November 20, 2012

Contents of this issue:

  • Draft bill to restructure state education funding made public
  • Muskegon Heights public charter district will stay in place
  • Emergency manager lawsuit headed for state supreme court
  • River Rouge school official convicted of taking bribe
  • Federal court rejects Michigan’s affirmative action ban
  • State says five Dearborn schools are “beating the odds”

Draft Bill to Restructure State Education Funding Made Public

LANSING, Mich. – A new draft bill to restructure state education funding has been made public, according to the Detroit Free Press.

The Free Press reports the bill would allow state funding to follow students to any Michigan district offering open enrollment, as well as to online course providers.
Under the plan, according to the Free Press, students could attend multiple districts, and students who graduate from high school early would receive state scholarship money.
Richard McLellan, the attorney that Gov. Rick Snyder asked to lead the funding rewrite, told the Free Press transitioning to the new system would take five years, and that it would not require additional state money.
A summary and draft copy of the bill has been posted online here: http://oxfordfoundationmi.com/2012/11/19/michigan-public-education-finance-project-summary-of-draft/
SOURCE: The Detroit Free Press, “Education funding proposal allows school choice, more online learning,” Nov. 18, 2012
FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Michigan Lags Nation on School Choice," May 21, 2012

Muskegon Heights Public Charter District Will Stay in Place

MUSKEGON HEIGHTS, Mich. – Though the state’s stronger emergency manager law was voted down, the charter company contracted to run the Muskegon Heights school district will continue to run district schools, according to Fox 17 News.

Fox 17 News reports that before the law was repealed, the Muskegon Heights Emergency Manager appointed Mosaica Education, a charter school management company, to run the district.
Gary Britton, attorney for the school district, told Fox 17 News that because the charter company is already in place, “absolutely nothing” will change as a result of the stronger law being repealed.
Though the weaker emergency manager law does not allow emergency managers to modify collective bargaining agreements, Britton told Fox 17 News that won’t affect Muskegon Heights.
“Since there’s a charter school system in place,” he told Fox 17 News, “collective bargaining isn’t an issue for the district.”
SOURCE: Fox 17 News, “Muskegon Heights Schools: Unaffected by Prop One Defeat,” Nov. 16, 2012
FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Prop 1 Defeat a Loss for Struggling School Districts,” Nov. 7, 2012

Emergency Manager Lawsuit Headed for State Supreme Court

DETROIT – The Michigan Court of Appeals denied a lawsuit to remove Emergency Financial Manager Roy Roberts from overseeing Detroit Public Schools, according to the Detroit Free Press.

The Free Press reports the lawsuit argues that voter rejection of the state’s newer and stronger emergency manager law also undid the state’s older and weaker emergency manager law.
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette disagrees, and says that the older law is now in effect, according to the Free Press.
Robert Davis, the Detroit-area activist who brought the case, told the Free Press that he plans to take the case to the Michigan Supreme Court.
SOURCE: Detroit Free Press, “Emergency manager lawsuit going to Michigan Supreme Court,” Nov. 17, 2012
FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “What the Emergency Manager Referendum is About,” Oct 8, 2012

River Rouge School Official Convicted of Taking Bribe

DETROIT – A former executive director of state and federal funds for the River Rouge school district has been found guilty of accepting a bribe, according to the (Southgate) News-Herald.

According to the News-Herald, Dolores Reid, the convicted school official, received cash and luxury items from a supplemental educational services provider. The News-Herald reports that Reid’s brother-in-law received preferential treatment and SES money.
In August 2010, the News-Herald reports, Reid sent a letter to parents incorrectly claiming that SES tutoring was mandatory for SES students.
SOURCE: The (Southgate) News-Herald, “DETROIT: Former River Rouge school official convicted of accepting bribe,” Nov. 17, 2012
FURTHER READING: Michigan Education Digest, “River Rouge Teachers Agree to 15 Percent Pay Cut, Jan 29, 2011

Federal Court Rejects Michigan’s Affirmative Action Ban

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A federal appeals court rejected Michigan’s ban on using affirmative action in college admissions, ABC News reports.

Officials representing the University of Michigan, Michigan State University and Grand Valley State University told ABC News that no immediate changes will be made to their admissions processes.
There is a possibility that the U.S. Supreme Court could issue a ruling on the topic of affirmative action, ABC News reports. The court has heard arguments regarding an affirmative action admissions policy in Texas, and a similar California law has been making its way through the court system, according to ABC News.
SOURCE: ABC News, “Michigan Schools Weigh Affirmative Action Ruling,” Nov. 17, 2012
FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Is Affirmative Action the Right Fight?" June 22, 2004

State Says Five Dearborn Schools Are “Beating the Odds”

DEARBORN, Mich. – The Michigan Department of Education has identified five Dearborn schools as “Beating the Odds” schools, according to the (Dearborn) Press & Guide. Beating the Odds schools have relatively high levels of student academic achievement, despite having more students from disadvantaged backgrounds, the Press & Guide reports.

About 95 percent of students at Lowrey Middle School, one of the Beating the Odds schools, are English language learners, according to the Press & Guide. Lowrey Principal Rima Younes told the Press & Guide that the school uses tutoring and intervention programs to get low-achieving students back on track.
Last year, the Press & Guide reports, MDE criticized Lowrey Middle School for having a large academic achievement gap when the department designated Lowrey as a “Focus School.”
SOURCE: The (Dearborn) Press & Guide, “Five Dearborn Schools Beating the Odds,” Nov. 16, 2012
FURTHER READING: Michigan Education Digest, “20 schools ‘beating the odds,’” Nov. 9, 2011