Studies

CS2012-01

Oxford Community Schools: The Great Recession — and the 'Greatest Gift'

Michigan’s Schools of Innovation

In this first installment of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy's new "Schools of Innovation" series, we begin with Oxford Community Schools' experiment with virtual learning. This study examines the district's adoption of Web-based learning to deliver and enhance student instruction. The effectiveness of virtual learning and the resulting increase in district enrollment have fueled the expansion of other school programs — a marked contrast to the many Michigan school districts that have struggled to maintain their offerings during the state's economic slump. … more
S2012-01

Five Options for Addressing ‘Transition Costs’ When Closing the MPSERS Pension Plan

Michigan Public School Employee Retirement Plans
in Need of Reform

This study considers the supposed ‘transition costs’ that would be effected by a state switch from a defined-benefit to defined-contribution retirement system. In it, the “transition costs” are found to be nonbinding and discretionary. In addition, the study offers the state a series of reforms that would diffuse such costs, as well as consideration for the long-term fiscal improvements that would arise from payment of the pension’s unfunded liabilities. … more

Loar v. Michigan Department of Human Services Brief

This booklet contains the Mackinac Center Legal Foundation’s final legal filing in a nationally known case involving the illegal unionization of Michigan’s home-based day care business owners and providers as government employees. Wright argued the case in the Michigan courts on behalf of Sherry Loar, Michelle Berry and Paulette Silverson, who each own home-based day care businesses.
The Mackinac Center Legal Foundation sued to end the DHS' illegal diversion of so-called "union dues" from state subsidy checks received by home-based day care providers who watch children from low-income families. The "dues" were funneled to a government-employee union that purports to represent more than 40,000 of Michigan's home-based day care providers, who are actually private business owners and independent contractors.
The case was ruled moot by the Michigan Supreme Court after the DHS ceased to collect the dues and the DHS director stated that these home-based day care providers are not public employees. … more
Michigan Privatization Survey Cover 2011

Michigan School Privatization Survey 2011

Majority of Michigan school districts currently contract food, custodial or transportation services
Despite increased spending in Michigan public schools, districts regularly face tough choices allocating their resources. This study surveys the privatization of the three major noninstructional services: food, custodial and transportation services. The findings are that over half of public schools have privatized at least one of these services; what is more, about 93 percent report satisfaction with the private-sector services they receive, which spells progress towards improving services while spending less. … more

Estimated Savings From Michigan’s 1997 State Employees Pension Plan Reform

Since March 31, 1997, new state employees who qualify for the Michigan State Employees’ Retirement System have been placed in a 401(k)-style “defined-contribution” retirement plan, rather than MSERS’ traditional “defined-benefit” pension plan. Under the new arrangement, state government makes mandatory contributions to employees’ individual retirement savings accounts, but does not guarantee employees a defined retirement income, as it did under the traditional plan.
In this Policy Brief, the author analyzes state pension data to determine whether state taxpayers have saved money as a result of the switch. … more
Locale Education Funding cover

Revenues and Spending of Michigan's Urban, Suburban, Town and Rural School Districts

In the passionate debates over providing equal educational opportunity for all children, it’s frequently argued that large financial inequities create challenges for many public schools, particularly those in lower-income urban areas. This study compares the revenues and operating expenditures of Michigan’s urban, suburban, town and rural school districts. The study’s findings provide a new and unique perspective on Michigan’s school districts. … more

Reconsidering Michigan's Public Employment Relations Act

Restoring Balance to Public-Sector Labor Relations

Michigan’s Public Employment Relations Act requires local governments and school districts throughout Michigan to bargain collectively with unions representing their employees. The collective bargaining process is a creation of the state Legislature, which also has the power to repeal or amend it.

No area of public policy in Michigan is more in need of fresh thinking than the relationship between government and its employees. With Michigan’s recurring government budget struggles, and with a new Legislature and governor espousing a commitment to performance, efficiency and accountability in government, a new labor law for government employees is imperative.

This report outlines a variety of ways the Michigan Legislature can address the damaging impact of PERA. … more
Cover

Virtual Learning in Michigan's Schools

Virtual learning doesn’t just involve using computers at school; it involves a new method of instructing students. Virtual instruction is provided by teachers working remotely or by specially designed software — or both — and delivered to students through computers or the Internet. In some cases, supplementary instruction might be provided by a local teacher, but the essence of virtual learning is that students no longer need to share a classroom with a teacher to learn.
Virtual learning is not for every student, but it’s not science fiction, either. Right now in Michigan, it’s being used by thousands of students in hundreds of virtual courses in urban, rural and suburban school districts. In fact, Michigan has been seen as a national leader in virtual learning.
This study analyzes the financial costs and academic benefits of virtual learning, and it explores how this innovation could further benefit Michigan public school students. … more

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