March 25, 2014

Contents of this issue:

  • Ferndale under national scrutiny for discriminatory contract
  • EMU dean to leave in June
  • EAA expansion passes House 
  • AAPS votes to oppose EAA expansion
  • Gull Lake bond upsets community
  • Issues & Ideas forum on school collective bargaining

Ferndale Under National Scrutiny for Discriminatory Contract

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Ferndale school district received national scrutiny for its collective bargaining agreement that provides preference for employees of “the non-Christian faith,” according to The Daily Caller.

The Mackinac Center discovered the discriminatory language, The Daily Caller reports. The Mackinac Center publishes Michigan Education Digest.
According to The Daily Caller, Ferndale’s contract likely violated a number of different laws, including Michigan’s civil rights law.
In the wake of the national media attention, the district has said that the discriminatory language is being removed, The Daily Caller reports.

SOURCE: The Daily Caller, “Teachers union deal: ‘Special consideration shall be given to non-Christians,’ racial minorities,” March 19, 2014 
FURTHER READING: Michigan Capitol Confidential, “Non-Christians Given ‘Special Consideration’ In Union Teacher Contract,” March 19, 2014  

EMU Dean to Leave in June

YPSILANTI, Mich. – Jann Joseph, dean of Eastern Michigan University’s College of Education, will be leaving the position in June, the Detroit Free Press reports. According to the Free Press, Joseph will be moving to a position with Indiana University South Bend.

Joseph has seen pressure from education groups regarding her involvement with the Education Achievement Authority, the statewide reform district, the Free Press reports.
According to the Free Press, Joseph stepped down just a few months ago from the EAA. Washtenaw County teachers unions have moved to have members stop accepting EMU student teachers, the Free Press reports. 

SOURCE: The Detroit Free Press, “Eastern Michigan education dean stepping down in June,” March 20, 2014 

FURTHER READING: Michigan Education Digest, “EAA spends less than expected, approves $2M for STEM program," March 18, 2014 

EAA Expansion Passes House

DETROIT – The Michigan House passed a bill to expand and modify the statewide Education Achievement Authority, MLive reports.

According to MLive, the measure would cap the number of EAA schools at 50, and spells out what performance would allow a school to exit the statewide system.
Under the legislation, MLive reports, the EAA would be able to borrow money in anticipation of state school aid money.
According to MLive, the legislation would allow intermediate school districts to take over struggling schools.

SOURCE: MLive, “EAA expansion vote: 6 things you need to know about the new proposal,” March 21, 2014 

FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “EAA Bill Has Problems: But Grand Rapids carve-out not one of them," March 22, 2013 

AAPS Votes to Oppose EAA Expansion

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – The Ann Arbor Public Schools Board of Education voted to oppose legislation that would expand the statewide Education Achievement Authority, according to MLive. MLive reports that AAPS’ board is also calling for Eastern Michigan University to halt its involvement with the EAA.

The AAPS resolution alleges that the EAA “…has failed to document any consistent pattern of improvement in student outcomes…,” according to MLive.
AAPS board members told MLive that they hoped to show a sign of support for EMU faculty members who have opposed the reform district and have urged a boycott of EMU student teachers.
“As neighbors, we may [be] in a position to lend our support to the prevailing view of the educators at EMU as opposed to the Regents,” AAPS school board Trustee Andy Thomas told MLive.

SOURCE: MLive, “Ann Arbor school board calls on EMU to drop out of EAA,” March 20 2014 
FURTHER READING: Michigan Capitol Confidential, “Teachers Union Pushes Districts To Boycott Some University Students Over Politics, Nov. 8, 2013  

Gull Lake Bond Upsets Community

RICHLAND, Mich. – Residents of the Gull Lake school district showed up at its most recent board of education meeting to complain about the district’s recent property tax increase, according to WWMT TV3.

WWMT reports that residents are upset that the district put a 0.65 mill property tax increase on the February ballot, a month with low turnout. The increase was initially defeated by five votes, but a few absentee ballots were disqualified, thereby reversing the outcome to a property tax increase, according to WWMT.
At the board meeting, residents called the February tax proposal a “gimmick,” characterizing it as a deceitful move, WWMT reports.
“They can’t keep doing this to us,” resident Mary Wilson told WWMT. “…They’ve been shoving stuff down our throats,” she continued, “and it’s time to take a stand.”
SOURCE: WWMT 3, “Voters voice anger over school administration,” March 18, 2014 
FURTHER READING: Michigan Capitol Confidential, “School Districts Spend Tens of Thousands On Losing Millage Requests,” July 23, 2013

Issues & Ideas Forum on School Collective Bargaining

MIDLAND, Mich. – An Issues & Ideas forum hosted by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy on March 31 will examine whether or not school districts in Michigan have complied with various state laws passed in 2011 designed to help school officials retain and reward effective teachers. The Mackinac Center publishes Michigan Education Digest.

The forum is scheduled from noon to 1 p.m. on March 31 at the Michigan Restaurant Association in Lansing. For more information please visit mackinac.org/19799.