Contents of this issue:
  • Grand Rapids teachers union threatens illegal strike
  • More Michigan schools fall short of goals
  • Portage bidding process questioned
  • One-quarter of Michigan high school students don't finish
  • DPS sued over computer lease
  • Saginaw pays to get rid of teacher

GRAND RAPIDS TEACHERS UNION THREATENS ILLEGAL STRIKE
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The president of the Grand Rapids teachers union sent a letter to substitute teachers in the district asking them not to cross picket lines should the union strike, according to The Grand Rapids Press. Teacher strikes are illegal under Michigan law.

The district and union have not been able to agree on a contract for more than a year, The Press reported. Both sides have agreed to "fact finding," in which the state appoints a third party to help resolve the dispute.

SOURCE:
The Grand Rapids Press, "GRPS teachers union asks substitutes not to cross picket line," Aug. 25, 2008
http://www.mlive.com/grpress/news/index.ssf/2008/08/grps_teachers_union_asks_subst.html

FURTHER READING:
Michigan Education Digest, "GRPS board votes 'no confidence' in union; won't collect dues," May 27, 2008
http://www.educationreport.org/9484


MORE MICHIGAN SCHOOLS FALL SHORT OF GOALS
LANSING, Mich. — The number of Michigan schools failing to meet standards set by the federal No Child Left Behind Act increased by 150 during the 2007-2008 school year, according to The Detroit News.

"While this shows that all schools are not where they need to be, or where we want them to be, 80 percent are meeting the higher goals and helping students achieve," Kathleen N. Straus, president of the state Board of Education, said in a press release, The News reported.

NCLB requires schools to achieve "Adequate Yearly Progress." Those that fail face sanctions, The News reported. Schools facing first-time sanctions numbered 185 in 2008, up from 118 in 2007.

The biggest decline was among high schools, 241 of which achieved AYP in 2008, compared to 313 in 2007, according to Booth Newspapers.

SOURCES:
The Detroit News, "Report: Fewer Michigan schools met federal goals last year," Aug. 25, 2008
http://www.detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080825/METRO/ 808250409/1361

Booth Newspapers, "Number of Michigan schools meeting goals drops," Aug. 25, 2008
http://www.mlive.com/newsflash/index.ssf?/base/news-56/12196949 8659470.xml&storylist=newsmichigan

FURTHER READING:
Michigan Education Report, "Michigan adopts NCLB growth model," July 28, 2008
http://www.educationreport.org/9682


PORTAGE BIDDING PROCESS QUESTIONED
PORTAGE, Mich. — Portage Public Schools might revise its construction bidding process to give preference to the low bidder rather than local companies, according to The Kalamazoo Gazette.

The board of education in July picked a Kalamazoo company to perform $1.3 million worth of work on a new elementary school, despite its bid being $41,000 higher than the low bidder, The Gazette reported.

"I feel local preferences are important, but also feel a fair process is even more important," board Vice President Jennifer Whistler told The Gazette. "I have an emotional attachment to local businesses, but we're so tight on our budgets, we don't have much wiggle room."

SOURCE:
The Kalamazoo Gazette, "Portage schools revising bid practices," Aug. 5, 2008
http://www.mlive.com/kalamazoo/stories/index.ssf?/base/news-30/12179478 22116560.xml&coll=7

FURTHER READING:
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "The Effects of Michigan's Prevailing Wage Law," Aug. 27, 2007
http://www.mackinac.org/8907


ONE-QUARTER OF MICHIGAN HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS DON'T FINISH
LANSING, Mich. — One in four Michigan high school students do not graduate, according to The Detroit News.

A new way of tracking high school students, which looks at those who entered high school as freshmen in 2003, showed 75.5 percent had graduated by 2007. The new formula accounts for those who transfer schools, stop and start school or are held back a grade, The News said.

The previous method for calculating graduation rates, which was based on retention, put Michigan at 85.8 percent.

SOURCE:
The Detroit News, "Michigan graduation rates: 25 percent don't finish in four years," Aug. 25, 2008
http://detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080825/SCHOOLS/ 808250400

FURTHER READING:
Michigan Education Report, "Hope in state graduation standards misplaced," March 7, 2006
http://www.educationreport.org/7633


DPS SUED OVER COMPUTER LEASE
DETROIT — General Electric Capital has filed a federal lawsuit against Detroit Public Schools over a lease for Apple computers, according to the Chicago Tribune.

The company says DPS missed a payment of $254,000 in May. That charge is up to $280,000 including late fees, the Tribune reported.

SOURCE:
Chicago Tribune, "Detroit schools get an 'F' in computer deal," Aug. 21, 2008
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/chi-ap-mi-detroitschools-co,0, 5026982.story

FURTHER READING:
Michigan Education Digest, "Vendors won't send DPS textbooks," Aug. 19, 2008
http://www.educationreport.org/9737


SAGINAW PAYS TO GET RID OF TEACHER
SAGINAW, Mich. — The Saginaw School District will pay more than $65,000 to rid itself of a teacher accused of poor classroom behavior, according to The Saginaw News.

The district will pay $42,000 for Teri Dinsmore's salary through the end of 2008 and her benefits until next June in a separation package negotiated by lawyers from the Michigan Education Association school employees union, The News reported. The district already has spent $23,000 to pay Dinsmore and substitute teachers since she was suspended last spring.

Dinsmore has been suspended or reprimanded at least six times since 2004, The News reported. The district could have spent more than $100,000 had it pursued firing her, which would have involved hearings before the Teacher Tenure Commission.

SOURCE:
The Saginaw News, "Saginaw schools pay $65,000 in settlement to keep teacher out of the classroom," Aug. 22, 2008
http://www.mlive.com/saginawnews/news/index.ssf/2008/08/saginaw_schools_pay_65000_in_s.html

FURTHER READING:
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Reforming Teacher Tenure Practices" in "A Teacher Quality Primer," June 30, 2008
http://www.mackinac.org/9605


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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