Contents of this issue:
- Judge: Retiree health care law unconstitutional
- MEAP: Math up, reading down
- Charter school, other development at Tiger Stadium nixed
- D.C. scholarship program reauthorized by House
- Marquette to study later high school start time
- Win an iPad from MichiganScience
Judge: Retiree health care law unconstitutional
Mich. — A judge ruled Monday that a new law requiring public school employees
to pay 3 percent of their wages into their retirement health care is
unconstitutional, according to the Detroit Free Press.
Court of Claims Judge James Giddings ruled that the law is “arbitrary and
capricious” because teachers are required to pay into the system, but aren’t
guaranteed health benefits when they retire, the Free Press reported.
ruling stands, it will force school districts to pay a combined $300 million
more for retiree health care than they planned, the Free Press reported.
spokeswoman for Gov. Rick Snyder said the state will appeal. The law was
adopted during former Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s administration as part of a plan
to balance the state budget by offering eligible teachers an incentive to
retire by mid-2010, but requiring those remaining to pay the 3 percent
contribution, the Free Press reported.
Detroit Free Press, “Judge
rules teacher retirement health care law unconstitutional,” April 5, 2011
Center for Public Policy, “Comparing Michigan Private-Sector Pensions
to MPSERS’ and MSERS’ Pensions,” Oct. 25, 2010
MEAP: Math up, reading down
DETROIT — Reading scores were down and math scores were up
on state test results released last week, but this might be the last good news
about the Michigan Educational Assessment Program for the near future, the Detroit
Free Press reported.
Next year, students will have to earn significantly higher
scores in order to “pass” the test, which likely will drive down state
averages, according to the Free Press. Education officials say the higher bar
is necessary to determine whether students are ready for college and careers,
the Free Press reported.
Statewide, 95 percent of third-graders passed the math
exam, 92 percent of fourth-graders, 80 percent of fifth-graders, 85 percent of
sixth-graders, 85 percent of seventh-graders and 78 percent of eighth-graders,
the Free Press reported. Those scores were higher than a year ago.
In reading, 87 percent of third-graders passed, 84 percent
of fourth-graders, 85 percent of fifth-graders, 84 percent of sixth-graders, 79
percent of seventh-graders and 82 percent of eighth-graders. Reading results
are down from last year, according to the report.
A Michigan Department of Education analysis showed that the
achievement gap in math between white and minority students statewide decreased
by 12 to 14 percentage points from 2005 to 2010, the Free Press reported. A
number of Detroit metro districts also have seen reduced gaps over those years,
according to the report.
The Detroit Free Press, “Most
kids pass the MEAP — but that’s about to get harder,” April 1, 2011
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “What MEAP Scores Mean,” March 22, 2010
Charter School, Other Development at Tiger Stadium Nixed
DETROIT — Citing financial concerns, the Detroit Economic
Development Corp. rejected a group's $65.3 million plan to redevelop Tiger
Stadium as the site of a charter public school, retail shops, nonprofit
organizations and housing, according to a report at MLive.com.
“The Corner Development” would have served as headquarters
for The Greening of Detroit and WARM Training Center, both nonprofit
organizations, as well as a K-8 charter school operated by Cornerstone Charter
Schools, the report said. The rehabilitated ball field would have been used for
The 9.4-acre property sits in a tax-free renaissance zone
and qualified for $3.8 million in earmarked federal redevelopment funds,
according to MLive. The economic development group cited “significant concerns
about the overall financial feasibility” of the project in a letter to
organizers, MLive reported.
“I knew it wasn't a sure thing,” Thom Linn, president of
the Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy, told MLive. Linn helped put together the
The Conservancy already secured $3.8 million in potential
federal funding due to a spending bill earmark by Sen. Carl Levin, D-Michigan,
according to MLive.com. The money does not have to be used at the stadium, but
is designated for preservation or redevelopment in the Corktown neighborhood,
according to MLive. Levin's office previously said it did not know how long the
funds would be available or what would happen if the city failed to approve a
project for their use, the report said.
Corner Development: Detroit rejects $65.3M proposal for 'living building,'
charter school, retail and housing at old Tiger Stadium site," March
Michigan Education Digest, "Tiger
Stadium proposed charter school site," Nov. 9, 2010
School Funding Debate: Dollars vs. Performance
LANSING, Mich. — Gov. Rick Snyder wants the public school
funding debate in Michigan to focus on school performance, not just dollars, an
Associated Press report said.
Districts anticipate their funding will be reduced by 8 to
10 percent, consisting of a $300 per-pupil reduction proposed by the governor;
the end of federal funding that last year provided about $170 per student; and
the growing cost of school employee pensions, this year equal to about $245 per
student, according to an analysis by the Citizens Research Council, AP
The governor has said that districts should consider
closing buildings, reducing employee benefits, privatizing some services,
sharing administrators and offering online classes as ways to reduce spending,
according to AP. Districts that use these techniques will have access to extra
money in 2012-2013 that Gov. Snyder wants to set aside as an incentive, the
Most business leaders say school districts need to adopt
the same cost-saving moves many businesses have been forced to make during the
recent recession, but Snyder’s critics said K-12 schools already have been
frugal and that reduced funding will result in larger class sizes and lower
Traverse City Record-Eagle, “Snyder’s
budget may force many changes,” March 6, 2011
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Michigan Schools Still Well-Funded Under
Governor’s Plan,” April 1, 2011
D.C. Scholarship Program Approved by House
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. House of Representatives voted last
week to reauthorize the SOAR Act, which grants federal scholarships to children
enrolled in the lowest-ranking public schools in the nation’s capital so they
may attend another school of their choice, according to media reports.
Critics called the reauthorization a “giveaway” to
religious and private schools, but advocates have pointed to reading gains and
higher graduation rates among recipients, The New York Times reported.
The bill likely faces an uphill battle in the Senate,
Sponsored by Speaker John A. Boehner, the proposed
legislation would provide $8,000 in federal funds annually to eligible
elementary students and $12,000 to high school students, according to The New
Congressional Democrats closed the program, also called the
D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, to new entrants in 2009, citing lack of
sufficient success, according to The Times.
The New York Times, “House
Passes School Voucher Bill,” March 30, 2011
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “A Case for Private School Choice in Detroit,”
March 22, 2010
Marquette to Study Later High School Start Time
MARQUETTE, Mich. — Marquette Area Public Schools will study
the idea of a later start time for high school students, after several school
board trustees said they might support such a plan depending on the economic
effect on the district, according to The (Marquette) Mining Journal.
School board trustee Mark Smith said at a recent meeting
that the district should consider the benefits and disadvantages of an 8:30
a.m. high school start time, rather than the current 7:30 a.m., The Journal
Smith said he has read studies indicating that later high
school start times correlate to better grades, reduced tardiness, a more
interested student body and fewer morning car accidents, according to The
His support hinges on whether changes could be made without
added costs, Smith said, The Journal reported. According to the National Sleep
Foundation, schools or districts in 19 states have shifted high school start
times and more than 100 districts are considering it, according to The Journal.
The (Marquette) Mining Journal, “Later
school start mulled by MAPS,” March 31, 2011
Michigan Education Digest, “Back to
semesters in Grand Rapids,” April 10, 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.