December 18, 2012

Contents of this issue:

  • Right-to-work legislation passes
  • DPS cuts academic standard for sports participation
  • EAA bill to be revisited in 2013 
  • Union health insurance company sues Pontiac school district
  • Ann Arbor district tries to sell northern Michigan land 
  • Final MED of 2012

Right-to-Work Legislation Passes

LANSING, Mich. – As thousands of union members protested outside the Capitol, Michigan legislators passed a right-to-work bill last Tuesday, according to Fox News.

School districts in Warren and Taylor had to close because hundreds of teachers called in sick in order to attend the protest, Fox News reports.
Gov. Rick Snyder told Fox News that it was “unfortunate” that the school districts had to close, and that “too often the education system’s all about the adults. To see schools shutting down because of an issue like this is not appropriate in my view.”
Opponents are expected to challenge the law, either through legal challenges or by launching recall campaigns against those who supported it, Fox News reports.
SOURCE: Fox News, “Michigan approves right-to-work legislation amid intense protests,” Dec. 11, 2012
FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Right-to-Work: What Now for Schools?" Dec. 13, 2012

DPS Cuts Academic Standard for Sports Participation

DETROIT – Detroit Public Schools is temporarily lowering its minimum grade point average for students to participate in sports, The Detroit News reports.

The current minimum GPA for student athletes is 2.0, but the school board lowered the standard to 1.67, according to the News.
The News reports that school officials hope more students will stay in school after becoming “hooked” on sports. According to The News, DPS’ dropout rate is nearly 60 percent.
The lowered GPA standard is temporary, interim Superintendent John Telford told The News, and will increase back to 2.0 on January 11.
SOURCE: The Detroit News, “DPS cuts GPA standard for sports,” Dec. 11, 2012
FURTHER READING: Michigan Education Digest, “Van Buren public schools raises athletic GPA requirement to 2.0," May 12, 2012

EAA Bill to be Revisited in 2013

LANSING, Mich. – Republicans say expanding the Michigan Education Achievement Authority will be a priority for 2013, MLive reports.

If the bill passes, the EAA, which currently oversees 15 Detroit-area schools, would be able to manage failing schools statewide according to MLive. In order to be up for EAA management, schools would have to be in the bottom 5 percent of Michigan schools, MLive reports.
“I think you have to stay with it, because the reality is that there are kids that are trapped in failing schools across the state of Michigan,” Sen. Phil Pavlov, R-St. Clair Township, told MLive.
SOURCE: MLive, “Michigan’s Education Achievement Authority plan stalling in legislature; efforts likely to resume in 2013,” Dec. 13, 2012
FURTHER READING: Michigan Education Digest, “EAA only Michigan finalist in federal funding competition,” Dec. 4, 2012

Union Health Insurance Company Sues Pontiac School District

PONTIAC, Mich. – A health insurance company affiliated with the Michigan Education Association is suing the Pontiac school district for $7 million in overdue insurance premiums, according to The Oakland Press.

The district, which has a $26 million deficit, has been unable to pay MESSA the money because it was needed to pay for other expenses, such as payroll and grievance settlements.
The attorney for MESSA is asking that the outstanding $7 million be paid, along with a 0.5 percent late fee, according to The Press.
Superintendent Brian Dougherty told The Press that he hopes the district can come up with the money without passing the cost on to taxpayers. Dougherty said the district will try to sell vacant property, and use other measures that he did not want to make public, The Press reports.
SOURCE: The Oakland Press, “Pontiac school district owes millions in past due insurance premiums,” Dec. 10, 2012
FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Why School Districts Can’t Save on Health Care, Jan. 6, 2012

Ann Arbor District Tries to Sell Northern Michigan Land

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Ann Arbor Public Schools is trying to sell a 165-acre parcel of land that school officials have not visited for at least 30 years, AnnArbor.com reports.

AnnArbor.com reports that the property is near Cadillac, and is described as a “duck hunter’s paradise.” The school district used to use the land for “environmental field trips.”
Randy Trent, director of physical properties for APPS, told AnnArbor.com that the district purchased the land in small pieces, with the most recent purchase likely in 1940.
AAPS once held property in Traverse City and Canada, AnnArbor.com reports, but has since sold it.

SOURCE: AnnArbor.com, “Ann Arbor school district tries to sell vacant land in Mid-Michigan,” Dec. 14, 2012
FURTHER READING: Michigan Education Report, “Schools for sale,” Aug. 15, 2007

Final MED of 2012

MIDLAND, Mich. – This will be the final edition of Michigan Education Digest for 2012. MED will not be published Dec. 25, 2012, or Jan. 1, 2013, and will resume on Jan. 8, 2013.