May 6, 2014

Contents of this issue:

  • State Board of Ed president critical of ‘adequacy’ study push
  • Critical of Ed Trust advocacy, legislators withhold vote
  • Mobile ‘fab lab’ will bring high-tech education to students
  • Farmington to offer retirement incentive instead of layoffs
  • Howell to make $690K with electronic billboard

State Board of Ed President Critical of ‘Adequacy’ Study Push

LANSING, Mich. – Michigan Democrats have been pushing hard for an “adequacy” study on the cost of education, Bridge Magazine reports.

But Democratic State Board of Education President John Austin doesn’t support that push, according to Bridge.
“I don’t support an adequacy study as traditionally defined,” Austin told Bridge. “It’s a term the teachers unions and Democrats use to argue for more money.”
Instead, Austin told Bridge that “we’ve got to spend money we already spend to get better outcomes.”
Gary Naeyaert, executive director of the Great Lakes Education Project, was also critical of the effort, according to Bridge.
“When people start talking about ‘adequate funding’ or what it should cost to educate a child, grab your wallet,” he said to Bridge.

SOURCE: Bridge Magazine, “How much does it cost to educate a child? In Michigan, nobody knows,” April 29, 2014
FURTHER READING: Michigan Capitol Confidential, “How to Make Michigan Schools More Expensive,” April 22, 2013

Critical of Ed-Trust Advocacy, Legislators Withhold Vote

LANSING, Mich. – Some Michigan legislators were critical of a move by the Education Trust-Midwest and delayed voting on a teacher evaluation bill in response, according to Michigan Information & Research Service News (subscription required).

MIRS reports that Ed Trust-Midwest sent out an email stating that if the House did not pass its teacher evaluation bill, that the federal government would penalize the state.
Some legislators viewed this move as overly political, and characterized it as “bullying,” according to MIRS.
Legislators have made changes to the bill, including reducing how much of a teacher’s evaluation will depend on student academic growth, MIRS reports.

SOURCE: Michigan Information & Research Service, “Votes on Eval Bills Delayed Over Advocacy Group’s Email,” April 30, 2014

FURTHER READING: Michigan Capitol Confidential, “School District Works Around State Law To Protect Teachers Based on Seniority," Feb. 14, 2014

Mobile ‘Fab Lab’ Will Bring High-Tech Education to Students

PETOSKEY, Mich. – North Central Michigan College will be using a “Fab Lab” mobile classroom to help bring high-tech educational tools to rural Michigan students, the Heartlander reports.

The Fab Lab is a 44-foot trailer attached to a Ford pickup truck and contains 12 computers with AutoCAD software, milling equipment and a lathe, according to the Heartlander.
The college partnered with several private companies and a nonprofit to acquire the Fab Lab, which cost $350,000, the Heartlander reports.
The Fab Lab will begin offering courses this fall, according to the Heartlander.

SOURCE: The Heartlander, “Vocational Training Center Rolls Into Northern Michigan,” April 29, 2014
FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Why Statewide Education Policy Fails," Oct. 4, 2012

Farmington to Offer Retirement Incentive Instead of Layoffs

FARMINGTON, Mich. – Farmington Public Schools will be reducing staff by offering a retirement incentive instead of making layoffs, according to the Observer & Eccentric.

Farmington needs to make cuts totaling $12.8 million, the Observer & Eccentric reports.
Teachers eligible for retirement could receive a payment of up to $15,000 from the district if they retire, according to the Observer & Eccentric.
Farmington estimates that by encouraging the retirement of older and more costly teachers and by avoiding unemployment costs, the district will save $200,000 to $800,000, the Observer & Eccentric reports.

SOURCE: Observer & Eccentric, “Voluntary severance deal OK’d for Farmington Schools staff,” May 2, 2014

FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Why Is the State Bribing Teachers to Retire? March 5, 2010

Howell to Make $690K With Electronic Billboard

HOWELL, Mich. – Howell Public Schools will make $690,000 over 20 years by agreeing to a long-term lease to allow an electronic billboard on school property, according to the Livingston Daily Press & Argus.

The district will also be able to advertise on the billboard with one of eight rotating advertisements for one week a month, the Press & Argus reports.
The district received inquiries from several companies about the sign and went with the best bid, according to the Press & Argus.

SOURCE: Livingston Daily Press & Argus, “Billboard deal means $690K for schools,” April 30, 2014 
FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Howell School Board Bucks MEA Advice: Saves $2.9 Million and Avoids Program Cuts,” May 16, 2011