May 13, 2014

Contents of this issue:

  • Teachers lose up to $12,700 for unenforceable dues language 
  • Low turnout in school bond elections
  • MEAP may stay for a couple more years
  • Former DPS teacher found guilty of stealing more than $500K
  • Michigan Appeals Court questions ACLU Highland Park suit

Teachers Lose up to $12,700 For Unenforceable Dues Language 

WYOMING, Mich. – The Wyoming teachers union gave up large concessions in order to preserve unenforceable contract language, Michigan Capitol Confidential reports. The Mackinac Center for Public Policy publishes Capitol Confidential.

The teachers union, the Kent County Education Association, negotiated to keep contract language stating that teachers must pay union dues, according to Michigan Capitol Confidential.
But such language is unenforceable under the state’s new right-to-work law, Capitol Confidential reports.
The union’s concessions cost teachers up to $12,700 in annual salary, in addition to reductions in benefits, according to Capitol Confidential.

SOURCE: Michigan Capitol Confidential, “Union Surrenders Member Benefits To Keep Unenforceable Clause In Contract,” May 9, 2014 
FURTHER READING: Michigan Capitol Confidential, “Despite Shortage Of Bus Drivers, Union Wants Worker Fired For Not Paying Dues,” May 7, 2014 

Low Turnout in School Bond Elections

LANSING, Mich. – Just 6.5 percent of Lansing voters turned up to vote on a proposed tax increase for the district, according to WILX TV10. The measure passed overwhelmingly, WILX reports.

Elections cost approximately $2,000 per precinct, meaning that the Lansing election itself cost taxpayers more than $60,000, according to WILX.
Elections in May cost five times as much per vote than elections held in November, according to WILX, because more voters come to the polls. 
“In terms of the cost per vote, yes this was an expensive election,” Lansing City Clerk Chris Swope told WILX. “But in terms of the revenue that the school district is gonna get to keep, it’s a really small amount actually.”
The deputy director of the Michigan Association of School Boards told WILX that May is the best time for school boards to get financial issues passed.

SOURCE: WILX 10, “Low Turnout Across Mid-Michigan Polls,” May 7, 2014 

FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Secret Ballot?” May 22, 2006 

MEAP May Stay For a Couple More Years

LANSING, Mich. – School budgets proposed by both the House and Senate would require students to continue to take the Michigan Education Assessment Program test for the next two years, Michigan Information & Research Service reports.

Legislators and the Michigan Department of Education have been sparring over whether to keep the MEAP, according to MIRS. The department has been working to transition Michigan students to the Smarter Balanced assessment, which is aligned to Common Core standards.
The implementation of Common Core has been controversial for some legislators, MIRS reports. Leading Republicans, including Senate Education Chair Phil Pavlov and House Education Chair Lisa Posthumus Lyons, supported the move to continue the use of the MEAP.

SOURCE: Michigan Information & Research Service, “House, Senate Move to Keep MEAP For 2 More Years,” May 8, 2014 
FURTHER READING: Michigan Education Digest, “Controversy Over Common Core Implementation Continues," April 29, 2014 

Former DPS Teacher Found Guilty of Stealing More Than $500K

DETROIT – A former Detroit Public Schools teacher and her mother, who worked as a district accountant, were found guilty of stealing at least $530,000 from the school district, according to MLive.

MLive reports that the teacher, Domonique Campbell, and her mother, Sandra Campbell, worked together to place fraudulent orders for school supplies.
For stealing more than half a million dollars, Domonique Campbell has been sentenced to three years in prison, MLive reports, while her mother has been sentenced to six years in prison.

SOURCE: MLive, “Ex-Detroit teacher sentenced to 3 years in prison for defrauding district of $530,000-plus with mother’s help,” May 6, 2014 
FURTHER READING: Michigan Education Report, “Financial scandals exposed in Michigan school districts, Nov. 17, 2002 

Michigan Appeals Court Questions ACLU Highland Park Suit

HIGHLAND PARK, Mich. – A panel of Michigan Appeals Court judges appeared to be skeptical of claims made by the American Civil Liberties Union in its lawsuit against the former Highland Park school district, according to the Detroit Free Press.

The Free Press reports that the ACLU is suing the district over past students’ low reading scores. One judge on the panel, according to the Free Press, questioned whether the courts would be micromanaging schools if they ruled in favor of the ACLU.

SOURCE: MLive, “Michigan, ACLU lawyers spar over reading skills in Highland Park,” May 7, 2014 
FURTHER READING: Michigan Capitol Confidential, “Charter School Results Proving ACLU Lawsuit Wrong,” Aug. 20, 2013