Contents of this issue:


  • Flint schools discuss sex-education
  • Contract talks civil for Muskegon-area schools
  • Goodrich schools look at bus advertising
  • Grand Rapids contract talks continue
  • Schools crack down on truancy

FLINT SCHOOLS DISCUSS SEX-EDUCATION


FLINT, Mich. - The Flint Board of Education is discussing the possibility of developing a sexual-education curriculum for students in fifth and sixth grades, according to The Flint Journal.

"It's crisis time, ladies and gentleman," board President Vera Perry said, according to The Journal. "We do have young people out there who are having sex just because and they're putting themselves at risk for diseases and pregnancy."

The thought of intensive health curriculum at that age is startling to some parents.

"They're still growing up," parent Tony Davis told The Journal.

"That's too early, unless they're getting exposed to it constantly already. It should wait until middle school."

In 2005, teen pregnancy in the city of Flint was reportedly three times the statewide average. Genesee County Health Department officials said that sexually transmitted infections are also a prominent issue among the city's teens, according to The Journal.

SOURCE:
The Flint Journal, "Flint educators debate how soon is too soon to instruct kids on sex education," Sept. 5, 2008
http://www.mlive.com/flintjournal/index.ssf/2008/09/flint_educators_ debate_how_soo.html

FURTHER READING:
Michigan Education Report, "Howell schools aren't alone in debate over values in the classroom," May 24, 2007
http://www.educationreport.org/8498


CONTRACT TALKS CIVIL FOR MUSKEGON-AREA SCHOOLS


MUSKEGON, Mich. - A number of Muskegon-area districts are in the final stages of contract negotiations, according to The Muskegon Chronicle.

Teachers in Muskegon Heights have worked for two years without a contract, but negotiators are planning to meet for a "marathon bargaining session." Discussion for the district centers around working conditions, but not salaries or other financial issues, The Chronicle reported.

"We just don't have a lot to work with there; they don't have any money," Frank Mongene, Uniserv director for the Michigan Education Association school employees union, told The Chronicle. "It's hard to get something that isn't there."

Contract talks dealing with salaries and insurance in North Muskegon are described by Mongene as "very friendly," according to The Chronicle.

"You can talk about tough stuff and we don't make enemies,"

Mongene told The Chronicle. "It's just a whole different atmosphere compared to other districts in the county."

SOURCE:
The Muskegon Chronicle, "Teachers, school districts negotiating contracts," Sept. 5, 2008
http://blog.mlive.com/chronicle/2008/09/teachers_school_districts_nego.html

FURTHER READING:
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "A Collective Bargaining Primer," Feb. 28, 2007
http://www.mackinac.org/8258


GOODRICH SCHOOLS LOOK AT BUS ADVERTISING


GOODRICH, Mich. - Goodrich is looking to increase revenue by placing targeted advertising inside of its school bus fleet, according to the Chicago Tribune.

The district would screen the ads, which would be placed above the windows on buses. There would be no start up cost for the district and it would receive a percentage of profits, the Tribune reported.

Parents in Goodrich have mixed feelings.

"I don't care how much money it would generate, there should be no advertising on the buses," parent Mark Griffiths told The Flint Journal, according to the Tribune. "These kids are bombarded with advertising already. The buses should be a safe haven. Every time you turn on the TV there's advertising for kids. ... I don't think we need any more of it."

Ypsilanti schools experimented with advertising on its buses, but decided not to renew the contract, according to the Tribune.

SOURCE:
Chicago Tribune, "Flint-area school district mulls ads on buses," Sept. 7, 2008
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/chi-ap-mi-schoolbusads,0,2936628.story

FURTHER READING:
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "The Six Habits of Fiscally Responsible Public School Districts," Dec. 3, 2002
http://www.mackinac.org/4891


GRAND RAPIDS CONTRACT TALKS CONTINUE


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - Leaders of the Grand Rapids Education Association teachers union are asking to meet with the board of education as teachers enter their second year without a contract, according to The Grand Rapids Press.

Union President Paul Helder wants to meet with the board to iron out any fundamental misunderstandings. Helder said he believes the two parties have different budget information, The Press reported.

"If we can't agree on the foundation of what we're talking about, I don't know how we can settle this peacefully -- and we want to settle this peacefully," Helder told The Press.

Superintendent Bernard Taylor rejects the idea and demands that the union continue bargaining with administrators.

"Anything short of allowing your bargaining team to continue doing what it is doing will show a lack of confidence in your administration and its negotiating team," Taylor told board members at a recent meeting, according to The Press.

SOURCE:

The Grand Rapids Press, "GRPS teachers union leaders want face- to-face meeting with board," Sept. 2, 2008
http://www.mlive.com/grpress/news/index.ssf/2008/09/grps_teachers_ union_leaders_wa.html

FURTHER READING:
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "A Collective Bargaining Primer," Feb. 28, 2007
http://www.mackinac.org/8258


SCHOOLS CRACK DOWN ON TRUANCY


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - Districts in Kent County are joining forces with police and prosecutors to make sure children are attending school, according to WOOD TV.

Unexcused absences are increasing in Grand Rapids and the district is pushing for police to be speedier in prosecuting cases of truancy. Thirteen of 60 truancy cases were brought to trial last year, WOOD TV reported.

"We need to know, three weeks into school, a month into school, who is not there and start making phone calls at that time,"

Kent County Prosecutor Vicki Seidl told WOOD TV. "Most of these cases aren't getting to our office until March or April."

School attendance is mandatory under Michigan law until the age of 16. School funding is based on student enrollment.

SOURCE:
WOOD TV, "Schools take hooky seriously," Sept. 2, 2008
http://www.woodtv.com/Global/story.asp?S=8936999&nav=menu44_2

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


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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