Contents of this issue:
  • Granholm budget deal ties income tax delay to school/local funding
  • New school data show many schools have problems with federal testing requirements
  • Court issues ambiguous ruling in case involving teacher on-campus political activities
  • Federal test will reduce state's accountability, say Kentucky officials
  • Phoenix school to install face scanners
  • Federal education law denounced at states' meeting

GRANHOLM BUDGET DEAL TIES INCOME TAX CUT DELAY TO SCHOOL/LOCAL FUNDING
LANSING, Mich. — Gov. Jennifer Granholm's budget plan will cut $330 million from schools, local governments and universities — but only if House Republicans allow a delay in an income tax cut scheduled for January. If they do not, they will be blamed for making the education cuts more painful by $77 million.

Granholm and Senate Majority Leader Ken Sikkema, R-Wyoming, agreed to the tax cut delay, which would save the state $77 million for six months, or 8 percent of the current deficit of $920 million. But for many House Republicans the delay is tantamount to a tax increase. "I haven't agreed to anything yet," House Speaker Rick Johnson, R-LeRoy told the Ann Arbor News. Johnson said he'd follow the wishes of his GOP caucus, but his caucus is split.

Sikkema said he is banking on the tax cut delay to balance the budget. "I'm also a fiscal conservative and fiscal conservatives balance budgets," he told the Ann Arbor News. Jerry Griffin of the Michigan Association of Counties said for local governments, the tax cut break would be helpful as well. "It's better than a hot stick in the eye — a little bit," he said.

SOURCES:
Ann Arbor News, "Deal eases pain for schools," Dec. 10, 2003
http://www.mlive.com/news/aanews/index.ssf?/base/news-6/ 1071071116219941.xml

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "2,948 Jobs Won't Be Created if State Income Tax Cut Delayed, Economic Model Shows,"
http://www.mackinac.org/5824

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "No: Michigan Can't Afford to Postpone Reducing Taxes, Attracting Growth," Feb. 4, 2002
http://www.mackinac.org/4049

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "The Pros and Cons of Zero- based Budgeting," November 2003
http://www.mackinac.org/5928

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

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Michigan's Budget Challenge," April 2003
http://www.mackinac.org/4964


NEW SCHOOL DATA SHOW MANY SCHOOLS HAVE PROBLEMS WITH FEDERAL TESTING REQUIREMENTS
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The "No Child Left Behind" Act created enormous amounts of data on schools across the country, which was surveyed in a progress report by Education Week.

The survey found that many states still have not integrated local, state and federal testing systems, which has created delays in score reports and confusion among school officials. New accountability systems now required by the federal government are not always complimentary to states' existing systems.

Nevertheless, the overall picture of the impact of "No Child Left Behind" has been positive. "Our experience has taught us that in order to get some traction on education problems, you've first got to grab educators' attention, and No Child Left Behind has certainly done that," Kati Haycock, president of the Washington-based Education Trust, told Education Week.

Proponents of the law are hoping the problems will soon be sorted out and that the data can be used to improve education for the nation's students.

SOURCES:
Education Week, "In ESEA Wake, School Data Flowing Forth," Dec. 10, 2003
http://www.edweek.com/ew/ewstory.cfm?slug=15nclb.h23

Michigan Education Report, "No Child Left Behind law demands 'adequate yearly progress' and offers school choice options for parents," Fall 2002
http://www.educationreport.org/4846

Michigan Education Report, "President signs 'No Child Left Behind Act,'" Winter 2002
http://www.educationreport.org/4082


COURT ISSUES AMBIGUOUS RULING IN CASE INVOLVING ON-CAMPUS TEACHER POLITICAL ACTIVITIES
OLYMPIA, Wash. — In a split decision, the Washington Supreme Court has issued a ruling that does not specifically allow or deny teachers the ability to use public school grounds and resources to spread political messages. The result is confusion among union leaders, teachers and free-speech activists.

The Washington Education Association challenged a Washington state guideline, which states that teachers do not have the right to advocate for or against political causes on school property. The court ruled that the guidelines do not have any actual legal force and that therefore they cannot be challenged in court.

The dissenting opinions said the decision might have detrimental effects on free speech. According to the Seattle Times, the ruling "would appear to leave open the prospect that a teacher disciplined for some form of political activity could sue."

SOURCES:
Seattle Times, "Court rejects WEA in politicking case," Dec. 12, 2003
http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/ 2001813211_wea12m.html


FEDERAL TEST WILL REDUCE STATE'S ACCOUNTABILITY, SAY KENTUCKY OFFICIALS
FRANKFORT, Ky. — Some Kentucky school superintendents are saying that replacing the state's Commonwealth Accountability Testing System (CATS) achievement test with a new federal test will do damage to Kentucky school children's academic achievement.

A group called the Kentucky Superintendent CEO Network says CATS is the reason student achievement in the state has risen over the last decade. "We want to maintain what we have been trying to do in the state," Roger Marcum, the group's spokesman told the Lexington Herald-Leader.

New federal laws require schools to improve scores in just math and reading, as opposed to seven subject categories in CATS. The Network published a position paper saying that eliminating CATS would reduce school accountability and assistance to low-performing schools.

SOURCES:
Lexington Herald-Leader, "Superintendents: Replacing CATS will harm schools," Dec. 15, 2003
http://www.kentucky.com/mld/kentucky/news/local/7494331.htm

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


PHOENIX SCHOOL TO INSTALL FACE SCANNERS
PHOENIX, Ariz. — A controversial new security system will soon be operational in a Phoenix, Ariz. middle school.

The system uses a network of cameras to scan the faces of everyone entering the school. The cameras are attached to a database of sex offenders and missing children, which alerts the police if a camera recognizes a face it captures. "This is a very interesting and new application of [biometric] technology," said Rebecca Dornbusch, deputy director of the Washington-based International Biometric Industry Association.

Privacy groups are concerned that the system may violate the privacy of innocent people and allow police to monitor the cameras for criminals not associated with sex crimes or abductions. But Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio says the system is not set to recognize other criminals.

SOURCE:
Arizona Republic, "Phoenix school first to install face scanners," Dec. 11, 2003
http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/local/articles/ 1211edsecurity11.html


FEDERAL EDUCATION LAW DENOUNCED AT STATES' MEETING
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Federal and state officials held heated and lengthy discussions over President Bush's "No Child Left Behind" Act, and the new federal testing and financial burdens it imposes, at the National Conference of State Legislatures last week.

Many state representatives from both parties assailed the "No Child Left Behind" Act passed in 2001 by President Bush. "I find it difficult to comprehend how you reach 100 percent proficiency," said Kansas state Sen. John Vratil, R-11th District, of achievement goals set by the federal government.

The law aims to improve teaching and student performance with a reliance on testing and penalties for schools whose students fail to meet goals. Schools that fail to improve may be required to let students transfer to other schools, provide private tutoring, or in cases of repeated failures, let the state take over.

SOURCES:
CNN, "States voice doubts about federal education law," Dec. 11, 2003
http://www.cnn.com/2003/EDUCATION/12/10/states.education.ap/ index.html

Michigan Education Report, "No Child Left Behind law demands 'adequate yearly progress' and offers school choice options for parents," Fall 2002
http://www.educationreport.org/4846

Michigan Education Report, "President signs 'No Child Left Behind Act,'" Winter 2002
http://www.educationreport.org/4082


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
med@educationreport.org.

To subscribe, go to:
http://www.educationreport.org/pubs/mer/#subscribe.

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