Contents of this issue:
  • Private schools work to keep tuition low
  • Many minority students don't graduate from high school
  • Detroit school receives grant for drug testing
  • Grand Rapids high schools adjust attendance policies
  • Parents seek special ed. changes

PRIVATE SCHOOLS WORK TO KEEP TUITION LOW
DETROIT — Many private schools in Michigan are facing decreasing enrollment due to the struggling economy, but are combating it by engaging in innovative fundraising and even freezing tuition for parents, according to the Detroit Free Press.

For example, the Detroit Waldorf School developed a payment plan in which parents discuss their financial situation with the school and develop appropriate payment. The two Cornerstone Schools in Detroit are using billboards and other forms of advertising to reach out to people willing to contribute $42 a month to sponsor a part of a student's $3,500 tuition, the Free Press reported.

While two Catholic schools are closing in the Detroit area, a new Catholic school, scheduled to open in the fall, will offer a mandatory work-study program so students work off much of their tuition, according to the Free Press.

"There is a perception that we're affluent and don't need any help," Dick Halsey, executive director for the Association of Independent Michigan Schools, told the Free Press. "There has been significant pressure on financial aid programs. ... Pressure is most felt in places where the tuition is lowest."

SOURCE:
Detroit Free Press, "Private schools boost efforts to help area families," June 6, 2008
http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080606/NEWS06/ 806060426/1003/NEWS

FURTHER READING:
Michigan Education Report, "Painting the private school picture," May 12, 2000
http://www.educationreport.org/2890


MANY MINORITY STUDENTS DON'T GRADUATE FROM HIGH SCHOOL
LANSING, Mich. — A report from Education Week shows that many minority students, specifically black and Hispanic students, aren't graduating from high school, according to WLNS.

The report found that only one-third of Michigan's young black men graduated in 2005. The dropout problem isn't just about race, however, as about 20,000 Michigan students drop out of school annually, WLNS reported.

SOURCE:
WLNS TV 6, "More Minority Students Dropping Out of School," June 5, 2008
http://www.wlns.com/Global/story.asp?S=8435218&nav=0RbQ

FURTHER READING:
Michigan Education Report, "Privately managed public school academy raises achievement for minority students," May 30, 2002
http://www.educationreport.org/4371


DETROIT SCHOOL RECEIVES GRANT FOR DRUG TESTING
DETROIT — Detroit was awarded a federal grant for school-based random student drug testing, according to the Detroit Free Press.

The $165,300 Detroit receives is only a small chunk of the $5.8 million the federal government awards for such programs.

"Random student drug testing programs test students who opt into the drug testing program with their parents' or guardians' consent, participate in school athletic programs or engage in competitive, extracurricular, school-sponsored activities," according to Spellings' office, the Free Press reported.

SOURCE:
Detroit Free Press, "Detroit news briefs: City gets grant to test randomly for drug use," June 5, 2008
http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2008806050339

FURTHER READING:
Michigan Education Digest, "U.S. Supreme Court to consider school drug testing policies," March 19, 2002
http://www.educationreport.org/4124

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, " 'The Wire': A Barbed Portrayal of Urban Public Schools," Oct. 24, 2006
http://www.mackinac.org/8012


GRAND RAPIDS HIGH SCHOOLS ADJUST ATTENDANCE POLICIES
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Teachers in Grand Rapids are no longer allowed to reduce a student's grade for lack of attendance, according to The Grand Rapids Press.

Teachers criticized the school board's claims that a student should not receive a lower grade if they can prove they know the material. The Grand Rapids teachers union said it thinks the move could be a ploy on the part of the school board to increase the number of passing students, especially since it was done so late in the semester, The Press reported.

Some educators are still skeptical.

"There's just no replacement for that student-teacher contact," Jenison High Principal Mark Dievendorf told The Press. "It's not just the delivery of instruction. It's the building of a relationship and the support and encouragement that helps students to succeed academically."

SOURCE:
The Grand Rapids Press, "Grand Rapids policy criticized, but more schools say attendance not essential," June 4, 2008
http://www.mlive.com/news/index.ssf/2008/06/grand_rapids_policy_criticized.html

FURTHER READING:
Michigan Education Report, "Should Michigan raise the compulsory school attendance age from 16 to 18? No," May 24, 2007
http://www.educationreport.org/8508


PARENTS SEEK SPECIAL ED CHANGES
LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan State Board of Education would regain a large share of authority over special education in the state if a parent activist can convince lawmakers to make the move.

Marcie Lipsitt of Franklin, parent of a son with special needs, is the main force behind House Bill 5323, which would rescind a 1996 executive order moving special education decision-making to the state superintendent of instruction.

Lipsitt and others say that an elected body would be more accountable to the public when it comes to decisions about providing special education services. They are particularly opposed to the superintendent having final say on alternate special education plans that allow school districts to increase class size or caseloads.

Special education administrators have said that alternate plans give them flexibility to provide services more effectively.

The bill would not ban such plans, but would require ISDs to obtain state board approval for them.

SOURCE:
Michigan Education Report, "Special ed parent: 'We have not had a voice,'" June 10, 2008
http://www.educationreport.org/9530

FURTHER READING:
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Operating monies for Special Education," in "A Michigan School Money Primer," May 30, 2007
http://www.mackinac.org/8581

Michigan Education Report, "Parents push for changes in special ed waiver system," Feb. 29, 2008
http://www.educationreport.org/9292


MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST is a service of Michigan Education Report (http://www.educationreport.org), an online newspaper 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
mailto:med@educationreport.org

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