[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.

Analysis: Pseudo School 'Cuts'

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

Consolidating School Districts Won’t Save Michigan $600 Million

Analysis: We Still Need to Reform Teacher Pay

Analysis: Consolidating School Districts Won’t Save Michigan $600 Million

Analysis: 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

Common School Funding Myths

The Unstable Funding Myth

The Sales Tax and Lottery Myth

The School Employee Concession Myth

Analysis: Merit Pay in Mt. Clemens?

Mona Shores Teacher Contract Summary

"Edujobs" Fact Check, Part II

'EduJobs' Fact Check

The Unequal Funding Myth

St. Joseph Teacher Contract Summary

August in Michigan Is Teacher Freedom Month

The Class Size Myth

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

The Sales Tax and Lottery Myth

Wayne-Westland Teacher Contract: Summary and Analysis

Walled Lake Teacher Contract Analysis

The Unequal Funding Myth

Are Public Schools Underfunded? No

Districts Save With Health Savings Accounts

The Unstable Funding Myth

The Unstable Funding Myth

Traverse City Teacher Contract: Summary and Analysis

Analysis: Another LIFO Victim

How Michigan’s School Foundation Allowance Works

Analysis: The Underfunded Schools Myth

How Public School Funding Works

The Underfunded Myth

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

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

Port Huron Teacher Contract: Summary and Analysis

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

The School Employee Concession Myth

The School Employee Concession Myth

Utica Teacher Contract: Summary and Analysis

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

Saline Teacher Contract: Summary and Analysis

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

Analysis: Can We Build Better Teachers?

Farmington Public Schools' Union Contract

Online Learning Can Improve Michigan Public Education