November 5, 2013

Contents of this issue:

  • Legislators consider ending social promotion for third graders
  • Backlash over boycott of EMU student teachers
  • Request to use nutrition program to pay for laptops denied
  • High school enrollment up at DPS

Legislators Consider Ending Social Promotion for Third Graders

LANSING, Mich. – Michigan legislators are considering whether third-graders who score below proficient on reading should be held back, according to the Associated Press.

The AP reports that as many as one-third of Michigan third-grade students aren’t proficient. According to the AP, 14 other states hold back students who are struggling with reading.
Christy Hovanetz, former education commissioner for Florida and Minnesota, told legislators that students need to be able to read in later grades in order to understand additional material, the AP reports.

“Reading proficiency is one of the most important measures in public education and it’s time we make this a top priority,” bill sponsor Rep. Amanda Price, R-Holland, said according to the AP.

SOURCES: The Associated Press, “Michigan lawmakers weigh new bill to hold back third-graders not proficient in reading,” Oct. 30, 2013

FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy,“Legislature Considers Two Center Ideas,” Oct. 31, 2013

Backlash Over Boycott of EMU Student Teachers

LANSING, Mich. – A teachers union that has called for a boycott of student teachers from Eastern Michigan University has come under fire, according to MLive.

The teachers in the Washtenaw County Education Association, MLive reports, are not taking EMU student teachers because of the university’s partnership with the statewide Education Achievement Authority reform district.

Rep. Lisa Posthumus Lyons, R-Alto, has called the boycott “reckless,” according to MLive, and has invited the union president to testify to explain the union’s actions.

Greg McNeilly, president of the Michigan Freedom Fund, has also criticized the union’s move, MLive reports. “Local union presidents are using innocent student teachers as collateral damage in their attempt to strong arm university administrators into rescinding their support of the EAA,” he said according to MLive.

SOURCE: MLive,“House education committee chairwoman: Local union’s boycott of EMU student teachers ‘reckless,’” Oct. 30, 2013

FURTHER READING: Michigan Education Digest,“Teachers union calls for boycott of EMU student teachers” Oct. 29, 2013

Request to Use Nutrition Program to Pay for Laptops Denied

HOWELL, Mich. – Howell Public Schools recently requested to purchase laptops with school nutrition funds, according to the Battle Creek Enquirer. The purchase would have allowed the district to expand a program that allows students to track calories and body-mass index, the Enquirer reports.

“So, what we proposed was using surplus food funds to create a cyber café,” Superintendent Ron Wilson said, according to the Enquirer.
The Michigan Department of Education, which oversees public school nutrition spending, turned the request down, the Enquirer reports. Wilson said that he will pursue the idea, saying that expanding the program aligns with first lady Michelle Obama’s health initiatives.
SOURCE: The Battle Creek Inquirer,“State says ‘no’ to Howell schools’ plan for laptops in cafeterias,” Oct. 31, 2013

FURTHER READING: Michigan Education Digest, “Federal meal guidelines cause student (and stomach) grumbling,” Oct. 2, 2012

High School Enrollment Up at DPS

DETROIT – Though overall enrollment declined by about 2 percent at Detroit Public Schools, the decline was entirely due to K-8 losses, according to The Detroit News. High school enrollment increased by 14 percent.

The News reports that the increase in high school enrollment is concentrated at just nine of DPS’ 19 high schools.
DPS Emergency Manager Jack Martin told The News that he had toured a school that was overenrolled, and that the district would be leveling classes in schools that overbooked.

Detroit Federation of Teachers President Keith Johnson said that he hoped that the increase in high school enrollment results in DPS reacquiring schools that were taken over by the statewide Education Achievement Authority, according to The News.

EAA officials told The News that there are no plans to transfer EAA high schools back to DPS.

SOURCE: Detroit News,“DPS enrollment surges after years of decline,” Nov. 1, 2013

FURTHER READING: Michigan Education Digest, “DPS undertakes school marketing campaign to boost enrollment," Aug. 13, 2013