Contents of this issue:
  • Education grads can't find jobs in Michigan
  • Howell board stands behind its decision to leave MESSA
  • Competitive contracting popular in Port Huron area
  • Feds, state have no jurisdiction in school book complaint
  • Troy schools end high school inter-district choice
  • New issue of Michigan Education Report; Win an iPod

DETROIT — Michigan ranks fifth in the nation in the number of education bachelor's degrees it awards, but 75 percent of those graduates can't find jobs in the state, according to The Detroit News.

According to State Superintendent Mike Flanagan, education schools are producing elementary teachers, while Michigan has a shortage in special education, math, science and language arts educators. He believes that colleges should work to funnel students into different areas of study though scholarships, according to The News.

"Otherwise, you are subsidizing kids with public dollars who go to another state and we are still stuck holding with bag with not enough math and science teachers," Flanagan told The News.

The large pool of graduates may be benefiting Michigan school districts, The News reported.

"Districts are definitely getting the best teachers that are out there, because they have so many to pick from," Oakland Schools Public Relations Specialist Danelle Gittus told The News.

The Detroit News, "75% of education school grads can't get jobs in Michigan," March 12, 2007

Michigan Education Report, "Michigan lags behind some states," Nov. 21, 2006

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Does Teacher Certification Matter?" Sept. 14, 2004

HOWELL, Mich. — The Howell school board is standing behind its decision to declare itself the district's health insurance policyholder, despite complaints from the teachers union, according to the Livingston Daily Press and Argus.

In response to the Howell board's decision, the Howell Education Association proposed an alternative that would involve continuing the purchase of health insurance coverage from the Michigan Education Special Services Association and having the HEA's members each contribute $600 a year to the cost of their own insurance, the Daily Press and Argus reported. MESSA is a third-party administrator affiliated with the Michigan Education Association school employee union.

The board issued a news release stating that the union's plan is less costly than the district's in the first year, but would not continue to be cost effective in the future, according to the Daily Press and Argus. Board Treasurer Phil Westmoreland thinks that the board's decision is the correct one for the district.

"Our plan includes top-notch, comprehensive health benefits our teachers deserve, and provides low annual deductibles and no required employee contribution toward premium costs," Westmoreland said, according to the Daily Press and Argus. "Our plan will, now and over time, save the district substantial dollars in health insurance costs that can be sent to the classroom or given to teachers in raises.

The board and HEA will be meeting with a state-appointed mediator later this month, according to the Daily Press and Argus.

Michigan law states it is a management right for school boards to declare themselves as the policyholder for health insurance, and that such a decision does not have to be bargained.

Livingston Daily Press and Argus, "Howell board responds to teachers' union," March 14, 2007

Michigan Education Digest, "Howell schools seek health benefit options," Feb. 20, 2007

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "A Collective Bargaining Primer For Michigan School Board Members," Feb. 28, 2007

Michigan Education Digest, "Howell custodians abandon MESSA," Sept. 5, 2006

Michigan Education Report, "Growing number of districts seek solutions to costly health insurance," Dec. 15, 2005

PORT HURON, Mich. — More than 50 percent of school districts in the Blue Water Area have contracted for at least one of several non-instructional services, according to the Port Huron Times Herald.

Contracting for food services is the most popular option in the area, according to the Times Herald. None of the districts have contracted for custodial services, and Marysville is the only district with private busing services. Elsewhere, Jackson Public Schools recently signed a contract for custodial services and will save $1.3 million, or $193 per pupil, the Times Herald reported.

According to the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, these districts contribute to the 38 percent of the state's schools that have moved towards competitive contracting for non-instructional services, the Times Herald reported.

Port Huron Times Herald, "Privatizing in schools increases," March 11, 2007

Michigan Education Report, "Do private employees in public schools provide the same quality of service as public employees in public schools? Yes," Feb. 23, 2007

Michigan Education Report, "Profit has a role in public schools," Feb. 23, 2007

Michigan Education Report, "Map: School contracting continues to grow," Feb. 23, 2007

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Federal and state officials have been looking into a complaint filed by the founder of Livingston Organization for Values in Education regarding the use of three books in Howell High School English classes, The Ann Arbor News reported.

The complaint claimed that books by Kurt Vonnegut, Richard Wright and Toni Morrison violate federal obscenity laws and should be pulled from the curriculum. Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox recently stated that the state and federal governments have no jurisdiction in this type of issue and told the organization they "must either take appropriate civil legal action or use the electoral process to change the members of the board," according to The News. Cox said that it is the school board's responsibility to examine issues of obscenity.

Board President Sue Drazic believes these books are suitable for the classes in which they are taught.

"I think for advanced English, for grade 11, these books are appropriate," she told The News.

The Ann Arbor News, "Feds: Books don't violate laws," March 16, 2007

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "States' English Standards Still Need Improvement, Study Says," March 28, 2005

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Political Correctness Suppresses Education," March 16, 2004

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "What is the Best Way to Teach Reading?" April 25, 2003

TROY, Mich. — The Troy Board of Education voted to end inter-district choice for its high schools, according to the Royal Oak Daily Tribune.

The district has been experimenting with open enrollment for the past few years in order to stabilize enrollment at Athens and Troy high schools. Community Relations Director Tim McAvoy feels removing choice for parents is critical for equitable distribution of resources.

"Currently Athens enrollment is 1,991 and Troy High is 2,107. We want to ensure that we have equity of building size," McAvoy told the Daily Tribune.

Royal Oak Daily Tribune, "Troy schools close open enrollment," March 12, 2007

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

MIDLAND, Mich. — The expanded spring issue of Michigan Education Report is available now, and can be accessed on the Web at

Michigan Education Report is offering readers a chance to win an iPod when they comment on articles in its spring 2007 issue.

Comments can be made via e-mail about stories on the U.S. House Fellows program (, school district health benefits savings (, whether private employees in public schools provide the same quality of service as public employees in public schools ( and, a community college cooperating with home-school students ( and the role of profit in public schools (

Please visit for more information.

MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST is a service of Michigan Education Report (, a quarterly newspaper with a circulation of approximately 150,000 published by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy (, a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan research and educational institute.

Contact Managing Editor Sarah Grether at

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