Contents of this issue:
- Charter school, teacher privatization bill sent to Senate
- Audit: Lansing has $7.9M more than it thought
- Grandville requests seat-time waiver
- Reading Community Schools opts for ‘transformation’
- MSU to study how to teach science to preschoolers
Charter School, Teacher Privatization Bill Sent to Senate
LANSING, Mich. — Legislation that would lead to more charter
public schools and to allow conventional public school districts to contract
with private companies to provide teachers are headed to the state Senate following
approval by the Senate Education Committee, The Grand Rapids Press reported.
Supporters said that Senate Bill 618 is intended to expand
the charter sector in Michigan as a way of improving choices for parents and
using competition to spur improvement, The Press reported. Currently there is a
cap on the number of charter schools that state universities can authorize.
Regarding teacher privatization, Rep. Phil Pavlov, R-St.
Clair Township, said that contracting with private firms for educators would
save money because, as private employees, the teachers would not be enrolled in
the public school retirement system and the district would not be obligated to
contribute to that system on their behalf, according to The Press.
Critics said that charter school expansion will not improve
low-performing conventional public schools, according to the Press.
Donald Wotruba, deputy director for the Michigan
Association of School Boards, said that ... (W)hen you have a struggling
business, you either shut it down or use resources to fix it. They’re doing
neither to the low-performing schools.”
Wotruba said that the MASB opposes teacher privatization
because of the issue of who has final authority over privately hired educators,
The Press reported.
The Grand Rapids Press, “Lawmakers
hope to lure successful charter school companies to Michigan by waiving
property taxes, lifting cap,” Sept. 30, 2011
Michigan Capitol Confidential, “Commentary: Research Shows Parental Choice
Works,” Sept. 23, 2011
Senate Bill 618: Eliminate charter school cap; allow “privatized” teachers”
Audit: Lansing has $7.9M More Than It Thought
LANSING, Mich. — A financial audit of the Lansing School
District shows $7.9 million in unexpected revenue, according to the Lansing
The money is a combination of $3 million in carryover from
last year, $2.2 million in funds that were allocated to various departments but
never spent, and about $2.7 million in federal recovery funds that was never
spent, the Journal reported.
The school board is expected to discuss the matter at a
meeting Thursday, according to the Journal; board President Shirley Rodgers
noted the figures are preliminary.
Earlier this year the board approved layoffs, closed school
buildings and negotiated benefit cuts and wage freezes with employee groups
which allowed it to adopt a balanced budget of $173 million for 2011-2012, the
Journal reported. A $20 million deficit is predicted in 2012-2013, according to
Patti Seidl, president of the teachers union, said members
have mixed feelings about the audit findings, the Journal reported. Additional
revenue is welcome, she told the Journal,
but “there is some outrage,” given the layoffs and contract
Lansing State Journal, “Lansing
School district has $7.9M more to spend, audit finds,” Sept. 30, 2011
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Schools Use Creative Accounting to
Exaggerate Fiscal Challenges,” May 9, 2011
Grandville Requests Seat-Time Waiver
GRANDVILLE, Mich. — Grandville Public Schools is applying
for a state waiver that would allow as many as 40 students to take more classes
online, up to and including 100 percent of their coursework, according to a
report at Mlive.com.
Up to 20 high school students and 10 middle school students
could participate, taking courses from the online programs Education 2020,
Michigan Virtual School and Florida School, Mlive.com reported.
Superintendent Ron Caniff noted that Gov. Rick Snyder has
called on the state Legislature to consider ways of measuring school
effectiveness other than “seat time,” Mlive.com reported.
The waivers mean that students are not required to spend a
specific amount of time attending classes in person in a given school district.
Board of Education applies for waiver to allow 40 students to learn entirely
online,” Sept. 29, 2011
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Virtual Learning in Michigan’s Schools”
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 Education Week.
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
Reading Community Schools Opts for ‘Transformation’
READING, Mich. — Reading Community
Schools has opted for the “transformation” approach to improving achievement
and getting off the state’s “persistently lowest achieving” schools list,
according to The Hillsdale Daily News.
The state requires schools on the list
to choose one of four improvement models, among them converting to a charter,
closing, or “transforming” the school, The Daily News reported. All of the
models require replacing the school principal, but Reading Superintendent
Chellie Broesamle said that does not mean the principal will be out of a job,
according to The Daily News. She said that personnel can be shifted around
instead, The Daily News reported.
“That’s like making a scapegoat of one
person,” Trustee Bill Pridgeon said of the replacement requirement, The Daily
English and math scores at the middle school and high school levels must
improve if the district wants to move off the low-achieving list, Principal
Rick Bailey told the board, according to The Daily News.
The Hillsdale Daily News, “Transformation
model approved by school board,” Oct. 1, 2011
Michigan Education Digest, “Study:
Worst Schools Stay Open,” Dec. 16, 2010
MSU to Study How to Teach Science to Preschoolers
EAST LANSING, Mich. — Michigan
State University has received $2.6 million in federal funds to study how to
improve preschool science teaching, according to the Detroit Free Press.
The National Science Foundation said
the grant is part of an effort to increase young children’s science knowledge,
the Free Press reported.
MSU will use it for a five-year
program called “Head Start on Science,” in which some of the teachers in 72
Head Start classrooms will receive coaching on science instruction to determine
if that improves their performance, according to the Free Press.
“Most preschool teachers do not
feel competent teaching science,” lead researcher Laurie Van Egeren said, the
Free Press reported.
Detroit Free Press, “MSU
gets $2.6M to boost preschool science teaching,” Sept. 28, 2011
Michigan Education Report, “It’s hard,
but it’s fun,” July 15, 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.