Contents of this issue:
- Senate: Charters yes, teacher privatization no
- Enrollment up in many West Michigan districts
- CMU union headed to court over delayed pay hikes
- Flint district nixes two
administrative pay raises
- Teacher uses video to reverse lecture/homework format
Senate: Charters Yes, Teacher Privatization No
LANSING, Mich. — The state Senate passed legislation to
allow more charter schools in Michigan, but nixed a provision in the same bill
that would have allowed school districts to privately contract for teachers,
The Grand Rapids Press reported.
The “teacher privatization” provision was eliminated when
legislators approved an amendment to the measure in a voice vote, according to
MichiganVotes.org, the legislative tracking service of the Mackinac Center for
Public Policy. The Mackinac Center also publishes Michigan Education Digest.
Under the original language, school districts would have
been able to contract with private companies to provide teachers. Supporters
said this would save money because the district would not have to pay into the
state retirement system for teachers who are privately contracted, an earlier
Press report said.
Regarding charter public schools, the bill lifts a cap on
the number of schools authorized by state universities and waives property
taxes for groups that own property leased to charter schools, The Press
Advocates said this will open the door for successful
out-of-state charter operators to begin schools in Michigan and give parents
more choice in their children’s education, according to The Press.
The Grand Rapids Press, “Senate
approves plan to lift charter school cap, but removes provision allowing
teachers to be privatized,” Oct. 6, 2011
The Grand Rapids Press, “Lawmakers
hope to lure successful charter school companies to Michigan by waiving
property taxes, lifting cap,” Sept. 30, 2011
“2011 Senate Bill 618:
Eliminate charter school cap”
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Money for Nothing?” Oct. 7, 2011
Enrollment Up in Many West Michigan Districts
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — West Michigan school districts
largely reported higher enrollment this fall, with school officials saying the
growth reflects an improved housing and jobs market, according to The Grand
Rapids Press. Schools of choice also were a factor in some districts, The Press
School officials welcomed the higher numbers, in particular
because fall enrollment now plays a larger role in calculating state aid.
School districts “count” students each fall and winter; previously, the fall
numbers accounted for 75 percent of the total, but now they account for 90
percent, according to The Press.
Forest Hills Public Schools gained 85 students, compared to
a 97-student decline last fall, The Press reported, and Superintendent Dan Behm
credited an improved housing market.
Kentwood, Hudsonville, Zeeland, Holland, Caledonia, Jenison
and Byron Center school districts all reported increases, as did most public
charter schools in the region, while Wyoming, West Ottawa, Kelloggsville and
Grandville saw enrollment decline, according to The Free Press.
Grand Rapids Public Schools’ enrollment also declined, but
less than was projected, The Press reported. Preliminary numbers put enrollment
at between 18,100 and 18,200, down from 18,536, according to The Press. The
district’s new high school completion program, carried out in conjunction with
Grand Rapids Community College, added more than 80 students to the district’s
enrollment, The Press reported.
Grandville Superintendent Ron Caniff said that cutting back
on school choice was one factor in the district’s lower enrollment, while Holland
Superintendent Brian Davis said schools-of-choice enrollment there increased by
30 percent from last year, according to The Press.
The Grand Rapids Press, “West
Michigan school districts’ student ‘Count Day’ suggests more economic stability,”
Oct. 6, 2011
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Commentary: Research Shows Parental Choice
Works,” Sept. 23, 2011
CMU Union Headed to Court Over Delayed Pay Hikes
MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. — A new state law is standing between
Central Michigan University professors and their previously scheduled pay
raises, and they are going to court to resolve it, according to The Saginaw
Public Act 54 was signed by Gov. Rick Snyder in June. It
freezes wages and benefits from the time an employment contract expires until a
new contract is signed, according to The News. The collective bargaining
agreement between CMU and its Faculty Association expired June 30 and the sides
have not been able to reach agreement on a new one, The News reported.
The Faculty Association now has asked a circuit court judge
to direct CMU’s Board of Trustees to pay faculty salary adjustments and
promotions as outlined in the expired contract, The News reported.
CMU President George E. Ross said in a letter to the
Academic Senate that if the court finds the law unconstitutional, then the
university will pay the wage increases, according to The News.
The News reported that Laura Frey, Faculty Association
president, was not available for comment.
The Saginaw News, “Working
under expired contract, CMU faculty seek court opinion on previously scheduled
raises,” October 6, 2011
House Bill 4152: Limit certain automatic government union employee pay hikes”
Flint District Nixes Two Administrative
FLINT, Mich. — The Flint
Community Schools Board of Education rejected proposed pay raises for two
administrative staff members recently, citing other employee groups that have
made contract concessions, according to The Flint Journal.
The board decided against
promoting a current construction manager to director of maintenance and
operations, which would have required a pay increase of about $14,000 under
current contract obligations, The Journal reported.
The directorship had been left
vacant as the district considered, then decided against, privatizing those
services, according The Journal. Superintendent Linda Thompson said the manager
already has been taking on some of the related work and indicated that the
district needs someone to take final responsibility for that position, The
The board also said no to a
proposal for a pay increase of about $7,000 for an administrative employee who
is doing extra work because another employee retired and was not replaced, The
“As I said last season,
everyone’s going to have to do more and there’s no money,” board member Vera
Perry said, according to The Journal.
Board trustee David Davenport
pointed out that district employees who are represented by the SEIU are now
paying 50 percent toward their insurance premium, up from 10 percent, The
“I say they can take a cut like I
took one,” warehouse attendant Hattie Young said, according to The Journal.
The Flint Journal, “Flint
school board rejects administrative pay raises, agrees to higher attorney rates,”
Oct. 5, 2011
Mackinac Center for Public
Policy, “Privatization Still Growing in
Michigan Schools,” Sept. 5, 2011
Teacher Uses Video to Reverse Lecture/Homework Format
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — In a reversal of the classroom
lecture approach to teaching history, a Michigan educator is requiring students
to watch her lectures on video and then spend class time on homework, according
to The Grand Rapids Press.
Judy Walton, a teacher at Forest Hills Northern High School,
told The Press that the new arrangement frees up class time for small group
discussions, one-on-one mentoring and question-and-answer sessions.
“I haven’t changed the content of the class; I’ve changed
how I deliver it so that it benefits students more,” Walton told The Press. Her
lectures are available on video for the students to view at any time on their
computers or smartphones, The Press reported.
She opens each class period with an in-depth question that
tells her whether students watched the latest video and read the assigned
pages, according to The Press.
Clintondale High School, near Detroit, uses a similar
approach schoolwide, according to The Press.
The Grand Rapids Press, “How
high school teacher ‘flips’ classroom: Students watch lectures at home, do
homework in class,” Oct. 4, 2011
Mackinac Center for Public
Policy, “Online Learning Can Improve
Michigan Public Education,” April 13, 2010
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.