Contents of this issue:
- MEA payroll up; Salters
- California parents demand switch
- Owosso eyes salary, benefit cuts
to resolve deficit
- Survey: Social studies teachers
agree on content, not impact
- Weak dollar brings in foreign
MEA payroll up; Salters
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Michigan Education Association
President Iris Salters received total compensation of nearly $300,000 in the
latest year on record, according to a report in The Grand Rapids Press.
In a separate report, Michigan Capitol Confidential said
that MEA disbursements to officers and employees rose 31 percent in the past
five years, while membership declined by 10,000, or about 6 percent.
Michigan Capitol Confidential and Michigan Education Digest
are published by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.
Critics said the numbers show that the union is out of touch
with the average Michigan teacher, whose salary is around $56,000, but a union
spokesman told The Press that the amounts are in line with what other executive
The salary figures were taken from a U.S. Labor Department
filing. MEA members pay 1.5 percent of their salaries as dues, capped at $620 a
year, The Press reported.
"This is further proof that the union leadership
continues to be out of touch with its rank-and-file, dues-paying members,"
Education Action Group Vice President Kyle Olson said in a release, The Press
“Our people are leading a huge, multi-million dollar
operation, one of the largest unions in the state, and are compensated
accordingly,” Doug Pratt, the MEA's public affairs director, told The Press.
MEA “net assets” worsened from a negative $124 million a
year ago to a negative $132 million this year. Pratt told The Press that the
deficit reflects money owed to future retirees.
The Grand Rapids Press, “Watchdog group says MEA executive
earning nearly $300,000 is out of touch with teachers,” Dec. 8, 2010
Michigan Capitol Confidential, “Fat Years for State’s Big Teacher
Union,” Dec. 13, 2010
Michigan Education Association, “Union Spending in Michigan:
A Review of Union Financial Disclosure Reports,” Aug. 28, 2008
California Parents Demand Switch
COMPTON, Calif. — California parents have become the first
to use a so-called “parent trigger” law to force radical change at their
children’s failing school, according to an Associated Press report published by
the San Diego Union Tribune.
Sixty-two percent of the parents at McKinley Elementary
School signed a petition demanding it be changed to a charter public school, AP
reported, exceeding the 51 percent required by law. The law allows parents may
choose the reform they want — conversion to a charter school, replacing the
principal and staff, budget reform or even closure, AP reported.
The campus ranks in the bottom 10 percent of California's
elementary schools, according to AP.
Parent leader Ismenia Guzman, whose daughter attends
McKinley, told AP: "Us parents, we care. I don't want our kids struggling
in poor schools."
California was the first state in the nation to adopt a
parent-trigger law, according to AP. The report said that New Jersey and
Michigan are considering parent-trigger laws, but did not elaborate.
San Diego Union Tribune, “CA parents use new law to demand
school turnaround,” Dec. 7, 2010
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “A recipe for failing
schools,” Aug. 27, 2009
Owosso Eyes Salary, Benefit Cuts
to Resolve Deficit
OWOSSO, Mich. — Personnel expenditures account for 89
percent of the budget in Owosso Public Schools, so that’s where the district will
look to resolve a projected $5 million deficit over the next two years,
according to The (Owosso) Argus-Press.
The district must submit a deficit elimination plan to the
state by Dec. 15, The Argus-Press reported. A draft plan calls for reducing
salary costs 15 percent, reducing benefit costs 33 percent and decreasing costs
in other areas by 5 percent, board trustee General Grant said, according to The
Employee contracts expire on June 30, 2011, The Argus-Press
The district expects to finish the 2010-2011 fiscal year in
the red by about $600,000, while the projected deficit in 2011-2012 is $4.6
million, according to The Argus-Press.
“There’s a lot of ways to get it to 15 percent without
necessarily whacking everybody’s wages by 15 percent,” Washington Elementary
Principal Mark Erickson said regarding reducing salary costs, according to The
The (Owosso) Argus-Press, “Owosso school board ponders big
cuts to employee costs,” Dec. 9, 2010
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “School Funding Myths”
Study: Social Studies Teachers Agree on Content, Not Impact
GERMANTOWN, Md. — Public and private school teachers agree
on what students should learn in social studies classes, but private school
teachers appear more confident that the lessons are getting through, according
to a new study.
The December issue of CAPE Outlook reported on the study,
titled “High Schools, Civics, and Citizenship: What Social Studies Teachers
Think and Do.” The study was conducted by the American Enterprise Institute’s
Program on American Citizenship.
All teachers surveyed held similar views on the importance
of specific content, such as “tolerance of people and groups who are
different,” and “instilling good work habits,” CAPE Outlook reported. But
private school teachers were significantly more likely to say they felt
confident the students had mastered the content, the report said.
Private school teachers also were more likely than public
school teachers to say their school considered social studies “absolutely
essential” by 68 percent to 45 percent, the study showed, according to CAPE
CAPE Outlook is the monthly newsletter of the Council for
American Private Education.
CAPE Outlook, “Social Studies Teachers Agree on Content, Not
Results,” December 2010
Michigan Education Report,
“Private Schools Cope with Weak Economy,” May 26, 2010
Weak Dollar Brings in Foreign Students
LANSING — The weak American dollar has translated into
higher international enrollment at Michigan colleges and universities,
officials told The Macomb Daily. The nonprofit Institute for International
Education said the number of international students nationwide is up by 3
percent from a year ago, The Daily said.
Northern Michigan University has seen a 15 percent increase
this year, which an official attributed to a new agreement on transfer credits
with a Chinese university and to a weak dollar relative to other currencies.
“So while it’s bad for us to have such a poor economy, it’s
actually great for our education system because we get more international
students,” Rehema Clarken, coordinator of international students and scholars
at NMU, told The Daily.
Grand Valley State University had a record 322 international
students this year, an official told The Daily.
“They don’t get discounted tuition, so these students are
paying as much or more than the domestic students to attend the university,”
Mark Schaub, executive director of the Padnos International Center, told The
Daily. The students also add cultural diversity to campus life, he said,
according to The Daily.
MSU has seen the number of Chinese undergraduate students
rise from 43 in 2005 to more than 1,600 this year, an official told The Daily.
The Macomb Daily, “Michigan colleges see influx of foreign
students,” Dec. 12, 2010
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Is College Accessibility
Really a Problem?” Oct. 28, 2010
MICHIGAN EDUCATION 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.