October 8, 2013

Contents of this issue:

  • MEA loses 1,500 members under right-to-work
  • Declining birth rate will dramatically impact school enrollment
  • Nearly 14 percent of Flint students leave for other schools
  • Kalamazoo partners with libraries to boost literacy
  • Drug raid executed by Detroit police near elementary playground

MEA Loses 1,500 Members Under Right-to-Work

EAST LANSING, Mich. – Michigan Education Association President Steve Cook says that 1,500 members have chosen to leave the union, according to The Detroit News.

Though the MEA has approximately 150,000 members, many still do not have the option to leave because many contracts were extended just before right-to-work took effect, The News reports.
“This is round one,” Cook said, according to The News. “So next year, we’re going to be right back in the soup again trying to retain those members.”

Cook says that the MEA will not be pursuing a 2014 ballot initiative to overturn right-to-work, The News reports. He said the MEA would rather spend money to help Democratic candidates win in state elections, according to The News.

SOURCES: Detroit News, “MEA: 1% of members not paying dues under right-to-work law,” Sept. 29, 2013

FURTHER READING: Michigan Capitol Confidential,“Count Update: 145 School Districts Have Deals That Dodge Right-to-Work," May 28, 2013

Declining Birth Rate Will Dramatically Impact School Enrollment

KALAMAZOO, Mich. – Michigan births fell during the last decade, a trend that is now affecting public school enrollment, according to MLive.

MLive reports that Michigan births fell by 11 percent between 2000 and 2008, meaning that this year’s kindergarten class is smaller for many districts.

According to MLive, the decline will continue. Between 2008 and 2011, MLive reports that Michigan births declined by another 6 percent.

“The 2008 recession births hit this fall,” Julie Rohrer, assistant superintendent for finance and operations at Parchment School District, told MLive. “[School officials] were told statewide that the kindergarten counts in 2013 and 2014 will be low,” she said, according to MLive.

SOURCE: MLive,“Recession baby bust impacts Kalamazoo-area school enrollment in fall 2013,” Oct. 5, 2013

FURTHER READING: Michigan Education Digest,“Birth rates affect school district budgets,” April 2, 2013

Nearly 14 Percent of Flint Students Leave for Other Schools

FLINT, Mich. – More than 1,100 Flint students chose to leave the district this year, according to MLive. The 14 percent drop in enrollment is 420 students larger than anticipated, MLive reports.

Flint is currently in a $15.8 million overspending crisis, according to MLive. The loss of 1,144 students could cost the district nearly $3 million in state funds, MLive reports.
Parent Alisa Calvert told MLive that she wasn’t surprised so many students had left Flint. “A lot of people have taken their kids out of Flint schools,” she told MLive. “This year there are more students (at Doyle-Ryder) than there were last year.”
SOURCE: MLive,“Flint student count could mean $2.95 million less for cash-strapped district,” Oct. 3, 2013

FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “How to Fix Flint Schools,” Oct. 8 2010

Kalamazoo Partners with Libraries to Boost Literacy

KALAMAZOO, Mich. – Kalamazoo Public Schools and the Kalamazoo Public Library are entering their third year of a partnership designed to boost literacy, MLive reports.

According to MLive, this year almost every KPS student in grades 1 through 3 will have a library card. First graders are going on library field trips to get a library card and to rent a book, MLive reports.
“We want to get students in this building as frequently as possible,” Susan Warner, director of the library system’s youth services, told MLive.

SOURCE: MLive,“Kalamazoo first-graders are foot soldiers in drive to create fully literate community,” Sept. 27, 2013

FURTHER READING: Michigan Education Digest, “Kalamazoo-area schools shift to full-day kindergarten,” Feb 11, 2012

Drug Raid Executed by Detroit Police Near Elementary Playground

DETROIT – The Detroit Policy Department is changing its policies regarding search warrants after a drug raid was executed near an elementary school playground during recess, according to the Detroit Free Press.

During the drug raid, which was executed across the street from Pasteur Elementary School, shots were fired, the Free Press reports. “As students were coming in, they heard shots and some started to run into the school,” Pasteur Elementary Principal Sharon Lawson wrote in a letter to parents, according to the Free Press.
“I have children and if a search warrant was executed while my child was on the playground, I’m not going to sit up here and say I wouldn’t be upset,” Assistant Police Chief Eric Jones said, according to the Free Press.
SOURCE: Detroit Free Press,“Detroit police change search warrant policy after drug raid near school playground,” Oct. 2, 2013

FURTHER READING: Michigan Capitol Confidential, “Lawmaker Seeks More Transparency for SWAT Team Raids," June 18, 2011