Contents of this issue:
  • 100,000 MEA members near deadline to save $200 each

  • State promises MEAP scores will be returned on time

  • New York union chief proposes teacher incentive pay

  • Madison Heights superintendent may have questionable doctorate

  • Colorado governor approves college vouchers

  • Federal education department to decide on state accountability revisions

Midland, Mich. — More than 100,000 Michigan teachers and public school personnel are about to take home slightly smaller paychecks for the next two decades unless they opt out of a new union fund drive by June 1.

The Michigan Education Association will begin a 20-year program of deducting an additional ten dollars per year from each of its members' paychecks to raise an estimated $1.1 million annually. A flyer promoting "all inclusive membership" says the money would bolster MEA's political clout by automatically adding members to the union's retiree organization.

To opt out of paying the extra fees, MEA members must "write an individual letter" to their local membership chair by the June 1 deadline, according to a union memo. Members who take no action will see their paychecks deducted automatically.

MEA member and special education teacher Linda Taylor objected to the new fees. She said, "The union already takes too much of our money then spends it on projects and political campaigns that a large percentage of the membership do not even support."

Last year the union raised members' compulsory dues by the maximum amount allowed by its bylaws.

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "100,000 Public School Employees Near Deadline to Save $200 Each," May 11, 2004

Michigan Education Association memo, April 30, 2004

Michigan Education Association flyer, "All Inclusive Membership," April 30, 2004

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "MEA Teachers Face Maximum Dues Hike to Ease $10 Million Union Shortfall," March 12, 2003

LANSING, Mich. — The state Department of Education will release this year's Michigan Educational Assessment Program (MEAP) test scores on time following three years of delays and other problems with the test scores.

Gov. Jennifer Granholm moved administration of the MEAP test from the Treasury Department back to the Department of Education in 2003. The last three years of test administration has seen delays, missing tests and allegations of cheating.

The Department of Education in October hired a test company executive to oversee the MEAP program and improve its execution, including eliminating delays in scoring the test.

Booth Newspapers, "MEAP scores will be on time, state vows," May 6, 2004 1083795001269270.xml

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Granholm Should Move MEAP Test Administration Back to Education Department," Nov. 20, 2002

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

NEW YORK, N.Y. — The chief of the New York City teachers' union proposed a pay increase to teachers willing to teach in the city's lowest-performing schools.

The proposal suggests a 15 percent increase for teachers willing to relocate to the 200 lowest-performing schools in the city, funded by a new court-ordered $1.5 billion increase in state funding.

After the announcement, Chancellor of New York City schools Joel Klein did not agree to the proposal, but said, "I think there were some interesting ideas in there. I look forward to talking to her about them." Klein told the New York Times that Mayor Bloomberg has included an incentive pay plan in his proposal for the new state funding.

New York Times, "A Proposal for Incentive Pay at Low-Performing Schools," May 9, 2004

Michigan Education Report, "Incentives for Teacher Performance in Government Schools: An Idea Whose Time Has Come," Spring 2002

Michigan Education Report, "Increase teachers' pay the right way," Early Fall 2000

MADISON HEIGHTS, Mich. — An editorial in the Detroit News questioned the superintendent of the Madison Heights public school district for failing to produce proof of his doctorate to the local board of education, saying it could have been purchased at a "diploma mill."

Steve I. Johnson, who earns $250,000 per year as Superintendent, claims he earned his doctorate in educational philosophy in 1996 from LaSalle University in Philadelphia. But that university says they only offer a master's degree in education. "Perhaps Johnson earned his sheepskin from the now-defunct distance-learning LaSalle University in Mandeville, La. The FBI shut down that school eight years ago and charged the president with fraud," wrote the News.

Though Johnson was hired based on his master's credentials, the News suggests that having a false advanced degree belies the integrity of the school district and sets a poor example for staff and students. "If he's claiming a degree he doesn't have, what is he teaching those children about honesty, integrity and hard work?"

Detroit News, "Madison Heights School Chief Should Show His Diploma," May 6, 2004

USA Today, "States probe teachers' uses of bogus advanced degrees," May 4, 2004

DENVER, Colo. — Colorado Gov. Bill Owens yesterday signed into law the nation's first college voucher program, which provides state-funded tuition vouchers to students in the state.

The law allows qualified students to receive up to $2,400 for attending a state university or $1,200 while attending a private institution. "Quality education isn't about institutions, it's about the future of our students," Owens said. "It's a new day for higher education funding in America, and I'm proud to say that it's dawning in Colorado."

Opponents of the program say the portion that allows state money to be used at private institutions could be challenged in court and will require cuts in other state services.

Michigan's popular college tuition tax-credit program has operated for years with no such court challenges.

CNN, "Nation's first college voucher program OK'd," May 10, 2004

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Education Reform, School Choice, and Tax Credits," April 2002

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Friedman Says Vouchers and Tax Credits Useful Route to Greater School Choice," March 2002

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "The Case for Choice in Schooling: Restoring Parental Control of Education," January 2001

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Nearly all 50 states plan to make changes in their accountability plans which were originally approved just last year under the "No Child Left Behind" Act.

Forty states plan to make changes for reasons ranging from new flexibility in the interpretation of the federal law to implementing systems other states have succeeded with. "Our goal is to wring every ounce of flexibility out of the law, but not to change the law," said Raymond J. Simon, assistant secretary for elementary and secondary education. "That's where we draw the line."

The Department of Education requested that all proposed changes be submitted to Washington before April 1. If approved, a state must incorporate the approved changes and have the department sign off on it before it can be implemented. "We're proud of the states for taking another look at their plans," said Simon. "I think it's a positive sign that states and districts are trying to make this work."

Education Week, "States Seek Federal OK For Revisions," May 5, 2004

Michigan Education Report, "No Child Left Behind law demands 'adequate yearly progress' and offers school choice options for parents," Fall 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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