MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST
Volume V, No. 37
Sept. 16, 2003
http://www.educationreport.org/pubs/med/

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Contents of this issue:
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* Philanthropist may withdraw Detroit charter offer
* Oakland district to return misspent funds
* President Bush praises new U.S. education data tracking system
* East Detroit Schools' accountants failed to report embezzlement
  scheme
* Bay Mills opens nine charter schools
* Anonymous donor places restrictions on school funding offer
* 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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PHILANTHROPIST MAY WITHDRAW DETROIT CHARTER OFFER
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LANSING, Mich. — A Detroit business owner said he might withdraw
his offer to fund 15 new charter schools if Gov. Jennifer
Granholm foils legislation that would allow his offer to be
implemented.

Philanthropist Bob Thompson this summer offered $200 million
through his charitable foundation to build 15 new charter high
schools in Detroit if the Legislature passed a bill to allow more
charters to be built. Thompson said he is confident the bill
will pass the governor's office. "This is a good governor. She
has her heart set on this thing. She really wants this to work,"
he told the Detroit Free Press.

The money would have several stipulations attached to it,
including a 90 percent graduation rate and student achievement.
"I'm not going to be involved with mediocrity," said Thompson.
_______
SOURCES:
Detroit Free Press, "Detroit could lose offer of charter
schools," Sept. 15, 2003
http://www.freep.com/news/education/thomp15_20030915.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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OAKLAND DISTRICT TO RETURN MISSPENT FUNDS
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WATERFORD, Mich. — The Oakland intermediate school district (ISD)
announced plans to return $20 million in special education
funding to local districts to restore trust with local districts
after a rash of financial scandals.

A recent audit of the Oakland ISD showed that the district spent
$18 million meant for special education to help build a $30
million administration building. The return of the funding is "a
good start because we're talking some major dollars," Holly Area
School District Superintendent Kent Barnes told the Detroit Free
Press. "But is there going to have to be greater oversight with
the Oakland ISD, greater accountability to restore trust?
Probably so," he added.

But some think that the district cannot redeem itself, even if it
gives back the money. "I don't think anything they do will make
the situation better," said Darlene Janulus, Rochester Community
School Board secretary. "The only thing that will make a
difference is for the people who were responsible to step aside."
_______
SOURCES:
Detroit Free Press, "Oakland Schools to return special-ed funds,"
Sept. 10, 2003
http://www.freep.com/news/education/ois10_20030910.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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PRESIDENT BUSH PRAISES NEW U.S. EDUCATION DATA TRACKING SYSTEM
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Last week, President Bush praised the
creation of a new education data tracking system to help parents
and policy-makers assess student achievement under the 2001 "No
Child Left Behind" education reform law.

The $55 million system will consolidate education statistics from
every state into a single database for purposes of tracking and
analysis. The project is sponsored by the U.S. Department of
Education and by private organizations such as Standard and
Poor's.

Political opponents of the president used the announcement as an
opportunity to chastise him for not fully funding his school
reform program. "I'm amazed that President Bush has the chutzpah
to go back to the state that gave him the White House and brag
about his record on education," said Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-
Massachusetts.
______
SOURCE:
Los Angeles Times, "Bush Touts New System to Track Education
Data," Sept. 10, 2003
http://www.latimes.com/news/education/la-na-bush10sep10,1,4416222.story?coll=la-news-learning


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EAST DETROIT SCHOOLS' ACCOUNTANTS FAILED TO REPORT EMBEZZLEMENT
SCHEME
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DETROIT, Mich. — A Grand Rapids-based accounting firm has
uncovered prior misconduct by the auditing firm employed by East
Detroit Public Schools, giving investigators a clue into the
embezzlement scheme that plagued the district in the mid 1990s.

The report says that the district's former auditors did not
report or refused to report mismanagement and misallocation of
district funds when auditing the district. "Plante & Moran, LLP
is responsible for allowing the financial losses suffered by the
East Detroit Public Schools to continue due to withholding
pertinent information from the Board of Education and the public
stakeholders," says the report.

Several active and former board members are awaiting trial due to
their participation in the scheme to embezzle district money.
_______
SOURCES:
Detroit Free Press, "East Detroit schools audit found trouble,"
Sept. 9, 2003
http://www.freep.com/news/education/east9_20030909.htm

Michigan Education Report, "Financial scandals exposed in
Michigan school districts," Fall 2002
http://www.educationreport.org/4835


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BAY MILLS OPENS NINE CHARTER SCHOOLS
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LANSING, Mich. — Bay Mills Community College is opening 9 new
charter schools amid controversy in the state Legislature over
the number of charters the state should allow.

Bay Mills is a tribal college that is allowed to open charter
schools statewide because it serves American Indians across
Michigan. Other sponsoring institutions must build charters
within their own district areas.

The move "demonstrates ... that Bay Mills has the capacity to at
least respond to some of the demand in Michigan," said Michigan
Association of Public School Academies President Dan Quisenberry.
Currently, the college has two charter schools, in Pontiac and in
Bay City, Mich.

A spokeswoman for Gov. Jennifer Granholm says the governor wishes
to close the loophole that allows Bay Mills to authorize schools
anywhere in the state.
_______
SOURCES:
Detroit Free Press, "9 charter schools open amid debate,"
Sept. 10, 2003
http://www.freep.com/news/education/wchart10_20030910.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


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ANONYMOUS DONOR PLACES RESTRICTIONS ON SCHOOL FUNDING OFFER
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SALINE, Mich. — An individual who last April offered to donate
millions of dollars to the cash-strapped Saline Area School
District has, in addition to asking a non-profit organization to
serve as the conduit for the funds, placed strict stipulations on
the offer.

In order to draw on the funds, the Saline district would have to
a) maintain existing teacher-to-pupil ratios; b) not
significantly reduce non-core curriculum and extra-curricular
educational programs; and 3) not implement a Schools-of-Choice
program.

Saline Reporter Staff Writer Brian Cox reported that the
"unprecedented" donation proposal came following a town meeting
at which the district discussed running a Schools-of-Choice
program as a way to lower a $1.7 million budget deficit.

Not reported in the story was how the potential donor chose the
particular restrictions, whether the donor attended the town
meeting, or if the town meeting influenced the donor's offer.
Hundreds of school districts are participating in the Schools of
Choice program to augment enrollment and funding. It is rare for
a donor to offer money contingent upon a school district denying
enrollment to students from other neighborhoods.
_______
SOURCES: Saline Reporter, "Million-dollar benefactor looks to
work through Foundation for Saline Area Schools," Aug. 28, 2003
http://archives.heritage.com/, click on Saline Reporter, then on
20030828 (date article appeared), then on title of article.

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Limited school choice is
improving Michigan Public Schools," March 31, 2000
http://www.mackinac.org/2801


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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. 22, at Burton Manor, 27777 Schoolcraft
Rd.; in Jackson on Tuesday, Sept. 23, at the Commonwealth
Commerce Center, 209 East Washington; in Grand Rapids on
Wednesday, Sept. 24, at Eberhard Center, Grand Valley State
University; and in Traverse City on Thursday, Sept. 25, 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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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:
http://www.educationreport.org/pubs/mer/#subscribe.
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