September 3, 2013

Contents of this issue:

  • 2000 Kent County students use Schools of Choice
  • More schools want to start class before Labor Day
  • Schools dropping out of federal lunch program
  • More online schools open this fall
  • Michigan eligible to renew NCLB waiver
  • Forum featuring Clark Durant, co-founder of Cornerstone Schools

2000 Kent County Students use Schools of Choice

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – More than 2,000 Kent County nonresident students will be using Schools of Choice to attend schools in other districts, according to MLive.

Some districts offered far more seats than were accepted, MLive reports. Grand Rapids offered 1,000 seats, according to MLive, but just 129 students enrolled.
Grandville, in comparison, offered 250 seats and all were filled, MLive reports. This is a large change, according to MLive, since the district offered just 25 seats last year.
Grandville Superintendent Ron Caniff told MLive that the SOC expansion was to bring in more money.
MDE posted a two-page policy paper on its TTB website, with a similar scatter plot showing the close correlation. According to MDE, though the average percentage of minority students in Michigan schools is 27 percent, schools ranked poorly on the TTB list have an average of 78 percent minority students.
SOURCES: MLive, “Schools of choice: More than 2,000 Kent County students on the move again,” Sept. 1, 2013  

FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “School Choice Benefits Students," Feb. 4, 2013

More Schools Want to Start Class Before Labor Day

LANSING, Mich. – A law promoted by the tourism industry requires all Michigan schools to start after Labor Day, according to MLive. MLive reports that 37 institutions this year obtained a waiver from the Michigan Department of Education to open earlier – more than double the number for the 2010-11 school year.
At Zeeland Quest, a school that operates year-round, students have one week off for every six weeks of instruction, according to MLive. Zeeland Public Schools Superintendent Cal DeKuiper told MLive that a traditional school calendar isn’t for every student and that “…[we need to] provide that setting that is best for each student.”
However, Grand Rapids Public Schools ended year-round programs at five schools this year, according to MLive. GRPS spokesperson John Helmholdt told MLive that absenteeism was a problem, since many students continued to adhere to a conventional school calendar.
“They showed up the day after Labor Day when the traditional calendar starts because most of their friends in the neighborhoods are still out until the post-Labor Day start,” he told MLive.
SOURCE: MLive, “Why a growing number of schools are seeking waivers to start class before Labor Day,” Sept. 1, 2013

FURTHER READING: Michigan Education Digest, “State Year-round Schedule Works for Jackson School,” June. 25, 2013

Michigan Votes, “2013 House Bill 4154: Revise school accreditation,” Jan. 31, 2013

Schools Dropping Out of Federal Lunch Program

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A year after the federal lunch program was reworked to include “healthier” foods, schools are dropping the program, according to The Detroit News. The new program incorporated caloric and salt limits, which frustrated students who spent long hours at schools and participated in school sports, according to The News.

Some school districts, according to The News, had too many students stop eating school lunches after the change. One New York school district’s lunch program lost more than $100,000 when students stopped eating the lunches.
“Some of the stuff we had to offer, they wouldn’t eat,” Catlin, Ill., Superintendent Gary Lewis told The News. Lewis’ lunch program lost $30,000 last year, according to The News.
SOURCE: The Detroit News, “Some school districts quit healthier lunch program,” Aug. 27, 2013

FURTHER READING: Michigan Education Digest, “Federal Meal Guidelines Cause Student (And Stomach) Grumbling,” Oct. 2, 2012  

More Online Schools Open This Fall

LANSING, Mich. – Five more cyber schools are opening this fall, according to the Traverse City Record Eagle. Students in grades 5-12 can take up to two online courses each semester, and won’t need permission from their home district, the Record Eagle reports.

The number of schools and districts that offer online classes has grown from 12 in 2009 to 192, according to the Record Eagle.
“I like that the state is offering more opportunities,” Rachel Miller, whose two children are attending the Virtual Learning Academy Consortium, told the Record Eagle.
SOURCE:The Traverse City Record Eagle, “Students get new online ed options,” Sept. 1, 2013

FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Let Online Learning Flourish,” Aug. 16, 2013

Michigan Eligible to Renew NCLB Waiver

LANSING, Mich. – Michigan is eligible to submit a renewal for its waiver from No Child Left Behind requirements, according to MLive.

“We built a 3D printer from parts we printed off,” Utica teacher Geoff Clark told the Advisor & Source. Michigan Tech faculty member and researcher Joshua Pearce wrote, according to the Advisor & Source, that “3D printers will enable teachers everywhere to save tons of money and get precisely what they want for their classrooms.”
Michigan’s 2012 waiver governed the state’s method of ranking schools, including identifying schools with larger-than-average achievement gaps as “focus schools,” MLive reports. The state’s waiver also promised development of teacher evaluations, according to MLive.
Federal officials are looking for states to continue with teacher evaluation implementation, MLive reports. Federal guidance suggests that ratings be used to make personnel decisions, according to MLive.
SOURCE: MLive, “Michigan now eligible to renew federal education waiver, but not without proof of progress,” Aug. 29, 2013

FURTHER READING: Michigan Education Digest, “Obama Outlines NCLB Waiver Rules,” Sept. 27, 2011

Forum Featuring Clark Durant, co-founder of Cornerstone Schools

Clark Durant, former state Board of Education member and founder of Cornerstone Schools, will discuss educational options and school choice at two separate public forums scheduled for Sept. 10 and 12.

Gary Naeyaert, executive director of the Great Lakes Education Project, will discuss legislative developments on issues including school quality, parental empowerment and funding.

The Sept. 10 forum will be held at Washington Parks Academy, 11685 Appleton, Redford, MI 48239. Reception and pizza will begin at 6:30 p.m., and discussion will begin at 7 p.m.

The Sept. 12 forum will be held at the Utica Public Library, 7530 Auburn Road, Utica, MI 48317. Reception and pizza will begin at 6:30 p.m., and discussion will begin at 7 p.m.

RSVPs can be sent to Andy Anuzis at: aanuzis@civilsocietyinitiative.org.