companies that have "significant involvement" in the fund,
called the "E-Rate" program, asking for records of money they
received from it. "Based on some of the evidence that we've
reviewed already, it's clear that some vendors have gamed the
system. We're trying to find out whether these are just isolated
incidents or are part of a greater pattern of abuse," said
Committee spokesman Ken Johnson.

The $2.25 billion program is part of the Universal Service Fund,
which is funded by a tax on monthly telephone bills. The Federal
Communications Commission staffs three full-time investigators to
monitor the E-Rate program. According to the agency, there are 42
pending investigations of fraud stemming from the program.
________
SOURCES:
Washington Post, "Fraud Issue Could Undermine 'E-Rate' Program,"
Jul. 17, 2003
http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn?pagename=article&contentId=A4333-2003Jul17

Center for Public Integrity, "Phone fund for schools, libraries
riddled with fraud," Jan. 9, 2003
http://www.public-i.org/dtaweb/report.asp?ReportID=492&L1=10&L2=10&L3=0&L4=0&L5=0

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Internet Access and the Role
of Government," January 2002
http://www.mackinac.org/4009


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"HEAD START" PILOT PROGRAM GENERATES OPPOSITION
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WASHINGTON, D.C. – House Republicans delayed a vote last week on
a bill to redesign the "Head Start" program, citing a weakening
of support for the current measure.

The main opposition involves a pilot program that would allow
eight states to operate the program themselves. "Head Start"
defenders fear that devolvement to the states is the first step
toward ending the program, which prominent critics have said
doesn't give children an academic "head start," as its name
implies.

While Democrat opposition to the bill is unanimous, Republican
support is weakening following letter-writing and phone-in
campaign organized by lobbyists working for "Head Start"
advocates.

Rep. Michael N. Castle, R-Del., said he will use the extra time
"to continue to build support for final passage of the bill."
_______
SOURCES:
New York Times, "House G.O.P. Delays Vote on Remaking Head
Start," Jul. 18, 2003
http://www.nytimes.com/2003/07/18/politics/18HEAD.html

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


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UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN RAISES TUITION
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ANN ARBOR, Mich. – The University of Michigan Board of Regents
voted last Thursday to increase tuition by 6.5 percent, raising
it by $500 to $1,500 per year.

The move follows a 6.5 percent funding cut at the state level,
and will include a 50-person faculty cut. "I don't view this as a
budget crisis, but boy, it's been a bad year," said Provost Paul
N. Courant. "Raising tuition is the thing I like to do the least
except compromise the education of our students." The 6.5 percent
increase is the lowest among the state's 15 public universities.

The University is the 14th state university to raise tuition for
the upcoming year; Wayne State University is the only state
university without a tuition increase.
________
SOURCES:
Detroit News, "U-M boosts tuition by 6.5 percent," Jul. 18, 2003
http://www.detnews.com/2003/schools/0307/18/a01-221146.htm

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Private Prepaid Tuition
Programs Can Help Make College Affordable," September 2001
http://www.mackinac.org/3685

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Competition among Professors
Would Help Parents Afford College," August 1999
http://www.mackinac.org/2105


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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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