May 27, 2014

Contents of this issue:

  • State Supreme Court to consider pension challenge
  • Fight to keep MEAP continues, could lead to new test
  • First class graduates from Ypsilanti New Tech high school
  • Despite decline in family income, college costs rise
  • As many as 91 Flint employees could be laid off

State Supreme Court to Consider Pension Challenge

LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan Supreme Court will hear arguments regarding whether public school teachers can be required to contribute to the cost of their own pensions, according to MLive.

MLive reports that state law now requires teachers to contribute to their pension. Previously, according to MLive, teachers received a pension benefit without contributing.
The American Federation of Teachers is appealing a decision from the Michigan Court of Appeals that teachers could be required to contribute to their pension, MLive reports. The state’s other major teacher’s union, the Michigan Education Association, will be joining the AFT in its challenge, according to MLive.

SOURCE: MLive, “Teacher pension contribution case heads to Michigan Supreme Court,” May 22, 2014 
FURTHER READING: Michigan Capitol Confidential, “School Board Member: Close Teacher Pension System,” May 3, 2014 

Fight to Keep MEAP Continues, Could Lead to New Test

LANSING, Mich. – Legislators leading the fight to stall the implementation of a new Smarter Balanced assessment say that they aren’t pushing to keep the MEAP unchanged, according to MLive.

Rep. Lisa Lyons, R-Alto, told MLive that she is concerned that the Smarter Balanced assessment “[is] just not ready.”
Rep. Lyons told MLive that there is time to rewrite portions of the MEAP, and that delaying the implementation of the Smarter Balanced assessment would not threaten Michigan’s federal funding. Tennessee, South Carolina and Indiana are in similar situations, according to MLive.
Michigan Department of Education officials have threatened that delaying implementation could threaten federal funding, MLive reports.
Gov. Rick Snyder is not taking a side in the fight between legislators and MDE, according to MLive. Spokesman Dave Murray told MLive that the debate over the assessment was a “healthy” one.

SOURCE: MLive, “MEAP replacement would be new exam, lawmakers say, not a rehash of old tests,” May 20, 2014 

FURTHER READING: Michigan Education Digest, “Legislature could move testing to Treasury Department," May 20, 2014 

First Class Graduates from Ypsilanti New Tech High School

YPSILANTI, Mich. – The first class of Ypsilanti New Tech graduated this year, The Ypsilanti Courier reports.

New Tech is structured differently than a typical high school, according to The Courier. Through the school’s partnership with Washtenaw Community College, students are able to earn college credit, and the school focuses on project-based learning, The Courier reports.
Leiondra Ware, a graduating senior, entered New Tech using Schools of Choice, and was able to take classes at the University of Michigan as part of her high school experience, according to The Courier.
Karen Mauer, the mother of a graduating senior, told The Courier that her son earned 30 college credits while attending school at New Tech.

SOURCE: The Ypsilanti Courier, “Ypsilanti New Tech High School sends off its inaugural graduating class,” May 23, 2014 
FURTHER READING: Michigan Education Report, “Mott Middle College High School," March 7, 2006 

Despite Decline in Family Income, College Costs Rise

LANSING, Mich. – Since 2006, the family income of graduating high school students has declined by 12 percent, according to MLive. During the same time, the cost of attending college has increased by 20 percent, MLive reports.

The reported cost of attending college includes grants and scholarships, according to MLive. These statistics come from a report published by the ACT, MLive reports.
According to MLive, families also saw a decline in home values, making it more difficult to use home equity loans to pay for college tuition.
“The evidence does suggest that many, if not most, families would have much more difficulty supporting a college student in 2013 than in 2006,” the ACT report stated, according to MLive.

SOURCE: MLive, “College costs up, family income down but applications continue to grow at MSU, U-M” May 23, 2014 
FURTHER READING: Michigan Capitol Confidential, “College Spending Results Questioned, March 24, 2014 

As Many as 91 Flint Employees Could Be Laid Off

FLINT, Mich. – The Flint school district may lay off as many as 91 teachers and other employees, according to WNEM TV5.

WNEM reports that Flint is spending about $10 million more than it receives. Superintendent Larry Watkins told WNEM that “in order for the district so survive and flourish, this is what we have to do.”
The district also approved a new collective bargaining agreement with its teachers, according to WNEM. The new terms of the contract will save the district approximately $6 million each year, WNEM reports.

SOURCE: WNEM TV5, “Dozens of teacher, staff layoffs in Flint,” May 21, 2014 
FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “How to Fix Flint Schools,” Oct. 8, 2010