July 15, 2014

Contents of this issue:

  • NEA president calls value-added assessment ‘mark of the devil’
  • MDE tells teachers to continue with MEAP plans
  • U of M pays $14K for spurning speaker
  • Privatization could help Flint save hundreds of thousands
  • Goodwill receives $1.5M to help students find work

NEA President Calls Value-Added Assessment ‘Mark of the Devil’

DENVER – At its national convention, the National Education Association elected Lily Garcia, a former Utah teacher, as its president, according to Politico.

In an interview with Politico, Garcia said that she wants to begin a campaign against using student educational performance to evaluate teachers.
Garcia told Politico she holds value-added models, which assess individual student growth and take into account past student academic performance, in low esteem.
VAMs “are the mark of the devil,” Garcia told Politico.

SOURCE: Politico, “Next NEA leader’s first task: Win back public,” July 6, 2014 
FURTHER READING: Michigan Capitol Confidential, “Michigan Teachers Contribute to Six-Figure Salaries at the NEA,” May 21, 2014 

MDE Tells Teachers to Continue with MEAP Plans

LANSING, Mich. – Michigan Department of Education officials have told teachers to continue with their lesson plans, despite the recent dustup over state standardized testing, according to MLive.

During the past legislative session, MLive reports, MDE and legislators debated over state testing standards. In a memo, MDE officials said that “There seems to be some confusion with the language included in this budget as it relates to using the same name – MEAP – but meeting our current standards, which is not something the ‘old’ MEAP did,” MDE said, according to MLive.
“…Teachers and school staff should continue with the lesson plans they have been preparing over the past few years to ready students for a more rigorous assessment that will measure Michigan’s current standards,” the memo said, MLive reports. 

SOURCE: MLive, “MEAP changes shouldn’t affect lesson plans, Michigan education department tells teachers,” July 11, 2014 

FURTHER READING: Michigan Education Digest, “Fight to keep MEAP continues, could lead to new test,” May 27, 2014 

U of M pays $14K for Spurning Speaker

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – The University of Michigan is paying a student group, Young Americans for Liberty, a $14,000 settlement payment, according to MLive.

YAL sued U of M after the university refused its request for $1,000 in student fees money to pay an affirmative action speaker, MLive reports.
YAL had hoped to bring in Jennifer Gratz, who had successfully sued the university to stop its policy of ranking student applicants based on race, according to MLive.
David Hacker, attorney for YAL, told MLive after the settlement that “We commend the University of Michigan for recognizing that student organizations like Yong Americans for Liberty should not be singled out and denied funding based purely upon the viewpoint expressed at one of its events.”

SOURCE: MLive, “University of Michigan reaches settlement with student group following discrimination lawsuit,” July 11, 2014 
FURTHER READING: Michigan Capitol Confidential, “Michigan’s Voter Approved Ban On Racial Preferences Goes Before U.S. Supreme Court," Oct. 14, 2014 

Privatization Could Help Flint Save Hundreds of Thousands

FLINT, Mich. – Flint could save more than $300,000 by privatizing some support staff functions, MLive reports.

If the Flint district contracts with Professional Educational Services Group, it could save close to $200,000 in pension and benefit costs alone, according to MLive.
Flint is in an overspending crisis and working to cut costs to correct that problem, MLive reports. The district is spending millions more than it receives in revenue, according to MLive.

SOURCE: MLive, “Flint School District considers outsourcing contract for substitutes, others at special meeting ," July 9, 2014
FURTHER READING: Michigan Education Digest, “Flint lays off 250 employees to address overspending, June 10, 2014 

Goodwill Receives $1.5M to Help Students Find Work

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. – Goodwill Industries has received $1.5 million to help students find work, according to the Battle Creek Enquirer.

The Enquirer reports that Goodwill helps at-risk students find part-time work during the summer, with the goal being to help them transition to full-time work.
Goodwill first conducts in-class training with students, and then helps students find summer work, according to the Enquirer. Goodwill focuses on students who might not have educational support from their parents, or who might be struggling in school, the Enquirer reports.
“We know that when it comes to providing opportunities in the Battle Creek area to keep young people here, give people opportunities to have long-term careers, we have a lot of opportunities here,” Sarah Frink, a manager of communications at one of the companies at which Goodwill places students, told the Enquirer.

SOURCE: Battle Creek Enquirer, “Goodwill Connects heling students,” July 9, 2014 
FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “In Their Own Words: Calumet High School,” July 2, 2013