Contents of this issue:
- Competition growing in school insurance market
- Governor would add charters, change tenure
- MEA mum on strike; panel OKs union decertification bill
- DPS will appeal order to repay teachers
- Study: Classroom observation can identify effective
Competition Growing in School Insurance Market
DETROIT — Public schools and municipalities are shopping
around for better rates on health insurance, with a number switching to smaller
companies, according to The Detroit News. Meanwhile, the historically dominant
Michigan Education Special Services Association has seen membership decline, a
spokesman told The News.
Thousands of new enrollees have been reported in recent
years by Health Alliance Plan, HealthPlus of Michigan and Priority Health due
to new school and municipal customers, The News reported. Those firms say that
their health management plans and lower administrative fees allow for lower
rates, The News reported.
Some of the flux is attributed to a 2007 law that requires
public employers to solicit bids for health insurance, The News reported,
although the employers are not required to accept the lowest bid. Another reason
is pressure to control costs in view of projected reductions in state school
aid and declining property tax revenue, The News reported.
Flint Community Schools switched its teachers' health
insurance from MESSA to HealthPlus and projects a savings of $3.66 million this
year, spokesman Bob Campbell told The News. That move caught the eye of other
districts across the state, a HealthPlus spokeswoman told The News.
MESSA spokesman Gary Fralick said that its membership has
dropped from about 100,000 in 2004 to 73,400 today, The News reported. Fralick
that was due to a combination of schools choosing other carriers, privatization
of some school services, and school employee retirements, The News
reported. Some districts have switched
out of MESSA and then back to it, Fralick noted, The News said.
The Detroit News, “Cutbacks
benefit small insurers,” April 28, 2011
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “‘Controlling’ School Health Insurance
Costs, Local Style,” April 4, 2011
Governor Would Add Charters, Change Tenure
DETROIT — A broad plan to improve education by allowing an
unlimited number of charter schools in failing districts, removing ineffective
teachers from classrooms and giving schools a bonus for academic achievement
was outlined by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder last week, according to an Associated
The report, published at Forbes.com, said that Snyder wants
to see new rules on teacher tenure and new ways for students to enroll in
college courses as early as ninth grade, AP reported.
“We have a broken system and we need to address that
system,” the governor said in an address at the United Way for Southeastern
David Hecker, president of the Michigan chapter of the
American Federation of Teachers, told AP that he supports many of Snyder's
proposals but is concerned about the idea of basing 40 percent of teachers'
annual evaluations on student test scores.
"The devil's in the details. But I think 40 percent is
high," Hecker told AP.
Snyder said he plans to set up a bonus fund to reward
schools that show children are learning enough to advance to the next grade, AP
Associated Press, “Mich.
gov outlines plans for improving education,” April 27, 2011
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Should Education Money Be Only for K-12?”
April 29, 2001
MEA mum on strike; panel OKs union decertification bill
LANSING, Mich. — A House committee adopted legislation last
week that would decertify teacher unions that encourage their members to
strike, according to the Michigan Information & Research Service Inc.
Teacher strikes are illegal in Michigan.
Meanwhile, the Michigan Education Association will not
release the results of statewide voting authorizing potential job actions,
calling it an internal matter, the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus
House Bill 4466 was introduced by Education Committee Chair
Paul Scott, R-Grand Blanc, after the MEA called for the vote, MIRS reported.
Scott also considered introducing a proposal that would have decertified
teachers for two years for participating in an illegal strike, but said that
was taken off the table in the belief that the problem was unions, not
individual teachers, according to MIRS.
The Michigan Education Association opposes both bills, MEA
Spokesman Doug Pratt told MIRS in a separate report.
Michigan Information & Research Service Inc., “Teacher Union Decertification
Bill Clears Panel,” April 27, 2011 (Subscription required)
Livingston County Daily Press & Argus, "MEA mum
on strike, strategy after meeting," April 29, 2010
House Bill 4466 (Fine union for illegal teacher strike),” March 22, 2011
DPS Will Appeal Order to Repay Teachers
DETROIT — An administrative law judge has ordered Detroit
Public Schools to repay four teachers $8,500 each in deferred pay, plus
interest, a move that the district will appeal in Wayne County Circuit Court,
according to the Detroit Free Press.
If the ruling stands, the district potentially would have
to repay all teachers a combined $50 million, the Free Press reported.
The case stems from 2009, when members of the Detroit
Federation of Teachers voted for a three-year contract that allowed the
district to deduct $250 per pay period from each teacher over two years, up to
a maximum $10,000, and give it to them as a lump sum when they left the
district, the Free Press reported.
The move was intended to help ease cash flow in the
district, which already is under emergency financial management, according to
the Free Press. But four teachers filed a complaint, and the administrative
judge ruled that deductions to benefits require written consent from each
employee, the Free Press reported.
Steve Wasko, DPS spokesman, said the district will appeal.
Detroit Free Press, “Could
DPS end up repaying teachers more than $50 million?” April 27, 2011
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “It Shouldn’t Take a Hurricane to
Revitalize Detroit Public Schools,” April 4, 2011
Study: Classroom Observation a Valid Way to Assess Teachers
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Classroom observation is a valid way to
identify effective teachers, a study in Cincinnati concluded, although the
method may not capture the full range of differences among educators, according
to a report in Education Next magazine.
The study focused on the Cincinnati Teacher Evaluation
System, in which teachers are observed and evaluated up to four times each year
by trained, independent peer evaluators and a local school administrator,
according to the report.
The study said that a student assigned to a teacher who
ranked in the top quartile based on classroom observation would perform, on
average, two to three percentile points higher on state tests at the end of the
school year than one assigned to a teacher in the bottom quartile, according to
Education Next. That assumes that the students began the school year at the
same academic level, the report noted.
The authors said that the Cincinnati system of evaluation
differs greatly from “perfunctory” evaluations that are common in most school
districts. Less rigorous methods have led some to say that classroom
observation is not a valid method to assess teacher effectiveness, Education Next
Education Next, “Study
Finds Rigorous Classroom Observations Can Identify Effective Teachers,”
April 26, 2011
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “A Meritorious Idea: Oscoda Schools
Pioneers Teacher Evaluation Program”
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.