Contents of this issue:
- Salters: We don't oppose reform
- 'Vote No,' some Detroit teachers say
- More funding vs. less spending
- Nonprofit education firms growing
- Detroit test scores worst in nation
SALTERS: WE DON'T OPPOSE REFORM
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - The Michigan Education
Association does not oppose reform measures that would help Michigan qualify
for federal education dollars, but some restrictions must apply, the union
president said in a letter to lawmakers and the public Monday.
As reported by The Grand Rapids Press, MEA President
Iris Salters said that the union does not oppose more charter schools as long
as the state requires greater transparency and accountability from them.
The letter also said that using student performance as
the sole measure of teacher effectiveness is unfair, and that teacher
evaluations should include such things as student attendance, parental
involvement and socioeconomic factors, The Press reported.
The union also said it agrees with legislation adopted
by the House of Representatives that would appoint turnaround experts to
"failing schools," according to The Press. However, it said there is
no need to revise teacher tenure laws other than to speed up the tenure hearing
Finally, the union remains opposed to alternative
teacher certification, but would not formally object to such a change as long
as teacher quality is assured, the letter said, according to The Press.
The reform issues — all under consideration by the
state Legislature — are believed to be critical to Michigan's chances of receiving
federal education funding through the Race to the Top competitive grant
The Grand Rapids Press, "Michigan
Education Association leader says union isn't standing in the way of Race to
the Top money," Dec. 7, 2009
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "How Michigan Could Save $3.5 Billion a Year," Dec. 7,
'VOTE NO,' SOME DETROIT TEACHERS SAY
DETROIT - Detroit teachers would take home $500 less
per month under a tentative contract agreement reached between union and
district leaders last week, and some teachers aren't buying it, according to
The Detroit News.
While union leaders said the deal is the best
available, The News reported that rank-and-file members have formed a
"Vote No" committee.
The $250-per-paycheck pre-tax deduction would be deposited
into a Termination Incentive Plan to help eliminate the district's
$219 million deficit, according to The News. The money
would be returned, with no interest, when the teacher leaves the district.
Emergency Financial Manager Robert Bobb called the
arrangement an "investment" in the district, while Detroit Federation
of Teachers President Keith Johnson warned that the alternative might be
bankruptcy, drastic pay cuts, layoffs and loss of seniority, The News reported.
Teachers would not receive any pay increase for the
first two years of the contract, followed by a 1 percent base salary hike in
2011, according to The News. Bobb said he also plans to reduce health care
costs by $28 million.
Detroit News, "Union warns:
Beware layoffs if DPS pact fails," Dec. 7, 2009
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Cuts to the Classroom: How Will Funding Reductions Affect
Michigan Students?" Nov. 9, 2009
MORE FUNDING VS. LESS SPENDING
LANSING, Mich. - Forty-one public school districts
ended 2008-2009 in the red, according to preliminary state data
reported in The Detroit News, up from 27 deficit districts the previous year.
Media reports from around the state suggest that communities have varied ideas
about how to keep that list from growing.
While parents in some communities are calling on the
state to increase school funding, residents of other communities are calling on
unionized school employees to consider contract concessions, according to
various media reports.
The News said that parents have rallied at several
school districts to support more school funding.
In Saline Public Schools, the board of education has
asked unionized employees to consider contract concessions, according to a
report at AnnArbor.com. At a meeting in Hemlock Public Schools, a school bus
driver suggested that every district employee take a 10 percent pay cut,
according to The Saginaw News.
The Saginaw News, "Hemlock
residents suggest school pay cuts, fees for athletes," Dec. 2, 2009
school board wants to open contracts with teachers, other unions,"
Nov. 11, 2009
The Detroit News, "Number
of Michigan school districts in deficit jumps," Dec. 2, 2009
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Is That Your Final Answer?" Dec. 3, 2009
NONPROFIT EDUCATION FIRMS GROWING
KALAMAZOO, Mich. - The number of nonprofit education
management organizations is growing steadily, while the number of their
for-profit counterparts is leveling off, according to a new study.
Education management firms are often hired to run
public charter schools, including many in Michigan. Western Michigan University
researchers and two partner institutions recently released a study about those
companies, titled "Profiles of Nonprofit Education Management
According to a WMU press release announcing the
study's release, the researchers found that more attention is being given to
nonprofit education management companies today than in the past.
"An increasing number of the nonprofit EMOs ...
are actually bringing additional financial resources to the charter schools
they operate. These are resources which they funnel from private
foundations," Dr. Gary Miron, WMU professor and study author, was quoted
in the release.
Jessica Urschel, a WMU graduate research assistant who
co- authored the study, said that EMOs now operate close to 30 percent of the
nation's charter schools, the release said. There are 103 nonprofit education
management firms nationally, operating a combined total of 609 public schools.
Western Michigan University, "Nonprofit EMOs enjoy
steady growth," Dec. 1, 2009
Arizona State University, Education Policy Research
Unit, "Profiles of
Nonprofit Education Management Organizations: 2008- 2009."
Michigan Education Report, "Seeing the potential in deaf
education," Aug. 28, 2009
DETROIT TEST SCORES WORST IN NATION
DETROIT - Detroit Public Schools students posted the
worst scores ever seen on a national test of students in large cities,
according to a report in Crain's Detroit Business.
The Trial Urban District Assessment was developed by
the National Center for Education Statistics and the Council of Great City
Schools, and is part of the National Assessment for Educational Progress.
"There is no jurisdiction of any kind, at any
level, at any time in the 30-year history of NAEP that has ever registered such
low numbers," said Michael Casserly, executive director of the Council,
according to Crain's.
"They are barely above what one would expect
simply by chance, as if the kids simply guessed at the answers," he said.
DPS fourth-graders scored in the 9th percentile and
eighth- graders were in the 12th percentile when compared with students in 17
other large, central U.S. cities, Crain's reported. This is the first year the
test has been given to Detroit students.
DPS Emergency Financial Manager Robert Bobb said last
week that the test results were proof of failed DPS leadership, Crain's
reported. He said that even before he was appointed, the Detroit Board of
Education ignored a report from Casserly's Council of Great City Schools which
outlined the district's academic shortcomings, according to Crain's.
Bobb told Crain's that his academic team is working on
an overhaul plan based on NAEP standards.
Crain's Detroit Business, "Detroit
Public Schools post worst scores on record in national assessment,"
Dec. 8, 2009
Michigan Education Report, "Detroit's Schools Are Going
Bankrupt, Too," Aug. 4, 2009
MICHIGAN EDUATION DIGEST is a service of Michigan Education Report (https://www.educationreport.org), an online newspaper published by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy (https://www.mackinac.org), a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan research and educational institute.