July 9, 2013

Contents of this issue:

  • Federal reform of Michigan schools did not lead to improvement
  • Federal court declines to hear teacher union dues case
  • Marshall to take over Battle Creek alternative school
  • NEA predicts more membership losses; boosts staff salaries
  • State superintendent proposes consolidating school districts
  • High-performing school: Jeffers High School

Federal Reform of Michigan Schools Did Not Lead to Improvement

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Michigan’s 28 schools that participated in federal School Improvement Grant funding did not see significant academic improvement, according to MLive.

Federal requirements for the grants include having schools replace principals and/or staff members, MLive reports.
Despite the grants, MLive reports, reading proficiency declined at the Michigan schools that received federal grant funding, while math proficiency rates improved by 2 percentage points.
SOURCE: MLive, “Revamped Michigan schools had mixed performance, federal grant data shows,” July 3, 2013 
FURTHER READING: Michigan Education Digest, “Low-performers eligible for grants," June 15, 2010

Federal Court Declines to Hear Teacher Union Dues Case

LANSING, Mich. – A federal appeals court has declined to review the Michigan law that prohibits school districts from helping teacher unions collect dues, according to the Detroit Free Press.

The Free Press reports that the law was passed in 2012, but that a Detroit judge halted its implementation with an injunction. According to the Free Press, the next step will be for the Detroit judge to erase that injunction.
SOURCE: Detroit Free Press, “Federal appeals court won’t hear argument on teacher union dues,” July 3, 2013 
FURTHER READING: Michigan Capitol Confidential, “Court Rules School Districts Cannot Use Public Resources to Withhold Union Dues,” May 10, 2013

Marshall to Take Over Battle Creek Alternative School

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. – Marshall Schools will be taking over an alternative school for at-risk students in Battle Creek, according to Michigan Radio.

Michigan Radio reports that the school, Michigan Youth Challenge Academy, risked being closed after Battle Creek ended its relationship with the program. The school, according to Michigan Radio, serves about 250 students from throughout Michigan.
Marshall will also be accepting students from Albion, which closed its high school this year, Michigan Radio reports.
SOURCE: Michigan Radio, “An alternative school in Battle Creek will come under Marshall schools oversight later this month,” July 5, 2013
FURTHER READING: Michigan Education Digest, “Albion district to become K-8 only,” May 21, 2013

NEA Predicts More Membership Losses; Boosts Staff Salaries

ATLANTA – At the National Education Association Representative Assembly, officials predicted that the NEA would continue to lose members, according to the Education Intelligence Agency.

The NEA did not lose as many members as projected, according to the EIA, which resulted in the NEA having $6.6 million more than anticipated.
The money was used to bolster salaries and benefits for NEA officers and staff, the EIA reported.
According to the EIA, the NEA has about 2 million full-time members. “We lost members this year. We will continue to lose members next year,” NEA secretary-treasurer Becky Pringle said, according to the EIA. “We are worried, most especially about our large affiliates.”
SOURCE: The Education Intelligence Agency, “NEA Convention: ‘We Will Continue to Lose Members Next Year,’” July 2, 2013
FURTHER READING: Michigan Capitol Confidential, “With Far Fewer Members, MEA Executives Among the Highest Paid In the Nation,” Aug. 7, 2012 

State Superintendent Proposes Consolidating School Districts

LANSING, Mich. – State Superintendent Mike Flanagan is proposing consolidating the state’s school districts, intermediate districts and charter schools into countywide school districts, according to the Detroit Free Press.

The Free Press reports that though Flanagan says the move would save money, little research supports that assertion. Don Wotruba, deputy director of the Michigan Association of School Boards, told the Free Press that a mandate for all school districts wasn’t a solution.
According to the Free Press, a switch to countywide school districts would require legislative approval.
SOURCE: Detroit Free Press, “As schools slide into the red, could it be time for countywide districts?” July 7, 2013
FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Consolidating School Districts Won’t Save Michigan $600 Million,” Sept. 14, 2010

High-Performing School: Jeffers High School

PAINESDALE, Mich. – Jeffers High School, in the Adams Township School District, was one of the Mackinac Center’s top-ranked high schools in 2012. Jeffers received an ‘A’ on the High School Context and Performance report card, and was the fifth highest scoring conventional high school in the state.

The Center’s report card provides an  apples-to-apples comparison of school performance by taking into account students’ socioeconomic background. This was accomplished by adjusting test score data by the percentage of students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch.
“We are in the student business,” said Tim Keteri, Adams superintendent and Jeffers High School principal. “And when we forget that … when you forget why you’re here, that’s when you fall off the map.”
The first class to graduate from Jeffers High School graduated in 1910. Jan Maierle, a retired administrator and teacher, said that the community’s traditional values — including dedication and hard work — contribute greatly to the high school’s success.
A video featuring Jeffers High School can be viewed here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kaJzKNnJ72c