July 1, 2014

Contents of this issue:

  • Free Press series misses major facts, says MAPSA
  • Flint overspending by $20 million, up from last year
  • Jackson approves new teacher contract with performance standards
  • Warnings of financial crisis for Saginaw
  • More options added to graduation requirements
  • Education candidate forum in Detroit on July 8

Free Press Series Misses Major Facts, Says MAPSA

LANSING, Mich. – On WKAR’s “Off the Record,” Dan Quisenberry, president of the Michigan Association of Public School Academies, said that a recent Detroit Free Press series mischaracterized charter public schools and failed to report key facts.

One example, Quisenberry told host Tim Skubick, was the Free Press’ statement that Michigan needs to automatically close low-performing charter schools.
There’s already a state law that requires exactly that, Quisenberry said on "Off the Record."
“The Free Press didn’t report the information they had,” Quisenberry said.
Quisenberry also spoke to Skubick about the Free Press’ allegations that some charter schools are paying too much for their buildings, saying that two outside audited reports examined charter leases and said that those leases reflect market value.
This information was provided to the Free Press, Quisenberry told Skubick, but was not included.
“[There was a] systematic decision, that if it didn’t fit the narrative, we’re leaving it out,” Quisenberry said on “Off the Record.”

SOURCE: WKAR, “Off the Record,” June 27, 2014 
FURTHER READING: Michigan Capitol Confidential, “State Top-to-Bottom List a Poor Measure of Charter Performance,” June 27, 2014 

Flint Overspending by $20 million, Up from Last Year

FLINT, Mich. – The Flint School District’s overspending crisis has increased to $20 million, according to MLive.

MLive reports that in the past seven months, Flint added another $10 million to its overspending total, for a sum of $20 million. According to MLive, the additional $10 million was not apparent in previous audits.
For the coming 2014-15 school year, MLive reports, Chief Financial Officer Richard Carpenter told the Flint board that the district’s new budget will ensure that Flint ends the year with a surplus of $3.8 million that could help pay down its debt.
“We haven’t had a good budget since 2006,” Flint board member Vera Perry said, according to MLive. “Whatever practices we have used have not been good practices. I think we held onto some employees for too long.”

SOURCE: MLive, “Flint Schools’ deficit grows to $20.4 million, district has until end of July to come up with plan,” June 26, 2014 

FURTHER READING: Michigan Capitol Confidential, “Mismanagement Often to Blame for School District Financial Troubles,” Jan. 13, 2014 

Jackson Approves New Teacher Contract with Performance Standards

JACKSON, Mich. – Jackson Public Schools has approved a collective bargaining agreement with its teachers union that includes performance standards, according to MLive.

MLive reports that the district will terminate teachers who receive two consecutive years of low performance ratings, a standard stricter than state law.
“We are holding ourselves to a high standard,” JPS Superintendent Jeff Beal told MLive. “I am sure there is no other school district in the state doing anything like this.”

SOURCE: MLive, “Strict guidelines, support for ineffective teachers part of proposed Jackson Public Schools contract,” June 26, 2014 
FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Displaced: How Michigan Districts Are Ignoring Anti-Seniority Reforms," Feb. 27, 2014 

Warnings of Financial Crisis for Saginaw

SAGINAW, Mich. – Former Emergency Manager Donald Weatherspoon visited the Saginaw School District to warn residents of the district’s impending financial crisis, according to MLive.

MLive reports that Saginaw is overspending by $7.2 million, and has to make “hard choices,” Weatherspoon said.
A Saginaw board member asked Weatherspoon how the district could avoid being put under emergency financial management, according to MLive. Weatherspoon responded, according to MLive, that “You have everything you can do in your control provided you sit down and hammer out a plan. You’re going to sacrifice at your table.” 

SOURCE: MLive, “Former school emergency manager tells Saginaw crowd, ‘If you don’t make hard choices, someone will make them for you,’” June 25, 2014 
FURTHER READING: Michigan Education Digest, “Saginaw district takes out loan to make payroll, June 24, 2014 

More Options Added to Graduation Requirements

LANSING, Mich. – Michigan high school students can now meet some high school graduation requirements by taking career technology classes, according to the South Bend Tribune.

The Tribune reports that students can meet Algebra II requirements by taking a career technology class that includes the practical application of the required mathematical concepts.
Similarly, according to the Tribune, students can fulfill foreign language requirements in a career technology class.
Rep. Lisa Lyons, R-Alto, told the Tribune that “This legislation is about training a 21st-century workforce…this legislation gives these students the best possible options to pursue the type of education best suited for them.”

SOURCE: South Bend Tribune, “Snyder approves changes to Michigan’s high school graduation rules,” June 26, 2014 
FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “New Graduation Requirements Mean Fewer Grads,” Oct. 23, 2012

Education Candidate Forum in Detroit on July 8

DETROIT – The Great Lakes Education Project, Detroit Parent Network, Excellent Schools Detroit and other groups are co-hosting a Detroit-area legislative candidate forum on July 8.

Candidates from Senate districts 2, 4 and 5 will be participating, as well as candidates from House districts 3, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11.
The event will be held at Madison-Carver Academy, 19900 McIntyre St., Detroit, from 6-8 p.m.
For more information, visit www.DetroitEdForum.Eventbrite.com.