Contents of this issue:
- Obama outlines NCLB waiver rules
- FOIA dispute in East Jordan
- Bill would retract some MSU, WSU state aid
- Michigan to help draft science standards
- Jackson weighs teacher evaluation strategy
Obama Outlines NCLB Waiver Rules
DETROIT — Michigan and other states can get a waiver from the
federal No Child Left Behind law if they improve failing schools, strengthen
teacher and administrator evaluations and be transparent on college readiness,
President Barack Obama said Friday, according to the Detroit Free Press.
Michigan already has applied for a waiver that would excuse
it from the NCLB mandate that all students be proficient in math and reading by
2014, the Free Press reported. Obama said he will consider such requests
because he believes the law is flawed, according to the Free Press.
Critics say the current law will lead to large numbers of
schools being identified as failures and put under sanction because they can’t
meet the 2014 requirement, the Free Press reported. In Michigan, about 20 percent
of public schools failed to meet the No Child Left Behind interim goals as of
2010-11, according to the Free Press.
That number is expected to increase because the Michigan
State Board of Education recently raised the requirements for passing Michigan’s
standardized tests, meaning students will have to answer more questions
correctly in order to be considered “proficient,” the Free Press reported.
Detroit Free Press, “States
will have to work hard for No Child Left Behind waivers,” Sept. 24, 2011
Michigan Education Digest, “Michigan
wants NCLB waiver, calls goals ‘unreasonable,’” Aug. 2, 2011
FOIA Dispute in East Jordan
EAST JORDAN, Mich. — A former art teacher says that East Jordan Public Schools
responded too quickly to a newspaper’s request to view her personnel files,
while the district says it acted properly, according to the newspaper involved,
the Petoskey News-Review.
The News-Review filed a Freedom of Information Act request
with the district for a copy of the tenure agreement between the elementary
teacher and the district. The teacher’s job was terminated in a round of
layoffs in June, amid investigations into charges that she assaulted a child
with a ruler, the News-Review reported.
The district mailed the material eight days later, which the
teacher contends was in violation of the contract agreement between the
district and the teacher’s union, the News-Review reported. The contract said
that the district “shall take the maximum time allowed by law” to respond to a
FOIA request for a personnel file, according to the News-Review.
State law says that FOIA requests must be answered within
five days, but public bodies have the option of invoking a 10-day extension
with due cause, the News-Review reported. The teacher said the district should
have waited 15 days to release the files, according to the News-Review.
Superintendent Susan Wooden said the district had no cause to request an
extension, the News-Review reported.
The contract was expired at the time the FOIA request was
made, and there is no replacement yet, according to the News-Review. School
board members voted recently to deny the teacher’s grievance in the matter.
Petoskey News-Review, “Teacher
grievance tossed by East Jordan school leaders,” Sept. 22, 2011
Bill Would Retract Some MSU, WSU State Aid
LANSING, Mich. — Four state lawmakers want to take back millions in state
aid from Michigan State University and Wayne State University, saying they
never should have received it, according to the Detroit Free Press.
The four legislators have introduced a bill that
effectively would take back $18.3 million from MSU and $12.8 million from WSU,
the Free Press reported. The money was handed out as a bonus to those
universities for keeping tuition increases below 7.1 percent this year,
according to the Free Press.
But some lawmakers are angry over how the increases were
calculated, the Free Press reported.
MSU and WSU both increased tuition in the summer of 2011,
then counted that as “last year’s” rate in calculating the year-to-year tuition
increase, according to the Free Press.
The dissenting lawmakers said it should be a fall-semester-to-fall-semester
comparison, under which MSU would have raised tuition by more than 9 percent
and WSU by more than 8 percent, the Free Press reported.
State budget director John Nixon said in August that the
universities technically met the conditions for the extra money because “academic
year” wasn’t defined in the law, according to the Free Press.
Detroit Free Press, “State
House panel introduces bill seeking money from MSU, WMU,” Sept. 22, 2011
Michigan Capitol Confidential, “MSU Tuition Restraint
Debate Reaches Committee,” July 22, 2011
Michigan Capitol Confidential, “Bill Would Enforce
‘Intent’ of Tuition Hike Reform Law,” Sept. 22, 2011
Michigan to Help Draft Science Standards
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Michigan is one of 20 states that will help craft new
national standards for what students should learn and be able to do in science
from kindergarten through high school, according to an online report at
The states will develop what are called the Next Generation
Science Standards, building on a baseline already developed by the National
Research Council, according to a report in Education Week. The work is expected
to be completed in 2012; the report did not detail what each state will do.
The baseline is built around three core areas: scientific
and engineering practices; “cross-cutting concepts” that unify the study of
science and engineering; and core ideas in physical, life, earth and space
sciences, plus engineering, technology and science applications, Education Week
The process will be overseen by Achieve, a Washington-based
nonprofit organization, according to Education Week.
Education Week, “Twenty
States Named to Help Craft New Science Standards,” Sept. 20, 2011
Michigan Education Digest, “Michigan
Adopts National Standards,” June 22, 2010
Jackson Weighs Teacher Evaluation Strategy
JACKSON, Mich. — Measuring student academic growth is a requirement of
Michigan’s new teacher tenure law, and Jackson Public Schools is considering
hiring an outside firm to administer tests that would provide those
measurements, according to The Jackson Citizen Patriot.
One question is whether the district can afford the $75,000
annual cost to contract with the Oregon-based Northwest Evaluation Association
to test Jackson students at the beginning and end of each school year, The
Citizen Patriot reported.
A district official said the test results would be one of
multiple measures of growth; others would include Michigan Educational
Assessment Program test scores, according to The Citizen Patriot.
The final decision may rest on this year’s student count,
which will largely determine how much per-pupil state funding the district
receives this year, the Citizen Patriot reported.
A regional Michigan Education Association employee who
represents Jackson teachers told The Citizen Patriot that the district hadn’t
discussed the issue with the union in advance. He said tests are a “one-time
snapshot” and that multiple measures of growth should be used, The Citizen
Jackson Citizen Patriot, “Jackson
Public Schools considers hiring nonprofit to test students and use results to
evaluate teachers; union leader says its news to him,” Sept. 22, 2011
Michigan Education Report, “Into and
beyond the MEAP,” Nov. 25, 2008
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.