[Photo of Michael Van Beek]

Michael Van Beek

Director of Research

Michael Van Beek is director of research for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. He joined the Mackinac Center in June 2009 as director of education policy. He has authored several studies for the Center as well as analysis and commentaries that have been published in The Wall Street Journal, The Detroit News, the Detroit Free Press, The Grand Rapids Press, The Oakland Press and elsewhere.

For four years prior to working at the Center, Van Beek taught political philosophy, government, economics and history at North Hills Classical Academy, a private primary and secondary school in Grand Rapids. He also served one year as a North Hills assistant administrator.

Van Beek obtained his Master of Arts in American history from Purdue University and his Bachelor of Arts in history from Hope College.

He lives in Midland, Mich., with his wife, three children, a dog and an assortment of semi-domesticated creatures, including a coyote named Gandalf, a fox named Felix and the Harrisons, a family of red-tail hawks.

Michigan School Spending Hits All-Time High

Per-pupil public school spending set a new record in 2010. … more

School Districts Ignoring Labor Market Signals

Schools need to apply law of supply and demand to teachers. … more

Should Education Money Only be for K-12?

The truth behind the School Aid Fund. … more

Average Teacher Salary in Michigan Rises Again

According to new data just released by the Michigan Department of Education for the 2009-2010 school year, the average teacher salary in Michigan has risen for the 13th consecutive year. This most recent data puts the figure at $63,024. … more

'Controlling' School Health Insurance Costs, Local Style

Four days after Gov. Rick Snyder recommended a 2011-2012 budget that would reduce state aid for schools by $300 per pupil from this year’s levels, the Petoskey school board proposed a plan to reduce the district’s teacher and support staff health insurance costs. Its timidity reveals why the public school establishment finds even the prospect of modest state funding reductions so traumatic. … more

Michigan Schools Still Well-Funded Under Governor's Plan

Even if Gov. Rick Snyder's proposed spending reductions on K-12 schools passes the Republcian Legislature, Michigan taxpayers will still supply schools with more money per pupil than taxpayers in 28 other states. … more

The MEA's Mob Mentality: If We All Strike, You Probably Won't Be Fired

In contemplating a statewide teacher strike, the Michigan Education Association appeals to peer pressure in advising its members on whether to approve an illegal strike. … more

Michigan Ain't Wisconsin, But Their Teachers Unions Share a Playbook

Gov. Rick Snyder has stated that “Michigan is not Wisconsin,” and that he doesn’t want to pick a fight with unions. Yet when it comes to the costs of school employee benefits, Michigan is eerily similar to Wisconsin, and in both states the root cause is also the same: government employee union collective bargaining privileges. … more

Update of New Teacher Contracts

Many school boards around the state are attempting to renegotiate current contracts or negotiate new ones with their local teachers unions to contain costs. Here's a brief recap of some of the new contracts agreed to recently. … more

Fact Check: Warren Schools' False Budget Cut Claim

The practice is widespread. Teachers union officials and even U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan have employed similar "creative" definitions of fiscal terms to support their talking points. … more

Benefits or Jobs: Schools, Legislature Must Choose

School districts and the Legislature have a choice: Protect bloated benefits, cut staff and eliminate programs, or enact reforms that make it possible to put benefits in balance while preserving educational services. … more

Can School Choice Work in Detroit?

Critics of school choice often complain that parents aren’t capable of making wise decisions when selecting a school for their children, and so the government should choose for them. Many parents in perhaps the nation’s worst urban school district, however, recently showed that they are eager to find good school alternatives. … more

National School Choice Week

National School Choice Week kicks off today. Michigan, once considered a school choice leader, should continue expanding learning opportunities for all students. … more

Michigan Spends More on Teacher Benefits Than Most Other States

Of all the funds spent on “instruction” in Michigan public schools in 2008, 28 percent went to employee fringe benefits. Only five states devoted more of their resources to benefits; the national average was 22 percent. … more

Poor ROI for K-12 Schools in Michigan and the US

The United States spends more on K-12 schooling than any other industrialized nation save for Switzerland, but gets mediocre results at best on internationally benchmarked standardized tests. Michigan mirrors this same situation: This state spends the 16th most among the states on schools, but its students consistently score near the bottom on national standardized tests. … more

Update on New Teacher Contracts

Three Michigan districts recently signed new contracts with their teachers union. All three include across-the-board pay raises for teachers for this year and the next. Each district also modified the type of health insurance package it offers teachers, all which are still much more generous than than can be found on average in the private sector. … more

Plymouth-Canton Teacher Contract Summary

Teachers in the Plymouth-Canton Community Schools contribute nothing to the cost of their health insurance premiums, and in 2009 received an average salary of $66,644. The local school union president is also carried as a full-time employee on the district's books, but is not required to teach or provide any other service — she collects a salary and full benefits but is granted full "release-time." These are among the highlights in the current collective bargaining agreement negotiated between the district and the local arm of the Michigan Education Association union. … more

How to Save $500 Million on Michigan Schools

Michigan could save around $500 million if public school employees contributed the same percentage toward their employer-provided health insurance benefits as federal workers do, on average. The reform would generate savings of more than $300 per pupil. … more

Warren Woods School District Pays Nearly Double the Private-Sector Average for Health Insurance

Three school districts in the state recently agreed to new contracts with their teachers union. Warren Woods continues to pay an exhorbitant amount for health insurance, while Saugatuck saved money by just switching insurance providers. … more

ISD Bloat Redux

My recent analysis showing that staffing levels at intermediate school districts grew significantly over the last decade — even as the number of students in Michigan public schools fell — drew some criticism from Dr. David A. Spitzley, an employee of the Washtenaw ISD. Dr. Spitzley points out that the data provided by the Michigan Department of Education's Center for Educational Performance and Information are inconsistent over time in some respects. Nevertheless, no matter how one slices the data, it still shows that ISD payrolls expanded while enrollment contracted. … more

Traverse City Schools Set Transparency Precedent

Traverse City Area Public Schools is raising transparency to a new level, and setting an example that other Michigan school districts should follow. … more

Brighton Teacher Contract Summary

Brighton Area Schools is one of only 32 Michigan districts currently operating with a budget deficit, even though it takes in more than $8,000 per pupil. According the Michigan Department of Education, the district overspent by 17 percent last year. A good place to start looking for ways to get out of the red would be the teachers union contract, since the costs contained therein consume almost 70 percent of the district's general funds. … more

Detroit Students Hostages to the Union

A "multidimensional" crisis that's been unfolding for decades may finally be coming to a head in the Detroit Public Schools: The district is virtually bankrupt, the schools are unsafe and they generate the worst student achievement results in the nation. And now, Robert Bobb, the governor-appointed emergency financial manager, is waving the white flag, asking the state to borrow against future revenues to bail out the district. Doing so would be unfortunate for both students and state taxpayers. … more

Saugatuck School District Saves Big on Insurance

The Grand Rapids Press reports that teachers in Saugatuck Public Schools will no longer be provided with health insurance from the Michigan Education Special Services Association, an arm of the state's largest teachers union. The district instead will purchase employee insurance from Priority Health, a move that is said to save $3,800 per teacher annually. If similar savings were extended to all of Michigan's teachers it would amount to $394.4 million. … more

More on the School Employee Concession Myth

In a recent Detroit Free Press article, Doug Pratt of the Michigan Education Association argued that school employees have become victims to considerable budget cuts. Check out this latest video for more information. … more

Huron Valley Teacher Contract Summary

The average teacher salary in Huron Valley Schools was $62,439 in 2009, and teachers contribute nothing to the cost of their health insurance premiums. The district pays about 51 percent more than the average employer in the state for employee health insurance. Huron Valley also pays teachers who opt-out of health coverage $3,281 annually. The local union president is fully released from all teaching duties (without loss of pay or benefits) to conduct union business. These are among the highlights in the current collective bargaining agreement negotiated between the district and the local arm of the Michigan Education Association union. … more

Harbor Beach Teacher Contract Summary

The average teacher salary in Harbor Beach Community Schools was $58,229 in 2009, second highest in Huron County. Teachers contribute nothing to the cost of their health insurance premiums, which cost the district $19,761 per teacher for a family plan. These are among the highlights in the current collective bargaining agreement negotiated between the district and the local arm of the Michigan Education Association union. … more

Cadillac Teacher Contract Summary

The average teacher salary in Cadillac Public Schools was $55,617 in 2009, and teachers contribute nothing to the cost of their health insurance. The district pays $220 to employees for simply not enrolling in the school health insurance plan. These are among the highlights in the current collective bargaining agreement negotiated between the district and the local arm of the Michigan Education Association union. … more

Is College Accessibility Really a Problem?

Both of Michigan's gubernatorial candidates favor spending more on higher education and claim more students need to gain access to college. Yet more students are enrolled in Michigan colleges than ever before, and a larger portion of Michigan residents are enrolled in college than other similarly sized states. … more

ISD Bloat?

The number of school employees for each student in Michigan's public school system has been rising for most of the past 15 years, and stands now at one employee for every eight students. This is surprising given Michigan's declining economy over the last decade, and the school establishment's perpetual complaints of being underfunded… more

Virg Bernero on Education: Was Lost, But Now He's Found

In an interview with The Detroit News, gubernatorial candidate Virg Bernero said, "One of the reasons we lose kids to the private school system is because of discipline."
"Losing" kids is an interesting way for Bernero to describe families who choose to opt-out of the public school system, since he himself was primarily educated at a non-public school, and also chose one for one of his children. … more

Recaps of New Teacher Contracts

Many school boards around the state are attempting to renegotiate contracts with their local teachers unions to contain costs. Here's a brief recap of some of the new contracts agreed to recently. … more

Charlotte Teacher Contract Summary

The average teacher salary in Charlotte Public Schools was $52,408 in 2009, and most teachers paid less than 2 percent of the cost of their health insurance premium. The district also pays between $300 and $500 per month to employees for simply not enrolling in the school health insurance plan. These are among the highlights in the current collective bargaining agreement negotiated between the district and the local arm of the Michigan Education Association union. … more

Forest Hills Teacher Contract Summary

The average teacher salary in Forest Hills Public Schools was $64,460 in 2009, and teachers contributed nothing towards the cost of their health insurance (the state average is about 20 percent). The district also pays $41 per month to teachers who do not enroll in the school health insurance plan. These are among the highlights in the current collective bargaining agreement negotiated between the district and the local arm of the Michigan Education Association union. … more

Garden City Teacher Contract Summary

The total compensation for 165 teachers in the Garden City Public Schools exceeded $100,000 in 2009, and employees make zero contribution to the health insurance provided them by the district, which for a family plan runs about $18,400. These are among the highlights in the current collective bargaining agreement negotiated between the district and the local arm of the Michigan Education Association union. … more

Teachers Picket as One of Michigan's Wealthiest School Districts Faces Big Deficit

Michigan and local taxpayers provided the West Bloomfield School District with more than $13,500 per student in 2008-2009, yet it still faces a $1.7 million deficit this year and $3.8 million next year. Employee compensation makes up 85 percent of the budget, so the district has asked teachers to help close the gap with revisions to their union contract. Their response was to picket, which they did Monday night. … more

How to Fix Flint Schools

The Flint Journal reports that members of a newly formed group called Flint Area Congregations Together (FACT) recently traveled to California, Virginia and New York looking for successful schools in areas with demographics similar Flint. While the aim is noble, the group could learn from a number of high-performing schools right at home in Flint. … more

Pseudo School 'Cuts'

Whenever faced with the possibility of lower revenue, Michigan's public school establishment perennially cry they've already been "cut to the bone." Many people find the claim plausible given the state's "lost decade," so they may be surprised to discover how many school districts have consistently cut costs in recent years: Five. … more

Recaps of New Teachers Union Contracts

Many school boards around the state are attempting to renegotiate contracts with their local teachers unions to contain costs. Here's a brief recap of some of the new contracts agreed to this last month. … more

MEA: Merit Pay Works!

The Michigan Education Association opposes bonus pay for teachers who excel at improving student performance, but supports a merit system for teachers who excel at raising money for MEA politicking. … more

We Still Need to Reform Teacher Pay

A study released this week shows that merit pay didn't improve test scores for students in Nashville, Tenn. While they're no panacea for all that ails public schools, merit pay and other differential pay systems are improvements over the "single salary schedule" — the method by which nearly every school in the country pays its teachers. … more

Detroit Public Schools Students Bear the Pain of Limited Educational Opportunities

A freshman at a Detroit high school experienced a disturbing first day: Two fellow students were shot on their way home from school Tuesday. Not surprisingly, he doesn't want to return to the school, but the state has effectively limited his chances of finding a better and safer learning environment. … more

Michigan Public School Health Insurance Costs Soar Above National Trends

A new annual survey of health insurance shows a slowdown in rising costs of premiums, yet in Michigan's public schools, premiums are skyrocketing. … more

Merit Pay in Mt. Clemens?

A new union contract in Mt. Clemens ties satisfactory teacher evaluations to pay raises. To be sure, this represents a move towards breaking from the assembly line mentality of the single salary schedule in favor of a compensation model based in part on performance. But this is a very small baby step, and it's unlikely to have any impact on raising student achievement. … more

Plagiarism at MSU? You Decide.

Take a look at the MSU study and decide whether this should be considered plagiarism or not. … more

MSU Consolidation Study Seriously Flawed

A new Michigan State University report on school consolidation appears to contain a substantial amount of plagiarized material, as reported by the Mackinac Center on Aug. 18. Diligent reviewers shouldn't stop there, however, because the study's methodology is also deeply flawed. Even if one believes that all districts would save money through consolidation, the conclusion that they could save $612 million is wildly exaggerated. … more

Plagiarism in MSU Study?

A recent study commissioned by Booth Newspapers and conducted by Michigan State University's Education Policy Center concludes that Michigan would save $612 million by consolidating school districts at the county level. While the methodology remains highly suspect, the study suffers from a far greater problem: It appears to contain significant amounts of plagiarized material. … more

'Edujobs' Will Hurt Public Schools

The public school bailout bill, doling out $318 million to Michigan, will ultimately do more harm than good. … more

Mona Shores Teacher Contract Summary

The average teacher salary in the Mona Shore Public Schools was $58,544 in 2009, and employees are not required to contribute anything to health insurance policies that cost the district some $12,800 annually. These are among the highlights in the current collective bargaining agreement negotiated between the district and the local arm of the Michigan Education Association union. … more

"Edujobs" Fact Check, Part II

Michigan's share of the loot from the "edujobs" bill passed by Congress this week will be about $310 million. We're told  that this will "save" 4,700 teacher jobs in Michigan. That's highly unlikely, for a couple of reasons. … more

'EduJobs' Fact Check

Gov. Jennifer Granholm and Sen. Debbie Stabenow were quick to praise the new "edujobs" bill passed by Congress as part of a "stimulus II" package. The $310 million is said to "save" 4,700 teacher jobs. That's unlikely. What is likely is that the public school bureaucracy merely gets another shot in the arm. … more

More MEA Obfuscation

The Michigan Education Association continues its perpetual campaign to obfuscate the facts about teacher pay. … more

St. Joseph Teacher Contract Summary

The average teacher salary in the St. Joseph Public Schools was $57,861 in 2009, and employees are not required to contribute anything to health insurance policies that cost the district some $11,400 annually. These are among the highlights in the current collective bargaining agreement negotiated between the district and the local arm of the Michigan Education Association union. … more

Holland Teacher Contract Summary

Most school districts are putting the finishing touches on next year's budget and anxiously awaiting word from Lansing about the exact dollar amount they'll get per pupil. While they're waiting, districts would be wise to give their teachers union contract a close look, since the bulk of school spending is absorbed by these employees. … more

New State Data Show Michigan Public Schools Spent Record Amount Per-Student

Michigan public schools received and spent more money per pupil in 2008-2009 than in any previous year for which figures are available, according to new data from the Michigan Department of Education. … more

Wayne-Westland Teacher Contract Summary

About 75 percent of the Wayne-Westland Community School's $111 million budget goes towards paying employees covered by its current collective bargaining agreement for teachers and a few other employee groups. … more

Ann Arbor Teachers Union Keeps District Out of Balance

The union concedes to help close one-fifth of budget gap, while pay for its members consumes three-quarters of district spending. … more

Districts Save With Health Savings Accounts

More school districts are realizing the savings that can be had from consumer-driven, high-deductible health insurance plans. … more

MEA Rally: Massive Failure or Just Waste of Time and Money?

MEA said they'd bring 10,000 people to Lansing and wound up with only 3,500. … more

Traverse City Teacher Contract Summary

In 2009, the vast majority of teachers in the Traverse City Area Public Schools received a base salary between $45,355 and $67,973, with an average of $56,742. The district also pays $14,631 annually for employee health insurance plans, toward which teachers contribute $87.50 per month, or 7 percent. This contrasts with the statewide average cost (private and public sector) for an employer-provided family plan of $11,300, with employees picking up 22 percent of that amount.
These are among the highlights of the current collective bargaining agreement for teachers and a few other employee groups, obtained from the district by professional negotiators employed by the Michigan Education Association. … more

The Kalamazoo Promise vs. School Choice

Is "The Kalamazoo Promise" program inherently better than school choice? … more

Another LIFO Victim

LIFO stands for "last in, first out" and describes how nearly all Michigan school districts choose which teachers to lay off when downsizing becomes a necessity. … more

Paying Teachers Not to Teach

At a recent rally where school employees called for an increase in state taxes, a representative of the Warren Education Association claimed that school revenues were in such disrepair that some students were having to go without desks. A spokesperson from Warren Consolidated schools denied this claim, but even if it were true, a few very minor policy changes well short of tax hikes would be all that is necessary pay for many new desks. … more

Michigan Department of Education Miscalculates Average Teacher Salary

The Michigan Department of Education improperly calculated the average public school teacher salary in the state for the last six years, reporting figures significantly lower than what is correct. Corrected figures for the past two years were recently released. … more

Port Huron Teacher Contract Summary

In the Port Huron Area School District, about 70 percent of the $106 million operating budget goes towards paying employees covered by current collective bargaining agreements for teachers and a few other employee groups. Yet few people know what is in these or other school labor contracts. … more

Teachers Union Isn't Pulling Its Own Weight When Making Concessions

Although the Utica Education Association consumes 70 percent of the district's budget, it just agreed to concessions worth only 18 percent of what's needed to keep the district in the black. … more

The Great Early Education Gamble

Another study castes doubts on what many are hoping will save Michigan's economy: schooling for 4-year-olds. … more

Utica Teacher Contract Summary

For most Michigan schools, 70 percent of their operating expenses go to paying employees covered under a teacher union contract. This is a summary and analysis of the current teacher contract for Utica Community Schools, the second largest district in the state.  … more

Average Teacher Salaries Continue to Rise

A new report from the Michigan Department of Education shows that average teacher salaries in Michigan grew by 3 percent to $58,721 in 2009. However, the average salary for unionized teachers in conventional school districts (93 percent of all teachers) was $62,556. … more

Leaders of the PAC

What happens when school employee groups are pitted against each other? Usually, the teachers are the champs. … more

Breaking News: House Vote Would Force Charter Schools Into Underfunded Pension System

Moments ago, the Michigan House of Representatives passed a bill that would force every charter school in the state to enroll its teachers in the underfunded and hugely expensive "defined benefits" pension system to which conventional public school employees belong. This year, conventional school districts are required to pay an amount equal to 16.94 percent of their payroll into this system, which promises its members lifetime monthly pension payments and health insurance upon their retirement. To deal with the increased cost pressures, next year, school contributions are expected to rise to 19 percent of payroll. … more

Saline Teacher Contract Summary

Nearly every aspect of a teacher's job falls under the provisions of a union contract. The following is an analysis of the current contract in Saline Area Schools. … more

More Money for MESSA

Things are about to get much tougher for the 440 or so Michigan school districts that buy employee health insurance from the Michigan Education Special Services Association. MESSA recently reported that it's predicting a statewide average increase of 13 percent in the price of its premiums. … more

Can We Build Better Teachers?

Michigan law requires that all teachers participate in professional development programs even though recent studies show that professional development does nothing to help teachers improve student achievement. Instead of fruitlessly trying to transform ineffective teachers, schools should focus on hiring and retaining high-performing ones. … more

Farmington Teacher Contract Summary

Nearly every aspect of a teacher's job falls under the rules of a union contract. The following takes an in-depth look at the Farmington Public Schools teacher contract. … more

East Lansing Teacher Contract Summary

Nearly every aspect of a teacher's job falls under the rules of a union contract. The following is an analysis of the current collective bargaining agreement for teachers and a few other employee groups in the East Lansing School District… more

Proposal Would Punish Prudent School Districts

House Bill 5963, sponsored by Rep. Tim Melton (D-Pontiac) would force schools to spend down their general fund balances to 15 percent of their current operating expenditures. This attempt to micromanage their budgets isn't likely to help schools become more fiscally stable or deal with dwindling enrollment and the resulting declines in revenue. … more

Fruitport Teacher Contract Summary

Nearly every aspect of a teacher’s job falls under the rules of a union contract. The following is a synopsis of the agreement for Fruitport Community Schools. … more

Little League Advice for Schools

School districts in Michigan would benefit from some advice from a Little League coach. … more

A Case for Private School Choice in Detroit

A Detroit Free Press columnist inadvertently makes strong case for universal tuition tax credits and a free school market in Detroit. … more

Western (Jackson) Teacher Contract Summary

Nearly every aspect of a teacher's job falls under the rules of a union contract. The following is a synopsis of just one of those agreements in Michigan. … more

Superintendent, Teacher Pay

Senate Bill 1148, introduced recently by Sen. Bruce Patterson, R-Canton, would limit the total compensation of public school superintendents to 75 percent of what the governor is paid and prohibit districts from paying any teacher more than what a state legislator makes. … more

Walled Lake Teacher Contract Summary

Nearly every single aspect of a teacher's job falls under the rules of a union contract. The following is a synopsis of just one of those agreements in Michigan. … more

Separate and Equal

A new teachers union-funded study trying to pin charter schools for being "segregative" falls flat. … more

Teachers and Taxpayers

The president of the Michigan Education Association stated on the radio recently that school employees have "given and given and given and given." Comparing teacher salaries to personal income demonstrates that the taxpayers bearing school employee costs have "given" a lot more. … more

Michigan School Funding Problems Solved!

Incessant poor-mouthing is a staple of the public school establishment's perennial effort to extract more revenue from taxpayers. However, as described in a previous post, total state funding for Michigan public schools has actually increased by 14 percent this decade in real, inflation-adjusted terms. When combined with a 50,000-student decline in school enrollment, it adds up to our schools spending $2,000 more per pupil in 2008 than at the start of the decade.
From the AnnArbor.com news site comes additional evidence that our schools very well funded indeed. … more

School Choice: Polluting Our Planet?

A new study published in Environment Science and Technology analyzes the environmental impact of school choice policies in St. Paul, Minnesota. The authors found that eliminating school choice would lower emissions rates by 3 to 8 times and curb the "significant environmental consequences" of providing more educational opportunities for children. … more

Detroiters Yearn For Tuition Tax Credits

A brand new survey shows that parents of school children in Detroit overwhelmingly desire more school choice. Every single one of the 600 Detroiters surveyed support more scholarships and financial aid for private schools, and 95 percent of the respondents favor tax incentives for businesses to fund those scholarships. … more

Growing Special Education Enrollments in Charter Schools

Although public charter schools are required by law to admit all students that apply, a common criticism is that charters fail to enroll enough special education students. Statistics show that public charter schools have proportionately smaller special education enrollments than conventional public schools, but recent trends suggest the difference will continue to wane. … more

Charter School Demand Continues to Rise

Parents are demanding more public charter schools according an annual survey conducted by the Center for Education Reform. Demand grew by 21 percent over the last year, and for every public charter school in the country, there are 239 students denied the opportunity to attend. … more

Show Us the Savings

In response to Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop's plan to, among other things, reduce public employee pay by 5 percent, the Michigan Education Association is repeating a claim they've made in the past. This time around, the MEA asserts that they've saved taxpayers $1 billion by accepting reduced compensation packages through their locally bargained contracts. The statistics tell a different story. … more

Kids in Head Start Still End Up Behind

A study conducted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services shows the limited effectiveness of early education programs. Students in the nation's most extensive pre-kindergarten program — Head Start — were shown to have lost all cognitive gains by the end of first grade. Proponents of universal and state-run pre-K should take notice. … more

How to Remove an Ineffective Tenured Teacher in 13 Easy Steps

Recent Michigan legislation hypothetically makes it easier for schools to remove ineffective teachers from classrooms. However, some districts are claiming they already have good evaluation systems in place. For a glimpse into how the current process works, here's a step-by-step look at how one school district handles ineffective teachers. … more

A Lost Decade for School Budgets?

A recent Gongwer story (subscription required) paints a dreary portrait of Michigan's education funding over the last decade, or what they term the "lost decade." The article states that since 2000 education "was one of the first budgets hit with cuts and freezes." When it comes to K-12 schools, a broader perspective reveals a different story. … more

Allow Full High School Access to Two-Year Colleges

Michigan pays twice when high schools and community colleges overlap services and offer the same courses. In addition, studies estimate that community colleges spend one-third of their time providing remedial education, essentially doing the job that high schools are supposed to do. Allowing students to skip some high school extracurricular courses and move on to college earlier would lessen this redundancy and give many students a jump start on job training or a four-year degree. … more

That Same Old Story

Michigan schools once again are said to be facing a "funding crisis," and the apparent solution boils down to rounding up more revenue to feed them. The only problem with this simplistic solution is: It. Won't. Work. … more

'Race to the Top' Realities

Now that the Michigan Legislature finally passed some school reform bills in its attempt to get a potential one-time payment of $400 million from the federal government, let's put this "Race to the Top" program into perspective. … more

High-Flying Home-Schoolers

A recent Detroit News article, inappropriately titled "Lax home-school laws put kids at risk," states that current Michigan law prevents us from finding out how well home-schooled students are doing academically. Home-schoolers in Michigan aren't required to take standardized tests, as they do in other states, but Michigan home-schoolers sometimes take them voluntarily. The results from these tests are very impressive. … more

Welcome, MDFER!

A new school choice group calls Michigan home. … more

Charter School Expansion: House-Style

Gongwer reports that Michigan's House Education Committee approved a charter school expansion bill Thursday, but only after shackling it with some debilitating amendments … more