MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST
Volume V, No. 36
Sept. 9, 2003
http://www.educationreport.org/pubs/med/

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Contents of this issue:
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* Granholm to give MEAP oversight back to Dept. of Education
* Legislators want to overhaul Intermediate School Districts
* New state dropout tracking system not delivering data, critics
  say
* D.C. voucher plan passes U.S. House
* U.S. House Republicans introduce plan to slow college tuition
  hikes
* Private firm solving school district problems, taking heat from
  parents
* COMMENTARY: Head Start reauthorization faces fight
* Some Florida seniors can skip senior year
* ANNOUNCEMENT: The Mackinac Center for Public Policy's 16th
  Annual High School Debate Workshops 2003
* ANNOUNCEMENT: MSU Policy Briefing on "Educating Michigan's
  Youth"
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GRANHOLM TO GIVE M.E.A.P. OVERSIGHT BACK TO DEPT. OF EDUCATION
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LANSING, Mich. – Gov. Jennifer Granholm's office announced last
week that she intends to shift the administration of the Michigan
Educational Assessment Program (MEAP) tests back to the
Department of Education.

The standardized tests, required for most elementary, middle and
high school students, are currently administered by the
Department of Treasury due to an order sign by former Gov. John
Engler, which moved the program to that department from the
Department of Education. He moved the tests to the Treasury
Department because he considered the Education Department's
administration of the tests to be ineffective.

The scholarship portion of the program will remain in the
Department of Treasury, according to Granholm spokeswoman Liz
Boyd.
_______
SOURCES:
Detroit Free Press, "Granholm wants to shift oversight of MEAP
test," Sept. 3, 2003
http://www.freep.com/news/education/dmeap3_20030903.htm

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Granholm Should Move MEAP
Test Administration Back to Education Department," November 2002
http://www.mackinac.org/4861

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "POLICY BRIEF: Which
Educational Achievement Test is Best for Michigan?" May 2002
http://www.mackinac.org/4382


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LEGISLATORS WANT TO OVERHAUL INTERMEDIATE SCHOOL DISTRICTS
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LANSING, Mich. – Recent controversy in some intermediate school
districts (ISDs) has led some legislators to push for an overhaul
of the ISD system requiring greater oversight and accounting of
the districts.

Intermediate districts were established to provide special
education, teacher training, and technological services to
individual districts. But some say they add an unnecessary layer
of bureaucracy to the education system. "When the middle guy
becomes fattened up, you have to ask yourself: Will it save
(districts) money and can they provide more services and better
services to kids by cutting out the middle man?" asked state Rep.
Ruth Johnson, R-Holly, quoted in the Detroit News.

The Oakland Schools intermediate district, second largest in the
state with a budget of $208 million, admitted last winter to
using $30 million in special education funding to build an
administration building, among other improprieties.
_______
SOURCES:
Detroit News, "Intermediate districts face overhaul,"
Sept. 7, 2003
http://www.detnews.com/2003/schools/0309/08/a01-264252.htm

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

The Times-Herald, "Reforming ISDs would become counter-
productive; abolish them," July 27, 2003
http://www.thetimesherald.com/news/stories/20030727/opinion/538216.html


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NEW STATE DROPOUT TRACKING SYSTEM NOT DELIVERING DATA, CRITICS
SAY
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LANSING, Mich. – A new state system for tracking high school
dropouts in school districts throughout Michigan is not
delivering the data school districts need to report accurately
the number of dropouts.

The state said its system of collecting data is not working
because schools are overburdened, confused and unable to submit
the information.

But Detroit Public Schools spokesman Mike Albert told the
Associated Press that his district had been collecting dropout
data on a per-student basis since the mid-1990s. Now that the
state's in charge, however, his district has no official
information.

"The state is so elegantly poised to tell you what the real story
is," Albert said. "Why they don't, I don't know."

The Michigan school voucher plan that went down to defeat in 2000
would have been tied to dropout rates, which suddenly and
suspiciously improved just before voters considered the measure.
______
SOURCE:
Detroit Free Press, "Schools struggle to address dropout rate,"
Sept. 8, 2003


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D.C. VOUCHER PLAN PASSES U.S. HOUSE
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WASHINGTON, D.C. – A controversial school voucher plan for the
District of Columbia passed the U.S. House of Representatives by
a narrow vote Friday, signaling a major victory for voucher
supporters in the District.

The House bill, passed 205-203, would allow at least 1,300 low-
income children to attend a private school of their choice if
they attend a public school that is considered failing by federal
standards. If the Senate approves the measure, it will be the
first federally funded voucher program. "Sometimes vouchers don't
get traction because they're not in places anyone pays attention
to. But for Washington, D.C., to house a program of choices, that
could have tremendous traction," Jeanne Allen, president of the
Center for Education Reform, told the Associated Press.

Six states currently offer some sort of voucher program for
students wishing to attend schools other than their neighborhood
public school.
_______
SOURCES:
Washington Post, "House Narrowly Passes School Voucher Plan,"
Sept. 6, 2003
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A36600-2003Sep6.html

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Friedman Says Vouchers and
Tax Credits Useful Route to Greater School Choice,"
March 19, 2002
http://www.mackinac.org/4117

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "The Case for Choice in
Schooling: Restoring Parental Control of Education,"
Jan. 29, 2001
http://www.mackinac.org/3236


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U.S. HOUSE REPUBLICANS INTRODUCE PLAN TO SLOW COLLEGE TUITION
HIKES
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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Two House Republicans plan to introduce a bill
that would penalize colleges and universities if they raise their
tuition more than twice as fast as the rise in the Consumer Price
Index (CPI) over a period of three years.

Sanctions being considered include the loss of some federal
student aid programs, but would not be imposed until a college
had a chance to formulate a corrective plan and two to three
years to put it into use.

"Decades of uncontrolled cost increases are pushing the dream of
a college degree further out of reach for needy students," wrote
Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Rep. Howard P. McKeon, R-Calif.,
in a report published last week.
_______
SOURCES:
New York Times, "G.O.P. Plan Would Restrict Rise in Tuition,"
Sept. 5, 2003
http://www.nytimes.com/2003/09/05/politics/05TUIT.html

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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PRIVATE FIRM SOLVING SCHOOL DISTRICT PROBLEMS, TAKING HEAT FROM
PARENTS
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. – A private firm that took over the St. Louis
school district in June and is solving many of the district's
problems is now bewildered by the heat it is taking from parents,
who say the firm has disrupted their community.

Before the takeover by Alvarez & Marshall, a New York firm that
restructures businesses in crisis, the district was broke and
academically failing. Since taking over the district, the company
has closed 16 schools, laid off at least 2,000 employees,
rearranged bus routes and privatized services such as food
preparation and textbook distribution. In three months, it has
cut more than $60 million from the budget without laying off a
single classroom teacher. It has also made sure that
kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grade teachers have no more than 23
pupils, down from 25 the previous year, and hired 94 "literacy
coaches."

In the process, they have infuriated so many parents in the black
community that several civic leaders called on families to
boycott the first day of school. These leaders say the closed
schools were often the only havens in the neighborhood, and that
many workers have lost jobs with benefits.
_______
SOURCES:
Chicago Tribune, "Parents Seething at School Changes,"
Sept. 8, 2003
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-0309080219sep08,1,7742359.story

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Contract Out School Services
Before Laying Off Teachers," June 2, 2003
http://www.mackinac.org/5404

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Clare Schools Using
Privatization to Keep Teachers," Sept. 4, 2003
http://www.mackinac.org/5734


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COMMENTARY: HEAD START REAUTHORIZATION FACES FIGHT
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WASHINGTON, D.C. – A Washington Times commentary published last
week anticipates intense opposition to reauthorization of the
federal Head Start program in the U.S. Senate this fall.

Primary among the opposition is President Bush, who has
recommended that a pilot program test the possibility of handing
Head Start funding back to the individual states to spend as
their special situations dictate. Research over several decades
has shown that while Head Start has been well-intentioned, its
results are far from satisfactory, according to commentary author
Cheryl Wetzstein.

Meanwhile, proponents of the $6.6 billion program already are
running ads sponsored by the Children's Defense Action Council,
warning of "the 'dismantling' of Head Start."
_______
SOURCES:
Washington Times, "Head Start reforms face serious fight,"
Sept. 1, 2003
http://www.washtimes.com/national/20030901-121026-3875r.htm

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

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Re-Hyping the Head Start
Program," August 2003
http://www.mackinac.org/5672


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SOME FLORIDA SENIORS CAN SKIP SENIOR YEAR
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WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – A new Florida law allows select high
school students to graduate a year early, forgoing their entire
senior year and receiving a full diploma.

Allowing some students to graduate early would alleviate crowding
in high school classes, say state officials. Students are allowed
to skip several elective classes and double up on English credits
earlier in high school, giving them the number of credits
necessary to receive a full diploma. No more than 25 students per
high school class are allowed to take this fast track.

Opponents of the idea say it will make them less competitive in
college applications. "You don't want to leave it up to kids to
shortchange themselves," Lee Dixon, Okeechobee County School
District assistant superintendent, told the Associated Press.
The law was among several measures passed this spring in the wake
of a voter-approved amendment requiring the state to take
immediate action to start reducing class sizes.
_______
SOURCES:
CNN, "Law lets students forgo senior year," Sept. 8, 2003
http://www.cnn.com/2003/EDUCATION/09/08/early.graduation.ap/index.html

Heritage Foundation, "Do Small Classes Influence Academic
Achievement? What the National Assessment of Educational Progress
Shows," June 2000
http://www.heritage.org/Research/Education/CDA00-07.cfm

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Class Size Reduction is
Expensive," October 1998
http://www.mackinac.org/1282


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THE MACKINAC CENTER FOR PUBLIC POLICY'S 16th ANNUAL HIGH SCHOOL
DEBATE WORKSHOPS 2003
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The Mackinac Center for Public Policy is proud to sponsor the 16th
annual High School Debate Workshops designed to equip students
for the debate season through informative speakers, free
materials, and a vigorous exchange of ideas.

View the debate poster at:
http://www.mackinac.org/media/images/2003/DebatePoster.jpg

Over 7,500 students and teachers have honed their forensic skills
at our Debate Workshops. This comprehensive one-day program
informs debaters on the current debate resolution through expert
speakers, hard-to-find resource materials, and in-depth
discussions. Schools may send as many participants as they wish.
Space is limited, however, and reservations are taken on a first-
come, first-served basis.

The workshops will be held this year in four locations: in
Livonia on Monday, Sept. 21, at Burton Manor, 27777 Schoolcraft
Rd.; in Jackson on Tuesday, Sept. 22, at the Commonwealth
Commerce Center, 209 East Washington; in Grand Rapids on
Wednesday, Sept. 23, at Eberhard Center, Grand Valley State
University; and in Traverse City on Thursday, Sept. 24, at the
Park Place Hotel, 300 East State St.

This year's debate resolution: That the United States federal
government should establish an ocean policy substantially
increasing protection of marine natural resources.

Speakers include Gregory Rehmke, former director of the
Foundation for Economic Education's High School Speech and Debate
Program, Michael Alessi, director of natural resource policy for
the Reason Public Policy Institute, and Don Leal, a senior
associate with the Political Research Economy Center, who has
written extensively on fisheries, water, outdoor recreation, oil
and gas, as well as timber and federal land-use policy.

Cost is $5.00 per student, lunch included. For more information
contact Mackinac Center Director of Fiscal Policy Michael LaFaive
at (989) 631-0900, fax (989) 631-0964, or E-mail:
lafaive@mackinac.org.

Greetings and registration for all seminars begins at 8:30 a.m.
Sessions begin promptly at 9 a.m. and close by 2:00 p.m.

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ANNOUNCEMENT: MSU POLITICAL LEADERSHIP PROGRAM TO HOLD EDUCATION
POLICY BRIEFING
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LANSING – The Michigan Political Leadership Program (MPLP) at
Michigan State University (MSU) will hold a policy briefing on
the future of education in Michigan, on Friday, Sept. 19, at 2:00
p.m. in Room 426 of the Capitol building in Lansing.

The program will feature Tom Watkins, Michigan's superintendent
of public instruction, Gary Wolfram, a senior policy analyst for
the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, Sharon Banks,
superintendent of the Lansing School District, and Teressa
Staten, president of the National Charter Schools Institute.

The briefing, which is free to the public, will cover topics such
as the state takeover of Detroit's schools, charter schools,
schools of choice, and other ways to improve public schools.

For more information, please contact Brian McGrain at
[mcgrainb@msu.edu, or (517) 355-6672, x118, or see
www.ippsr.msu.edu.


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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]

To subscribe, go to:
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