Contents of this issue:
- Proposal 5 decisively defeated by voters
- DPS sued by tutoring company over NCLB
- East Detroit joins school choice program
- Rochester moves school board elections, lengthens terms
- Kentwood leases land for billboards
- Former MEA union employee sentenced in embezzlement case
PROPOSAL 5 DECISIVELY DEFEATED BY VOTERS
LANSING, Mich. — The ballot initiative led by the Michigan Education Association school employees union to mandate yearly increases in funding for public schools and colleges failed 62 to 38 percent, according to the Detroit Free Press.
Estimates showed Proposal 5 would have cost up to an additional $1 billion a year for school funding, with no guarantee of improved student performance.
"I already pay enough taxes in Detroit, and we pay enough taxes to the state," Detroit resident Yolanda Ellis told the Free Press.
School employee unions and affiliated groups spent $4.2 million to promote the spending mandate, which was also endorsed by the Michigan School Business Officials, according to the Free Press.
Opponents of Proposal 5 included: The Stop K-16 Coalition, Gov. Jennifer Granholm, Republican gubernatorial candidate Dick DeVos, Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, the Michigan Chamber of Commerce and the Michigan Association of Realtors, the Free Press reported.
"We believe the voters really educated themselves and realized that Proposal 5 was not really about education, and instead it was about funding and perpetuating really out-of-control teacher pensions and salary increases," Tricia Kinley, spokeswoman for the Stop K-16 Coalition, told the Free Press.
Detroit Free Press, "Proposal 5: School aid plan snubbed," Nov. 8, 2006
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Proposal 5 and the Fine Print," Nov. 6, 2006
Michigan Education Digest, "Major newspapers come out against Proposal 5," Oct. 24, 2006
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Decades of Dollars and Disappointment," Oct. 6, 2006
DPS SUED BY TUTORING COMPANY OVER NCLB
DETROIT — A tutoring company has filed a $1 million lawsuit against Detroit Public Schools for violating the No Child Left Behind Act, according to The Detroit News.
Alliance for Children Inc. claims DPS restricted it from offering tutoring services to students in the district's 75 failing schools. Under the NCLB, failing Title I schools must use a portion of their federal money to offer tutoring to students, The News reported.
State officials say that parents can choose which agency to receive services from, so long as it is on the list of companies approved my the Michigan Department of Education. Although the company was approved by MDE, DPS failed to put Alliance on the list it sent to parents and terminated its contract with the company in February.
"If a (tutoring) provider that's on the approved list wants to work in a school district, then the school district must allow a provider to do that," Jan Ellis, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Education, told The News.
Alliance for Children is suing for the payment it didn't receive for its services during the 2005-06 school year as well as additional damages, according to The News.
The Detroit News, "Tutoring company sues DPS, claims it violated No Child Law," Nov. 10, 2006
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "No Cop-Out Left Behind," March 23, 2005
Michigan Education Report, "No Child Left Behind law demands 'Adequate Yearly Progress' and offers school choice options for parents," Fall 2002
EAST DETROIT JOINS SCHOOL CHOICE PROGRAM
EASTPOINTE, Mich. — Parents in metro Detroit will have more say in where to educate their children, now that East Detroit Public Schools has elected to allow students from neighboring districts to enroll in its schools, according to the Detroit Free Press.
The Free Press reported that the school board had shied away from opening its schools to students not assigned to the district, but has seen a 20 percent drop in enrollment over the past 10 years. Now, any student in Macomb County may attend East Detroit Schools.
"I think people finally realized, by not participating we might be hurting ourselves," East Detroit Superintendent Bruce Kefgen told the Free Press.
Detroit Free Press, "East Detroit schools seek to end shortfall," Nov. 7, 2006
Michigan Education Digest, "Thousands of parents exercise limited school choice rights," July 5, 2006
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "The Case for Choice in Schooling: Restoring Parental Control of Education," Jan. 29, 2001
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "The Impact of Limited School Choice on Public School Districts," July 24, 2000
ROCHESTER MOVES SCHOOL BOARD ELECTIONS, LENGTHENS TERMS
ROCHESTER, Mich. — Rochester schools voted to save $70,000 per school board election by moving the date from May to November, according to The Oakland Press.
Moreover, the district decided to hold elections biennially instead of annually, The Press reported.
Although there was little debate about moving election dates, some board members were concerned with the decision to extend board terms from four to six years, according to The Press. Board Trustee Steven Kovacs thinks six-year terms are unnecessary.
"That seems to be a little on the long side to me," he told The Press.
The Oakland Press, "School board votes to move elections," Nov. 7, 2006
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Secret Ballot?" May 22, 2006
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "A Voter's Checklist for School Elections," April 28, 2006
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Is there a case for election consolidation across the sate or should such matters be decided at the local level?" June 10, 2002
KENTWOOD LEASES LAND FOR BILLBOARDS
KENTWOOD, Mich. — Kentwood Public Schools will receive more than $1.4 million over the next 20 years after signing a contract to place two billboards on its property, according to The Grand Rapids Press.
The billboards will be located by the district's transportation building near U.S. 131. According to the Michigan Department of Transportation, approximately 40,000 automobiles travel through the area daily.
The district signed the contract with Lamar OCI North Corp. and will receive $50,000 the first year, with the lease rate increasing by $2,000 each year. The district also received a $35,000 signing bonus, The Press reported.
"We look at this as found money," Kentwood's assistant superintendent for business, Steve Zakem, told The Press.
The Grand Rapids Press, "Signs of things to come for schools?" Nov. 6, 2006
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "School Budgets: A Crisis of Management, Not Finance," Feb. 11, 2005
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "The Six Habits of Fiscally Responsible Public School Districts," Dec. 3, 2002
FORMER MEA UNION EMPLOYEE SENTENCED IN EMBEZZLEMENT CASE
MARQUETTE, Mich. — A former Michigan Education Association union employee was sentenced to 30 days in jail for embezzling more than $111,000 from the Copper Country Education Association office in Hancock, according to The Daily Mining Gazette.
Susan Lynn Gregg was also sentenced to five years probation and ordered to pay $111,540 in restitution over 30 years, The Mining Gazette reported.
According to a WLUC TV6 report from July 10, 2006, Gregg could have been sentenced to up to 30 years in prison and fined up to $1 million.
The Daily Mining Gazette, "Local embezzler gets 30 days," Nov. 13, 2006
WLUC, "MEA official admits to financial fraud," July 10, 2006
Michigan Education Digest, "Former MEA union employee pleads guilty," July 11, 2006
Michigan Education Digest, "Former union official accused of embezzlement," Nov. 8, 2005
Michigan Education Digest, "Judicial Board Censures Kalamazoo Union President for Misusing Funds," July 19, 2005
MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST is a service of Michigan Education Report (http://www.educationreport.org), a quarterly newspaper with a circulation of 150,000 published by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy (http://www.mackinac.org, a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan research and educational institute.
Contact Managing Editor Sarah Grether at
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