Contents of this issue:
- Detroit imposes 10 percent wage cuts, unions promise
- Michigan wants NCLB waiver, calls goals ‘unreasonable’
- Breckenridge to open virtual high school
- Muslim school supporters ask for federal oversight
- Otsego teachers get pay raise, leave MESSA
Detroit Imposes 10 Percent Wage Cuts, Unions Promise Lawsuit
DETROIT — Union leaders in Detroit Public Schools say they
will go to court over emergency financial manager Roy Roberts’ order to impose $81
million in wage concessions beginning this month, the Detroit Free Press
All 10,000 employees in the district — union and nonunion,
including Roberts — will take the 10 percent pay cut as of Aug. 23, as well as
begin to pay 20 percent of the cost of their health care benefits as of Sept.
1, the Free Press reported.
This is the first time that Michigan’s new emergency financial
manager law has been used to modify school district collective bargaining
agreements, according to the Free Press. In all, eight union contracts will be
modified, the report said.
State Treasurer Andy Dillon gave Roberts permission to
enact the cuts, as required, and Gov. Rick Snyder expressed support, the Free
Press reported, while Detroit Federation of Teachers President Keith Johnson
said the union will file suit.
DPS currently has a $327 million deficit, Roberts said,
according to the Free Press. The new cuts replace an earlier Termination
Incentive Plan under which teachers deferred $250 per paycheck to the district,
collectible upon leaving the district.
A petition drive to repeal the emergency financial manager
law through a ballot initiative is under way, the Free Press reported.
Detroit Free Press, “Detroit
Public Schools workers to see a 10% pay cut,” July 30, 2011
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Acts of God: Don’t like the EFM law?
There’s an alternative: Rein in Government employee unions,” April 20, 2011
Michigan Wants NCLB Waiver, Calls Goals ‘Unreasonable’
LANSING, Mich. — Saying it is “unreasonable” to require
that all Michigan public school students be proficient in reading and math by
2014, the Michigan Department of Education has asked the federal government to
extend that deadline by 10 years, according to the Detroit Free Press.
In a letter to the U.S. Department of Education, state
officials said that Michigan only recently raised the bar on state standardized
tests, which will make it harder for students to be rated “proficient,” the
Free Press reported.
“Many schools will experience an initial drop in
proficiency rates, which makes the 2014 goal of 100% proficiency unreasonable,”
Sally Vaughn, deputy superintendent at the MDE, said in the letter, the Free
The 100 percent proficiency requirement is part of the
federal No Child Left Behind act, according to the Free Press. Schools that
fail to meet the goal face sanctions ranging from giving students the chance to
attend a better school to replacing staff, the Free Press reported.
U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan has said he is open to
granting waivers as long as states can show they are holding schools and
students to high standards, the Free Press reported. Michigan is asking that
the state be allowed to meet a goal of having 80 percent of students be career
or college ready, or having them be on track to be career and college ready,
according to the Free Press.
Detroit Free Press, “Michigan’s
education department seeks waiver on federal standardized test goals,” July
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “What MEAP scores mean,” March 22, 2010
Breckenridge to Open Virtual High School
BRECKENRIDGE, Mich. — Breckenridge Community Schools is
opening a virtual high school this fall intended to serve area students who
aren’t already enrolled in the district’s traditional ninth- through
twelfth-grade program, the Midland Daily News reported.
Under an arrangement with Job Skill Technology Inc., of
Auburn Hills, Breckenridge will offer about 140 courses in an online format,
including core classes, advanced placement courses, electives and foreign
languages, according to the Daily News. The program is aimed at such groups as
former parochial school students, home-schoolers, suspended or expelled
students and dropouts, the report said.
Students can take up to six classes per semester, tuition
free, according to the Daily News.
Participants receive online access to courses and receive
textbooks and lab kits sent to their homes, the Daily News reported, and
enrollees are eligible to participate in extracurricular activities offered to
Midland Daily News, “Breckenridge
announces new online high school,” July 31, 2011
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Virtual Learning,” April 18, 2011
Muslim School Supporters ask for Federal Oversight
DETROIT — Pittsfield Township
planners have denied the Michigan Islamic Academy’s request to rezone property
where the school wants to locate, prompting a Muslim civil rights organization
to ask federal officials to investigate, The Detroit News and the Michigan
In a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice, the Michigan
branch of the Council on American Islamic Relations asked officials to consider
whether the school’s religious rights are being violated, according to The News.
Dawud Walid, CAIR-Michigan executive director, said that
township planning commission members cited traffic concerns and a “disruption
of neighborhood harmony” as reasons for denying the request, but that it is
concerned that opposition by local residents “negatively influenced” the
decision, The News reported.
Walid said in the letter that in other cases nationally,
planners have cited traffic or neighborhood concerns “to provide legal cover”
for denials based on prejudice, The News reported. CAIR-Michigan wants a
Justice Department representative to attend the next meeting on the subject in
August, according to The News.
Pittsfield Township Supervisor Mandy Grewal told The News
that the township community is “very diverse,” as is membership on boards and
The Academy is a 300-pupil school that has outgrown its Ann
Arbor site, The News reported.
The Detroit News, “Civil
rights group asks feds to monitor Pittsfield decision on Muslim school,”
July 25, 2011
Michigan Messenger, “CAIR
calls for DOJ investigation of mosque refusal,” July 27, 2011
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Adding
private schools to the school choice debate,” June 7, 2010
Otsego Teachers Get Pay Raise, Leave MESSA
OTSEGO, Mich. — Otsego Public Schools teachers will receive
a 2 percent salary increase in the coming year after agreeing to a health
insurance switch that will save the school district $500,000, according to The
The one-year contract calls for switching from the Michigan
Education Special Services Association health plan to one offered by Priority
Health, The Gazette reported, as well a switch in dental plans that will save
up to an additional $40,000.
Teachers will pay 10 percent of the premiums in 2011-2012,
up from 6 percent in 2010-2011, with the district covering the remainder, The
Salary “step” increases, which are pay raises given on the
basis of years of experience, also will resume under the new contract; those
increases were frozen under the terms of the last contract.
The district now appears eligible for additional “best
practice” state funding, according to The Gazette.
The Kalamazoo Gazette, “Otsego
teachers agree to switch from MESSA; get 2 percent base pay raise,” July
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “A Good Start, Policymakers. Now For the
Heavy Lifting,” July 4, 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.