Contents of this issue:
  • State Board of Education votes to keep MEAP
  • Schools working to blunt parent reaction to school grades
  • Grand Rapids parents to rate principals
  • Kalamazoo charters "holding their own" with traditional schools
  • Hamtramck superintendent suspended
  • Fifth-grade teacher charged with drug dealing

STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION VOTES TO KEEP MEAP
LANSING, Mich. — Last week, the state Board of Education voted to keep the Michigan Educational Assessment Program (MEAP) standardized achievement test as the state standard for student assessment.

The Board's unanimous vote to support the MEAP came after a review of two independent studies critiquing the test. The MEAP came under fire last year after test results were delayed by several months. Some claim that the test is obsolete and doesn't meet new federal testing requirements under the "No Child Left Behind" Act.

Board members said the MEAP meets current state standards and is current enough to use, according to state Department of Education spokesman Martin Ackley. The resolution to keep the MEAP will be forwarded to the Legislature for consideration.

SOURCES:
Holland Sentinel, "State keeps MEAP," Jan. 14, 2004
http://hollandsentinel.com/stories/011404/loc_011404010.shtml

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "How Does the MEAP Measure Up?" December 2001
http://www.mackinac.org/3919

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


SCHOOLS WORKING TO BLUNT PARENT REACTION TO SCHOOL GRADES
DETROIT, Mich. — Schools, worried about the reaction of parents should they receive a poor grade in the upcoming release of the state's grades for every school in the state, are preparing parents for the worst.

On January 30, the state will release for the first time letter grade scores for each school in the state under a new accreditation system called "Education YES!" To prepare parents, schools are holding parent meetings and conferences, sending letters home and playing videos on their local cable channels. The grading system will give schools a letter grade ranging from "A" to "F" as an indicator of student achievement and progress. The grades were originally released to schools last November but a wave of 1,200 appeals by school districts pushed the public release back to this month.

SOURCES:
Detroit News, "Schools brace parents for state grades," Jan. 14, 2004
http://www.detnews.com/2004/schools/0401/14/a01-35457.htm

Michigan Education Report, "State superintendent launches plan to grade schools," Winter 2002
http://www.educationreport.org/4083

Michigan Education Report, "State Board of Education adopts school grading plan," Spring 2002
http://www.educationreport.org/4270


GRAND RAPIDS PARENTS TO RATE PRINCIPALS
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A plan to include communities in school decision making will allow parents and community members to rate school principals in the Grand Rapids Public Schools.

Bert Bleke, Grand Rapids superintendent, unveiled the plan last Friday, which may eventually include elected councils to help run schools. In order for principals to do a truly good job, they must be open and accountable to the people they serve, said Bleke.

Currently, principals may not have that skill, but the district will spend time teaching them to respond to outside input.

"That's not necessarily easy, but that's what we have to do," he said. "I don't believe all of our principals have the capacity to fully engage the community; it's not part of their training. We have to build the capacity."

SOURCE:
Grand Rapids Press, "GR principals will be asking teachers, parents to rate them," Jan. 12, 2004
http://www.mlive.com/news/grpress/index.ssf?/base/news-12/ 1073922458233040.xml


KALAMAZOO CHARTERS "HOLDING THEIR OWN" WITH TRADITIONAL SCHOOLS
KALAMAZOO, Mich. — Over the last 10 years, charter schools in Kalamazoo have held their own with traditional schools in that area, proving that parents have a choice as far as where their children are educated.

Kalamazoo County has four charter academies serving a total of about 1,100 students, about 3 percent of the county's K-12 public-school enrollment of 35,686 last year. Another 4,300 students attend the county's private and parochial schools. Two of the local charter schools are upgrading their facilities, and a third has seen its enrollment more than double since its creation five years ago. A charter school run by the Family Institute folded after a couple of years, citing low enrollment. This fall Kalamazoo Advantage purchased the building it had been renting in downtown Kalamazoo since 1998, putting $4 million into improvements that include building a gymnasium, an indoor play area for students and additional classrooms.

The law allowing charters, or public school academies, was signed into law 10 years ago last week. Enrollment in charters across the state has increased steadily, even though many of the schools do not offer traditional programs such as athletics.

SOURCES:
Kalamazoo Gazette, "Charters hold their own," Jan. 13, 2004
http://www.mlive.com/news/kzgazette/index.ssf?/base/news-8/ 1074011094187120.xml

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

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


HAMTRAMCK SUPERINTENDENT SUSPENDED
HAMTRAMCK, Mich. — The superintendent of the Hamtramck School District was suspended with pay last week due to allegations that he violated state law while holding bids for contracts and for misallocation of school funds.

The Hamtramck school board voted 4-2 in favor of the suspension of superintendent Paul Stamatakis. A report assembled by Wayne County Assistant Prosecutor George Ward alleges Stamatakis allowed over $1 million in cost overruns.

The report included instances in which a construction firm didn't properly reimburse a school district for work done on a school's heating plant, the awarding of contracts without competitive bidding, and other violations.

Stamatakis, who has been superintendent in Hamtramck for three years, denied the charges.

SOURCES:
Detroit News, "Hamtramck school leader suspended," Jan. 16, 2004
http://www.detnews.com/2004/schools/0401/16/d06d-37657.htm

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Financial scandals exposed in Michigan school districts," Nov. 17, 2002
http://www.mackinac.org/pubs/mer/article.aspx?ID=4835


FIFTH-GRADE TEACHER CHARGED WITH DRUG DEALING
The Supervisor of Saginaw County's Carrollton Township, who also is a 5th-grade teacher, is facing a number of criminal charges, including drug possession, delivery and money laundering.

The Saginaw County Prosecutor charged Richard D. Hagerty, 45, with four counts of manufacturing and delivering marijuana, and one count each of conducting a criminal enterprise and money laundering.

Authorities say the crimes occurred at Hagerty's home last fall. Hagerty, who teaches at Buena Vista's Ricker Middle School, is free on a $100,000 bond. Hagerty's preliminary hearing is scheduled for Jan. 29 to determine whether there is enough evidence for him to stand trial. He faces up to 20 years in prison.

SOURCE:
Associated Press, "Carrollton Township Supervisor charged with drug possession, delivery," Jan. 19, 2004
http://www.mlive.com/newsflash/michigan/index.ssf?/base/news-10/ 1074541144237810.xml


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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