MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST
Volume V, No. 34
Aug. 26, 2003
http://www.educationreport.org/pubs/med/

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Contents of this issue:
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* Oakland Intermediate School District board members refuse to
  resign amid financial scandal
* Fees for school activities increase
* USA Class of 2003 lags in math, science scores
* Miami teachers' union chief pleads guilty to fraud
* Educating illegal immigrants costs $7.4 billion per year
* COMMENTARY: Granholm should support Detroit charter bill

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OAKLAND INTERMEDIATE SCHOOL DISTRICT BOARD MEMBERS REFUSE TO
RESIGN AMID FINANCIAL SCANDAL
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WATERFORD, Mich. – A financial scandal in the Oakland
Intermediate School District (ISD) sparked calls for members of
the ISD's school board to resign, but at least two members say
they will stay on the board, regardless.

A Detroit Free Press story last week exposed the fact that
hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayer money was spent by
board members on extravagant goods, trips and personal expenses,
while some special-needs students were placed on waiting lists
for services provided by the district.

The story prompted Mike Flanagan, executive director of the
Michigan Association of Intermediate School Administrators, to
ask the board members involved in the scandal to step down. But
board secretary Tony Rothschild and treasurer Janet Thomas told
the Free Press they will not heed that call.

The Oakland ISD is one of 57 intermediate districts in Michigan.
_______
SOURCES:
Detroit Free Press, "2 Oakland Schools officers won't heed call
for resignation," Aug. 25, 2003
http://www.freep.com/news/education/ois25_20030825.htm

Detroit Free Press, "Oakland board asked to quit," Aug. 23, 2003
http://www.freep.com/news/education/ois23_20030823.htm

Detroit Free Press, "School bosses in Oakland wine, dine and live
it up on taxpayers' dime," Aug. 22, 2003
http://www.freep.com/news/education/ois22_20030822.htm

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Eliminate Intermediate School
Districts," August 2003
http://www.mackinac.org/5678

Michigan Education Report, "What Are Intermediate School
Districts?" Winter 2000
http://www.educationreport.org/2709


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FEES FOR SCHOOL ACTIVITIES INCREASE
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DETROIT, Mich. – Fees for extra-curricular activities at schools
are more common than ever in Michigan. And they are increasing
tension between parents, who say education should remain free,
and administrators wishing to supplement their budgets.

Many districts are charging fees ranging from $20 to $75 to
participate in activities such as Quiz Bowl, sports and band. For
example, field hockey at Grosse Pointe North High School will
cost $225 per student to participate.

Parents of students in Avondale School District were recently
outraged over a plan to charge every student $35 for extra-
curricular activities, even if students did not plan to
participate. District officials said that supporting the programs
would benefit all students. "We felt that if everyone could
contribute, maybe they will all start participating," said
Avondale spokeswoman Sue DesJardins.

The district clarified rules for the fee, which now applies only
to students planning to participate.
_______
SOURCES:
Detroit News, "Fees for sports, activities balloon,"
Aug. 25, 2003
http://www.detnews.com/2003/schools/0308/25/a01-253032.htm

Detroit Free Press, "Cash-shy schools pile on the fees,"
Aug. 20, 2003
http://www.freep.com/news/education/fees20_20030820.htm


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USA CLASS OF 2003 LAGS IN MATH, SCIENCE SCORES
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WASHINGTON, D.C. – An analysis of ACT scores from the graduating
class of 2003 shows that those students will likely face
difficulty in math and science classes in college.

The American College Testing Assessment report predicts that only
25 percent of 2003 graduates will earn at least a C in first-year
biology classes, and only 40 percent will earn at least a C in
college algebra.

The report says that 67 percent of students will fare well in
college English classes, a finding that may change the focus of
some high-school programs. "We've heard a lot of talk recently
about the inadequacy of students' writing skills," ACT chief
executive officer Richard Ferguson told the Gannett News Service.
"However, it appears that the more critical problems are in
science and math."
______
SOURCE:
Detroit News, "'03 grads lag in math, science," Aug. 20, 2003
http://www.detnews.com/2003/schools/0308/25/a01-249520.htm


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MIAMI TEACHERS' UNION CHIEF PLEADS GUILTY TO FRAUD
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MIAMI, Fla. – The chief of the Miami-Dade county teachers union
plead guilty yesterday to fraud after spending hundreds of
thousands of union dollars on personal expenses and luxury items.

An investigation uncovered $650,000 in personal expenditures by
union President Pat Tornillo for the past five years. Tornillo
billed the union for private villas in the Caribbean islands,
luxury cruises, and first-class travel to the 2000 Sydney
Olympics.

A plea bargain states that Tornillo will pay $650,000 in
restitution, $160,000 in back taxes, and a $25,000 fine. His
salary was $228,000 per year, and he was released yesterday on
$100,000 bond.
_______
SOURCES:
Washington Post, "Miami Teachers Union Chief Pleads Guilty,"
Aug. 25, 2003
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A42369-2003Aug25.html

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


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EDUCATING ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS COSTS $7.4 BILLION PER YEAR
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WASHINGTON, D.C. – A new study by the Federation for American
Immigration Reform (FAIR) reports that U.S. taxpayers spend
$7.4 billion annually to educate illegal immigrants.

California spends an estimated $2.2 billion annually – more than
any other state – to educate illegal immigrant children. Texas
and New York rank second and third, respectively.

Critics of the report say that the money is spent on a service
necessary to improve the lives of illegal immigrants. Melissa
Lazarin, an education policy analyst at the National Council of
La Raza, a Hispanic advocacy group, said that the money is well
spent. "We just don't feel this is something we should be
quibbling over," she told the Washington Times.
_______
SOURCES:
Washington Times, "States pay $7.4 billion to educate illegals,"
Aug. 21, 2003
http://www.washtimes.com/national/20030820-104813-9209r.htm

Federation for American Immigration Reform, "Breaking the Piggy
Bank," August 2003
http://www.fairus.org/html/schoolcostreport1.html


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COMMENTARY: GRANHOLM SHOULD SUPPORT DETROIT CHARTER BILL
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DETROIT, Mich. – In a Sunday Detroit News commentary, Dick DeVos,
chairman of the Great Lakes Education Project, expressed
disappointment for Gov. Jennifer Granholm's decision not to
support a bill providing Detroit with 15 new charter high
schools.

DeVos believes there should be no objection to the plan, because
it is being bankrolled by a single private donor. "A generous
benefactor named Robert Thompson ... a Metro Detroit businessman
and philanthropist, is offering a $200 million personal gift to
finance the new schools at no cost to the state and asking
nothing in return," writes DeVos. The only stipulation is that
each school graduate 90 percent of its students each year or it
will be shut down.

"Are the families of Detroit less deserving of choices?" asks
DeVos. The decision to allow the schools "should be a no-
brainer."
_______
SOURCES:
Detroit News, "Detroit parents, kids deserve a better
opportunity; why reject a generous gift to fund more choices?"
Aug. 24, 2003
http://www.detnews.com/2003/editorial/0308/25/a13-252051.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

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Charter Schools Don't Need
More Michigan Department of Education 'Oversight,'" August 2003
http://www.mackinac.org/5670


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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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