Director of Education Policy
Audrey Spalding is the director of education policy at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. In this position, Spalding oversees the Center's education research and publications, including Michigan Education Digest and Michigan Education Report. She started at the Center in 2012 as an education policy analyst.
Before joining the Mackinac Center, Spalding worked as a policy analyst at the St. Louis-based Show-Me Institute, where she provided analytical research and legislative testimony on tax credits, land banking and education. Her public policy op-eds have been published in a variety of newspapers, including The Detroit News, The Detroit Free Press, the Battle Creek Enquirer, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the St. Louis Business Journal and The Kansas City Star.
Prior to her time at Show-Me, Spalding was an education reporter for the Columbia Missourian, where she was a co-recipient of the 2008 Missouri Press Association's Community Service Award for her efforts to highlight school district expenditures.
Spalding received her bachelor's degree from the University of Missouri, having majored in both journalism and economics. She is a native of Ann Arbor, Mich.
From Audrey Spalding
Approximately 75 percent of districts with contracts subject to the right-to-work law removed language that would require employees to financially support a union as a condition of employment. Both legal and policy questions are raised by the remaining 25 percent of districts, which kept mandatory dues language in one way or another, despite having a contract that took effect or was modified after the law's effective date.
The study describes five issues with these contracts. Twenty-three contracts made no apparent changes and kept mandatory dues language. Eight districts created a separate agreement to require mandatory dues payment. Fifteen contracts were ratified before they would be subject to the right-to-work law, but then didn’t take effect until much later. Five contracts made only the mandatory dues language immediately effective, while delaying the rest of the contract. Finally, at least six districts have modified parts of their contract without making the rest of it compliant with the right-to-work law. … more
Some districts negotiated with their unions to add language stating that if circumstances changed, pages of prohibited language would take immediate effect. Others simply changed the word “teacher” in order to keep the prohibited language but have it apply to other staff members. Finally, some districts appear to have kept prohibited language without explanation.
This study includes further examples and lists of districts that kept the prohibited language in their contracts. As a solution, penalties could be added to the collective bargaining reform laws in order to encourage district compliance. … more
This study finds that students enter districts that have higher graduation rates and higher test scores. On average, Schools of Choice students chose districts with higher pupil-teacher ratios, lower expenditures per pupil and higher average teacher salaries.
During the first year of charter school operation, students demonstrated significant learning gains, with some grades posting academic growth far above the average Michigan student. … more
These results matters because TTB rankings are used to impose consequences on low-ranking schools. This study suggests that Michigan should look at how other states rank schools in an attempt to reduce the likelihood of penalizing schools that serve lower-income students. It also makes the case that a choice-based accountability system is preferred, as it would allow students to escape schools that are not serving their needs and reduce the risk of penalizing undeservedly low-ranked schools. … more