October 30, 2012

Contents of this issue:

  • Proposal 2 a national test for government unions
  • Seminar suggests university teaching programs inadequate 
  • Weatherspoon to oversee Highland Park and Muskegon Heights
  • Stakes high for Willow Run and Ypsilanti consolidation vote
  • Upper Peninsula candidates, school officials discuss education
  • Grand Rapids blended learning programs provide flexibility

Proposal 2 a National Test for Government Unions

DETROIT – Michigan’s Proposal 2, a measure that would make government union contracts more powerful than state law, is a national test of union power, according to The New York Times.

“Michigan’s union bosses are field-testing a new weapon,” Rich Studley, president of the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, told The Times. “If this weapon is successful in banning legislation, we’ll see it deployed in the 21 other states that allow initiatives and referendums.”
The Times reports that more than $30 million will be spent by proponents and opponents of Prop 2.
SOURCE: The New York Times, “Michigan Vote a Test Case on Enshrining the Rights of Unions,” Oct. 25, 2012
FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Proposal 2: The ‘Collective Bargaining’ Amendment,” October 2012

Seminar Suggests University Teaching Programs Inadequate

MINNEAPOLIS – A seminar hosted by the Education Writers Association and the University of Minnesota’s College of Education and Human Development suggests that university teaching programs are generally inadequate, MLive reports.

Stanford University professor Linda Darling-Hammond told MLive that only about a quarter of U.S. education programs produce high-quality teachers.
According to MLive, Kate Walsh, president of the National Council on Teacher Quality, said that in order to produce better teachers, schools should raise entrance standards. Walsh said education schools are taking on too many students and producing too many teachers, MLive reports.
SOURCE: MLive, "Do universities need to do a better job preparing teachers?" Oct. 11, 2012
FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Remove Needless Mandates on Teachers,” March 1, 2012

Weatherspoon to Oversee Highland Park and Muskegon Heights

MUSKEGON HEIGHTS, Mich. – Muskegon Heights Emergency Financial Manger Donald Weatherspoon will also oversee the Highland Park school district, MLive reports.

According to MLive, Weatherspoon’s appointment took effect on Oct. 29. Both districts that Weatherspoon is overseeing have been converted into public charter districts, MLive reports.
Weatherspoon will not receive an increase in pay, according to MLive, but he will be paid over a 10-month period, instead of a 12-month period.
The shared emergency financial manager arrangement between the two districts is motivated by finances, according to MLive. “It’s turning into how can you get more efficiency and reduce the costs to the district,” Weatherspoon told MLive.
SOURCE: MLive, “Highland Park Schools added to Muskegon Heights emergency manager’s responsibilities," Oct. 25, 2012 
FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Can Charter Public School Operator Improve Student Performance?" July 11, 2012

Stakes High for Willow Run and Ypsilanti Consolidation Vote

YPSILANTI, Mich. – A vote on Nov. 6 for whether the Willow Run and Ypsilanti school districts should consolidate has large financial implications, according to AnnArbor.com.

AnnArbor.com reports that the two districts have a combined $15 million in debt, and that consolidation would give the districts more time to pay that off. According to AnnArbor.com, if the districts consolidate, it would be the first time in state history that two struggling school districts have merged in an attempt to address their problems.
Blake Nordman, a teacher in Willow Run, told AnnArbor.com that he does not support the merger, citing the fact that Willow Run has reduced its deficit, while Ypsilanti’s deficit has more than tripled.
SOURCE: AnnArbor.com, “Defining Moment: Future of Willow Run Ypsilanti school districts in hands of voters weighing consolidation," Oct. 27, 2012
FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Placing School Bureaucrats Before Children," Sept. 25, 2012

Upper Peninsula Candidates, School Officials Discuss Education

HANCOCK, Mich. – Candidates for the 110th House District spoke with superintendents and school board members about state education policy and the impact of state requirements on northern Michigan school districts, according to The (Houghton) Daily Mining Gazette.

The Mining Gazette reports that current Rep. Matt Huuki, R-Atlantic Mine, told school officials that he strongly supports recent state reforms, including tenure reform and elimination of last in, first out policies.
In response to a question about state requirements, challenger Mike Dianda, a Democrat from Calumet, told school officials that “…they should have the opportunity to teach what they need to teach per district,” according to the Mining Gazette.
Dianda said he was referring to additional nursing courses and vocation-specific courses.
SOURCE: The Mining Gazette, “Candidates talk education at legislative luncheon,” Oct. 27, 2012
FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Why Statewide Education Policy Fails," Oct. 4, 12

Grand Rapids Blended Learning Programs Provide Flexibility

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Blended learning courses have enabled several hundred Grand Rapids high school students to have the flexibility to take college coursework and pursue internships, according to Education Week.

Education Week reports that each high school in the Grand Rapids district was tasked with creating a separate “Center of Innovation” with a vocational focus.
“Our goals were to expand school choice, increase student achievement, and also reduce the racial achievement gap,” Executive Director for Organizational Learning Mary Jo Kuhlman told Education Week.
Education Week reports that measuring the success of the Centers for Innovation is difficult, since they are new and hard to disentangle from the conventional high schools that host them.
However, according to Education Week, the number of Grand Rapids schools making Adequate Yearly Progress has increased for five years in a row.
SOURCE: Education Week, “E-Learning Opens Real-World Doors,” Oct. 23, 2012
FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Virtual Learning in Michigan’s Schools," Jan. 27, 2011

MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST is a service of Michigan Education Report, an online newspaper published by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan research and educational institute.

Contact Managing Editor Michael Van Beek at mailto:med@educationreport.org

To subscribe or unsubscribe, go to http://www.educationreport.org/pubs/mer/listserver.aspx?Source=MED