The state Department of Education wants to toughen public school accreditation rules by requiring more high scores and fewer low scores on the Michigan Educational Assessment Program student tests. The change would come as the Legislature mulls taking over troubled public schools, a measure that has proven problematic in other states.

The federal government makes a $1.1 billion down payment on a plan to hire 100,000 new teachers to reduce public school class sizes. Teacher unions, President Clinton, and the Republican-controlled Congress applaud the initiative that is expected to fund 38,000 teachers in the first year. See the Michigan impact at Michigan Schools to Recieve $50 Million.

But it may not be easy to find those new teachers in Michigan. The Great Lakes State continues to have a higher-than-average percentage of public school teachers practicing with temporary or emergency licenses. State licenses are required for public school instructors, but most private and home schools use nonlicensed teachers by claiming a religious exemption. Research by many education experts shows no significant correlation between teacher certification requirements and student achievement.

Fourteen states now offer financial rewards to public schools that meet certain goals, but not all of them put money in teachers' pockets. Sixty-four percent of parents think monetary incentives are a good idea but only 40 percent of educators favor them, according to Education Week. Michigan may be the next state in which public charter school teachers are offered stock options. See story Teachers 'Get a Piece of the Rock'.

Detroit public schools are often criticized, but some of them rate among the nation's best urban public institutions according to a recent study by U. S. News & World Report and the University of Chicago. Detroit's selective Cass Technical, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Renaissance public high schools, along with seven suburban Detroit public and four private schools are listed among the best 96 high schools in six major metro areas. Researchers compared 1,053 high schools in the Chicago, Boston, Dallas-Fort Worth, Atlanta, New York, and Detroit areas.