[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.

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 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

Analysis: Detroit Students Hostages to the Union

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

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

The School Employee Concessions Myth