Contents of this issue:
- Michigan ACT scores stable, DPS lags
- Supreme Court won’t review teacher email case
- New voucher question: Are there enough seats?
- Florida couple sues, says private school too easy
- Group sues over emergency financial manager law
- Insurance switch saves teacher jobs
Michigan ACT scores stable, DPS lags
DETROIT — High school tests scores showed mild gains
statewide in 2011, but Detroit Public Schools continues to lag significantly,
The Detroit News reported.
Statewide, the average ACT composite score among Michigan
juniors who took the test this spring was 19.33, compared to 19.28 in 2010,
according to data at the Michigan Department of Education website. Average
scores rose slightly in science and math, remained steady in English and
declined in reading, according to The News. A “perfect” ACT score is 36. Only
17 percent of students were determined to be “college ready” in all four
subjects, The News reported.
The gap between Detroit students and the rest of the state
has grown in every subject area over the past five years, according to The
News. The average ACT score there was 15, The News reported. Other metro
Detroit districts with below-average scores included Ecorse, River Rouge,
Inkster and Pontiac, the report said.
Some of the biggest gains in the state were among Hispanic
students, particularly in science and writing, according to The News.
Roy Roberts, DPS emergency manager, said the low scores
show the need for the reform plan announced last week that will remove the
worst performing schools from DPS control and put them into a separate,
state-monitored school district, The News said.
The Detroit News, “Michigan
juniors’ ACT scores stable, Merit Exams show improvements,” June 29, 2011
Michigan Department of Education, “2008-2011
MME ACT Scores Sortable by ISD, District & School”
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “New Online Database
Provides Unique ‘Context and Performance’ Information for Every Standard
Michigan Public High School,” June 27, 2011
Supreme Court Won’t Review Teacher Email Case
HOWELL, Mich. — The Michigan Supreme Court has let stand a
lower court ruling that email messages sent on public school computers are not
public records and therefore not subject to open records requests, the Lansing
State Journal reported.
In a 5-2 vote, justices declined to review the earlier
ruling, according to the Journal. Chief Justice Robert Young Jr. wanted to hear
the case, the Journal reported, calling it an important case involving
interpretation of Michigan public records laws.
The case was brought in 2007 by now-deceased Chetly Zarko,
who filed a Freedom of Information Act seeking copies of email exchanged by
Howell Public Schools teachers’ union leaders, according to an earlier media
report. Zarko, who died in 2010, said he wanted to determine if the union was
using public school resources to lobby parents and school officials during a
controversial round of collective bargaining.
In 2010, the Court of Appeals ruled against the public
disclosure but urged lawmakers to reopen the 1977 law and consider the impact
of technology, the Journal reported.
The Mackinac Center for Public Policy and the Michigan
Press Association jointly filed an amicus brief in the case seeking to have the
Supreme Court overturn the ruling. The Mackinac Center publishes Michigan
Lansing State Journal, “Michigan
Supreme Court sits out dispute over school email,” June 29, 2011
New Voucher Question: Are There Enough Seats?
WASHINGTON, D.C. — In a twist on the typical school voucher
debate, academics now wonder if there is enough room in private schools for all
the students whose parents want to take advantage of expanding voucher and tax
credit programs, according to Education Week.
There are enough seats in the short term, experts told
Education Week, but long-term capacity is a more complex issue. Three states
have significantly expanded their voucher or tuition tax credit programs, and
others are considering it, the article said.
Meeting that demand will depend on such things as how many
families are eligible for vouchers, the dollar value of the vouchers, how many
religious and secular private schools choose to participate and how much space
they have, Education Week reported.
An official with the Archdiocese of Indianapolis said that
Catholic schools there have room for about 4,000 voucher students, Education
Week reported; Indiana’s new law caps
voucher participation at 7,500 in the first year and 15,000 in the second year.
The Alliance for School Choice, a Washington-based advocacy
group, estimates that about 67,000 students were enrolled in voucher programs
in 2010-2011, and about 124,000 were enrolled in tax-credit scholarship
programs, the report said.
Education Week, “Capacity
issues loom as voucher support surges,” June 14, 2011 (Subscription
Michigan Education Digest, “School
choice programs gain ground,” April 9, 2011
Group Sues over Emergency Financial Manager Law
LANSING, Mich. — A lawsuit seeking to undo Michigan’s
emergency financial manager law has been filed in Ingham County Circuit Court,
the fourth challenge to the measure since it was passed in March, according to
The 28 plaintiffs in the latest suit allege that the
revised law is an unconstitutional “power grab,” the Michigan Information &
Research Service Inc. reported.
The law gives appointed managers greater authority to
reform financially troubled cities and school districts, including the power to
amend existing union contracts, MIRS reported. The law does not allow managers
to remove elected officials from office, according to MIRS.
Regarding its constitutionality, Rep. Al Pscholka,
R-Stevensville, the bill’s sponsor, pointed out that the state has had an
emergency manager law on the books since 1990, MIRS reported.
An attorney with Sugar Law Center for Economic and Social
Justice, which filed the suit, said that the plaintiffs would be satisfied to
revert to the previous version, MIRS reported.
This is the second lawsuit challenging the law, and two
petition drives are under way to repeal it, according to the Lansing State
Michigan Information & Research Service Inc., “Lawsuit Filed to
Overturn Emergency Manager Law,” June 22, 2011 (Subscription required)
Lansing State Journal, “New
suit challenges Michigan’s emergency manager law,” June 23, 2011
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Acts of God,” April 20, 2011
Florida Couple Sues, Says Private School Too Easy
NAPLES, Fla. — A Florida family is suing a private school
there for fraud, alleging that officials falsely promised to offer a curriculum
as rigorous as the one at Michigan’s Cranbrook School, where their daughter
previously was enrolled, according to the Naples (Florida) Daily News.
The family wants a refund of more than $37,000 in tuition
from Seacrest Country Day School in Florida, the Daily News reported.
The parents said they were told the school was as rigorous
as Cranbrook, but pulled their five children when they found it was not,
according to the Daily News. As an
example, the couple told the court that their children did not receive any
homework in the first week of classes, the Daily News reported. It was unclear
whether all five children previously attended Cranbrook.
A circuit court judge in June denied a motion by the school
to dismiss the claim of fraud, the Daily News reported. The school’s attorney
argued that the couple’s claims were matters of opinion, not fact, according to
Naples Daily News, “Family’s
legal battle with Seacrest Country Day School enters next stage,” June 13,
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Michigan parents choose choice,” Sept.
Insurance Switch Saves Teacher Jobs
CARSONVILLE, Mich. — Teachers in Carsonville-Port Sanilac
Schools have agreed to switch to lower-cost insurance carrier Health Plus,
allowing the district to reinstate two elementary teachers, according to the
Sanilac Broadcasting Co.
The district formerly purchased insurance through the
Michigan Educational Special Services Association, an affiliate of the Michigan
About $145,000 in savings will be used to recall a first-
and a sixth-grade teacher and to restore two high school teaching positions to
full-time status, the report said. Additionally, the shift is expected to help
the district receive a one-time incentive payment of $60,000 in additional
state funding for following state-recommended “best practices.”
Sanilac Broadcasting Co., “CPS Schools reinstate 2 Elementary teachers and 2
full-time High School teaching positions,” June 13, 2011
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Extra K-12 Cash to be
Tied to Mandatory Health Care Cost Sharing and Other Reforms,” May 22, 2011
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.