Contents of this issue:
  • New visa policy may threaten overseas teacher recruitment

  • Gov. Granholm introduces plan to double number of college grads

  • EDITORIAL: Ads in school buses may bring in extra revenue

  • State Legislature begins ISD inquiry

  • Proposal A still debated after 10 years

  • Schools begin to require students to take MEAP

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A tightening visa policy for foreign workers is affecting the number of teachers schools can hire from overseas, reducing the supply of teachers from levels several years ago.

Past visa rules allowed schools across the country to recruit teachers from overseas, to alleviate shortages of specialized teachers. In 2000, the visa ceiling was tripled to 195,000. This year, however, only 65,000 visas are allowed, with no more approvals until October.

"It will be impossible for these schools to have enough teachers in place for the new school year," Paul L. Zulkie, president-elect of the Washington-based American Immigration Lawyers Association, told the Washington Post.

Congress is generally unwilling to raise the visa ceiling due to job growth issues in the United States, but some say over 200,000 teachers will be needed from overseas each year over the next 10 years to meet demand.

Washington Post, "New Visa Ceiling Called Threat to Teacher Recruitment," Mar. 8, 2004 (free registration required)

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Immigration and Open Borders," November 1997

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Private Solutions to the Public School Teacher Shortage," January 2000

Michigan Education Report, "What teacher shortage?" Winter 2002

LANSING, Mich. — Gov. Jennifer Granholm announced yesterday a plan to boost the number of college graduates in Michigan by 100 percent in the next 10 years.

Granholm's administration plans to instate a commission to study what it calls a "skills gap" that keeps many students out of college, affecting Michigan's economy. The number of residents in Michigan over age 25 with a bachelor's degree is 22.5 percent, below the national average of 26.7 percent. That difference amounts to roughly the number of students currently enrolled in Michigan public universities.

Over the next decade, many professions will require technical skills acquired in college, furthering the need for higher education. "We know it's going to be in science and technology and high-end health-care service jobs" such as nursing, said Phil Gardner, director of Michigan State University Collegiate Employment Research Institute.

Ann Arbor News, "College plan is in the works," Mar. 14, 2004 107926301676080.xml

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "The Cost of Remedial Education," Aug. 31, 2000

DETROIT, Mich. — Ad agencies placing advertisements in and on school buses pay enough money to be a significant source of revenue for districts, a Detroit News editorial suggested last week.

Elsewhere in the country, school districts are using the ads to raise money to supplement student fundraising. An ad agency in Pennsylvania plans to place 15 ads in buses at $30 per month, and the Boston district gained $600,000 last year by selling ads on all its buses.

Local districts can set rules specifying what messages are appropriate for children, and whether the ads would be allowed on the insides of buses. "The revenue potential for school bus advertisements is significant," wrote the News, and could be used to restore funding to field trips and other school functions.

Detroit News, "School Bus Ads Could Mean Extra Dollars," Mar. 9, 2004

Michigan Education Report, "Corporations donate millions for public school programs," Early Fall 2001

LANSING, Mich. — A House committee set up to investigate allegations of financial wrongdoing in the Oakland Intermediate School District (ISD) heard testimony from several subpoenaed witnesses last Wednesday in the first of five hearings aimed at improving accountability in ISD operations.

In January, a Detroit Free Press report found that the Oakland district allegedly awarded millions of dollars in no-bid contracts and purchased a new fiber-optic network with $9 million earmarked for special education, among other allegations.

Mike Flanagan, executive director of the Michigan Association of Intermediate School Administrators, is saying the investigative committee is redundant. "There already is a bunch of legislation proposed to address [the problem]" he told the Detroit Free Press. "If there is a criminal matter to be looked at, then prosecution is in order."

Detroit Free Press, "School talks concentrate on accountability," Mar. 11, 2004

The Oakland Press, "Inquiry into ISD mismanagement to begin," Mar. 10, 2004 news.cfm?newsid=11097865&BRD=982&PAG=461&dept_id=467992&rfi=6

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Eliminate Intermediate School Districts," August 2003

Michigan Education Report, "What Are Intermediate School Districts?" Winter 2000

Michigan Education Report, "Group files complaints against districts," Spring 2000

LANSING, Mich. — The leveling effect provided by 1994's Proposal A is still hotly debated among educators, policy-makers and parents around the state.

Yesterday marked the 10th anniversary of a collection of bills that partially altered the funding formula for the state's public schools. Instead of relying on property tax income, which varies greatly among urban and suburban districts, Michigan increased the sales tax from 4 to 6 percent, earmarking the increase for education. Every district is guaranteed at least $6,700 per pupil, funded by local, state and federal capital.

Critics of 'Proposal A' say the reduction in property taxes forced many schools to cut programs that students are now required to pay for out of pocket.

Some economists, however, say the effect has been positive overall for equality among school districts with different demographics. "The promise of Proposal A has been more than fulfilled by the taxpayers," Patrick Anderson of the Anderson Economic Group told the Lansing State Journal. "There are no longer monetary excuses for poor school performance."

Lansing State Journal, "Proposal A still hotly debated," Mar. 15, 2004

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "'Proposal A,' 10 Years Later," February 2004

Lansing State Journal, "McHugh: More money isn't guarantee of better county education," Mar. 7, 2004

DETROIT, Mich. — At the urging of the State Board of Education, the South Redford School District in metro Detroit will require high school students to take the Michigan Educational Assessment Program (MEAP) tests in order to graduate.

Federal law requires that 95 percent of all students be tested in each state, which the MEAP requirement would fulfill. The South Redford School District policy not only requires students to take the MEAP to graduate but to score at proficient levels to earn a diploma.

Other districts, such as West Bloomfield, plan to establish similar systems. Although support for the requirement is building, critics say a mandatory test for graduation may prove difficult for some students.

Detroit News, "Schools seek to make students take MEAP," Mar. 12, 2004

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "How Does the MEAP Measure Up?" December 2001

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "POLICY BRIEF: Which Educational Achievement Test is Best for Michigan?" May 2002

MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST is a service of Michigan Education Report (, a quarterly newspaper with a circulation of 130,000 published by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy (, a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan research and educational institute.

Contact Managing Editor Neil Block at

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