Contents of this issue:
  • More Michigan high schools fail to meet AYP
  • Some 'Michigan Promise' scholarships delayed
  • State senator wants to increase standards for third-graders
  • Mediator enters contract negotiations in Belding
  • Hazel Park recall effort ends
  • iPod winners named

LANSING, Mich. — An increasing number of Michigan high schools failed to meet Adequate Yearly Progress, due primarily to scores on the Michigan Merit Exam, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Some 489 high schools did not make AYP, compared to 399 last year, the Free Press reported. Since 2002, the number of schools not meeting academic targets has increased by 70 percent. State Superintendent Mike Flanagan said the results were expected after recently making adjustments to the high school curriculum, according to the Free Press.

"We changed our high school graduation requirements because we knew we needed higher standards to prepare our kids for the demands of college and the work world," Flanagan told the Free Press. "These results just remind us how critical that change was."

Statewide, 83 percent of juniors who took the MME met or exceeded standards in social studies, with 51 percent passing tests in English language arts. About 46 percent of students tested successfully in math, while about 56 percent met or exceeded standards in science, the Free Press reported.

Detroit Free Press, "State finds more high schools aren't making grade," Nov. 30, 2007

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "No Cop-Out Left Behind," March 23, 2005

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The Michigan Department of Treasury reported that many of the state's Michigan Promise payments to schools were delayed after the state budget problems earlier this fall, according to WOOD TV.

After legislators were unable to finalize a new budget to meet their spending demands on time in late September, the state did not send colleges any lists of students who were supposed to receive the scholarship money. Many students then had to pay a part of tuition bills they were expecting to have covered by the state, WOOD TV reported.

A Treasury spokesman says updated lists and money should be sent to colleges and universities soon, according to WOOD TV.

WOOD TV, "For some, 'Michigan Promise' scholarships a promise unkept," Nov. 29, 2007

Michigan Education Digest, "Granholm signs 'Michigan Promise' scholarships bill," Dec. 26, 2006

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Sen. Wayne Kuipers has proposed legislation that would prevent students who cannot read at a third-grade level from moving on to fourth grade, according to The Grand Rapids Press.

The bill calls for students to be tested in second and third grades in order to identify those who have fallen behind and work to make sure they are ready to be promoted at the end of third grade. Kuipers believes this sort of legislation is necessary if the state wants to see results from its new high school curriculum, The Press reported.

"We've done a lot of work at the high school level, and now we need to start the discussion on what's being done in the elementary schools," Kuipers said, according to The Press. "I want to ask the question: How do we end the social promotion game and get the kids on the right track?"

Critics of the bill argue this is just another way for the state to micromanage schools. Wyoming Superintendent Jon Felske says students learn at different speeds and holding back students who are weak in only one area will cause more problems than promoting them and having them continue to work on their reading skills.

"I don't see why they need to micromanage every program that gets money from the state," Felske told The News. "They need to get their own house in order before they start throwing more unattainable goals at us."

The Grand Rapids Press, "Senator's bill would get tough with third-graders," Nov. 28, 2007

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Hope in State Graduation Standards Misplaced," Jan. 3, 2006

BELDING, Mich. — A mediator will try to help settle contract negotiations between the Belding teachers union and school district after talks halted over disagreements regarding health insurance, according to The Grand Rapids Press.

The board of education's latest proposal called for a two-year contract that included 2 percent raises each year and complete coverage under the Michigan Education Special Services Association's Choices II plan, The Press reported. MESSA is a third-party administrator affiliated with the Michigan Education Association school employees union.

Teachers are reluctant to agree to an increase in co-pays for prescription medication.

"Given the status of the district's finances, the majority of union members feel this is unacceptable," Lynn Mason, a physical education teacher and spokesperson for the Belding Education Association union, told The Press. "While a $10 co-pay for generic drugs is reasonable, people who can't take them would have to pay $20 for a name brand equivalent, plus an additional charge for the difference in ingredients."

Superintendent Chuck Barker said he is displeased with the negotiations.

"I'm very disappointed it's come to this," Barker told The Press. "Teachers were offered the same deal that was already approved by administrative and support staff, including bus drivers, custodians and paraprofessionals."

The Grand Rapids Press, "Belding teachers, administrators face mediation," Nov. 28, 2007

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Selective Moral Outrage," Sept. 24, 2007

HAZEL PARK, Mich. — An effort to recall two members of the Hazel Park Board of Education who supported continuing participation in the schools of choice program and two school closings has ended, according to the Royal Oak Daily Tribune.

Recall effort leader Ed Bullock claims to have gained sufficient signatures to put the recall on the ballot, but didn't collect them within the allotted 90 days, the Tribune reported. Bullock initially targeted board members Melvin R. Rasmusson and Ricky D. Nagy, but targeted board President Clint Adkins in a second petition drive. Petition language was approved by the Oakland County Election Commission for all three members in June. State law says the petition language is good for 180 days, but only those signatures collected within 90 days are valid. Bullock blames the weather for his lack of success, according to the Tribune.

"No where could we come up with the number (needed) for the 90 days," Bullock told the Tribune. "The weather is getting a lot colder and we don't need to get people out in the inclement weather."

Royal Oak Daily Tribune, "Recall effort called off," Nov. 30, 2007

Michigan Privatization Report, "School Board Members Survive Recall Attempt," July 26, 2007

MIDLAND, Mich. — Winners in the most recent Michigan Education Report prize drawing included Liane Nusse, a teacher in Mancelona, Grace VanderVliet, a teacher in Okemos and Steve Sutton, a parent whose children attend schools in Farmington.

Their names were selected in a random drawing among all people who posted comments at in response to articles appearing in the Fall 2007 issue. Another drawing, also for three iPod Shuffles, will take place in February 2008 and is open to everyone who posts comments on articles published in the Winter 2007 edition.

VanderVliet teaches several language arts classes in Okemos Public Schools, where she has been employed for three years. Sutton works in the information technology industry and has a longtime interest in education policy. Nusse is a third-grade teacher at Mancelona Elementary School in Antrim County.

MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST is a service of Michigan Education Report (, a quarterly newspaper 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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